I'm at my wit's end... I need some advice!!!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MusesInspire, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. MusesInspire

    MusesInspire Guest

    Here is my situation:

    Our oldest daughter is 9, almost 10. She has a medical condition called Russell-Silver syndrome.


    While her's is a much milder case of it, she has still had a lot of issues:

    + Premature
    + Lack of weight gain
    + Didn't walk until almost 3
    + Extreme speech issues even now... (had to have surgery to lengthen the soft palette of her mouth)
    + Had tubes put in ears at 5.5 yrs due to constant ear infections
    + Extremely small for her size (she's 9 and we JUST NOW got her into size 7 pants)

    Due to her needs, she has been placed in the collaborative Special Education program so that she can get daily speech therapy, etc.

    We've always had some problems with her. She's always been rather selective in her hearing, etc. At one point, we actually had a full hearing test done on her just to make sure that there wasn't a hearing issue going on. However, we have recently (in the last 10 or so months) have started having even more severe issues with her as outlined below:

    INCIDENT ONE (still ongoing):
    Alyssa has started texting people, without our permission. She will sneak in and steal our phones during the early morning hours and start texting every one of our contacts. She has gotten into repeated trouble for this offense and yet she continues to do it. I am aware that part of why she does it is due to people having a hard time understanding her from her speech issues. But she is texting people that WE barely even know!

    INCIDENT TWO (still ongoing):
    Since she was old enough to crawl, Alyssa has written and drawn on the walls and furniture. Everywhere I look, I find 'Alyssa <3 Dr. Who' (it's her fav show) or something of that nature. However, NOW she is taken to carving things into wood, etc... and she'll write things with it like 'The tornado did it!' or 'Mia (her little sister, 8yrs) did it!' When she's caught, she denies up and down that she was the one who did it, when you can look at the writing/carving and tell that it's hers! She once tried to blame her 3yr old brother for writing 'the tornado did it' in perm marker on the bathroom cabinet! What the...?! Again, she is punished repeatedly, this last time going on total room restriction for the whole weekend... she comes out, immediately starts again!

    INCIDENT THREE (still ongoing):
    Lying & respect... everything is a lie and lack of respect! We tell her 'No, you can not use that notebook, it has Mommy's work notes in it!'... next thing you know, she has it and is writing on every single page! When caught, she says, &quot;I didn't know!&quot; 0.o I buy *3* coloring books, one for each of the kids and *3* boxes of crayons, pencils whatever... I stress that each one is that person's and NO ONE ELSE IS TO USE IT! The 3yr old and the 8yr listen... but Alyssa doesn't! She just takes it and uses it! This applies to EVERYTHING!

    INCIDENT FOUR (still ongoing):
    Attitudes! OMG! - the attitudes are KILLING! I tell her that she needs to do her homework; fit throwing! I tell her to change out of her school clothes; ATTITUDE! I tell her to pick up her cup from the entertainment center, I get this flabbergasted expression and a 'Fine! Whatever' stomp off and the put-upon sigh! This is with EVERYTHING! I tell her to help us pick up the house, the 3yr old and the 8yr old are doing it... she just gets an attitude and stomps around and suddenly has to go to the bathroom or back hurts or yadda yadda yadda. *tears hair out*

    INCIDENT FIVE (new development):
    She doesn't do her schoolwork. When she does, she's half-butted it and none of it's right. She doesn't do her homework. All she does in both class and at home is sit and write letters to her frickin' grandmother who lets her do whatever she wants! (Which is why they hardly ever see her anymore!) When she's out sick, she wont take the excuse notes to the office or give it to the teacher. We are now being contacted by social services because of too many unexcused abscences!!

    I honestly don't know what to do anymore! We've tried revocation of privileges, restriction, sentence writing, extra chores, corner time... EVERYTHING! I am losing my MIND! Most days, I honestly don't want to go home after work because I know I have to deal with her! All she does is scream (and I mean SCREAM) at her little brother, whine, complain, throw attitudes, etc... and I no longer can take it!!

  2. meggy1

    meggy1 Guest

    Hi, I can totally relate you what you are going through! Other than the medical condition it could have been me writing your post. I have a 12 year old daughter who has Interstitial Cystitis (something like painfull bladder syndrome). She has always been a strong willed child and has gotten much worse over the past year. One suggestion that was given to me when I joined this site is reading the book "The Explosive Child". I highly recommend it as well. We are also seeing a psychologist to help us get a handle on her problems and the way we react to them. She explodes, yells, screams, gets aggressive towards our younger daughter. There are times I've just locked myself in my room and cried. Anyway, after meeting with my daughter several times and meeting with my husband and myself the therapist believes she has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and should also see a psychiatrist for medication. Since part of the reason my daughter has her outburst is because of wanted the attention, it was suggested that as long as she wasn't hurting anyone or destroying anything that we should ignore her until she calms herself down and can carry on a civil conversation. Very, very, very hard to do but does help. Try calling the counselor at your daughter's school, they may be able to give you a suggesting on help available in your area.
  3. Jena

