No Clue What To Do NEXT...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Struggling, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. Struggling

    Struggling New Member

    Hello everyone. I came upon this site through a Google search and am desperately hoping that someone has some answers, at the very least, I would welcome the knowledge that our situation is not unique and others can empathize to some degree. I have raised two daughters with little mishap and they are now grown and on their own doing very well.

    My difficult child is eight years old, soon to be nine and has been with me on and off since birth. He is the youngest of three children born to my youngest sister. Three different father's, she has neither the interest, nor the desire to raise any of them. Her eldest child was adopted by my Mother & Stepfather when they discovered that she had gone out drinking for five hours and left him unattended in her apartment, thinking that he was an infant and what harm would come to him in his crib? He is bi-polar, as is my sister, has ADHD, and explosive disorder. I'm sure the rest of the list is quite lengthy as well, what I do know is that at ten years old, he cusses profusely, hits and throws things at my Mother, has threatened to slit her throat and has hidden knives in his room. When I discovered the latter, I called the authorities myself and he was removed from my parents home and placed in a facility for re-evaluation for over a month. He now resides back with my parents and his behaviors continue to escalate.

    My sister's middle son lives with his Father & Stepmother and has ADHD along with developmental problems.

    My difficult child stole my heart at birth. He has asthma & allergies and has been diagnosed with ADHD within the past year when I was called to the school because the teacher's had run out of ideas to deal with his inattentiveness, disruptiveness and impulsiveness. We made an appointment to see his pediatrician and medication was prescribed. To date, we are on the third and forth medication with little success.

    My difficult child has lost all of his belongings, a suggestion by both the school and counselors that there be consequences for his behaviors. He has been told repeatedly, that he may potentially earn every item back, if he simply behaves and masters some self control. Instead, his behaviors continue to decline. He has begun to lie and this morning my SO and I, discovered that my son has been getting up in the middle of the night, sneaking into the attic and playing with collectible items, notably off limits and been consuming large quantities of desserts after we are asleep. Last night, he consumed 6 ice cream sandwiches, 2 italian ice, bit into a cannoli, wiped out nearly all of the pickles & strawberries, some coffee ice cream and nearly a pound of chocalate cookies. He also helped himself to a cigar, which gratefully, he didn't light...but he had chewed on the end and then replaced it into the pack. When confronted, my son confessed that he has been doing this since he was still attending school. This time, he left enough evidence to get caught and I am left wondering if this was his intent all along?

    My son & I moved to another state within the past year, so I know there were alot of adjustments to be made, along with the knowledge that my attention was now divided between him & my SO.

    The other important factor to mention here, is that periodically my sister (sons birth mother), decides to try to make waves and take him back. Not because she wants him...but, merely because she can. Over the years, she would simply send the police to collect him. The last time she asked me to take him, I insisted she sign a petition for adoption, which she did with no emotion whatsoever. He has been with me for nearly four consecutive years now.

    Recently, while searching for a counselor and because I had moved to another state (even with my sisters knowledge) but without final proof of adoption...I was investigated for potential kidnapping. DCYF sent a representative to do an intake and asess the situation and determined that my son is safe and everything is being done in his best interest. During this time, I notified my Mother & sister, requesting that they appear in court on my behalf if necessary. My sister, at first agreeable, has once again decided to flaunt her presumed authority and has threatened to try to pursue a kidnapping charge. I am not really worried in that respect, what I am concerned with is my son's welfare.

    I love this little boy with all of my heart and my SO and I have done everything in our power to try to convey that, but my son's behavior continues to escalate and I simply don't know what to do anymore. Sending him to my sister would be disastrous...he wouldn't survive and I brought him into my life to assist him in having the best chance possible. He is a bright, intelligent & inquisitive child and deserves the best life has to offer. But somehow, I feel as if I'm failing him miserably. Common sense tells me, this is not my fault, but it does my heart little good to hear this.

