Please help! Advice needed...have you gone through this issue?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Weary for Hope, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. hi new friends,
    I posted for the first time last week (reposted it below) and only got a couple replies. I thank you 2 for replying.

    Our 10 year old son is stealing and lying. This has been confirmed. He keeps finding $, I keep finding stuff that I've never seen before and ask him where he has gotten it. (he makes up stuff - "mom" (in totally annoyed voice) - "I've had this for a long time", etc.

    We must work through this issue now, so it will hopefully not continue. How do you approach your kid about this issue? Ours denies it and acts exasperated with me. He is now stealing from people other than us. He hasn't been diagnosed with-anything yet, but seems to have ODD and CD. (& has huge fits of rage). Any advice?
    What's the right way to go about confronting this and dealing with it?
    What's the wrong way?
    How can he make restitution for what he has stolen?

    thank you!

    Hi new friends,
    I can't tonight tell you all that my husband and I have been through with our son, who is now 10 years old. (difficult child - why the heck is that the abbreviation?) It's been a rough road since he came into our home at age 3. (he is adopted) Mostly a lot of rage (scary at times) and continual defiance. It's by far the hugest and most discouraging challenge I've ever had in my life.

    The latest is stealing and lying. This breaks my heart and makes me so, so angry. I keep finding things that I KNOW aren't his and he gets all exasperated with me each time I confront him. I know he must be stealing. It doesn't seem like he believes he is's like he thinks this stuff really belongs to him, but there has been way too many times this has happened (esp lately). How does one handle this? He just denies it and gets mad at me. I feel so helpless. How do you deal with something like this that the person only denies?

    Another thing - parenting has been so difficult for me that I feel so distant from him at times. (ok, much of the time) (adoptive mothers can be the target of extreme rage) I was so upset at him this evening (for how he treats me, for his lying, his stealing, his defiance) that honestly, I didn't even want to hear the sound of his voice. I don't want to be around him. This is tough!

    It's good to know that others go through similar struggles (though I feel for you!) and some even worse. How do you survive??? Any help for how to deal with the thievery?

    -Thank you in advance.
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I can't give you any magic answers. We did go through this with difficult child 1, but what changed him was when we confronted him with the amount of money we worked out he had stolen from my wallet, and I uncharacteristically burst into tears at the massive breach of trust. This had a very strong impact on difficult child 1 and he never stole again.

    I cannot guarantee that this would help you in any way. What I think affected difficult child 1, was he had not realised the wider impact of his actions; his motives were purely acquisitive. We live in a society which preaches instant gratification and our children are especially vulnerable, when they are more impulsive as well as less able to think laterally about consequences. It took a graphic demonstration for difficult child 1 to 'get it'.

    The term "difficult child" or "Gift From God" is a way of reminding ourselves that it takes a very special parent, one whom God trusts, to manage a child like this. And there is irony in it too, as we wonder why we've been saddled with such a burden. But we need to remember to love our children too, even as we sometimes don't like them very much.

    I'm sorry you had few replies before. It does happen sometimes, especially if you posted at a time when fewer people were available. New members posts also are moderated, and this can seem to slow things down a lot. Once you've posted a few times things should happen a lot faster.

    And sometimes, disappointingly, there are few responses because you've asked a question that is impossible to answer.

    A book we recommend for difficult, impulsive children is "The Explosive Child"by Ross Greene, which might give you some more useful information.

  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think we really need more info on him to help. Has he been evaluated? If not, I think it's time. Most of our kids are not One-Size-Fits-All. Without knowing what is wrong with him (from a professional, not the parent) it is hard to tell you what could work for him. I have a few questions that could help us immensely!

    1/Are there any psychiatric or substance abuse issues on either side of his genetic family tree? This includes people he never sees because he still carries their genes and genes are potent stuff.

    2/How was his early development? Did he talk, make good eye contact, like to cuddle, play appropriately with toys, transition well from one activity to another? What about now? Does he have a lot of friends? Does he know how to hold a give-and-take conversation? How does he do in school? Any "quirks?" Can he switch from one activity to another without fuss? Does he have any obsessive interests?

    3/Tell us more about his living situation and past. Does he live in a two parent family? Has he had any abuse or trauma along the way? Anything you tell us will help. Is this the adopted child? Have you looked into reactive attachment disorder? If not, I strongly suggest it. Here's an article about it. You may want to Google it up for more intensive info.

