We are at a loss...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by dca, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. dca

    dca New Member

    Our daughter is 15. She has been a competitve swimmer and water polo player on her high school team as a freshman. She has always been a gifted student, but very stubborn. In the last year her grades have been shoddy. she really has not had the opportunity to get mixed up in drugs and alcohol (I know that she has drank on a few occasions though), but we feel her recent behavior makes it the next step.

    She does not want to do anything. She is unreasonable and flies off the handle. She is very disrespectful and angry/bitter. She has also exhibited signs of depression.We have basically taken away all of her privileges (phone, computer, tv). Her behavior hass only gotten worse.

    About 10 days ago, we took her to an adolescent PHD. We had to fight her kicking and screaming to get her in the car. Now she refuses to go back or even talk to him on the phone.

    As of this point, we do not think that she will physically harm herself, but she has taken the position that she does not care about anything. We have tried to talk to her about earning back her privileges, but she does not care.

    What do we do get her to see someone to help her? We are at wits end!
  2. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Does she have anyone at school she speaks to? An adult...counselor, teacher, VP, etc.? Maybe they can talk to her about the importance of seaking therapy?
  3. dca

    dca New Member

    She doesn't really have anyone like that. She is one of those kids that doesn't want to ask teachers for help, even when the subject is beyond our grasp. She just gives up and blames us for not helpin her.

    Thanks for your concern.
  4. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Can she get TV back if she goes to see psychiatrist again? Maybe it will be the motivator that will get her to go. Something will. It is hard to find that something and then it changes all the time! LOL!
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    How about a relative - is there an aunt she is close to? Even if you can arrange for an aunt to call when difficult child is home alone and has to answer the pnone. It would be common for a relative to ask how she is doing, what her plans are for school - favorite class?, etc.

    How about her swimming coach or any friends from the team?
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Is she on medication? Are you 100% positive that she isn't doing recreational drugs? I didn't think my daughter had time to do them either, but she made time! I would spring a home drug test on her.
  7. dca

    dca New Member

    Thanks for all of your responses.

    I would never say that I am 100% sure she is not using drugs, but I was not an angel growing up, so I know what to look for in a kid. Also, she does not know that I have access to her Facebook account and there is none of that talk on hers or her friends' pages. I am pretty sure that she is not.

    I have tried to talk to her in general terms about cooperation and getting her things back. She says that she does not care. It is the "cutting off her nose to spite her face" thing. Bothe wife and I have asked her what she hopes to accomplish and she has said that she doesn't know. She seems really confused about what she really wants and is angry all of the time.

    Up until her most recent tantrum, she would calm down and almost regress to being a little girl and want to be held and babied.

    We are hoping that we do not have to go to her coaches or friends. That could be a disaster if word gets out. She also manipulates people into thinking that we are ogres. In addition, she does appear to be telling her friends and teammates the true amount of trouble she is in at home.
  8. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Depression may very well be at the root of everything -- her anger, lack of motivation, disrespect, not caring about the consequences you've doled out. If so, she absolutely needs treatment because it frequently doesn't get better on its own. Since she seems really dug in, you might want to give her a choice -- go cooperatively for weekly appointments with a child/adolescent psychiatrist (NOT psychologist) or be admitted to a day treatment program where she would go daily during school hours for treatment (diagnosis, therapy, medication intevention if needed). Day treatment programs can often be found at children's hospitals or psychiatric hospitals.
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My daughter is very much the same way. She does suffer from depression and has let her grades slip.She is also often angry and bitter-I think part of her depression and part typical teenage stuff. It's hard when they just don't seem to care much. I like SW's idea of giving her choice about going. Most likely she would choose appts. as opposed to a day treatment program. Sending gentle hugs your way.
  10. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I'm thinking stress. She's competitive, probably academically as well as in sports. She just got through her freshman year. She's starting to hear the demands that she know where she's going to college, what she's going to be, yada, yada, yada. I'll bet some of her friends have begun to change.....maybe doing things she doesn't want to do. People want her to make decisions that she sees as being for the rest of her life. There's a lot of pressure being a gifted, athletic, high school student these days. And it's scary. One way to deal is to just stop caring.
  11. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It's not unsual for girls your daughter's age to be happy, then sad, then angry, then noncomittal. But the bounce back should be fairly quick. In other words, they should continue on an even keel in short measure.

    The problem demands looking into if the moods begin to undermine multiple areas of their life. Their grades begin to fall and they don't care. They go from being social, to not wanting to spend time with their old buddies. They, overnight, give up the special interests that used to give them joy.