    I'm missing something and I don't know what. Although DCYF stayed involved to assist until the adoption is finalized, the counselors refuse to treat him until all legalities are final. So now what? My sister abandoned my son, at first I thought this was a test to ensure that I wouldn't...but now, I just don't know what to think. I love him...but how do I help him? Any advice at this point, would be very greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for listening. God Bless.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011
  2. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    I highly recommend the book "The Explosive Child" by Dr. Ross Greene. That book will explain why typical behavioral strategies do not work with certain children and what we, as parents, can do to create a more beneficial environment for our atypical kiddos.

    Welcome to the board :)
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Welcome... and :hugs:

    I understand how you feel - as many of us here do. Part of it probably WAS a test - he's had a LOT of upheaval for someone so young. However... You say you've removed his belongings, and it is clear you have realized that "normal" consequences have little to no effect on our difficult children.

    I do not understand why the counselors refuse to see him. You have the court's blessing for interim custody; obviously doctors don't refuse to treat him, so there's a disconnect somewhere. Can you get an affidavit from DCYF that states you have the right to obtain medical and psychological treatment for him? I'm just throwing out ideas.

    You do have a very troubled little boy. I don't have a LOT of answers, unfortunately. One thing I can say, though - The Explosive Child was a good book, and though the recommendations didn't work for Onyxx, they do for Jett - and - for me. I'm able to detach a little better by using the basket system. The explosions are still awful, but they are not quite as upsetting to me. (Though since I have not seen Onyxx since June 5, there have been no explosions to deal with.)

    More gentle hugs... welcome!
  4. keista

    keista New Member

    Welcome to the board. You found a great place for support, guidance and insights.

    I think you already know, but there is more than ADHD going on with your little boy. Since your sister and his older brother are bi-polar, there is a strong possibility that he is too. Carb cravings are one indicator of BiPolar (BP), and it sure sounds like your difficult child suffers from that. My son is a bottomless pit, and he still would not be able to eat that list you posted. Could be symptomatic of something else as well. A full evaluation is in order. Most here swear by a neuropsychologist evaluation, I personally haven't had that 'luxury'.

    Welcome again to the board.
    A few tips:
    Set up a signature to give basic family info (you can follow the example of others as to what to put in) At the right top, click on settings, then Edit Signature is about halfway down on the left.
    Use paragraphs. The giant block of text is difficult to read as well as to go back and find important 'details' when responding to a post.
  5. Struggling

    Struggling New Member

    Thank you for your recommendation of "The Explosive Child," I welcome anything that offers some insight.
    Glad to be here.
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi welcome to the board! I do think you will find this place a source of comfort in the very difficult seas of raising a difficult child.

    I hope you can do something legally to get your sister out of your lives and leave your little boy alone. That will help a lot. I would also recommend getting your little boy into a child psychiatrist and a child therapist instead of just the pediatrician. pediatrician's are great for normal stuff but they are out of their league with this stuff.

    I also agree with the above posters who feel that there is something more at play here than simple ADHD. If your sister has bipolar, well that is genetic and her kids have a chance of inheriting that. Also if she drank or did drugs while she was pregnant, that isnt good either. You really need a good diagnostician to help you tease out what is going on but it can take a while to do this.

    Meanwhile do read some books on kids like ours. The Explosive Child is liked here and so are the Love and Logic books. I think there is also one called What Your Explosive Child is Trying to Tell You that I havent read but I have been told is good.

    Good luck and keep posting!
  7. Struggling

    Struggling New Member

  8. Struggling

    Struggling New Member

    Thank you also for your suggestions on posting.
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. Sadly I can relate to the ongoing problem with his birth mother. It is so frustrating and disheartening. Sending supportive hugs your way.

