Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by overwhelmed..., Oct 23, 2008.

  1. overwhelmed...

    overwhelmed... New Member

    I don't know quite where to begin here...

    I just came across this site today. My situation is probably not much different than anyone elses here, but for me it is wholly overwhelming.

    I fell in love with a man who at the time had a beautiful 9 year old little girl. About 6 months before I met him, his ex-wife died of cancer and his daughter came to live with him she was 8 at the time. As anyone can imagine and understand this child has been suffering since her mother died. We have, fortunately, been able to form a strong relationship and I know she loves me, and we express it to each other daily. We now all live together and she has just turned 11 years old. About six months after I moved in the home so did her grandmother (70) and great-grandmother (92). Needless to say, we have a full house.

    Every night is a constant battle to get homework done. She revels in her opposition of authority. She argues with you just to hear the sound of her own voice. She abuses her grandmothers and threatens to hurt them if they don't do what she wants (like signing papers for the school so she doesnt have to show them to either her father or me) she has stolen money from her grandmothers before and just last night I caught her stealing out of my purse. She fights in school and blatently disrespects her teachers. We have placed her in a private school so she can get the personal attention that she truly needs and even that has only seemed to help a little.

    She is in therapy and medicated. She takes zoloft and concerta. Her doctor just increased the concerta about a month ago and it hasn't seemed to help with her behavior at all. We have tried everything we know to help her to change her behavior. We have tried to reinforce the positive behavior, but it seems that there is very little positive behavior to reward. Mostly, it is her negative behavior that takes center stage. She is constantly grounded and never has an opportunity to go out and socialize with other kids. Even if she could, I don't think she would. I can't remember the last time she was allowed to watch t.v. or play on the computer. Everytime she comes close to working her way out of the hole she digs for herself she finds a way to get in even more trouble. One step forward, two steps back. She feels rules don't apply to her, she has no self-control. She has no respect for authority and does not use appropriate manners in any situation. She will talkback to you and doesn't seem to understand when she should keep her mouth shut and just say yes, ma'am, no ma'am, yes sir, no sir. She has to argue with EVERYTHING. If she wants something she will do whatever it takes to get what she wants regardless of who she hurts to do it.

    I'm just overwhelmed, tired and exhausted. I feel like I have jumped into the deep end of a swimming pool without a swimming lesson. I love her and her dad very much. I want to help this girl in anyway that I can. I want her to be able to experience the joys of life, rather than wallowing in self destructive behaviors. I know she is hurt, depressed, angry, sad, and any other emotion I haven't listed. Who wouldn't be? I just want to help her find a healthy way to express it.

    Anyways, I'm just new here and looking for any help I can find. I didn't go into any great detail, but just kinda wanted to get something out there. Thanks.
  2. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    Hi overwhelmed,

    I want to welcome you and let you know how glad I am you found this site. It is truly a great place with lots of caring and wise members who have helped me get through many rough times.

    I don't have much time at the moment but want to tell you that your significant other's daughter is very lucky to have you in her life. I don't know what her diag is, but she definitely sounds like my oldest, difficult child 1, when he was her age. difficult child 1 didn't show any improvement in his behavior until we found the right combination of medication and changed how we parented him.

    Unfortunately, parenting as we know it, doesn't work for our difficult children. First, we had to decide which behaviors needed to be changed. We decided to concentrate on safety issues. We ignored all of difficult child 1's poor behavior except for safety issues. Breaking rules to stay safe had huge consequences attached to them.

    In our case, difficult child 1 is totally obsessed with his computer. So, if he engaged in unsafe behavior, he lost computer privaleges. I know you said that consequences don't seem to matter to your difficult child. However, there must be something that she holds near and dear. Find that one thing that is truly important to her and decide which behaviors you want to change first. Make doing or using this one thing contingent on the behavior you wish to change.

    I think taking everything away from her just makes her more miserable and more angry. Try to concentrate on one behavior at a time. I know this is hard. I had days when I just wanted to EXPLODE!!!

    I'll just briefly mention one other thing. In order for any sort of behavior plan to work effectively, you and your significant other must be on the same page. If not, your difficult child will use this to her advantage. She will continue to use manipulation to get what she wants.

    Unfortunately, I've got to go. However, I know others will be along soon to give you excellent advice. Once again, I'm glad you found us.

    I'll be thinking of you today... WFEN

    P.S. Of course this is just my opinion. It isn't the only way to get results. There are some that use this method and others who oppose it. I don't think there is really a "right" or "wrong" way. I think whatever works in your particular situation is the right way.
  3. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    Does she see a counselor or therapist about her mom's death? Has she been evaluated by a phych or neuropsychologist yet? Does she have the same behavior at the new school?

    (((HUGS))) There are many days I'd love to just give up. You're not alone.
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Welcome Over! You've found a great place.

