Why do they do even worse things when they are in trouble?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gingersgrl, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. gingersgrl

    gingersgrl New Member

    Hi everyone - I just found this site and feel such relief that I am not alone in this.

    My 12 yr old has just been diagnosed with conduct disorder. She's broken our dogs leg jumping on it in anger. After 2 surgeries to pin it back together she went back and stomped on her back leg. I made her tell the vet what she did and took her to the police station. She lies and acts out all the time. We are waiting on a counselor to be arranged for to come do home visits. I just can't figure out why when she gets in trouble she gets worse. If we have a fight and go to the store that's when she'll steal. Today she was confined to her room because of bad behavior yesterday and as soon as she was alone in the upstairs she went for my locked closet that I had forgotten to lock. I have a small remote camera on her but she thought the handheld reciever was upstairs too but it was with me. It's like it infuriates her that she's in trouble and makes more. When she was caught on camera today she started screaming and saying she wasn't in the closet even though it was on camera and she knows it. Had an absolute melt down how she wasn't lying and she wasn't in my closet. It's insane. I don't know if I can manage until they find a counselor.

    I've had her to the emergency mental health unit and they were the ones to diagnose her with conduct disorder after another evaluation session. I am really ready for her to go into a residential treatment but have been told that unless I actually file charges of the animal abuse which is a felony I will need to do this in home intensive treatment first to get residential treatment paid for.

    I think not understanding her motivation is really hard for me. When I got into trouble with my parents I would try and be good and with her she always gets worse and does more bad and worse bad.
  2. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Well. her actions sound serious, and she needs to understant the gravity of her choices.
    That said, my difficult child always would/will act worse when in trouble. It was like, once he knew he was in deep doo doo, he went all out. No holes were barred. I am not sure I have a reason or cause for it, except to say, positive reinforcment was/is the only thing that keeps him in forward motion. Otherwise he has every reason in the book to sabatoge the world. I guess I would suggest that no matter what your difficult child does, you offer her a postive release. I definitely would re-home the dog, and focus on her releasing her energy in a way that give her positive energy. Like Yoga or Tae Kwon Do classes. There should not be anything around that she can bully.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If she had a very chaotic life before she went into your home, she could have attachment disorder (and it sounds like the whole disorder). Harming animals, fascination with fire, and peeing/pooping inappropriately are the three symptoms, if done together, that are quite serious. You did not mention fire play or peeing/pooping inappropriately, but in case she is, just passing along what I learned when we adopted a very mentally sick young man. Just deliberately harming animals is serious and more than "bad behavior."

    If she has fetal alcohol spectrum, it is very hard for people with that to understand right and wrong and they tend to repeat over and over again. They have poor impulse control. Alcohol during pregnancy can cause organic brain damage. Has this child ever seen a neuropsychologist so that you know what you are dealing with? If it is a demon you CAN fight or something that she can't control? Is she capable of learning from her mistakes or not? How does your granddaughter do in school? Her motivation could be just that she was alcohol exposed in utero and therefore does not experience the world the way other people do. Did your daughter use drugs besides alcohol when she was pregnant too?

    You told us about your side of her genetic background, but what about her birthfather? She carries 50% of his DNA too. Anything there, as far as mental health? Was she ever abused before she came into your care?

    Since your grandchild has a difficult background, like many of our adopted kids (I know she's not adopted, but she does have a similar background), we know the difficult road you walk down. You are dealing with a complicated child and it can be very difficult and heartbreaking and most certainly has NOTHING to do with you and your good heart and love for her.

    Please rehome the poor dog!
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    welcome to the board. Sorry you showed up late at night and most folks were sleeping.

    Honestly I would press charges for the dog. She is still young enough that the felony will most likely come off her record when she gets to be an adult if she manages to get help now and turns things around. And yes she definitely needs help now. I cant see in home help helping you at this point if I am understanding that you have other children in the home that are at her mercy. I would also rehome the dog at this point. Maybe you have a friend or relative who could take it on until your daughter is placed somewhere?