    Have you been able to have a neuro/psychological evaluation done? We have found that testing to be very valuable in identifying difficult child problems and also shining light on suggested actions to take to help the child. Like the others I don't understand why there is resistance to you getting help for him. Are you recognized by the school system as his legal guardian? If so you could go to the school counselors and ask that they recommend or order a neuro/psychiatric. Via that avenue you may well end up with some answers and he may end up being documented thoroughly as needing help. IF you can afford to pay for it via insurance or private pay it should be expedited. Further the school would have access to the full report which would help getting an IEP for him through the school system. Good luck. DDD
  10. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Oh, I remember 8, that was a rough year for Tigger too. Eeyore struggled alot at 7.

    I know it is harder than it sounds but I think you need to swing your focus from what he is doing wrong to what he is doing right. Point out all of the good things he does (good job putting your dishes in the sink, good job closing the car door nicely, etc.) and ignore misbehavior when it doesn't involve safety. For example, Tigger was coloring on the wall. Instead of yelling at him for coloring on the wall, I asked him to please go put on his swimsuit to play in the sprinklers. Then when he came back, I had 2 rags and spray ready to go and asked him to help me clean up the wall quickly so we could go play.

    "The Explosive Child" is a MUST read for kids like your son.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Did your sister drink/party/take drugs while she was pregnant with your son? If so, be careful...he may have fetal alcohol affects, which greatly affect behavior (and is not his's your sister's fault). It is organic brain damage of varying degrees due to alcohol pre-birth.

    Another thing I'd look at is reactive attachment disorder. It's very common among kids with extremely chaotic early years, especially adopted kids. These kids puzzle us because the more we love them, the worse they act. They are literally afraid of love because they don't understand it as they had learned very early on, sometimes in infancy, that there is only one person they can really count on: Themselves. Here are links regarding both fetal alcohol affects and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (reactive attachment disorder). It sounds like there is a lot more going on than ADHD. If you hooked up with parents who adopted older kids, they can probably really relate and help you. OK, here are the links: (attachment disorder link) (fetal alcohol spectrum link)
  12. Struggling

    Struggling New Member

    Thank you to everyone for your comments thus far. It seems as if I have spent the better part of the day in tears and I am extremely appreciative of the support. My SO & I just got off the phone with the DCYF worker again who has been involved with us since the 'possible kidnapping' accusation. Once again, he was extremely supportive and assures us that he is doing everything in his power to assist us with some type of counseling or therapy for my son.

    My SO has been watching my son while I work and has reached her wits end with what to do next. She feels as if she is a prisoner in our own home and struggles just to get through each day. She is convinced that my son has some deep seeded hatred toward her for entering our lives and becoming part of a nucleous which detracts attention away from him. Part of me believes that also. As for our DCYF contact, he is a wonderful man and has been trying to also secure a big brother mentor for our son. He would like to take the job himself, but is already spread far too thin.

    I can't seem to stop crying. And I know that will not help the situation at all....not even in front of my son. I love him so very much...and I know that I am repeating myself with that...but even with my background in Human Services & Special Needs...I can't seem to comprehend how we have reached this particular point in time. I've done nothing but love him and now I find myself in the position of disciplinarian and yet his behavior continues to worsen. And as much as I realize that much of his behavior, if not all...could have a direct correlation to his birth mother....I find little comfort in that knowledge.

    Every bit of this feels like a direct and deliberate kick in the teeth...and I am angry & frustrated and beside myself for lack of answers...yet, my heart wants to do nothing else but to embrace this child in my arms and draw him closer. But I can't. I want to be a good & responsible though my heart is breaking, I hold him at arms length in the hopes he will soon understand.

    Please tell me you understand and I'm not the horrible monster I worry I've become.
  13. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Adding in my welcome and supportive hugs. You have definitely found a soft place to land. Others have given lots of good ideas. I think it's really important that you find some "me" time with everything going on. Trust me, I know this is easier said than done. My husband and I have done a lot of tag teaming over the years. For us exercise is huge! I also like to read, cook, and nap (yes, it's probably an escape but some times I need that too).