    I would say, although not a doctor or specialist, that your daughter is exhibiting symtoms of depression. It is very important that she get treatment. She will probably need talk therapy and medications.

    It's going to have to be a "world stop" situation. The world around her will stop until she complies with your demands. This is something that many of us have reverted to with our younger children. I know you say that you have taken away her phone, tv, and computer. What about social stuff? Is she still going out and meeting with her friends? That may be your next bet.

    Give the doctor a call and see what he/she suggests to get her there. I'm sure the doctor has dealt with a defiant teen. Perhaps they will have a suggestion.

  12. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    is there a boy in the picture? Perhaps a breakup or some social turmoil with female peers can also cause this kind of behavior. I would ask around to friend's moms and see if maybe there's something you're not aware of.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Gosh, between hormones and competition, and the possibility of drugs, it could be so many things. I agree, depression is a factor, too, but your won't know until you're able to get her to see someone.
    Does she have a special friend she likes to spend time with? What about telling her she can have her ph privileges back to talk to that person for 20 min. or so, if she does something small, like, the dishes, and see if that works, and then you'll know if you can raise the bar and get her to see a psychiatric, using a larger carrot.
    (Gosh, that was a long sentence!)
    What did the psychiatric, say, by the way? Did you call to talk afterward to get any ideas?
  14. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Two good books for you to read are "The Depressed Child" and "The Defiant Child" they give good insight into what she may be going through.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If you have access to her Facebook and she isn't talking about drugs, she's probably not taking them. I totally think it sounds like a clinical depression. I have a long history of both depression and anxiety and have been told that they usually co-exist. However, depression zaps your of any enjoyment from anything, even things you once enjoyed. Anxiety doesn't! However, anxiety can make one avoid situations.
    I never took drugs, but when I was depressed nothing and nobody pleased me as a teen. Depression makes you so unhappy that you lash out at anybody. Have you ever heard of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? It's the ONLY kind of therapy that ever helped me. You may want to purchase the book "Feeling Good" by Dr. David Burns. Along with medication, this way of looking at life helped me stop getting so depressed so often. I suggest looking for a CBT therapist. They're totally different and focus on what you can do to help yourself, rather than steeping you in the bad things that have happened to you. There's nothing worse in my opinion than talking about bad stuff when you're depressed. Good luck.
  16. freckledpotter

    freckledpotter New Member

    First, let me say that I have no experience with any of this yet, as my kids aren't teens yet. But your discription reminded me of an article I once read by a teenage girl and her experience with steroids. I was just wondering if the pressure of swimming has made her experiment with them. Just another possibility, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be talked about as readily as other drugs between she and her friends on her Facebook. Patient hugs coming your way!
  17. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm really concerned for her (as I know you must be).

    You punished her by taking away privileges, but it's not only made no difference, it sounds like it's made things worse. This tells me that as punishment, it didn't work. It has backfired. Which tells me - maybe punishment was not what was needed. At her age and ability, loss of privileges is perhaps a bit too infantile a punishment for her, anyway. I mean, if you are rude to your flatmate do THEY take away your privileges? No, if you are rude to a friend or a flatmate the consequences will be an increasing reluctance to do any favours for you, as well as perhaps a showdown where the friend or flatmate says, "Come on, man - what gives?"

    I know she's not exactly fitting the description, but this is yet another case for "The Explosive Child". She's not typical, though. This isn't a kid with a disorder who can't help her behaviour. This is a kid who for some reason suddenly isn't coping, and who wants her parents to magically read her mind, and somehow make the problems evaporate.

    There is something very, very wrong. I think she needed you to understand, and instead you punished her. To her mind, her last hope just evaporated.

    From your point of view - I am not being critical of your parenting. You did what you felt was the right thing to do, under the circumstances. You had no way of realising it was going to backfire like this. I'm coming along after the event, with my take on things, because I have that luxury. You didn't. You just did what seemed to be right.

    I would quietly talk to a teacher that you can trust to keep it confidential. Has the teacher noticed a change recently? Has the teacher noticed anything else that, taken with your own observations, could now point to some clues? A boy? A group of friends? Some academic, social or emotional challenges recently which may seem all too much?

    Before all this happened, would you have described her as the sort of girl who would come to you for help? Or was she likely to hold it all inside and try to manage for herself? From what you say already, she sounds like this second type.

