My four year old is abusive!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by tootired, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. tootired

    tootired New Member

    I am new to this, but I hope I can find some support from others dealing with similar situations as I am. I am a stay-at-home mom of two boys. My oldest is four years old and my youngest is seven months old. Somedays, I feel like my four year old is possessed! He will be nice and using his manners one minute, then the next thing I know, he's screaming at the top of his lungs at me, throwing toys down the hallway at me; when I try to get near him, I get hit, kicked, bit, or spit on. It's like he becomes a different person when he gets told to do something he doesn't want to do. My husband is the only one that can control our oldest; when he's around my son doesn't become abusive or do half the things he does when it's just me at home. We've taken him to our doctor who referred us to a psychiatrist. It was such a waste of time. The psychiatrist gave us basic parenting advice and told us there was nothing wrong with him. So we went back to the doctor and he said maybe our son had ADHD and put him on Adderall XR. My husband never saw a change, but I swear it made our son psychotic! I still have scars and bruises from all the bites and kicks I received in that two week period. One day he was mad at me and stepped on his little brother's chest. Afterward he told my husband he did it because he was mad at me and didn't want to listen. Things have gotten so bad, I worry about my youngest's emotional and physical health...not to mention my own safety lately. We have an appointment now to see a developmental pediatrician but it's not until January. I am at the end of my rope and don't know what to do. Does anyone have any suggestions?!?!
  2. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I'm sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. So, your gut believes that the sudden violent outbursts are side effects of the medication? Is he still on the medication at this point?
  3. tootired

    tootired New Member

    We took him off the medications last Friday; that day, he bit me three times and kicked me a few times. He was so out of control - screaming at the top of his lungs so hard his voice went hoarse for about an hour and his face was beat red. Since we haven't gotten in to see this other developmental pediatrician, our doctor said he talked to other doctors and wants to put him back on Adderall but up the dosage and also wants to put him on another medication. (I don't know what it is, my husband can't remember the name of it.) The aggression started about 18 months ago and has progressively gotten worse. I don't know that the medications are helping, I do think taking him off the last medication made him snap though.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Are there any psychiatric problems on either side of the family tree? Substance abuse?
    Is your child delayed in any areas? Is he affectionate? Can he play well with toys and make good eye contact, even with strangers?
  5. tootired

    tootired New Member

    Bipolar runs in my family (I haven't been tested though); my father has bipolar type I. As far as the paternal side, I'm not sure. I think he was bipolar but I don' know for sure. My son is a quick learner and does ok socially most times. He doesn't do well with authority figures (especially if they're female). We had to pull him out of daycare because he was screaming at the teachers, hitting, biting, kicking, and just being mean and destructive. He can be very friendly to strangers (it's actually becoming a problem) because he tells them everything. He looks people in the eye when he wants to but he almost never does it with me anymore.
  6. Jena

    Jena New Member

    Sheesh i have no experience with this particular medication, yet the aggression as you said started 18 mos ago which is a while ago. What type of testing was done so far? I know its difficult when their so young.

    What types of consequences follow when the behaviors is this way? Do you try or believe in time outs? I know that may sound silly at this point but i was wondering
  7. tootired

    tootired New Member

    They've given us a bunch of written tests and verbal tests to see what he has (ODD, ADHD, and possible BiPolar (BP) are the tests so far). We have tried everything from time-outs, taking things away (i.e. movies, toys), to only noticing the good behavior and ignoring the bad. The last one we were trying to see if it was an attention thing. Everytime he is supposed to go to time out, it turns into WWE around here; chairs go flying and screaming begins. It's hard to deal with because then he gets the seven month old screaming and scared.
  8. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    I'm hardly an expert, but it sounds much more like bipolar than ADHD. stimulants would not be the first medication of choice. I think a dev. pediatrician is in order, also maybe a child psychiatrist. I wouldn't obsess too much about the diagnosis as long as it isn't too far off; the question is whether the docs will try the medications that are most likely to help. Our experience is that they always want to start with stimulants because they seem to be the less 'scary' but often they can make things worse. If things get out of hand talk to your psychiatrist; maybe a visit to the emergency room will get you seen earlier. Unfortunately, you are at the state where many of us were at initially, playing the doctor merry go round.

    I might suggest that you post in the general section with a title to the effect of possible undiagnosed bipolar what medications for 4 year old? Maybe that will get attention of a few people. Smallworld, the moderator there, often has very good advice.

    I also suggest that you get a copy of the book The Bopolar child. There is a chapter early on it on medications, which is really good to read and will give you a lot more ability to dialogue with your doctor when you see him. When I started educating myself on medications I waas in a much better position to help my children I think.