    Reactive Attachment Disorder

    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) Signs, Symptoms & Causes

    Feb 26, 2007 Cindy Finnegan
    Reactive Attachment Disorder (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)) children are often described as angry, lying, uncaring, and violent children. The signs and symptoms are as varied as the causes.

    What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

    Reactive Attachment Disorder is a condition where individuals have difficulty forming loving, lasting intimate relationships. They do not trust anyone other than themselves to provide for their needs and safety. These individuals often fail to develop a conscience; do not feel empathy, and having genuine affection for people or pets is beyond their reach.
    Children with reactive attachment disorder can be divided into four categories:

    The Ambivalent Children –
    • Are angry, defiant & can be violent.
    • Will push affection away to keep control
    • Are destructive both with their own belonging and others
    • Are extremely difficult children to parent because they sabotage or destroy almost everything positive that happens to them.
    • When they want something, they act very affectionate.
    • Have few friends if any, although they will say they do, listing several acquaintances – keep friends only for a short time
    • Lack the ability to give and receive love
    • Lack empathy for others – often cruel to animals and other children.
    The Anxious Children –
    • Tend to be overly clingy, showing extreme separation anxiety when separated from their mothers.
    • Incessantly chatters to control conversation
    • Appear to be eager to please and are superficially compliant.
    • Are often passive aggressive, constantly doing little things wrong, but never doing anything really bad, but frazzling the parents patience and control.
    • Usually recover faster than those in the other categories
    The Avoidance Children –
    • Are often overlooked as they are very compliant, agreeable & superficially engaging,
    • Lack depth to their emotions & functions – robotic like, not genuine or real in emotional engagement.
    • Don’t enjoy being around others because they don't feel safe.
    • Are Omnipotent – believing that they can care for all their own needs by themselves, and do not need others, especially their mothers.
    • Are sullen and openly oppositional, but mostly in a passive aggressive way.
    The Disorganized Children –
    • Have highly disorganized behaviour and a bizarre showing a variety of symptoms.
    • Hide anger deep inside, they are easier to deal with, harder to treat.
    • May have atypical psychosis, bipolar disorder, and other neurological disorders.
    • Often will have mental illness in the family history.
    • Are excessively excitable (other Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) children are usually moody.)
    • Are most difficult to treat in therapy because they have so many different problems and often require medication and out-of-home care.
    Other Signs & Symptoms
    Signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder in infants may include: weak crying response, rage, constant whining, sensitivity to touch and cuddling, poor suckling response and eye contact, and no reciprocal smile response.
    Reactive Attachment Disorder Children may also have these symptoms: lack of conscience development, lack of eye contact except when lying, will not give or receive affection (hugs & kisses), no impulse control, abnormal eating patterns (gorging, hoarding, etc.), constantly making noise of some kind, pacing, and unusual speech patterns (mumbling, robotic, talking softly).

    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can and has been misdiagnosed as Bipolar disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Anti-Social Personality Disorder and Conduct Disorder.
    What Causes Reactive Attachment Disorder?

    The bond between a child and mother/primary caregiver is essential during the first three years of life. Without this bonding the child will not have learned how to feel trust, love, compassion and empathy. These four survival skills are crucial to develop into a loving, caring child and adult. Fifty percent of our survival skills are learned during the first year, twenty-five percent during the second and the last twenty-five percent is learned from 3 years of age and on. Below is a list of circumstances that can prevent this necessary bond from forming.
    • Abandonment, abuse, neglect in the first three years of life
    • Maternal alcohol/drug use
    • Lack of attunement between mother and child
    • Young, or inexperienced mother with poor parenting skills
    • Maternal ambivalence toward pregnancy
    • Multiple primary caregivers/ foster care system
    • Institutionalized – orphanage adoption
    • Inconsistent/inadequate day care
    • Separation from Birth Parents – death, divorce
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  4. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    Weary For Hope,

    I don't have much to add to what Marg and MidwestMom already said. I just want to let you know I went through a similar situation to what you're describing with my oldest son, difficult child 1. Marg's response explains part of why I think he stole from us - Too impulsive and unable (at the time) to understand the negative impact of his actions.

