Where do you go when no words or discipline work

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by shaile, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. shaile

    shaile New Member


    We have pretty much run the length of the ship with difficult child in attempts to alter or stop alot of his bad choices and behaviors..(stealing and more recently obsession with fire being the most expedient to stop). No matter what we say, what tone, what punishments (and really we have flat out ran the gammut here over the course of 5yrs)..nothing seems to make it click for him that these choices/behaviors can not be tolerated or allowed.

    It is as if he continues them despite all odds until he gets bored of doing it, and moves onto something else. He often complains now that he's always in trouble, and to this he pretty much is correct because he does something else (example: grounded to room, and while in room sets fire to paper and a piece of cloth by putting them on hot lights despite having been told just 2 days prior Not to put anything on the lights as it could cause a fire).

    We can handle now the tantrums over everything, getting up, taking a bath, brushing teeth, doing homework, etc. We can handle extra work and mentoring to assist in his schoolastic situations.

    What we can't handle are the repeated stealing offenses (before obsession with fire it was cell phones, and shoes from anyone's home).

    Looking for some out of the ordinary discipline techniques that anyone has found that will or has made a difference with their difficult child because we are currently at the bottom of the barrel, and considering seeking law enforcement involvement and more recently quick precise spankings being used. I do not like spanking him but nothing else is working, and it was the only other thing that could think of that I know he doesn't like, and that would allow him swift punishment and be done with it..(due to his always feeling he's in trouble which led to us being heavily concerned with depression signs).

    He does get in trouble at school almost daily for something but usually can temper it down to avoid the principals office, and I am currently speaking with his bio-dad about insurance coverage to seek a neuropsychologist evaluation.

    Well Wishes
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator


    Sorry for all the questions, but your answers will help us point you in the right direction.

    What kind of doctor diagnosed your difficult child? What kind of doctor is prescribing his medications? Is he in therapy?
    Have things gotten worse, stayed the same or improved since he started medications?
    Any speech or developmental delays?
    Any sensory issues (sensitivity to clothing textures, food, loud sounds, for example)?
    Any quirky behaviors?
    How does he do in school, both academically and with peers?
    Any mental health issue or substance abuse in the family tree?

    Again, welcome. You will find a lot of support here.
  3. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    I just wanted to relate our experience. Our son started stealing and had one incident of fire starting after he started taking Prozac. It was not dramatic, Prozac one day, behaviors the next, but it was linked. Once we stopped the Prozac, these behaviors totally disappeared.

    We got a new psychiatrist after the Prozac experience. the psychiatrist explained to us that SSRIs can lead to disinhibition. That was exactly what we found. We needed to raise the amount of Adderall my son was one to give him more control over his impulses. When we d/c the Prozac we were able to go back to the lower level of Adderall. We have found Lamictal to be a far far superior way of addressing my son's depression.

    Anyway, I am not sure this relates to your situation, but since I notice he is on Lexapro I would want to be really sure it isn't contributing to his problems.

    we did the usual things when the behaviors emerged--make him return and apologize things he stole, we didn't allow him to go into certain stores, etc. I am not sure whether this stuff helped, but the problem seems to be totally gone now.
  4. stepmom47

    stepmom47 New Member

    Our difficult child was not medicated when he started stealing.

    We were told not to spank as that gives him the attention he is seeking in re. to the stealing.(Seeking Attention)

    Now he hits other kids and we attribute that to all the spanking and such punishment he has had over the years. (by us and other family members)
    This is the "newest thing" in addiion to lying, stealing, poor grades and so on and so forth...

    My suggestion is no spanking:)

  5. shaile

    shaile New Member


    Thankyou for the questions and response thus far.

    A psychologist was the first to diagnose ADHD in 2006, and he did some therapy with him at that time but it really was ineffective as difficult child does not/can not communicate enough to relay needed information to get anywhere. Most often with everything you are met with "I dont know".

    We took him to psychiatrist next and they did a more rounded evaluation that took about 3hrs, and diagnosed ADHD rule out ODD.
    He's had some session with the school psychologist when behavior warrants it. Kindergarten was a nightmare. He repeated it, and 2nd time around was different school, and he ended up in principals office 8 times as well as sent to a behavior school for 3 days. First grade he did fairly well in grades and behavior at school.