    I do think she is showing the classic signs of conduct disorder but lots of people wont agree with me. I think you do need to get her into a placement that will teach her she has to follow the same rules as everyone else. So many of our kids seem to think they are special and the rules dont apply to them. They have a rude awakening when they turn 18. Better we prepare them very young.

    I cant tell you what to do but this is what I would do.
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, and so sorry you had to find us, but glad that you did.

    She is probably bipolar, since it's in the family, but she's had other issues as a kid, or clearly, you wouldn't be raising her. She needs intensive work and I don't know how you're going to get it. Sometimes, getting the law involved helps to force treatment. Other times, it doesn't.

    I am so sorry about the dog. OMG, how awful.

    I don't know why our kids so this, except that they're probably still ramped up from whatever caused it in the first place and still have to get it out of their systems. And of course, a lot of them are so impulsive, they don't "get it" until years later. She may have still been manic (if she is bipolar) when she went for the dog's other leg.

    Without more info and history, I don't know if she's just still in that mindset, where she was on a roll and couldn't stop herself, or if she was really intending to do something bad and painful to another creature. I mean, she certainly saw the results of the first act, and maybe because of all the brouhaha, the chaos was actually fufilling in some way.

    Wish I had an answer. For your granddaughter, my son, and everyone here. It's an age-old question.
  6. gingersgrl

    gingersgrl New Member

    We just discussed positive reinforcement at her doctor visit a few weeks ago for medications. I try positive reinforcement but am very hesitant to give it because as soon as I tell her she's doing great at anything she stops doing whatever it is. The doctor asked her if that was true and she said yes. Of course the doctor then went on to tell her she was training me not to give her good feedback by her behavior as I have already told her time and time again. It's so hard when you want to tell them the good and you know if you do it will become bad too. I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place sometimes....most times. Anymore if I do tell her I'm proud of her for something or that she did a great job I find myself prefacing it with " I hate telling you this because I know your going to stop once I say it so please don't". It doesn't matter, she quits whether I say it or I don't once she gets the positive feedback.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    GREAT feedback from the doctor! She is, indeed, training you not to give her positive feedback.
    Boy, that's a tough one.
  8. gingersgrl

    gingersgrl New Member

    I should have added attachment disorder to my sig. but they have ruled it out since this latest go round with mental health. She insists she wants to stay with me and I think that's why it was ruled out but it was classic attachment disorder when she first got to me. Many caregivers early on, at 2 1/2 she never wore a diaper or wet the bed, not once ever, dressed herself completely, was pretty self sufficient, talked to anyone at stores or restaurants and I swore she would have left with them too. When she came to live with me she had only met me once 6 months earlier for an hour because they lived in another part of the country yet she never even looked at her mother to say goodbye at the airport. She was too busy watching other people etc. When she came she and her brother both came. He turned 4 the day before they arrived. He was the same way and he started on the dogs immediately which was how I learned about attachment issues. He stayed a 1 1/2 yrs but he was even worse than she was. I think her loss came when he left. He had been the only constant in her life but even at 3 1/2 or 4 she knew she didn't want to go with him back to her mother. Mother had supposedly been sober for 6 months then but it turned out to not be true. So she's never seen her mother or brother again.

    The lack of learning from her mistakes or the consequences she gets has always made me think she is Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). I did have her evaluated at the children's hospital here because her behavior was so bad in kindergarten and they said because of the amount of alcohol her mother consumed while pregnant she would have learning disabilities etc. but she isn't Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). I don't know if she was exposed in utero to drugs but probably cocaine.

    I have never met her father but from what I hear he's an alcoholic although not as severe as her mother.