    You are not a horrible monster. What you are dealing with is very difficult. I know there are many times I do not like my difficult child; the love part is always there. There are times he is ready to give me a hug and I'm not ready. I really try to look for those bright spots and he still gets hugs-plenty. It's really hard even when we know that it isn't really directed at us and much of it he can't control to not take things personally. Around here we talk about growing rhino skin so we don't take things so personally (again easier said than done).
  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I can't really comment on why you're not getting access to help - that doesn't make sense to me either. But, we've been there for other reasons... so... here's some ideas for you.

    Do your own research. Look into various possible diagnoses (diagnosis), and see which ones might fit. You won't be able to do your own medications interventions, but you can try various behavior techniques that work for those diagnosis, and see what happens. It also provides a roadmap of information for when you actually DO get to tdocs and psychiatrists to work with.

    Start a parent report (see site resources) - it will help you collect and organize all the important info, again in prep for future use.

    Some ides for research... (others may have more ideas based on what you describe...) on top of MWM's suggestions of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)...
    - Anxiety disorders
    - obsessive/compulsive disorder
    - depression (this is different in children than in adults, and different in boys than in girls)
    - someone else mentioned bi-polar

    We found that even having half a clue as to what we were dealing with, made it much easier to gather ourselves together and try again. It isn't that this child is deliberately trying to attack or destroy you and your S/O... the child has problems, and the behavior is a cry for help.

    To answer your last question...
    When we "hit the wall", we (as parents) tend to turn on ourselves. It comes from burnout. Its not because you're becoming a monstor - but you need help, too.
    Suggestion: if you can't get tdocs and psychiatrists for the child right now, can you at least get access to counselling for yourselves? (you and s/o). This is to help you deal with the stress of the whole situation... but the counsellor may also be able to give you some pointers about dealing with the child, and/or may be able to put pressure on "the system" to get more help, faster, for this child. Its not because you're mentally insane... its because you don't want to go there! (been there done that!!!)

    Hang on. Find a knot somewhere... this place is one knot that lots of us use. There will be answers.

    {{hugs to all three of you }}
  15. Struggling

    Struggling New Member

    Dear JJJ, We have tried repeatedly to focus on the good behavior, but it seems that about the time we do...we are met with another act of defiance to remind us once again, that perhaps we have portrayed the fools once again. My son's 'night follies' followed my granting him tv privelages two night's prior to watch 'The Song of Bernadette.' We had gotten into a conversation about saints and how that manifests, and because we had the movie on tape and he was intrigued, I thought it might do some good. Instead, about half way through when he began to fidget and it was already an hour and a half past his bedtime, I suggested he watch the rest at a later time and he immediately went straight off the deep end. Proclaiming how much we must hate him and he was going to runaway and how very much he wished he was dead.

    It doesn't seem to work, but it certainly isn't for lack of trying.
  16. keista

    keista New Member

    more ((((HUGS))))

    You are NOT a monster. If I had a dime for every time I felt that way because I did NOT want to spend another second with DD1.....

    Yes, you and S/O need to carve time for yourselves, both together and separately.

    Oh, if only the reasons were that simple. On the contrary, your son now has 2 ppl to care for him, to love and nurture him. 2 ppl to pour their attention on him.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    But having two people who love him NOW does not wipe out his early years. He was still an infant and toddler who had a chaotic beginning, probably starting in the womb, and he is obviously not responding to that love. That's why I mentioned attachment disorders.

    Unfortunately, kids who come to us later in age are prone to more and worse problems than those born to us or adopted and given to us very early on. It would be highly unlikely that attachment disorder is not part of the problem, and, if she drank, alcohol is probably a part of it too.

    This is not your average biological difficult child (and THAT is bad enough). Everyone has heard of failure to thrive syndrome (babies who do not grow or gain weight when they are not held or nurtured enough as infants). Well, attachment disorder IS failure to thrive only on the inside/in the psyche. It requires a very specific type of therapy, if indeed it is part of the problem. Fetal alcohol spectrum, IF this is part of the picture, also requires different parenting AND different expectations.