    Jena New Member


    sounds like a typical day in my own home lol joking. sorry she has that condition, my step daughter has turners' syndrome so i can understand the height issue and being smaller than everyone else. have you placed her in therapy so she can have the chance to vent out her feelings in a safe place that isn't family??? i think with kids that suffer from things such as this attending therapy is huge.

    as far as the other stuff goes yup sounds like a showdown all the time. do you have a lock on your bedroom door to stop her from entering with-o your permission and touching your phones?? we started locking our door had to.

    homework if she doesnt' do it let her suffer the consequences in school the next day. have you ever tried that? i know it sounds extreme yet my step daughter started "forgetting" her hw at school. husband would go crazy getting hw for her. i said no way. let her go in with-it undone than she'll learn. sure enough she did learn. she gets alot due to her size i personally think. she uses it to her advantage. not saying your does just sharing what mine does.

    ok the writing on wall thing, stepdaughter did that too! was marking walls absolutely everywhere. than started carving. each time she drew her name on wall and tagged it and made her stand there and clean it and scrub it off. granted she fought me like hell yet if your going to ruin it than fix it is my attitude. now she is my stepkid, so mom let's her do this at home all the time!

    as far as attitude step daughter is nasty too! lol. i used to give it alot of attention and make a big deal about it. she LOVED the attention. i stopped doing that, firmly planted her when nasty and disengaged she couldn't stand it. she's hardly ever nasty to me anymore. hardly ever!! not perfect.

    you gotta pick and chose your battles i think. i'm learning to as well, my kids' bipolar and she fights just about everything as of late. do not give her attention for the junk she's doing literally. punish do it quick and disengage walk away, same with all the other junk she's doing. set a time frame for it. see if theres' a difference in time to come. just stay consistent sounds silly i know yet just try it. zero attention for anything see if that helps. before you going jumping into possible evaluations, and stuff regarding her behaviors i'd try that first.

    hope it gets better hang in there!!!
  4. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Have you tried using the code lock feature on your phones? I know it's a pain to have to type in a code any time you try to place or answer a call, but it may be worth locking them when it's possible for her to gain access to them. While you're at it, password protect the computers, because they'll be next. You can also set it to require a password to come off the screensaver in addition to setting different users and locking them to certain hours so you don't have to log out just because you step away for a few.

    You might also have to put everyone's art supplies away (including those sharpie markers) and only let them be "checked out" while they can be supervised in their use and have to bring everything back when done. This may include installing a key lock on a pantry or closet to keep them in, or your room (a GOOD lock).

    Have you tried giving her some kind of squishy ball stress toy she can use when she feels frustrated? And yes, GET THE BOOK. Or should that be The Book? The Explosive Child helped us and many here sooooo much.
  5. Jena

    Jena New Member

    yea that's a great idea so you dont' have to lock the bedroom door. lock your cell's and hiding markers will cut down on tagging. yet she'll still be able to carve. i couldnt' find a way around the carving besides to take away a toy. my thought was damage our family propery now i take something of your's. and stress balls are great, playdough also works too, yet she might decorate with that lol
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thanks for the background references. I hadn't heard of this specific syndrome but I have heard of primordial dwarfism and I have also had my own experience (of course) with autism and learning difficulties. So some of my own experience, reinforced by what I have learned from other parents here, may help you.

    First - I think you are still thinking of her in terms of her being your eldest child 9and therefore should be more responsible, more capable of compliance etc) when I suspect she may have a lot more going on (or not going on) in her head than you realise. One important lesson we learned, is to not assume you understand why the child is so prickly or reactive, or fails to comply. Too often we assume this is something that can be disciplined out of them, ten when discipline only produces a sullen attitude response, we get frustrated with them. But think about it this way - put yourself in the child's shoes. You have big people around you punishing you for having brown hair. Every so often they notice your hair colour and you get another punishment. Sometimes you can slide by for a while, then you get a spate of punishment again. Your response, especially after this has happened for a while, would be a tendency to really resent the people punishing you. Initially you might argue that it's not fair, but eventually you will be saying, "Whatever..." or even throwing things.

    A lot of what you describe in her behaviour sounds similar to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some form. Bearing in mind, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) often manifests differently in girls. I note that this can also happen in this syndrome, so it is something to consider. having some Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) traits would be understandable. But from my own experience, you MUST handle these issues differently to how you would in a 'normal' child. This isn't fair, but it IS what works. or at least, works better. There is no cure, just management.