    Good luck. This is a great place to learn a great deal. I am sorry about your child. I've been there. My son was so abusive at one point to my husband that he actually checked into a motel to preserve his vital parts. It really was an awful period, but the good news is that many things are now better.
  9. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    My guess is it is all about the new baby. And there are more things to do to those around you at four. I have photos of my son at that age and he does look deamond posessed. He cut his own hair and the deamon look is their.

    I used the schedual to wear him out at differant times during the day. Big run arounds we called them. ANd I used the tub as a neutral place to deposit him where he could and did play to his hearts content giving me some downish time or to get something done.
    Having a buddy for playdates does that help or not? I found after about two that having the buddies together kept them involved at playing.
    REmove the toys he does not want to share first.
    Can you get some mothers helper in with you for part of the day? Try greeting your four year old without your baby in arms when you arrive from separations from him, also. Make some time to be just with him.
    You are just introducing the infant and it is not easy...and you are an adult. Your little guy is having his world turn upside down and he may be a good talker but he does not have enough language to expprss hhow he feels.
    Maybe play therapy. Do you have a rice table? Do you have clay for the four year old? CAn you structure more patterns into his day so he feels renewed interst in what he can do?
  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi tootired, I'm glad that you found us--you're in like company here. Your little guy sure would wear me out!

    Good to hear you've got the developmental pediatrician evaluation lined up. We usually suggest a developmental pediatrician with such little ones. Here's a thread about the evaluation process:

    Be sure and call to the office and ask to be put on a cancellation list. Sometimes they can get you in sooner but you'll have to be ready to go on short notice.

    I'd also suggest contacting the public school district to line up an evaluation with them (in addition

    I'd suggest getting a copy of the book The Explosive Child as well as reading the thread about it at the top of this board. Many parents here have used the strategies in the book successfully. In the mean time, while you're waiting for the evaluation, take a preventative approach--supervise as much as you can, don't leave him alone with the baby, lay low on expectations (ie don't make eating at the table a big deal, just get the food into him, don't worry about picking up toys, etc). Just keep him safe and others safe and let the rest go for now. I'd skip all the time outs and other consequences because he's just not at a point where they're helping and are probably just causing more meltdowns.

    If bipolar runs in the family, you will want to educate yourself before starting him on any more medications because certain classes of medications (including ADHD medications) could make him much worse if it does turn out to be bipolar. Since you're unsure at this time, you'll want to take precautionary measures.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I recommend reading "The Bipolar Child" by Dimitri and Janice Papalos. While nobody knows what is wrong with him (that probably includes the doctors--he's too young to definitively know) stimulants make any sort of mood disorder worse. I would want a fresh point of view. A neuropsychologist is a good place to start because a Dev. Pediatrician can see if he has forms of autism, but won't know anything about early onset bipolar. It's not his field. ADHD/ODD is often the first diagnosis, but it also is often really something else. Good luck!
  12. tootired

    tootired New Member

    Thank you all for your advice. We have read "The Bipolar Child" a few times and are trying to talk to the doctors about it; however, everytime we bring up the word bipolar, the doctors say it's too early too diagnose. We have seen a couple doctors and a psychiatrist who tell us it's not bipolar. The psychiatrist said it's normal four year old behavior and gave us basic parenting tips. That obviously didn't help us much! He had a decent day today; no hitting or biting me. He threatened to hit me, but decided against it since Dad was home. He acts so different with my husband home than when it's just me. I am going to call the pharmacy tomorrow to see what other medication. the doctor wanted to put him on so we'll see what happens. Thank you again everyone for all your advice; this is such a big help to me!
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Well, as you know it ISN"T normal 4yo behavior. You are going to have to be very persistent. Docs sometimes have a hard time thinking that little children can have big problems.

    I recommend you find a developmental pediatrician. They are more used to what is and isn't normal behavior at different stages of a child's growth and development. If you were in OK I would send you his name, he was great with a child who people kept telling us was "too nice" to be abusing his siblings and I.

    It isn't the new baby. It is just too extreme to be the new baby. You may have docs tell you that, but keep insisting that something is WRONG.

    You are going to have to make sure that your son is NEVER left alone anywhere his older brother can get near him. While your 4yo has no true concept of death, he could severely hurt or kill your baby. The fact that he stepped ont he baby hard enough to leave bruises is VERY SCARY. You are going to have to take one child or the other into the restroom with you - it truly is at that point, given what you have told us. I KNOW how hard this is. I had a child who was determined to hurt his siblings. My husband and I spent several YEARS having to take the same-sex child into the restroom with us because my oldest was hurting my daughter every time he was alonewith her for even 30 seconds.

    Yes, even in the restroom you MUST be protecting the baby. It is hard. And it stinks. And we understand how hard and scary and just horrible it feels to have to do this. Ohter parents here truly do.