    I strongly advice a neuropsychologist evaluation for this child and it would be a huge plus if he was familiar with adopted children because this child is exactly like a child who was adopted at an older age. They have issues that are different from other difficult children, on top of the regular difficult child problems.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hi, I'm coming a bit late to this.

    First - read that book. It will help.

    Second - and again, this will be reinforced by the book - it's all very well to punish bad behaviour by removing his things and expecting him to earn them back, but what if he simply does not have sufficient control? He is then set up for failure. Our kids can't help it a lot of the time, especially when their environment is more challenging than at other times. A common thing we hear is, "I know he can control himself; he behaves well at school/at home but gets really bad in the other location." This does NOT mean your child has exceptional self-control; it just means that some environments are easier for him than others. Or he holds it together at school because he knows it is more critical there, then gets home where he knows he is loved and feels safe, then lets everything go, every little frustration and annoyance of his day, and you get hit by the shrapnel of him coming apart.

    It helps to try to work out what is behind the problem behaviours. Sometimes it's like a Gordian knot, you can't work out where the end of the knot is so you can begin to unravel it. Keeping a diary can help. When you read back through the diary, or when you get other people to also provide information, it can help you see patterns that otherwise can get missed.

    And finally - it shouldn't matter, but are you a same sex couple? It makes no difference to us here, but it can have a bearing on how authority figures treat you. It could also explain why your sister every so often starts proceedings. Someone could be getting to her and pushing her to file. Not fair, not right and certainly not stable for your son.

    Simply being adopted, especially one in your situation where there is a natural mother occasionally rocking the boat, can be enough for behaviour problems. My sister adopted two children and had three of her own. Both her adopted children caused a lot of headaches. We found the girl's behaviour especially interesting - she was 7 months old when she came to us and was a lovely little thing. Beautiful but malnourished. There was a lot we weren't told, but my sister found that this baby would refuse to take a bottle while being held and would not drink a warm bottle. My sister finally worked out that the only way she could feed the baby was to put her in her cot with a cold bottle of formula. What does that tell you about how the child has been cared for?

    As she grew, this girl was very competitive with her younger sister (my sister's natural daughter). None of the kids knew about the adoptions, the adopted kids were not told until they were almost adults. There were no natural parents on the scene. At the time it was an option given to us. The belief was that nurture would overcome nature every time.

    But where does nurture begin? And we now realise, nature has a much greater impact than was credited.

    My adopted niece was increasingly competitive to the point of undermining her sister. My younger niece would buy some sheet music to teach herself, and find her adopted sister had stolen it and wouldn't let her have it back until she, the older one, was proficient at playing it. When the music was given back it was dog-eared and often badly damaged. Just one small example.

    We now wonder - was the early neglect of this baby a factor in her determination to grab everything she could for herself before it disappeared? Interestingly, once she found out she was adopted, and under what circumstances, she began to make changes in herself. It was as if she finally understood. Meanwhile her younger sister was always loving and forgiving. They are now very close, they live near one another (and near their mother) and spend a lot of time together. Both girls chose similar career paths but by that stage, not in any spirit of competition.

    And a final interesting point - my older niece has four children. She's a great mother. But her third baby had health problems. She took her to the ER and they diagnosed malnutrition. My niece was on the point of losing her baby to CPS. My sister intervened and pointed out her daughter's early history. The doctors did more tests and diagnosed a digestion problem. We now wonder if my niece had this problem as a baby and this could have been why she was in and out of hospital as a baby. She was neglected as a baby though. But perhaps not as badly as we thought.
    Baby is now in school and doing fine. However, possible Aspie. Thanks to our experience with difficult child 3, plus my niece's studies, they recognised it early and have been getting help for the little girl.

    My niece had another baby last year. Another little girl. Thankfully, no digestive problems.

    I remember my niece as a kid and teen - a real hellion at times. Lying, demanding, difficult, controlling (very). A wonderful person now.

    Just thought I would give you some hope.