    Now to your issues more specifically - I think there is a lot of anxiety happening in there. Schoolwork/homework - the "attitude" you notice could well be a panic reaction and her feeling inside, "I can't do it." when the mere thought of the work sends the inner anxiety levels so high, that the only fast way to reduce it is avoidance. Anxiety actually teaches this avoidance, because the anxious feelings and the sense of panic is such a negative feeling, and when the child is asked to do the work and the panic hits, it actually trains them to find ways to avoid the work, because they instantly feel a little better. Never completely better, because that work is always hanging over their heads, like Damocles sword.
    I posted on an other thread a couple of days ago, on how to reduce this homework panic reaction and the resultant procrastination (with the inevitable "OMG! It's due today!" result). But basically, you need to encourage her to spend five minutes or ten minutes only, doing some of it. It has to be a concentrated effort for that five minutes, then you immediately reward her with something totally different - a walk together (perhaps to buy ice cream) or a game. I would avoid food rewards primarily, but you know what your child needs and in tis case a small chocolate bar might be a useful reward for five minutes' genuine effort. We have bags of mini chocolate bars, difficult child 3 earns one if he puts in solid effort for half an hour. But tat's my difficult child 3 and where we are at. you're just starting out.

    Other issues - they relate to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which is also a facet of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Again, anxiety is often a factor, in that once anxiety can be reduced, the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behaviours often reduce. But there are other factors to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). You need to assume that she cannot fully control her actions, and instead use prevention techniques - lock up stuff she is not permitted to have.

    We colour-coded things for our kids as part of the training of "This is hers, this is mine". easy child's colour was red (her cup, her toothbrush, her towel, her washcloth, her dot labels in her clothes, any items we bought). difficult child 1 was blue. easy child 2/difficult child 2 was yellow, difficult child 3 was green (I'd run out of primary colours!). Even now, difficult child 3 says his favourite colour is green, but it became his favourite colour because it was HIS colour! Having this rule for everything, including only using your own colour cup, has also kept these kids from catching one another's colds. I originally brought it in to avoid arguments, but the lack of disease transmission was a surprising fringe benefit.
    We bought coloured tape and we labelled things. You can label with the kid's name, plus you can colour-code. And colour is picked up fast. There can be no excuse (other than colour-blindness!) if you're caught using the wrong colour-coded item. Pencils, notebooks - colour them. Wrap tape around each pencil, stick tape across the front of the book, or down the spine. Write names on everything prominently.

    Next - if this doesn't solve it (and I'm betting it might help, but not solve it) you need to dig into her head a bit more to think about why she might do this. Lack of impulse control sounds like a strong possibility, in which case - revert back to prevention (which means you have to block her access to other people's stuff). Assume she cannot help herself (although she IS helping herself, and pretty freely too). Punishing someone for what they cannot help, is futile, wastes your time and effort and only teaches the offender that they deserve punishment purely for being who they are. It does not stop the problem behaviour because you cannot make that connection if you cannot help what you do.

    That doesn't mean you give up and let her draw/carve all over everything. It will get better, but her brain is just not ready yet, in this small area. Just because she can do the same level Maths as her classmates, doesn't mean she can stop herself from grabbing a felt pen and writing oon the wall. You could ask her, "Yo do know it is the wrong thing to do?" and she will hang her head and say yes (because she has learned that is the response you require to demonstrate contrition - it reduces the yelling) but it doesn't mean she really does get it, or can stop herself. So for now - do your best to block it, but otherwise treat tis as you would toilet training. Accidents get cleaned up. Not a punishment, but a natural consequence. If/when any of my kids had an accident, they had to clean up. Of course I would help, but the child had a responsibility to come tell me (if I didn't find out for myself - and sometimes I had a child in soiled pants who hadn't realised) and then there was a routine - strip the bed (if it was a wet bed) and take the sheets to the laundry. Load the washing machine (that's where I come in - it might not be convenient to wash the sheets right then). Wash the child (we used a telephone shower to hose the child down - again, Mummy was needed to get the temperature right). Put on clean clothes.

    difficult child 3 didn't draw on the walls, but he would chew the furniture. We had a tiger-striped lounge suite where he scraped off the varnish and stain with his teeth. I also had problems with difficult child 1 swatting mosquitoes on the ceiling and walls of his bedroom and not cleaning off the bloodied corpses. I had to work hard to make him clean it up - he said he wanted the bodies to be a deterrent; I said mosquitoes don't think that way because they haven;t got enough of a brain to reason. That all the bloodied corpses would do is attract more mosquitoes.
    I had problems with several of my kids wiping their hands ont he wall of the toilet, when they were not as careful with the toilet paper as they should have been. Instead of wiping their soiled fingers on the toilet paper (and then washing their hands VERY thoroughly!) I would find poo streaks on the walls of our toilet. Often embarrassingly, it was a friend or visitor using our loo who told me about it. I would then get a scrubbing brush and one of the three likely offenders and make them clean it off. In vain did the child protest, "It wasn't me, it was X!". I was fair and made them clean in turns, so they knew that X would eventually have to clean the walls. As we cleaned, I kept saying, "If you get poo on your fingers, use more toilet paper to clean them off. It comes off better on the paper anyway, than on the walls. Then go wash, with soap."