    As for the poor dog, I wish it were as simple as rehoming. I have a kennel and showed dogs for a living. I was in school for dog grooming when they came to live with me. It was a second career and one I loved and was successful at until the kids came to live with me. Slowly I've been rehoming and trying to get out of it all together but financially that's put me in a very bad place. I went from owning my own home and no debt at all to more debt than I'll ever be able to get out of in this lifetime. Not enough years of life left to pay it all off. Never been financially like this before in my life and it isn't the economy. The business was there if I hadn't been dealing with this. I just feels like I'm living a nightmare.
  9. gingersgrl

    gingersgrl New Member

    I've taken her to the police twice now about animal abuse. The first time the canine officer was there and he went to talk to her. Said if she really felt the need to hurt a dog he would be more than happy to bring his dog over and let her have a go at him. Mine are smaller and easier prey.

    I learned from that trip. He talked to her alone and when he came back he said she told him she didn't do it. That she only said that she did because she was badgered into it by me and finally went along to get me to leave her alone about it. I told him she in fact did do this and told him she was recanting because she was really frightened now actually having been brought to the police station and how the truth actually came out and in the end he said, yep, your right she did it but it kind of frightened me that she could so easily sweet talk a police officer into believing her and get him to thinking I was a nutty adult accusing an innocent child of such heinous things. I felt like I had been slapped into reality of how bad this could get.

    The next time I took her it was to press charges but they wanted me to talk to the probation officer first and then she wanted us to get the mental health evaluation. I did do that but the pressing charges is still an option.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    What a mess.
    I am so sorry for your financial situation. I know how that can happen, all too easily.
    And the blatant lie about the dog sounds typical.
  11. gingersgrl

    gingersgrl New Member

    I reread my posts from this thread and wonder how it got this bad. It sounds so very bad even to my ears and wonder why am I waiting for in home intensive therapy once again. It's not worked before...we've done it twice now and she does to them what she does to me. Agree's to anything but when it comes time to follow through she's changed her mind. She meant it when she said it but that was then and this is now.

    They told her at her mental health evaluation that it was a possibility that she would have to go to residential treatment. The second evaluator told me I had to do this in-home first in order to get the residential paid for but if I actually pressed charges it would indeed speed things up considerably. I KNOW in home isn't going to work. Somehow it feels residential is the only thing to do but I hate the idea it as much as I yearn for it.

    After taking her to the police twice she still stomped on dogs feet until they couldn't walk until I finally made her go bare foot all the time. She stopped for a while and then started using her hands. I just can't believe it's gotten to this. Before this I didn't even know kids did this kind of thing. I thought all kids loved animals.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Your grandchild is very seriously disturbed. Of the 3 signs of being a sociopath/psychopath, one is far more serious and indicative of a dangerous person and that one symptom is animal abuse. Animal abuse as a child is a strong indicator of a very dangerous, violent future. You are in way over your head with this, anyone would be. in my opinion you NEED to press charges and insist the court do something with her.

    She is going to eventually turn from hurting animals to people. It will probably NOT be a long time before that happens. Esp if she is worse and worse when she is in trouble. You need to figure out NOW what you are and are not willing to live with. You may need to give up custody to the state at some point simply so that you can be safe in your own home.

    I would bet she has reactive attachment disorder rather than just attachment disorder. It is not a very hopeful diagnosis, but you may find ideas by searching online or reading some of the books about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). She will need very intensive therapy to make much progress at all.

    I agree with Janet that you NEED to press charges for the animal abuse. It is the fastest way to open up doors to get help for her. from this point on, every time she damages somehting in your home, steals, hurts an animal or person, you NEED to press charges. Until they have a clear pattern of behavior, the judge will only give her probation and maybe community service. given her age, you will likely have to be with her at all times as she does that community service. At least that is how it works around here for people under 18.

    The judge is NOT going to send her to residential for a first offense. It would be very rare for that to happen. I would still push for it, given how disturbed she is. You CAN refuse to have her living in your home. Esp as you probably don't feel safe with her in your home. The system will attempt to force you to take her home anyway, but if you stand your ground and tell them to figure it out and don't offer to take her until they find a placement, then they WILL find a placement. They will try to get you to take her home for a few days, 'until a bed opens up'. if you do take her home? They will stop looking for the bed, regardless of what they tell you.

