Discipline when stable???

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by howlongto18, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    I hardly ever post here anymore. Carlos has been mostly stable for almost two years now on Seroquel. We think his diagnosis is bipolar, but still don't have anything official other than Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified. My gut and the guts of several docs are calling it bipolar unofficially.

    Anyhow, quick synopsis is that without Seroquel and with other medication trials he was either extremely hyperactive and manic (to the point of running until vomiting and still going) or violent. He would say he liked hurting us and would talk to the "transformer boss" who told him to do bad things and not to take his medications. He would follow us around to hit us in the back saying he liked to hurt us, and in the midst of a two hour rage his eyes were blank and absent.

    Within days of taking the Seroquel his violence vanished. The rages were gone. He still gets very hyper, but the difference has been night and day for almost two years. We did have a point where we were giving him fiber which seemed to mess with the medications a bit, but other than that he's been stable... hyper but non violent.

    So here's the problem. I don't know how to discipline him. We use 123 magic, and it's okay. We don't have the raging and we do have him obeying the consequences of timeouts with some prodding. That's huge progress. Still, I can't help feeling he gets away with murder sometimes because we don't want him to spend his life grounded. He lies and lies and lies. We punish him for it (character is of huge importance in my book) and he will get through his punishment and then look innocently into my eyes and lie to my face again.

    So, do I let him stay grounded forever since there seems to be a disconnect that allows him to link his behavior to his punishment? He seems to think it's our fault he gets in trouble. I refuse to let my life be run by a child, I can't be sane that way, but my heart aches for this child who is always in trouble! He thinks every rule that we give him applies for five second intervals and he NEVER seems to get it.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I had to quit using the same time-out approaches with my son around 4-5 yo, too. They just weren't effective anymore. I don't remember for sure what was effective because that was so long ago. LOL! There's another thread on here about rewards for a 6yo boy. You might check it out- it sounds like this might be a good time to separate some things out and use the reward chart for some things. Some of our difficult child's respond very well to the "atta-boy" when they are acknowledged for doing something right. Not that you don't do that, but sometimes it helps to "show" them in different ways than what we are showing it. There was a poster on the other thread talking about her use of a visual- that sounds like a good idea, too.
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, it does not seem like punishing him will accomplish the goal of teaching him that lying is bad.
    What if you came up with a different idea to try to express that lying breaks trust. I know he is young. But, maybe something like this.

    you: Carlos, what would you like for dinner?
    him: spaghetti
    you: I don't know if I believe that you want spaghetti because you lie all the time. I guess I will make meatloaf.

    That may be an exaggerated example but there will come times during the day when you can express the lack of trust because of the lying.

    You know him better than me, is he capable of connecting those dots?
  4. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    Here's what we are doing now. 123 magic with time outs for behavior that is not civil. 3 or more time outs means no friends after school. After lying progressively got worse we decided to ground him for one day when he lies. This is in the room with bathroom and meal breaks.

    I am homeschooling him. When he gets defiant about his work, it's straight to a 3. Violence and yelling can be straight to a three (which is 5 minutes timeout). Not going to timeout without a fight double the time out.

    His chores are rewarded with a sticker chart which earns small toys (which he promptly destroys to "build something" but whatever).

    We also is currently doing some work to pay off a window he broke because he disobeyed our rules. Over and over we told him not to throw rocks around the vehicles, but he kept doing it and finally broke the truck window. He's pulling weeds for that.

    I don't want the punishments to grow to the point that he feels buried and discouraged by them because that's counter effective. However, I think he is very good at manipulating/bargaining/negotiating and I don't want him to get any ideas that he gets a special set of rules. My number one goal is to produce a functioning adult.
  5. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    We've tried this. I tell him that I don't trust him to do XYZ because he keeps losing my trust and has to earn it back. He acts like he gets it, but then still continues to lie.
  6. navineja

    navineja New Member

    We have a similar lying issue with one of ours. This has been going on since the girls came at age 3. Recently, we again asked J (the one with the lying problem) why she lies. She said "Sometimes you have to lie to protect yourself."!!! After establishing that she meant protection from punishment, we once again emphasized that lying only causes problems and real protection lies in telling the truth, lies cause more consequences, etc. This time it seems to have sunk in some. Since that last discussion, J is telling the truth more often than lying (with reminders that the truth will make all of us happy). It is a long battle to get rid of behaviors learned in the early years, especially when the child views those behaviors as vital to his/her wellbeing, but it can and does get better.
    I know that age 5 is too young to expect him to get the above concepts fully, but I guess what I am saying is that eventually they do get it. Keep working at reminding him that the truth will make him happy. In addition, try to catch him telling the truth (even if it is a very trivial thing) and make a huge deal about it. One thing that helped with our other girl, N, when she was lying, was to give a small treat when she told the truth. We used the phrase "When something good comes out of your mouth, then something good goes in!" and gave her a gummy bear or a sweettart or something like that. Her personality really responds to positive reinforcement, so that worked wonders with her. And it is immediate gratification for the good deed. This worked somewhat for J, but not as well. We have also used sticker charts with rewards for a certain number of stickers earned. Also visuals like marbles or pennies in a clear cup for each truth told. I find that I need to change up the rewards system every so often, when it seems not to be as exciting and thus not as motivating to the girls.
    Hang in there and remember many of us have been there done that, even still doing it!