    So - read the book. Read about the book. Google it. Get it from the library. Get your partner to read it. You are a team, the two of you, with this boy. Get her to lurk here or post here too, so you can be even better on the same page. My husband does this, we then talk about issues together. What we post is often a distillation of our concerns and thoughts, whereas when we talk, it can be disrupted and disjointed (life and kids get in the way!).


  19. seriously

    seriously New Member

    Welcome. I'll try to do brief responses - not my forte - but I'm short of time today.

    1. You don't say where you are/state/country - but depending on the laws there you may need a court order showing temporary custody before anyone will agree to treatment - if they are being picky. I don't know who these counselors are but I would try someone else. In the meantime, talk to the guy at social services about something from them to help when you encounter this problem.

    2. Your son needs a child psychiatrist. Do NOT go to the pediatrician for ADHD medications any more please, please, please. He is probably a great pediatrician but he is NOT a child psychiatrist. Particularly given the family history your son needs a thorough evaluation for both psychiatric and developmental/functional issues. The first is from a child psychiatrist (not an adult one) and the later is best obtained from a neuropsychologist. If you haven't had any testing done at school then you can start by requesting an assessment for Special Education. That will get you some basic assessments hopefully.

    3. You and SO must adopt the following mantra and repeat, rinse, repeat as needed: I will not take this personally.

    4. Additional mantras:

    I am a GOOD parent.

    I will say something once and then stop talking.

    I will ignore as much as possible but I will not back down.

    Remember to use one liners. (one liners are throw away statements that you can use like "I'll get back to you." or "I'll love you no matter where you live." or "I'll talk to SO about it tonight." or "I'm sorry you feel that way." )

    5. difficult child's seem to have a knack for knowing how to push your buttons and to split parents (set one against the other). You must be on the same page with SO and always back each other up. SO is probably right - it is common for a step-parent (essentially what SO is) to be the target of the worst behavior and she has to remember the mantra. She also needs time away to allow her to keep her cool.

    6. If possible, set a routine and keep to it. There should be a set bedtime and bedtime routine. As you discovered, he can't handle staying up late. It's important to remember that his nervous system is probably over-loaded a lot (as evidenced by his behavior) and he needs patterns to his day that he can rely on and his body can get used to and count on.

    7. Write down house rules. Go over them with difficult child. Then post them. When he violates house rules you say "remember, that is against our house rules." and don't say anything more. Don't threaten punishment. You should have identified a list of privileges as part of the house rules and say that he can lose any or all of those (or get them like extra chores) when he violates house rules. If you decide his violation of house rules is sufficient then let him know "you have two options. You can stop XYZ which is against the house rules or you can go cool off. If you choose not to stop then you will either get an extra chore or lose your TV privilege for today. You choose." Then follow through. You do NOT have to tell him before you take away a privilege. You just do it.

    8. You and SO need to be seeing a therapist - as in yesterday. It is very difficult to have a child like this and you need support to make it. Without it you are likely to find yourself single or at war with your SO and your kiddo. Make an appointment today with someone - preferably someone who has experience working with difficult adolescents. I know he's not an adolescent but he will be before you know it and someone with that kind of experience should be able to help you reduce the chances that he will be an impossible adolescent. And yes, you will probably still be seeing this person when your difficult child is 16 so don't be shy about being picky and getting the right person.

    9. Do not despair. It is way too early to conclude that it is impossible. You are just now starting to seek help that may make a huge difference. Try the techniques in the Explosive Child. Come here and ask questions and get advice about practical things and then take what fits for you and leave the rest. You cannot try everything and you will need to start small and build over time.

    Best wishes
  20. seriously

    seriously New Member

    PS: you have to be consistent and do these things for at least 3 weeks every day before you are likely to see any significant change. if anything the problems may increase for a while before they get better. wait it out. If he is unable to modify his behavior despite your consistent application of calm limit setting (calm voice, no yelling, no retaliation, no provoking him because you're angry) that is important information for you to have and give to his psychiatrist or psychologist.