    Eventually the poo streaks stopped happening. Mozzie corpses on the toilet walls - yep, difficult child 1. He had to go scrub. Again - not punishment, but natural consequences. Someone has to clean it off, and I sure as heck didn't do it. If I have to take the time to clean the walls, then it takes away my time and tires me out, so I am too tired and too short of time to make biscuits or cake. I need the kids to help me, so I can do nice things for them.

    My kids also tried the "I'm too tired to do it now..." routine. Then everything would stop. I would be too tired to fix dinner. For anybody. Or I would be unable to proceed until the cup was picked up. Or just leave it there to get stepped on and broken - then "you want a drink? Where is your cup?" My kids were responsible for returning their cup to the sink draining board and rinsing it clean. We re-use the same cup, we don't get a fresh one out. We finish our drink, we don't leave it sitting there to get manky. We don't pour it away if we decide we don't want all we got for ourselves. "Take all you want, but use all you take," is a strict rule for us. Eating/drinking is only permitted in the eating/drinking places, and when the kids have broken that rule, the ants come and they have to deal with the plague (usually in their bedroom, usually discovered as they're going to bed). I remember easy child had a large stash of jellybeans once, and the ants got in and nested in the jellybean jar she had hidden in her bed. She was NOT a happy camper!

    Natural consequences teach a great deal, and YOU are not the ogre. Life is. Or their own actions.

    Read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. We use tis book a lot. There are also other good books which can help you. But that one is a good start, because it helps you step back from what is working, and evaluate and refine what is. It also gives you a few added tools.

    One last point - we found that problems were worse, until difficult child 3 was better able to communicate. His frustration at communication issues led to much worse behaviour, much worse anxiety and more tantrums. Punishment for anything he couldn't help also pushed his anxiety levels up which also made Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) issues worse. Punishment for those Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) issues then meant we were in a negative feedback loop. But once you begin to turn around that negative feedback loop, you should see fast improvement. To the point where she is in control of her actions, then no further. Once she cottons on that your main task is to support her and help her overcome difficulties, she will stop being so obstructive and begin to ask for more help without trying to take it for herself.

    Good speech therapy can make a big difference. Bad speech therapy can still help, but falls short. This is a communication issue, not just a speech issue. Good speech therapy should deal with all aspects of communication. Maybe her communication techniques need some re-thinking and she needs to be permitted to write down what she is trying to say, as well as making the effort to speak.

  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi and Welcome!! You have gotten some awesome advice!!

    Has your daughter been thoroughly tested for learning disabilities and various other disorders? Generally we suggest finding a neuropsychologist and having a very thorough evaluation done (10-12 hrs of testing over several days). Your daughter may have some other things going on. Testing should also show the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) if it is one of her problems. You can usually find neuropsychs at children's hospitals or a pediatrician neurologist should know where to find one to help you. Knowing what is going on can be helfpul, though some of the interventions are the same regardless of the disorder.

    In addition to The Explosive Child, get a copy of Parenting with Love and Logic by Fay and Cline. It is an excellent resource because it stresses using natural and logical consequences while strengthening the loving bond between parent and child. They actually have quite a few books - you can learn more about them on their website - www.loveandlogic.com.

    Another useful tool is a Parent Report. There is a link in my signature that will take you to it. A Parent Report is a document that YOU create to keep ALL the info about your difficult child in one place. It lets you communicate more effectively with the "experts" and is a huge help keeping things organized.

    Has your daughter ever been evaluated for assistive technology? There may be special computers and other forms of technology that can help her communicate and do her work better. My boys both have dysgraphia, which is a learning disability in writing words and writing is painful, difficult, hard to read, and NOT something they do very willingly. They each learned keyboarding at an early age and at about 5th-6th grade got special laptops designed to do their schoolwork on. The laptop is incredibly durable (Wiz could tear up almost anything - the word unbreakable was a challenge he could NOT pass up!) and is designed to keep them from doing things they were not supposed to do (like gaming, etc...). The difference between what they each write by hand and what they write on the computer is shocking. Many 3rd graders could write better sentences than Wiz would in fifth grade if he had to write by hand, but what he wrote using a computer was more on the level of a college senior. Having the computer to type class notes, assignments, even do math problems on made a GIANT difference in his frustration levels (and grades, lol) because he could then communicate ideas in a more satisfying way.

    Your school should be able to provide this technology, though you may have to ask or insist it be put in her IEP. Wiz' laptop was called an Alphasmart, though the name may have changed since then. If you google it you should find some current models so that you can see what you want to ask for.