Our Visit to the psychiatric for Testing...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaisyFace, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    did not go quite the way we hoped.

    As always, difficult child put on the "I'm a perfect kid" face....and husband and I were no doubt wearing our "I'm stressed out and exhausted" faces. So there was no talk about having difficult child hospitalized. In fact, the really bad news is that the doctor, at this point, seems to think the whole thing is behavioral--that we, as parents, have allowed difficult child to get into some bad habits and she is playing us like a violin.

    The doctor has suggested we implement

    [drum roll please]

    a behavior chart. Ta-Daaahhh!!!


    But I must say, overall, I like this doctor. The doctor could clearly see that we were not excited about the behavior chart proposal, but she pointed out that if difficult child is mentally ill, she is mentally ill whether there is a behavior chart or not. She suggested we document difficult child's ability to stick to the behavior chart as part of the assesment.

    Which seems like a darn good idea to me.

    So I have designed a behavior chart that is pretty easy and straightforward, but will be very difficult for difficult child to stick to. I based it on the idea of those "shopper rewards cards" where you earn a little each week and redeem for prizes....old points expire after one month.

    difficult child will be required to act responsibly in four categories: Conduct, Hygiene, Chores and Schoolwork.

    And because difficult child is perfectly capable of keeping it together for short periods of time, the points are earned weekly--not daily. IOW, she has to shower regularly, wear clean clothes, use deoderant etc for the entire week...to get credit for acting responsibly in the Hygiene category.

    I have devised the scoring so that difficult child must be fairly successful in all four categories in order to earn any rewards at all. And I have tiered the rewards so that big rewards (like going to a friend's house) can only be earned after four continuous weeks of being really successful in all four categories.

    If difficult child earns the privlidege of going to a friend's house, I will be stunned!!!

    And if she is barely able to even earn the first level of rewards, I will ask that the doctor explain why a nearly fifteen year old young woman is having so much trouble with showering, cleaning her room, doing homework and acting/speaking appropriately with others.

    This should be interesting...

  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Seriously? Behavior chart?

    I don't know whether to laugh or be disgusted. But I suppose that if you look at this as a rule-out tool, it can just be one more step towards clearly identifying her problems.

    So how long is this correctional tool to be implemented before throwing in the towel?
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    We've decided to extend difficult child's testing out over a period of several weeks. I intend to document the "success" of the behavior chart throughout.

    I don't think it will be too long before it is clearly not working.

    In a way, I feel like a "mean Mom" for setting up a system that I know my child will fail....

    But at the same time, I know that a easy child would have no trouble.

    Hopefully, it works the way I am anticipating.

    Wouldn't it be terrible if it worked???

    Which would mean that all this time we've been living through this h*ll--and it all could have been resolved with a simple chart???
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, you will know soon enough if it works.

    Any regular kid could attain those things. Now my regular 15 year old back then would have rebelled totally at not being able to go see his friends for a month! Of course, he showered regularly, did his schoolwork normally, and was a pretty typical teen with normal mouthiness thrown in. Room wasnt the greatest though.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I see what you are trying to do, but I suggest you relax it just a little, so you can not be accused of deliberately setting her up for failure. I suggest you introduce a third level (or more correctly, a preliminary level where she can accrue some credits of a kind, for each achievement. I agree, this is a Kindy level of behaviour chart and if she can comply with THAT 100% or even close, I will be amazed. And a girl her age should be able to comply with a Kindy chart at least 90% of the time, and have sound reasons for the remaining 10%. Otherwise, I tihnk what you have set up is very good.

    The points expiring after a month - that could be a bit difficult for you to administer. If you're re-setting the chart at the end of every calendar month, what about points earned on the 29th of the month? Or are you cancelling out all credits 30 days older or more? I think you could have difficulties if you use the calendar month option, she will cry, "unfair!" and I must admit, I would have too. Again - you need to be seen here as fully supportive and realistic in your expectations. Don't set it at a difficulty level for a normal 15 y o, set it at a much easier level but still one where she cannot comply at the top level at her current performance. I'm sure it will show what you want the doctor to see, even more effectively. It should save you time. You don't want the psychiatrist sending you home to try it again, only a bit easier this time. You need to be able to go back to the doctor after a month and say, "Here is what I set up. Here is what I would expect a normal kid to manage. Here is where she came. NOW will you believe us?"

    Have fun with it. [do we have a tongue in cheek logo?]

  6. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hi Marg--

    The system is a little easier than it sounds. Let me see if I can clarify...

    difficult child can earn a total of 100 points per week. The first reward level starts at 80 points....so theoretically, she can reach a reward the very first week. The points are calculated every Friday.

    Conducting herself like a young lady (no cursing, swearing, name calling, dirty/inappropriate jokes and conversation, making faces or rude gestures) 30 pts

    Hygiene (keeping clean and wearing clean clothes every day, using deoderant, properly handling feminine products and situations) 15 pts

    Passing all her classes at school (even D minus OK) 25 pts

    Doing chores (correctly!) 30 pts

    AND she can even earn partial points in every category except school. So even if she skips a shower, still can still get points in Hygiene if she puts on clean clothes.

    Points accumulate each week until four weeks....then when she reaches week five, week one's points are dropped. (One + Two + Three + Four then Two + Three + Four + Five etc) This is easily tracked on a spreadsheet...and much easier to understand when it is printed out right in front of you.

