New here - fire setting; stealing - 11 yo

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Sally999, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. Sally999

    Sally999 New Member

    Hi -

    I am new here - have been on forums before (BiPolar (BP)) re. my daughter. Am here right now because I am just so tired of everything and scared. I will say more about my family later - I am just really glad to have found a site that "rings true". And I am so sorry about the Mom who has the 14 yo in trouble. A big hug to you.

    This weekend my ds went "over the top" stealing money from his sister's closet and lighting a fire to "fix" the door that he broke in her room. "Fire" may be too strong - he lit a match and burned a toy.

    Both kids are under the care of a child pschy. - who is "ok"; teaches child and adolescent pschy. to residents at a well-known medical school - but my kids don't respond to her very well. Both kids are not seeing individual counselors right now - we have in the past; my budget was devastated (ex does not send $$ on reg. basis). Must get them back asap to individual counselors.

    Enough said - I have to say that I really feel for the Mom with-the 14 yo - and honestly admit grave fear that we will be there sooner than later - a very negative view - I try not to 'go there' but the signs are right in my face.

    Thank you, if you read this.
  2. Sally999

    Sally999 New Member

    I wish someone would reply. I am signing off - too overwhelmed.
  3. April

    April New Member

    I can't help you with advice, but I feel for you, and I am praying for you. Please remember "If he brings you to it, he will bring you through it"

    I am not one who wears my Christianity on my sleeve, but I have found in dealing with all this that God has a purpose. I may not like, or understand it, but it is there for a reason. Call it God, Karma, whatever.

    You will get through this, you have found a good place, and it would be good to check back since most of us are only on here periodically and you will find more responses later in the day!
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Fire setting, peeing or pooping in pants or in other inappropriate places and cruely to animals (the big three) are all warnings of very serious problems. If he is also doing the other two, I would take him pronto to a Psychiatrist (with the MD) for further evaluation. Not trying to scare you--I just feel it's good to be TOO careful than not careful enough. Are you children on medications for the bipolar? ADHD medications and antidepressants can cause strange behaviors in BiPolar (BP) kids, including fire setting and other forms of aggression. (((Hugs)))
  5. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat


    Welcome to the board. Sorry you did not get a quick response. You did find a soft place to land, and there are many warrior moms here with lots of experience.

    Let me offer some hugs, it sounds like you've got an awful lot on your plate. I do hope that you will check back in with us.
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Hello and welcome to the board. :flower:

  7. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! Welcome to the crowd! Sorry I just got on - had to get the 3 difficult child's off to school! Yahoo - I mean, "boy I'll sure miss them while they're learning" :smile:

    I don't know much about BiPolar, but I think that they're on the money when it comes to medications.

    Is he on any medication?

    Again, welcome, it's a great group here!

  8. ShakinThingzUp

    ShakinThingzUp New Member

    Hi Sally,

    I am sorry you didn't get a quick response also... but, let me assure you... I haven't been visiting this site too long - a few weeks... and it is rare that you won't get a response quickly. So much happens on this site & is discussed that I can't seem to keep up. There are a lot of caring folks here.

    My son went through a spell of "fire-setting" a few years ago, while his step-dad was in Iraq. He was feeling depressed and abandoned at the time & PTSD was developing. It's a very long story, but basically, what I'm telling you is that the others are right --- fire setting - even a tiny bit of firesetting is a warning sign! Take the warning. Get him to see someone PRONTO. If you can't afford to, ask social services for help.... as scary as that sounds, it is more scary to let this go without getting him to see someone who can help you both.

    My sons depression/PTSD worsened and worsened to the point where it affected everything in life. The fire-setting was just a symptom of a much bigger problem.

    God Bless!
  9. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    I too had my son setting fires. It was a scary event. We tried several methods to make him understand the dangers of that. In the end he needs much more help because of the many underlying problems.

    For some fire can just be a curiosity. For others a sign of a problem. You I am sure are feeling exhausted by this. It is scary and draining. Get him help soon. A lot of fire departments have fire setter programs. The men that teach them can also give you some insight into why they might think he is setting them. They were the ones that advised me that my son needed much more help and that he should be watched.

    Take care of you and sorry we didn't get back fast. It can be frustrating but I must have missed this before I went to bed.

  10. shaile

    shaile New Member

    Greetings and welcome Sally. While this is the first post for me..I've been a happy lurker for quite awhile, and gained alot of calm just reading.

    Lots of Hugs to you, and hang tuff. Your headline hit exactly where we are with our 8yr old difficult child. This weekend he set fire to paper, and a cloth headband in his room. He didn't even attempt to hide or conceal. The stealing has been a long ongoing trouble for a few years. Almost seems somewhat of a obsession on something then a compulsion to he goes after certain things over and over again until I guess he gets bored of it. Most recent were cell phones, and jewelry.

    Can't say as it will make a difference but we chose to go the opposite route, and straight up told him next time he starts a fire or steals..We are calling the police. No ifs, ands, or butts.