    His regular peds MD whom we trust quite a bit perscribes and works with us on his medications. He only had a increase in the Adderall, and addition of the anti-depressant about 2 months ago. These behaviors of same sort of nature however, have been going since he was about 3. Back then it was a fierce obsession with knives.

    He is not shy. Is very outgoing, and loves to play. Play is everything to him but he does not do well with social skills. Is often rude and mean to other kids if does not get his way. He appears to treat them more as "objects" to entertain him rather than understanding any friendship or bonds.

    Alot of quirks. Lines toys up..some hording of odd items/almost like making a nest? Flicks his fingers when he's under the gun/being talked to about behavior. Makes frequent bizarred faces/again mostly when being talked to about behavior, and then ofcourse the obsessions. First was knives, then the weather, then specific movies. He has some problems with loud noises..more so than would seem normal. He did start off with speech delay but we think it was partially related to excessive ear wax buildup inwhich he was treated for and resolved with subsequent speech therapy given for a year in a speech and behavior school. Slight preemie..distant though and not to keen on hugs or close touching/holding.

    Several medications we've gone through..strattera, concerta, and the Adderall finally showed some improvement in his focus, and decreased some of his whine/cry tantrums.
  6. stepmom47

    stepmom47 New Member

    Ok so for a minute there I thought you were talking about my difficult child!!!

    I was reading it with my jaw on the floor:(

    Totaly with you about the ear wax and the lining up toys and the obsession with people being objects and the hoarding.

    Talk to strangers about vactions and such as if they happened yesterday and not 3 years ago.

    Rolls eyes when being talked to and picks at his clothes and bites nails and tries to eat his sleeves.

  7. shaile

    shaile New Member


    Does it seem your difficult child has a outstanding long term memory recall but short term is just not there?

    Ours can recall specific incidents from 4yrs ago that were of no significant value really and cause me to rack my brain trying to remember it. Sometimes I can but mostly can not but they are not some far fetch things and I have no reason to doubt him on it.

    How about abc's..counting to ten..tying shoes? We worked exhaustedly on these things every day, every family member with no visible clue he understood any of them, and then whamo! Just one day he was doing his abc's. Whamo! He could tie his shoes. Telling time same thing. Even the very day before he just blurted out to me matter of factly like he'd known how to tell time forever..just the very day before that he absolutely was not getting it, and if he did..you'd never know it because he'd just stand there and stare and say I dont know.

    Same for you also?
  8. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Hi Shaile and welcome

    I may have missed it, but has a form of Pervasive Development Disorder been ruled out?

    The lining up toys, motor skill problems, ADHD, language problems, perserveration, etc sound so much on the spectrum.
  9. shaile

    shaile New Member


    Not yet Sheila but it has always been a potential possible on my end of table. We have stated to all medical persons from nurse to psychiatrists that we feel there is much more going on than just ADHD but had to apparently rule out these other things.

    I did that non-diagnosis online test for Austism that was given in another thread and difficult child scored "moderate" 106 based on the questions given.

    As first mentioned..I am currently working with difficult child's bio-dad to see what sort of insurance coverage we can obtain in order to get a neuropsychologist evaluation. Until then though..was hoping some other parents might have some suggestions for discipline/control that has worked with their difficult child's. Something beyond typical/routine parenting measures..time out, priveledges removed, etc. as none of those things work.

    He is non-responsive to actions=consequences. No consequence in the typical parenting handbook (raised 4 between S.O. and myself so far)seems to deter him if he is set on doing something.
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Just wondering (oh and welcome)

    If HE IS - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies and he's on Adderal - maybe it's helping him to have more tic like behaviors. Check the side effects of Adderal. It made my son VERY aggressive, and he wouldn't sleep so they put him back on Clonodine.

    Just a thought.
  11. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I recommend that you find a developemental pediatrician that specializes in PDDs or maybe a neuropsychologist with-a subspecialty in PDDs.

    You may be much more educated that I when I first started down this road. And of course, an online screen is not diagnostic by any means, but they can sure be helpful. But don't let the term "moderate" fool you. The professional lingo to rate a problem typically is mild, moderate or severe, e.g., "moderate" doesn't mean "just a little bit" -- which was what I thought originally.