    Until you can get some intense help for your child you are going to have to take safety measures including an alarm on the door so you know if your oldest goes into the baby's room at night. You need a plan for what to do in any and every type of emergency. And you need to plan out ways to keep everyone safe.

    Call the pediatrician. IF he is understanding, sit down and explain your fear for the baby. Tell him what the psychiatrist said. Ask for a referral to a developmental pediatrician, adn to a different psychiatrist. While you wait for those appts to come around, go see the psychiatrist you already saw. Tell him the 4yo stepped on the baby because he was mad at you. Tell him that you are putting safety plans into place. Tell him you need more help than parenting advice. Show him the parenting books you already have tried. Ask him to teach you to do a SAFE restraint on your son - so that you can restrain him when he is trying to hurt you or soemone else. (Your pediatrician might be able to teach you this - but you MUST be taught how by a professional or you might hurt your child, and I know you don't want to.).

    Gentle hugs, I am so sorry.
  14. tootired

    tootired New Member

    We have scheduled an appointment with a dev. pediatrician. and a new psychiatrist but it isn't until January. We asked to be put on a cancellation list but that list is almost as long. Our doctor. is working with the other two listed above and they are all trying to figure out a plan in the meantime. I just hope they hurry...things get rougher by the day I swear. We have gotten to the point where I take our youngest everywhere I go. I think he's starting to get separation anxiety since we've spent so much time together. He sleeps in our room when the oldest is not sleeping just so we can make sure nothing happens. Has anyone ever tried Adderall XR? The doctor. gave it to us for the ADHD and I'm not sure it's working. Just wondering if anyone else has had any experience with it and what (if anything) came of it?
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi again. It sounds like Adderall isn't working oryou'd know it. My son got mean and aggressive on all stims. It turned out that ADHD was the wrong diagnosis.
    I've raised five kids way past four and I can tell you right off the bat that the psychiatrist who told you that his behavior is "normal four year old behavior" is out of his mind. Four years olds don't bite, kick, hit. Most two year olds don't even do that. Im glad you have evaluations scheduled. I am still not convinced that a Dev. Pediatrician will know about childhood onset bipolar and I'm afraid you'll go through what we did--a wrong ADHD diagnosis. and stimulants that made him even worse. But I do hope the best for you. It often takes a LONG time to get to the real problem. Oh, yeah. I agree that this is bizarre behavior even with a new baby. My kids were all jealous when a new baby came into the family, but none of them, not even my son with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), acted like that. It's something within the child himself--probably some disorder--and I would buy "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene to hold you until you can see the professionals. It's a great stop gap measure until you stabilize your child. Take care :)
  16. tootired

    tootired New Member

    I've heard a lot about the book "The Explosive Child" so I think I'm going to go ahead and get it. We've bought a few more books too about childhood mental disorders and medications. I'm worried about putting him on some of these medications; the side effects can be pretty serious. I just hope we get things figured out soon because it's causing a lot of stress for my family. Does anyone know of a good book about keeping your marriage strong when your child is like this?
  17. Mandy

    Mandy Parent In Training

    Your little one sounds just like mine and I am also worried they will slap an ADHD diagnosis on him and give him medications that make it worse. I also have an 8mo old little girl and we now have gates up for her in the living room, and it works great also because Cole cant work them! They are the metal kind that you have to push and lift. He scratched her face once and I have kept them seperated ever since then. He wants to play with her and sometimes I think he is doing good, and then the other night he slapped her in the belly for no reason! It is so frustrating!! Welcome to the group and please keep us updated on how it is going!
  18. 30 and searching

    30 and searching New Member

    I just wanted to stop in and say hi! I also would like to learn more about keeping your marriage strong when you have difficult child's. About Adderral, it works for some kids... but didn't for my oldest son. He got way worse on it as well, Midwest Mom. But for my friends son, it worked wonders.
  19. tootired

    tootired New Member

    Sorry it's been so long since I posted last; things have gooten pretty bad around here. We bothered all the doctors enough they called in a rx for clonidine for difficult child but we haven't started it yet cause I don't know exactly what it does and if it will make him worse again. The docs are still saying it is ADHD but I'm begining to think my husband and I are smarter and know more about what is going on and what drugs he should or should not take! It's gotten to the point, he can't be around our youngest and I since he tries to hurt me and I just don't trust him around the baby. I don't think he wants to hurt the baby except to make me upset. It's more doing things to upset me and try to exert his "power" over me. He doesn't act like this when my husband is around...just when it's me and the kids.

    I am still looking for any good marriage books; I'll post them if I find any.
  20. Mandy

    Mandy Parent In Training

    From what I have read the clonodine helps them to fall asleep. Cole has many issues going to sleep and staying asleep. So sorry you are having such a rough time right now:( BIG HUGS!!