    She needs to talk. I think you need to back off on the punishments. Don't worry about losing face by admitting you read it wrong - she's too smart for that, anyway. You would earn more points with her if you said, "We read it wrong. We need to talk about things and for now, we are dropping the loss of privileges because we think this is something way beyond that. You and we need to respect one another, and that means we talk to one another and listen to one another. It also means we must be polite to one another. We ALL need to work at this. We also care about you and love you, we don't like to see you hurting like this. If you can't talk to us about it, please find someone you CAN talk to. Nobody should have to deal with problems on their own."

    What would happen if you tried this? At her age and capability, I think you need to move beyond merely parent-child relationship and start moving towards a more adult-adult one. This requires, as I said, mutual respect. But you are the parents, you need to set the example and show her (in how you speak to her and react to her) what you mean by respect. If she disrespects you, do not in turn show disrespect. Simply continue to be polite, but draw her attention to it. "I did not disrespect you; please do not disrespect me." It's Basket B stuff (read "Explosive Child" to know exactly hat I mean - there is a good summary in Early Childhood forum).

    I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it can work when at this age little else will.

    I've used the analogy before - at a certain stage in a teen's development, you need to change your mind-set from "this is my child" to "this is my tenant." If you had a relative staying with you, certain house rules would apply and there would be certain standards of behaviour expected. But in return, you would also modify your own behaviour to the person staying.
    I first noticed this when one of the teen kids had a friend stay over. I found my attitude to the guest was different than my attitude to my own child, who was the same age. It made me remember the years of shared student accommodation when I was at uni. I moderated my response to my own kids and found immediate improvement. I then began insisting (in the same respectful vein) that student house rules would apply. These were the practical rules of
    * tell us when you will be in/out so we can cater for meals;
    * tell us where you will be in case we need to contact you;
    * put your dirty laundry in the relevant place so it can be washed for you next time we do the washing;
    * don't bring people home without first checking with whoever is catering that night;
    * share the tasks equally with other house mates;
    * if you're going to the shops, check with other house mates in case you can pick up something for them.

    These rules apply to kids and parents, equally. That way the kids can't whinge that you're only doing it to check up on them. The kids know that if I am going out, I will tell THEM where I am going and when I expect to be back. That way, they are more likely to do the same for me. I can't expect from them, what I am not prepared to do in return.

    Clearly you modify these according to the age of the person (for example, imposing a curfew - which again is a matter of respect for other house mates; you don't come in at 2 am and wake everybody up. Instead, you do the right thing by your own current life and get home in time to get enough sleep to function at school next day).

    All I've mentioned here is very superficial to what is really going on here. But it could be a start, to make it easier to find out what the problem is and hopefully begin to deal with it. I am really concerned that something has happened to really upset her, and she doesn't know how to deal with it or even how to ask for help. And as to what it could be - the sort of problem that could upset a very bright, very capable girl of her age - it wouldn't be something trivial.

  18. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    First, welcome to the board.

    Second - what Marg said (which she said much better than I ever could have). Especially:

  19. dca

    dca New Member

    Thanks for all of your suggestions. She did agree to go to the PHD last night after speaking to him on the phone. We met for about an hour (me, wife and difficult child) and then difficult child met with him alone for 20 minutes. She was really upset afterwords.

    My wife spoke to the PHD today and he sees her as being very confused and can't quite fiqure out why she is acting out so much. He thinks she may have a bi-polar issue. He believes that since she is so high functioning that depression is not a big concern.

    difficult child had another outburst this morning when she was told to get out of bed to feed her puppy and take him out. She basically dumped some food on the floor and went back to bed. Our guess is that since the doctor didn't tell her what she wanted to hear, that she is angry again. She is now on the porch sulking. We offered to give her a replacement phone, an old one, since her phone was destroyed when she had a recent outburst. The replacement phone apparently is not good enough. We replied that if she wants to use her babysitting money, she can buy a new one. No response to that though.

    We contacted her swim coach and did not give him the whole picture, but he is going to have one of the captains reach out to her.

    Thanks for listening to the vent. Any further thoughts would be appreciated.
  20. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I don't understand that statement. I don't believe there is any truth to it. What I really want to say is, huh?

    As one who has battled major depressive disorder for most of her life, I can tell you that I was very high functioning while being very, very ill with depression. I can also tell you that when my son was severely depressed and having suicidal ideation, no one at school knew there was anything going on. One teacher said he seemed to be a bit quiet. That's it.

    One with bipolar disorder isn't going to be any higher functioning than one with depression. It depends on the individual.