    Our kids are hard to deal with. One reason is that there is often such a wide variance in their abilities. What I mean by that is you may have a child that is exceedingly intelligent academically, but emotionally is far below where s/he is academically. As an example, our difficult child's evaluation 3 yrs ago reflected his age-equivalent abilities from 3 yrs old to greater than 20+ yrs old. (I swear he makes my head swim sometimes.)

    Taking only the ADHD, there is a 2/3rds rule. What that means is that emotionally and socially the child is going to be developmentally somewhere around 2/3rds their chronological age. So, if you have an 8 yr old that acts like a 4 - 5 yr old, that's probably because he does. So when you start setting up behavior management, you have to keep this in mind. It doesn't mean to not try to teach age-appropriate behaviors -- it's just that your expectations have to be realistic while you nudge them forward.

    Most behavior plans end up being a little of this, a little of that. Just depends on the child. We used a combination of the Explosive Child together with The Voucher System. No plan works overnight -- it can take months and sometimes years of consistency to change one behavior.

    Of course, safety is always first. If you have a child that has a tendency to want to start fires, no matter the reason, it's very serious. You have to kind of "baby proof" the home and be constantly vigilant. (Totally exhausting for the parents.)

    Involving law enforcement is not going to solve the problem and may make it worse in my opinion -- they don't have a clue to handle kids with neurological disorders. Neither is spanking.

    I'm not against spanking per say. But if your son's behaviors related to fire starting or stealing is connected with lack of impulse control or compulsion, spanking just won't work.

    I'm thinking that all you can do until you find out what's really going on with your child is to decide on a priveledge loss or time out and stick with it. With ADHD kids, time outs are usually can be best because consequences need to be sure and swift (and reasonable). That's what the professionals supposedly in the know say anyway. lol

    From personal experience with my son, I can tell you that at that age, if consequences weren't immediate, with a delayed consequence he'd forget what he was in trouble for to begin with. He'd just know that he had lost "X" for however long it was because "I was bad." (A whole other problem -- considering themselves "bad.")

    I wouldn't make the time out area his room. A time out chair in a study or other area would be better (easily observable by parent and with-no creature comforts). We used the computer room. And difficult child didn't have a chair -- he had to sit in the middle of the floor (still does sometimes lol).

    A mistake I made with the behavior management plan was trying to work on too many behaviors at one time. Select two or three behaviors to focus on and use "redirection" for the others. As he masters one behavior, drop it off and add another.

    Many of difficult child's problem behaviors were due to lack impulse control. The new behaviors have to become a habit, and even then new situations, new places present new "forgot to think before I acted" opportunities.

    The homework battles.... Sigh.... Long story that I won't go into. ADHD kids (and others) have to be "on" all day at school. It takes a lot of mental energy for them to attend school and many are mentally exhausted after school. Then we had the added problem of difficult child's medication playing out after school. Suffice it to say that I finally had to ask how long should "X" assignment should take. The best I can remember at 8 yrs old, it was around 10 minutes. That's what I required -- no more hours long battles.

    As bad as the terrible teens can be, I wouldn't want to go back to the 8 yr old age. It was a bad time for us. But things are much better now. We're still working on the brushing teeth without a battle, however. lol We've got the school days down no problem. But apparently no school today means no brushing teeth today also.....

    All this rambling probably hasn't helped....

    Wanted to add that it wasn't any one thing that helped. It was multiple interventions and therapies. All of it was just part of the puzzle. For instance, difficult child use to be forever in trouble at school for hitting. Part of that was due to tactile defensiveness. Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) therapy helped remediate it and the "hitting" grew less and less. No amount of behavior modification would help this -- it was an uncontrollable reflex to strike out when touched.

  12. shaile

    shaile New Member


    Thankyou Shiela..

    Yes it help as well as others suggestions. Most in part because of the simple re-direct for a frazzled mom at wits end. From the onset of doctor involvements we've been told that they just do not respond to discipline for correction..the best to hope for is re-direct for that moment and habit change..it can become very daunting after 6yrs of that, and no change in core habits..just different scenerios. While knows and knew the recent induction of spankings and talk of police involvement were/are no different in producing change..at some points it just comes to trying anything or everything in some wishful hope it might make a click.

    You are very correct in that of physical age versus mental/emotional. Our talk to doctors has always been it seems that he is a 4yr old trapped in a 8yr old body. Part wanting to do what 8yr olds do (especially when see's kids his age doing), and not being able to..which just leads to more constant daily battles and tantrums.

    Thankyou again