  7. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    1. Has he had a speech assessment to clarify whether there might be some subtle language (not literally speech but higher order language) impairment? My son was recently identified as having one and it explained a LOT about some of his difficulties.

    2. When you say he lies, lies, lies - what exactly is he lying about? Is there a pattern to the things he lies about? If so, this might give you some clues about how to counter the problem more precisely. What is the goal of the lying?

    3. To counter your feelings of guilt about "constantly" punishing him, you could institute a set period of time each day (preferably very consistent) like 20 minutes every day at 10 am, when you will spend time with him and only him. During this period of time he decides what he will talk about, what you will do together (if anything) - he is totally in charge and you are a relatively passive participant. You do not criticize him, you do not confront any lies, you just accept whatever he says or does during that time - provided of course that it's safe and doesn't involved destruction of property.

    4. I would be seriously looking at a mood stabilizer to add to his antipsychotic. If he's really bipolar, the hyperactivity could be hypomania and a mood stabilizer might help a lot.

    5. I don't want you to feel defensive about homeschooling him, but if you feel that he has become skilled at manipulating you perhaps it might be worth considering a different school arrangement. I homeschooled my twins for 2 years and felt it was the absolutely right choice at the time (6th and 7th grade). But we have returned to traditional public school this year and, again, it was the right choice for my children.

    A more traditional school placement might reduce the manipulation (even if only because he's gone from the home for a few hours) and other adults and peers in a school setting will certainly serve as additional feedback mechanisms that may impact this particular kind of problem behavior. I think you are right to be concerned about this and that every time he succeeds, it reinforces the behavior.

    6. Adopted children can have special challenges relating to bonding with their adoptive parents. I assume you are familiar with these challenges and the possible treatments out there. If not, I would strongly encourage you to gather information about this and to ask his psychiatrist about whether some of these issues could be associated with an attachment disorder.

    Best wishes
  8. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    Thanks for all the advice. Just to clarify, he's seven now. The homeschooling is not something I feel comfortable changing, I really feel like it's the right thing for him at this time, but we do revisit the decision regularly. He does get feedback from other adults through church and sports and such.

    The lying is almost always to cover his behind. We point out each and every time that if he'd told the truth his punishment would have been much lighter. When he does tell the truth we reward him for it by lightening the punishment and telling him how proud we are. He likes it and says he's glad he told the truth.

    The most recent thing was that he took some siding we had for our home (we're replacing a window) and he started cutting it up for a playhouse. I knew we were using the siding but wasn't sure if his Dad had given him a scrap piece so I asked him if his Dad said he could have it. He looked right into my eyes and assured me that his Dad had said yes. First thing that my husband notices when coming home is the siding. We confronted him and he admitted to the lying (which is progress I think... usually he denies he lied even when presented with undeniable facts!).

    It isn't only the lying though, it's rules in general. He doesn't seem to think any rule applies to him. There are some rules of the house which haven't changed for years, which we have to remind him of daily, sometimes multiple times a day. It's so exhausting! For a while I thought he just needed to get motivated to remember on his own... no arguing, just an automatic cause and effect situation, but I swear, the kid doesn't get it. He will spend all day in trouble.

    This morning about the lying he said "I know what to do, I just don't want to do it." Where do you go with that? If he's punished too harshly he'll decide it isn't worth trying at all. I just hate feeling like I'm walking a fine line! I'm the parent!
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That does make me wonder if maybe the punishment isn't severe enough, but we have to tread lightly with that one. I'm assuming you are always consistent and follow thru. Maybe this is where the 1-2-3 benefit ends and the kid needs punished the first time he does it wrong- if it's something he already has been told not to do a million times in the past.

    I remember getting to that point with my son- he knew better and I knew it so darn, if he did it once that was it.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    in my opinion, he can spend his life being punished, but he still doesn't seem to "get it." Or he gets it and is just being defiant. I also am wondering if his diagnosis is right. Was he exposed to alcohol during his b-mom's pregnancy? Then he could have fetal alcohol spectrum issues which would definitely explain the constant lying and not getting it in spite of not liking the punishment. Or he could have attachment issues. I've adopted six kids in all and two aren't with me anymore (long story). Your son sounds a lot like this one child we adopted at seven. He would come home from school and tell us he saved everyone at school from a whale (we live in Wisconsin) and insist it happened. He'd had a terrible history of abuse, but was basically a good, smart kid, but he had attitude. in my opinion trying to do away with all the bad behaviors when you still aren't sure what is going on just isn't going to work. He can become immune to punishment and not care. There are kids who you CAN'T punish becuse whatever you do doesn't bother them. Have you read "The Explosive Child?" Is Carlos in therapy? Does he seem to understand therapy and relate well to the therapist? Adopted kids can be very complicated. We don't know the genetic background or how the fetus was treated. That means it's harder to diagnose the kids...
    To me, if something isn't working, it's best to get a fresh perspective and try a new approach. I wish you luck, whatever you do.
  11. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    Thanks for the feedback, I'm headed out the door and have a busy weekend ahead, but will ponder on these questions over the next few days and be back with my thoughts...

    Thanks again,