    First I want to recommend reading "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. You're particular little lady is obviously not responding to traditional measures (grounding, "go to your room" and the like), and this book helps you understand what's going on in their brains prior to and during a meltdown. The best part is that it's not a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo, sort of "writen by a human for a human!" ;)

    Has she had a thorough neuropsychologist evaluation? These are done by a neuropsychologist that will do a whole bunch of different tests over a few appointments. You can usually have them done at a Children's or Teaching Hospital. This will help you fine tune the diagnosis.

    Now since none of us are doctors and we can't diagnose, you'll see a lot of ideas and conversations on here that may or may not apply.

    With some different diagnosis', stimulants can actually "ratchet up" the bad behavior. My difficult child 1 was on Concerta for 3 years. He was diagnosis'd with Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD and ODD. Blech! :tongue: He was a real joy to live with! (NOT!!!!)

    Anyway, I insisted that we give it a shot without any concerta, and we saw a vast improvement in the behavior. He's still a demon and is right now taking Oxcarbazipine (for anxiety), but we've seen a real improvement. I'd say make sure that the diagnosis is correct, and then start looking at your options.

    I admire that you took on such a challenge as well as a really heavy load with the g-ma's! Holy crap! 4 Generations in one household - nothing like feeling like you're under a microscope!

    Stop in here often, when you get a chance do a profile like the one at the bottom of most of the posts, and make sure that you buzz around the watercooler if you want to goof off or blow off steam~!

    Again, welcome to the crowd~!

  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member


    What is she diagnosed with that she takes Zoloft and Concerta for?
  6. overwhelmed...

    overwhelmed... New Member

    Thanks for the welcome, guys.

    Her dad is an amazing parent. Very supportive. We work as a team with her and are very united when it comes to discipline and parenting.

    As far as her therapist is concerned, it has been a long road finding one that she will actually open up in the teensiest, tinsiest way. When we first started her on medication about a year ago and things greatly improved he said that she didn't need to see him anymore on a weekly basis and that we should contact him when/if things got bad again. He said that she wasn't emotionally developed enough to really deal with her feelings about her mother and that was about it. So things were going pretty well for awhile and then everything kind of fell apart within the past couple of months. We are going to see her therapist next week and see what steps we are going to now try and take. He seems to always give the answer of "medication." While I agree the medication is part of the answer, I really think she needs therapy to help her deal with her anger issues and how to appropriately display them. If he doesn't see things in the same light, we will be on the search again for a new therapist.

    She has not had a full evaluation. BUt she did take a few tests at her therapists office and he said ADHD, ODD. He described it like this: He held up his hand and crossed his fingers. He said ADHD and ODD go together like this. He then said his index finger was ADHD and then he put down his index finger and said that ODD was the middle finger and flipped us off! He was being humerous, and it was funny. We have to keep a sense of humor otherwise we'd both go crazy from all of this insanity.

    THe grandma's living at home are both a blessing and a nightmare all at the same time. GG (great grandma) isn't a problem at all. She's really mentally there, but so old she can't really do anything one way or the other. Grandma on the other hand is another story. She wants nothing to do with being a parent and helping us. SHe says so on numerous occasions. She wants to be her friend and is constantly breaking rules and giving into her whinning and crying(reinforcing her bad behavior). It's tough.

    How is it possible to focus on only one negative behavior at a time? I find it impossible to ignore anything. In her mind, if anything goes by the wayside, then that means that she can get away with it and it's o.k.
  7. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    First, HUGS. Second, more HUGS!!!

    Okay, I do have one question -- do you know what her behavior was like before her mother became ill and died? That is, was it normal kid stuff issues or much like it is today? That will make a huge difference in how you treat her and the treatment you seek for you. In the meantime, I'll provide some suggestions from my own experiences.

    Stop the grounding, etc. As you said, she can't dig herself out of the hole and all it really does is make her feel hopeless. Make the consequence fit the crime so to speak. She steals? She pays it back through chores. She refuses to do the chores? You have a garage sale of her stuff. In other words, make consequences immediate so that she can't dig herself into a hole.

    Call the school and let them know that notes must be signed only by you or husband from now on. Notes signed by any other individual are not to be accepted and you are to be called if such a note is brought in. Let her know this is the case, so going to great- and grandmother will no longer work. Also, let her know that when she harms or threatens to harm them it is called elder abuse and she can go to jail for this.

    Make an appointment with an officer (captain or police chief -- no lower) at your police department. Explain the situation to that officer and ask what they will do if you have to call them. You don't want her arrested, but you do want her good and scared. Most police departments will work with you. If you don't think yours will, then don't call them. Mine would come out when I called and talk to her. They also explained they were not arresting because I asked them not to. Otherwise, they would have been happy to take her in.