    He does not respond to any positive reinforcement systems, and punishments of normalcy do nothing. He is somewhat responsive to "fear".

    Wishing you the best through these times.
  11. ShakinThingzUp

    ShakinThingzUp New Member

    After thinking about this thread for a while, I thought I should come back and tell you more about what we did to help my son... and the fires he was setting.

    My sons playing-with-fire started when two other boys in our neighborhood set another boys coat on fire and just watched it burn... my son was in the crowd of boys who watched it burn and did nothing. I made him help pay for the boys coat.... because he didn't help him. I had no idea his own playing with fire would start after that incident..... it was more about not standing up for his friend at that point... not doing the right thing.

    The second time, he took my grill lighter from inside (I had no small children and felt no need to hide it)... and set fire to a small limb outside - no damage, I found the charred limb and grass where it had occurred & grilled my son to learn what had happened. Like others, I lectured, I taught about dangers, etc... never thinking my son had an underlying problem - thought it was mere curiousity, a normal boy thing in his case at that point...

    About 6 months later, he set a piece of toilet paper on fire in the bathroom and burned a piece of a towel putting it out.

    About 6 months after that it was a fire in a frying pan (not sure how he started it as I was not home) - he carried it in the living room & dropped it burning the carpet (he was going to show his sister).

    Utimately here's what we did:
    1 - In the first couple times, we utilized the Boy Scout program - they were very effective in stopping it (thus the incidents were 6 months apart)........
    2 - But, later I realized it was more than curiousity, it was his cry for help, and no lecturing or education was going to be enough. So, we began to specifically address this issue with a counselor.
    3 - The last incident cost me $1,100.00 to replace the carpeting. I didn't make my disturbed 10 year old pay for it, however, he was punished and made fully aware of how much it did cost me!

    It's been over a year, and we've not had another incident... BUT, through starting that counseling, we learned how much more was underlying the fire-starting - and he is still seeing a counselor.

    God Bless!
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Wow, Amy, what a tale! You've been handling it beautifully. Wish I could add something here, Sally, but I'm sending support and good wishes.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hi Sally.

    I was asleep when you were posting - major time shift for me, I often post way late because we're so far apart in time zones.

    MWM has some good advice and some things to check.

    We don't have BiPolar (BP) in the family, we have Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) instead. And yes, we also had the fire fascination. difficult child 1 and easy child 2/difficult child 2 would stop at a tobacconist's on the way to school and although they shouldn't have legally been in his store (under 18) he would give them old lighters that weren't working (but were still loaded with lighter fluid) and difficult child 1 would bring them home to repair, and THEN use. I regularly searched his room and removed lighters (I confiscated them, put them in a special drawer and used them APPROPRIATELY myself) and large cans of lighter fluid and other solvents. He would leave cans of lighter fluid under the couch, in his bed and in his closet. Also through his school bag.
    At school his best friend poured lighter fluid over his (boyfriend's) hand and set fire to it, to see what would happen... yes, he's another Aspie.

    I have a backyard fireplace. First it was a chimanea, now it's a cast iron pizza oven. I showed both boys how to build a GOOD fire and let them light it, under supervision. I insist on it being under supervision because the boys wouldn't necessarily be aware of whether we had a fire ban day or not and I didn't want to cop a fine for having a fire lit on a fire ban day.

    If they complied, they got to play with fire - safely. They got it out of their system. I also let them toast marshmallows, if they behaved.
    If they did it wrong, not only did they not get any marshmallows, but that had to stay inside while the rest of us did. It was torture for them to see US playing with fire, and them not allowed to join in. They very quickly became compliant. Maybe that's a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) thing, becoming compliant when you give them access to their obsession. But they also have learnt how to set a proper fire, safely. Not using too much kindling, for example. No huge 'whoosh' when you light it, just enough to get the wood burning properly. The aim is to get the fire going properly, safely, and with only one match (or equivalent).

    It's easy especially with Australian plants to get a fire going out of control. And kids WILL play with fire. My pizza oven CAN be used with the mesh door open, but every opening has a mesh flame arrestor on it.

    And the other incentive to get the fire burning RIGHT - home-made pizza, with toppings they chose for themselves. if they build the fire up too much, the pizza burns. it has to be just right.

    In this way, they get to feed their obsession but they also learn control. It has worked for us. I don't know how effective this is with BiPolar (BP), so talk to the therapists first. However, it did put a stop to cans of lighter fluid hidden around the house!

  14. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just adding in my welcome-glad you found us-this place can be a true lifesaver. Gentle hugs.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I forgot that kids on the autism spectrum also can be fascinated with fire. My son was. The big difference is, he did it out of fascination, not anger. He would stare at a lit match, for example and not try to set anything on fire. Fires set in anger and a fire fascination have different reasons. I would definitely see a therapist and maybe have a neuropsychologist exam. This kid could have been misdiagnosed. The REASON for the fire setting is relevant to what will help STOP it. Good luck.