    I agree with MidwestMom that your difficult child needs a thorough evaluation to learn what methods will be most effective in helping him. My husband and I had to discard our old ways of parenting our difficult children and learn new ways to get through to them.

    There were many times I didn't want to be around my difficult children either. I think these feelings are "normal" given the daily HE77 we go through trying to raise our children. The best advice I was ever given and unfortunately not very good at following, was to carve out a bit of time for myself each and every day and to have regular "date nights" with my husband (husband). It is just as important to take care of yourself, your relationship, as it is to take care of your son. Reach out and accept help if it is offered from family, friends, your community, etc... It is much easier to deal with difficult children when you feel supported, are able to have a "life" that doesn't totally revolve around them.

    There are so many wonderful people here. They helped me through some of my darkest days with my difficult children. I'm glad you found this site, but sorry you had to! Nice to "meet" you. SFR
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    {{WFH}} We experienced a tiny bit of stealing with both daughters when they were very young and that eventually worked itself out and stopped after a few embarrassing confrontations and forcing them to return items and apologize, etc.

    However, with my now 21gfg, it recurred again following a traumatic event at age 15. She stole jewelry from her sister, my H and me. She didn't flaunt the items but kept them in her drawers. I remember searching high and low for my wedding band and she knew I was looking for it and said nothing. When we finally foudn the items and confronted her, she seriously looked at us like we were crazy and even asked how they could have ended up in her drawer. Thankfully, we were able to discuss the thefts in counseling with difficult child. The counselor later explained to us that it was a pathological act brought on by the trauma. After a few weeks (and some careful monitoring of difficult child) the stealing discontinued completely.

    Not saying this is your issue, but what I read in MWM's post resonated with me. I agree you should have your son evaluated completely so you know what you're dealing wtih and how to deal with whatever it is effectively.

    Big hugs~
  6. I'll try to reply to each of you.

    Thank you, Marg. difficult child - gift from God - that is beautiful and the truth! (even though I don't always want to acknowledge it). I have read the Explosive Child - very good book. (I've read lots of books, but always welcome recs for new ones!- anyone?)

    Thank you for your words & advice, SFR. :)

    Midwestmom - thanks for responding again to my post. I so appreciate it! It is hard for me to put information up on this board, as it is supposed to be confidential, but I guess we're pretty anonymous, right?

    He came into our home at 3 (he is now 10) (was in 1 solid foster home from birth until then) and there was heavy cocaine use throughout the pregnancy. I don't know about psychiatric issues in the family, but I think so - it was not a good situation. Birth mother cruelly abused as child. I don't know about his early development as we didn't meet him until he was 2. But from what I hear, it was pretty normal. He is very social - does have friends, but lately sticking with fewer friends and we are concerned that 1 esp. is not a good influence. He definitely struggles with-transitions - he wants to be in charge of everything, usually defiant. He was doing ok in school until this last year - his grades have gone way down and he gives up easily. Getting work done takes him a long time, though he is smart. I don't think he has ADHD, as he can really focus on stuff when he wants to. This year, I've wondered about bipolar, but he doesn't show depression that I can recognize.

    He has been home for 7 years now, though we have had a ton of moves/transitions in the past few years. We are finally settled - phew! He hasn't had abuse since birth, but being taken away from his foster parents at age 3 must have been a trauma. (plus all the transitions).

    I always denied he had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) - because I thought we bonded well and he attached to us, but when I read more about it earlier this fall - I was like, wow - this sounds like him.(more than my suspicions of bipolar) One way he distances himself from me is not eating the food I make him (even last week when I made blueberry pancakes). He was even suspicious of some amazing cinnamon buns the other day (geez, louise!) - but did give in. :) It does seem he sabotages the good times we have together. He usually always freaks out later on on a day we have had a special time together. Ambivalent seems right (and he is extremely disorganized and messy). I feel very distant from him and it is because I distance myself because it is so painful (& he makes me so angry, hurts us so much), but I'm working on this, with God's help.

    We have had issues with health care and so haven't had him evaluated yet, but hopefully, things will come together soon. Where does one start? A psychiatrist? A neuro-something keeps getting brought up. It's overwhelming and hard to know where to start.