    I am sure I sound mean here, and I don't intend to. I just don't see having her live in your home as a safe thing for very much longer. It will be a short hop from stomping on the dog to stomping on a person - likely you.

    One thing that can be a big help to you is to do a Parent Report. The Parent Report is a document that you create that has ALL of the info on difficult child in one place. The link in my signature at the bottom of the post will take you to a threat about the Parent Report. The outline is there along with other useful info about the report. This report is where you keep all the notes from doctor appts, the records of her life, various ways that you have attempted to help her, etc .....

    As for how she got the animal control officer to believe her, that is pretty much textbook Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)/difficult child. In general many of our difficult children are able to convince strangers that we are mean, abusive, misguided, don't understand them, etc.... Your camera system will be invaluable if it records because it will give you actual proof that cannot be disputed that she has done what you say she has.

    (((((hugs))))) I am so sorry you needed to find us, but very glad you have joined us.
  13. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I agree with the others....you NEED to press charges.

    I understand that you look at her at see a troubled little girl who needs help - but guess what? The rest of the world does not see this. The rest of the world is treated to a young lady who says all the right things and has no trouble telling stories of what a nutjob YOU are.

    You NEED to press charges to start the paper trail - get the courts involved - get interventions started NOW. Your child is only going to get bigger and stronger and better and better at telling stories that make YOU look like the crazy person.

    If you try to imagine the near future - how does it look? do you expect that things will get turned around by themselves? stay the same? or continue to get worse?

    And if things get worse - how much longer before it is not just the dogs who are in danger of being seriously injured?
  14. gingersgrl

    gingersgrl New Member

    I am here because I need tough love from you guys. I know you can see it like I wish I could but can't. I'm too close to it and it's much like I can't see the forest for the tree's so thank you for your honesty. I would so much prefer that than politeness and empathy alone. I need help seeing this like I would see it if it were not me and my kid but someone else and their kid.

    The first diagnosis when she was 5 or so was both Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I guess I didn't realize there was a difference between attachment disorder and reactive attachment disorder. I told that to the evaluators but they still dismissed it in favor of conduct disorder. I just don't think these people know what they are doing. Yesterday when she was screaming at me that she hadn't left her room and that it was me that started this fight was the first time ever I, at a gut level, got it that I'm probably next. I've known it on an intellectual level since she first hurt Ivy (the dog) but still have been dismissive about my own safety until yesterday. I didn't think she was going to hurt me yesterday but her rage openly directed towards me is amping up lately. She's already as tall as I am at 12. She proudly carries 50 lb bags of dog food all the time so she's strong as well and knows it. I felt it enough last night that when things were calm last night I told her I see her getting more rage directed at me and given her violent tendencies I felt the need to say to her that she'll only go at me once and it will be the last time she'll sleep in my house. I told her if she has the urge she better take into consideration what I was telling her because there would be no second chances. I'm 62 with osteoporosis and that's not going to happen but once if at all. I don't know it was right or wrong to be so direct but that's what I told her and she admitted she's getting more hostile towards me in a more open and direct way.

    She has hurt a number of the dogs but none as seriously as Ivy. Ivy required 2 surgeries and 4 months in a cast. She will limp the rest of her life. When she went back to Ivy and tried to hurt her back leg when she was out of the cast it was so shocking to me I still can't wrap my head around it. I know if this was a neighbor and her kid I would be appalled that something hasn't been done. I kept hoping something... a miracle of some sort would happen or she would grow up some and realize how awful her behavior has been. I have it in my head that as bad as she is now she'll be even worse if she grows up in the system where she'll end up being housed rather than helped.