    Yes, I feel that I have deliberately set her up for failure...but that's only because we have played this game before with behavior charts. So this time, I am not messing around.

    So far this week, difficult child is really upset about this behavior chart. She feels it's completely unfair to have all of this "responsibility". She keeps arguing that these expectations are unfair and a form of "punishment".

    And truth be told, her reaction does make me think "Gosh! I really am being too hard on her. Maybe I should relax these requirements a little!"

    But then, I remember the doctor explaining that husband and I have been babying her by not requiring her to behave like any other nearly-fifteen year old...

    And frankly, I cannot imagine why a young woman her age could not handle these responsibilities.

    So, we'll see how it goes...

    (so far, not very good.)

  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    by the way--Opinions welcome!

    Does this chart look like I am being too hard on difficult child and deliberately setting her up for failure?

    Or do you think it seems pretty reasonable?

    Or does the chart not require enough? (The only chores difficult child has is cleaning her own room and picking up after the dogs)

    Let me know what you think...
  8. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member


    Your expectations sound perfectly reasonable -- not at all unfair.

    I roll my eyes every time some doctor suggests a behavior chart. Those things are fine for kids who are motivated by rewards. Most difficult children are not. Our psychiatrist explained to me that some brains are simply not wired that way. (He had a great clinical explanation that I couldn't repeat if I tried, lol.) Our kids respond to immediate gratification, not delayed reward. They're all about the "now."

    When my difficult child was younger (pre-diagnosis) and we tried very simple behavior charts, I couldn't understand why he couldn't make it through a week of good behavior, even for something he really, really wanted. I learned from the psychiatrist that he just doesn't perceive the delayed reward as an incentive.

    At age 15, it's not like your daughter doesn't know that she's supposed to bathe, wear deodorant, not swear, etc. She's making choices. But if the doctor is using the behavior chart process as a diagnostic tool to get a clearer understanding of your daughter's problems and how to help her, OK.

    I know this is hard. Having a difficult child is like a typical teenager times 10!

  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think this is very clear and reasonable. I dont think you are expecting to much. I would actually expect higher grades if she is capable...lol. Ok...maybe not for a diagnostic tool. My deal with grades was for driving privileges. None of them made it.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    If you already have introduced the chart ignore my thought, lol. I was
    wondering if she would be more compliant if some of her ideas were included in the chart process. All teens hate to "be told" what they have to do but sometimes if they are allowed to participate it makes it seem less like they are being controlled. on the other hand, having raised eight teens, more or less, it obviousy doesn't always work. That's my only thought. I wish you luck. DDD
  11. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    We tried so many behavioral charts that they are a dirty word in this house. They never worked for our sons. I'm surprised that psychiatric did not suggest involving your difficult child in some of the goals of her chart. In my experience with rebellious teens I would expect your daughter to feel overwhelmed. Can you start with one behavior at a time?

    Good luck, I'm surprised psychiatric didn't suggest a magic wand as well :tongue:!
  12. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Thanks for your opinions!

    As far as difficult child having "input"...

    Right now, she feels that there is waaayyyyy too much on this chart. She thinks passing school should not be a requirement. She also thinks she is required to do waaayyyy too many chores.

    AND she feels that she should get her rewards daily.
    She also feels she should get rewards per each item. IOW--if she mouths off all afternoon, she will still get a reward because she showered that morning.

    I have purposefully NOT used daily rewards or one-reward per item because I am tired of playing that game. I do not think we should be giving out prizes because a high-school student put on clean underwear. Sheesh!

    PLUS--asking her to hold it together for a week before receiving a reward is a HUGE challenge for difficult child....and I want the psychiatrist to see that she cannot maintain these behaviors for any length of time.

    Can she do one homework assignment one day? Sure. Can she keep it together enough to do ALL of her homework assignments every day for a week? No.

    But Why not? I want to know--why not?????

    And isn't that the point of testing in the first place?

  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Having now seen your chart, I think you were too hard on yourself when you describe it as set up for failure.

    You have pretty much done what I was suggesting you do.

    As you said, she could achieve in the first week.

    My only possible concern - to ensure that there is as little subjective definition in the chart as possible. For example, you need to have defined "conducting herself as a lady" which you appear to have done. Do a lovely, tidy copy of it all (definitions included) for the doctor. If the doctor says it's too rigid or too strict, then remind the doctor that you were doing your best to not baby her and were following the doctor's own instructions. Then get the doctor to have input into modifications required, then again, follow through in between times. Eventually you will have a chart the doctor is happy with, and which you know ahead of time that difficult child is likely to not comply with.

    That I feel is your aim - to be a "good girl" for the doctor and be compliant, in order to more fully demonstrate difficult child's non-compliance even when you're obviously being reasonable and consistent.

    In this way, the chart is your guide for your own behaviour towards difficult child, and your way of demonstrating your own behaviour and expectations to the doctor.

    Ultimately - you want the doctor to see that this is big stuff, the chart is small stuff. difficult child is way beyond charts, but you have to show willing and 'play nice' to get the doctor to finally see this and allow things to move on to where some serious groundwork can begin.

    Frustrating in the meantime, but hopefully, eventually effective.

    Carry on!