    We have a meeting with a counselor later this morning. She has been very helpful in giving us parenting ideas. Hopefully she can advise us on how to deal with this stealing/lying issue.

    Grateful for this board.

    me, 39
    husband, 40
    difficult child 10 (adopted age 3) - he hasn't been evaluated, but our counselor thought ODD and CD (ODD I knew, CD was a bit of suprise), Lots of rage and defiance
  7. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    i apologize in advance for my typing...its lacking a bit these days

    neuro-psychologist is ideally what you'd want to look for to evaluation him. i've also had good luck with a developmental pediatrician. found both at a teaching hospital.

    some hospitals have a center for neuro-developmental disorders...check with yours. that night be a good plsace to start,

    sadly, i've found that it takes a lot of calling and calling again to find out what is out there. keep pounding the phine lines...dont give up
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi. I"m so sorry it took so long for me to get back to you here. Did you get my PM?

    Anyway, I think Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids are great pretenders. We had one and we thought he loved all of us because he was good at doing and saying what he had to in order to get the reaction/material item he wanted from us. He may not have full blown Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but any child who had a chaotic beginning and was yanked from everyone he knew has GOT to have attachment issues in there. It's just how things work. I always tell people that if they want a strong attachment, adopt a baby from the hospital. We adopted six times. Twice it did not work of the kids was a plain out psycopath and nobody knew it because he acted so "good" to strangers. He even fooled psychiatrists who said he was a "great kid" with surprisingly few problems considering his background. but this great kid sexually abused both of my younger kids and killed two of our dogs. He was SUCH a good kid that we didn't believe HE killed the first dog and my other two kids were too afraid of him to tell on him. After he killed the second dog, the farce blew up and we learned everything. He was shown the door because of what he had done to my babies (also adopted, so it had nothing to do with the adoption...we didn't want a dangerous kid there). He even admitted what he did when CPS came by to take him and said he did not know why he did the things he did. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is ugly and can fool you. Also, it rarely stands alone, and all disorders need to be treated. Also, all that cocaine has certainly caused some damage. It is common for cocaine babies to show behavioral/learning disorders and some autistic tendencies. My son who we adopted (see his description below) was born with crack in his system and he is on the autism spectrum.

    I think you need to schedule a neuropsychologist evaluation. And when you do, ask if the neuropsychologist has experience with kids who were adopted at older ages because t hey can change the way the neuropsychologist sees the child. Also, he should know how drugs before birth can affect a child. He may also have alcohol affects. If she did not say "no" to cocaine, she did not say "no" to alcohol. Alcohol can cause everything that Cocaine can...and worse. It does not help to be in denial. You adopted a complicated, "different" child and you knew that going in. Do you belong to an adoption group? If not, I recommend joining. You will hear similar stories and can swap parenting methods because NOTHING you read about in any book will prepare you for the child you have. the books are written mostly for attached kids with disorders who did not experience prenatal drug and alcohol exposure. Been there/done that/have the tee-shirt.

    Your son is not distant on purpose. You can not expect him to act like a child you gave birth to or who has been in your arms since infancy. He has baggage, like the older kids that I adopted. How much, he probably doesn't remember and nobody probably knows. I believe that the very disturbed child we adopted not only has an antisocial personality disorder but had brain damage from things his birthmother did to him, including prenatal drug/alcohol use. His official diagnosis (after he was taken away to a facility) was "Severe Reactive Attachment Disorder." I think that's true, but I think he came by his diagnosis because of a terrible start in life. Still, the things he did made it impossible for us to parent him anymore and my younger kids were terrified of him, of course.

    Denial doesn't work well with our kids. Take him to a neuropsychologist ASAP. And, hey...I understand. (((Hugs)))
  9. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Pediatric bipolar is very different from "typical" (adult) bipolar, and it presents very differently, too. They're also more likely to be rapid cycling or even ultra rapid cycling. While adult onset bipolar they tend to cycle 1-4 times a year, it's not uncommon for child onset to cycle numerous times a day. This can present as anger, hyperness, and other symptoms that look like ADHD, ODD, etc. Most difficult children that I've seen here are multi-diagnosis, because if they were easy to diagnosis and treat we wouldn't be here, right? Get the full evaluation and find out everything that is going on so you can get him all the help him needs and get everyone working with him on the same page.