    I need to start writing this all down and the parent list is a great place to start. Sometimes writing it all out helps to see it more clearly and the decisions come less painfully then.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Because I adopted a very sick child who killed my dogs and sexually abused my younger adopted kids and was drug exposed as well (he is no longer with us), my advice is even stronger. She won't be impressed if you press charges. in my opinion it won't change her. If she has any fetal alcohol at all PLUS attachment disorder, she will not have much of a conscience and will not learn even from punishment. She will not be that scared of the police either, if she is scared at all. To me she sounds like she still has serious attachment issues. The alcohol she ingested pre-birth can not have helped. Living with you is ruining your life and may turn out dangerous later on if she accelerates to harming neighborhood animals or children. You are legally responsible for her behavior, right? Until she is eighteen? I don't know if she will ever be successful in any sort of home or if mental health treatment can or will help her. In a sense, the person, even a child, has to want to change in order to change. The child has to have remorse for what she does and hate her behavior. Does she have remorse?

    The child we adopted wanted to continue living with us even though he was not attached. He put on a good "I am attached" too, especially when he wanted a material item. But if we didn't give it to him, he would steal. He lied and blamed horrendous deeds on my younger son who was too afraid of him to stick up for himself. At least you don't have any other children there...but do you feel she may harm neighborhood kids or neighborhood pets?

    There is, of course, various attachment therapies that you can try. Many are controversial. I had to face something very shocking and sad when we adopted the child that had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I had to admit that love doesn't cure all and that there are actually children who are beyond help at young ages. Maybe your granddaughter is, maybe she is not beyond help. Nobody knows yet. But whether she is or not, she needs a lot more than regular therapy, and if it turns out that you can not save her, it isn't her fault. You weren't the one who drank alcohol and took drugs while she was in her mother's womb. You weren't the one who tossed her from caregiver to caregiver. You tried to help, not harm her. She was at a severe disadvantage by the time you got her.

    I don't want to advise outright that you find residential treatment for her, but I also, through my own experience, can not advise keeping her in your home. Sadly, we all walk this sad journey alone...we can support you, but the final decision you make is yours. Have you ever been afraid of her? Will you be afraid of her when she is as big as you? Does she threaten other people? If she does, she is dangerous, especially since she has already deliberately harmed a dog that she has already harmed.

    I am so sorry that a good person like you is in this position and I totally empathize. I hope you keep posting and let us know what is going on.
  16. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I could be way off base here, but I'd be worried about the diagnosis of conduct disorder replacing the older diagnosis. especially since it was given by a mental health facility where that is what they only do....really focus on only mental health disorders. I'd think from what you have said (but I am obviously not the person to make this call, just an opinion) I'd wonder if it should be viewed more that her conduct problems are a manifestation of the Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and Attachment Disorders personally. The problem with only conduct disorder as a diagnosis (not that this is right just how I have experienced people view it) is that the child is viewed more as simply choosing to misbehave period. (Not saying she doesn't make choices, but that the treatment must include the hard realities that she may have a limited ability to do the right things and therefore she may need life long support to keep her and others safe.)

    Not saying conduct disorder couldn't be a valid thing to say based on her behaviors but I dont know if you want to let people say that it replaces the other diagnoses--just to make sure she gets the appropriate types of help. If Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) was the only other factor that alone could suggest that she could learn a lesson then not remember the lesson over and over for her whole life. Punishment alone wont work. If it means that she for sure would get residential treatment if you press charges and not just that she would go to juvie then it could be worth doing that but if it means going to only a punishment site (and again, if you believe she is disabled in the forms of neurological damage like Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)) then personally I'd be hesitant. I live that same scenario (though my son hasn't hurt an animal but has hurt me. Nothing serious but enough that I know that could be the story some day and he may need out of home placement before my dreams for him want that to happen). Given his disabilities he would need supervision and structure. I actually wish he could just experience a punishment or huge consequence and then turn it all around. That unfortunately is not the case for him, never has worked. In fact as you have experienced, when my son is at a heightened level of stress --including being in trouble-- he often does far far worse. They are unable to access information as their brains are flooded with stress chemicals and the wiring just does not fire correctly. It can be maddening.