    Schedule one day a week for special time for her and her dad and a monthly family thing. It could be an outing. It could just be popcorn and television. Make this sacrosanct. This time will not be taken away as a punishment for at least the first 6 months (give it time to see if it makes a difference). The only way it will not occur is if there is an emergency (the kind you call 911 for, not any other). She needs some security, especially in adolescence and even more so from her father. She has to know she is loved by him regardless of what she does. She knows she is loved by you.

    A lot of your daughter's behaviors sound so familiar to me. The stealing, the doing what is wanted regardless of the consequences, the groundings that didn't matter (they did but she'd die before she admitted it), etc. Mine didn't have anyone other than me to abuse, so it was rare to see me without bruises even when she was 5. So, I truly do understand what you're going through.

    It's going to take time and a lot of patience. No matter how tough she acts, the odds are pretty good that deep down she does care. She cares that she's alone all the time. She cares that she doesn't have fun things to do. The problem is she sees no way out of her hole, so why bother. She may as well do what she wants, she's going to get in trouble regardless -- at least she'll have a little fun. This was my daughter's logic. I didn't understand this until she was an adult and we talked about it. I regret taking so much fun from her as consequences. She needed more of that and less of the punishments. In the long run, it would have made for a happier child and better memories today and, quite possbly, a lot less bad behavior.

    Good luck. Believe it or not, there is hope for all of you. My daughter is now working, living in her own apartment and is basically a pretty good person. Not perfect and will still argue until she's blue in the face, but a person I like, not just the daughter I love.
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi, welcome Overwhelmed.

    I, too, am wondering what this girl's behavior was like b4 her mother died.

    At any rate, I agree, that only you and your husband should sign school notes. Email the teachers, talk to them in person, whatever you have to do. Make sure they understand that your daughter will insist that it's okay to have grandma do it and that the teacher must be more insistent. Be sure to tell the grandmas that they are now out of the game as far as school is concerned.

    Is there a place to take your daughter after school to have her do her homework, away from the grandmas?

    We had the same issue, finding something good that our son had done. It was SO hard. But I started with-tiny things, like, "Thank you for using a nice voice." or "Thank you for feeding the dogs."

    The other thing I did was change my expectations and give clearer instructions. I'd expect him to feed the dogs right now, and he'd think he could feed them any time b4 midnight. So I was more explicit. I'd say, "You can feed the dogs anything in the next half hr. I think during a commercial would be a good time."

    You've got an added layer with-the grandmas at home. Best of luck.
  9. overwhelmed...

    overwhelmed... New Member

    Her behavior, from what I have been told by various family members, was pretty bad. She would throw monster temper tantrums and beat up the little boys at school. They would run from her. I also understand that her mother, since she knew she was dying, did not want her daughter to have any bad memories of her so she was never punished or disciplined by her mother. If she wanted something from the store, her mother would buy, not two, but three of them.

    Since I've met this family there has been a huge change in her. Her Father and I have been very strict and enforcing rules as best we can. It was really tough at first. She used to have major outbursts and temper tantrums. I remember about a year and a half ago we were going to go visit my SO's sister about an hour away from us. We had just gotten daughter a Playstation 2, and rather than being excited about having it and being able to play it when she got home, she screamed and moaned (literally) the entire ride down there because we didn't take it with us to set up and play at SO's sister's home.

    When she used to get mad at her dad, she would always say that she wished he was dead instead of her mother (pretty normal, I think). Then she would go into great graphic detail of how she would kill him... That's kinda how I knew she loved me too, when she would get angry at me she began telling me how she would kill me too. I think she's only comfortable enough with the ones she loves to tell them that! Twisted, I know, but if you knew her it would make sense. (We know she doesn't really mean it, she just gets WAY out of control).

    The medication has helped a lot. SHe hasn't had as severe of a meltdown for about a year now. That's great. She does meltdown of course, but now she is just extremely defiant, mouthy, lippy, has an attitude about EVERYTHING, no impulse control, she is all about self-gratification.

    We immediately set that rule regarding school after she hit her grandmother and tried to bully her into signing the paper. Homework is not done unless her Father or I have reviewed it. And we've had to have the teachers sign and fill out her agenda so there is no confusion as to what her homework really is. The school posts the homework assignments on the internet and before the teachers began signing her agenda, amazingly she was never told that she had the homework that was posted on the website. She is constantly trying to find new ways to get over on us and get away with whatever she can. It's a game for her and she's very open about it. She has told me, when I have asked why she behaves the way that she does, that she is just trying to improve her "skills." (Lying, coniving, cheating, deception....)

    Oh, it's enough to make you want to pull your hair out, because she isn't always this vile. She is sooo smart, I mean scary smart, and she can be very sweet and tender and funny and charming and all of those wonderful things that you wish for someone, unless of course, she doesn't get what she wants, then the monster pops out...