    Anyway, I do agree with what the others are saying, she needs intervention for sure and this is escalating to a dangerous place. The animals should go, I know that is not easy but being put in a situation where their legs can be repeatedly broken seems worse than even going to a shelter. I dont mean that to be rude, I really dont. My son has not always been gentle to our pets, but has never hurt them. So, I have had to think this out myeslf and if he did, yes, that very day they would be gone. I would be heart broken but it would be a done deal. I am tearing up thinking of it but I always have to prep myself for possibilities even if it is remote. Luckily he is quite bonded and uses them for comfort at this point.

    I really admire that you are examining this so much. If you have time and it is doable...a new overall comprehensive evaluation by someone like a neuropsychologist who understands conditions like Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), conduct disorder, antisocial disorders, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and other kinds of issues could really be something that could give you data for planning for her in the future. It also could help sway a judge or insurance people at some point if you need that. I'm so sorry you are in this spot. I truly understand living with a child who can be so aggressive and have so many melt downs. I hope they give you the intensive support she needs soon.

    HUGS, Dee
  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree with-Buddy, that RAE and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) are much more helpful and specific than CD.
    Still, I don't see how you can get enough svs, fast enough, to prevent this all from escalating.
    One of the things that the facilitors keeps repeating in the NAMI class I'm taking is, protect yourself first. Always.
  18. gingersgrl

    gingersgrl New Member

    Well with all of your input I've decided to go back to the childrens hospital and start over. I have all the papers from when she was evaluated there initially and it discusses each time the need for attachment issues help as well as the Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and the problems I would more than likely encounter. The last one from there was in 2007. I think of all the places local to me the childrens hospital which is university affiliated is my best bet. We aren't in a large city so services are somewhat limited compared to what a major metropolitan area would offer. I will fill out the form Susie recommended and take that with me and in the meantime I will prepare myself for the possibility that I may have to have her arrested before that happens.

    I have read all the attachment books a long time ago and will reread them. I purchased one for my kindle I hadn't read, Adopting the Hurt Child, and will start on that. Has anyone read Beyond Consequences? I have it but my initial reaction to it wasn't good but it seemed like a lot of people do like it.

    At least this is a plan which was more than I had 24 hours ago and it feels right. It's so hard to get that "feels right" feeling with mental health issues. I'm always second guessing every move I make.
  19. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Five years since the last evaluation means that yes, it IS time to re-evaluation. Normal timeframes for re-evaluation are 3-5 years.

    The children's hospital. definitely sounds like a good spot... in that it seems like the last evaluation was there? And that the results of that evaluation were pretty accurate? Which means... time for an update, new direction, plus... whatever new options there are out there now.

    Having a plan always helps.
  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I may get a lot of people angry with me for what I am going to say. I am okay if no one agrees with me. I also am okay if what I say is ignored.

    I don't think there is ANYTHING that will make a major difference for your granddau. NOt a major positive difference. Therapy will only teach her what to say and how to act to get out of trouble and to make people blame you for what she has done. There is no way to get the kind of services she will need in a private home, and there are very few residential programs that anyone could really afford. Even in a residential treatment setting she will probably just learn the song and dance and how to hide her behaviors.

    She has to WANT to change, and given her attachment problems and then the fetal alcohol issues, she will likely never reach the point of wanting to change. why should she? I am NOT being flippant here. Think about what might honestly motivate her to make major changes??? Bet there isn't much that you or anyone can think of.

    I don't mean that you should stop trying. I just think you need to have realistic expectations and those are that she is just going to get worse, a lot worse. It is getting close to the point where it is unsafe to have her living in your home, if in fact that point hasn't been reached already.

    Is it really a good idea to wait until she hurts you before you say enough is enough? are you aware that she could leave you with long term problems? I think being direct with her is good, to a point. I can't help but wonder if knowing that she won't get a second chance to hurt you will mean that the first time she goes after you will be much, much worse than you would expect.

    I am sorry to say it, but I would think hard about a residential setting or some sort of foster care for her. Maybe if she had therapy from birth on then it would have a better chance to work and give her a better future, but with the way things are, I would be very very afraid of her.