pf's picture
pf

6 & out of control; HELP!

Our son is 6; we adopted him (internationally) at 20 mo. He's always been rather quick to anger, but over the past few years it's gotten so much worse.

Things spin out of control over the least little thing (sometimes we don't even know what he's angry about until later).

For example, last week he was swinging a metal baseball bat around close to our car; I couldn't get near him or reason with him. After swinging hard at tree branches, he slammed the bat on our driveway. By the time I reached the bat, he'd run to where some stones are, and started pelting them - not directly at me, but up in a tree that I was next to, though I think he was trying to scare me. I later found out that he was upset because he'd written "sherbet" (with my help) on my groceries list and was angry that I didn't buy it when I went shopping.

He does things so quickly and slyly it's hard to keep up with him. He gains control of situations quickly (i.e., he'll run in a room and lock the door, then throw stuff or get on the phone).

Sometimes he's not even angry, but he will tease menacingly and grin. He also does things "just because" - like if you say the decoration he's looking at is valuable, he'll go thru the motions of breaking it - sometimes it actually will get broken.

He's extremely jealous of our 11-year old (not adopted) and feels he has to compete with him on every level, and of course he will not win, being 6. He hits our son, hits us, claws/scratches/throws objects at us.

We've tried to humor him, divert him, shower him with love, use tough love, hold him in an arm/leg lock per his old daycare counselor. Nothing seems to work.

He's had some shoving/hitting incidents in school, but nothing too serious. He has difficulty paying attention in school and is at risk of failing Kindergarten, we're told.

When he's behaving he can be quite charming, sweet and very sociable. We'd like to help him and ourselves but we've tried lots of places - he's either too young to be accepted for counseling or practices are not accepting new patients. I have lots of calls in to state/county agencies, as well as our health insurance company, but nothing's panned out yet.

Any suggestions on what we can do to calm him down? He's been tested for ADD/ADHD but he was within "normal" range. We love him lots but he's fracturing our family (older son has been put thru too much).

I was laid off my job and this will be my first stay home with my kids. I am dreading summer break, and it shouldn't be that way!

Thank you.



2xstepmom's picture
2xstepmom

As a mental health worker who has seen many cases like yours, your situation is difficult but not impossible to help. Does your area have a Child Mental Health or similar department? They have the expertise to assist you in keeping your family together. I worked on a case more extreme than yours with positive results and a happy ending. Don't give up hope. Get your son and family into therapy to help you learn techniques to help your son verbalise his feelings appropriately, control his anger and accept your love.

Look up Reactive Attachment Disorder. Many adopted children develop this and it may be at least part of what your son is going through. Let me know if I can be of further help. Good luck!

pf's picture
pf

2xstepmom,

Thank you for your thoughts and advice. I have a long list of places to call and have been working thru that list. Someone did thing we had a Children's Mental Health service offered by the state, but I will have to do some research to find out for sure.

I am so relieved to hear that you have had success with cases such as ours; I had been feeling increasingly overwhelmed/hopeless.

We see lots of good in our little guy, if we could only unlock whatever it is that is preventing him from reacting normally to everyday situations.

I will look up the disorder you mentioned - I've heard of it but didn't research it. Our son seemed to come from a nice foster home in his homeland - he was never in an orphanage.

Sometimes I wonder if he has some kind of primal anger (that even he couldn't identify) from when he was taken from his home and everything he loved - family, language, smells, foods, sights - and had to join some strange new family in a strange place...without even knowing why. That has to do something to a kid's psyche, doesn't it?

At times he is very cuddly and loving and friendly, so it's not an all-the-time thing.

Thank you for listening.

pf's picture
pf

2xstepmom,

Thank you for your thoughts and advice. I have a long list of places to call and have been working thru that list. Someone did thing we had a Children's Mental Health service offered by the state, but I will have to do some research to find out for sure.

I am so relieved to hear that you have had success with cases such as ours; I had been feeling increasingly overwhelmed/hopeless.

We see lots of good in our little guy, if we could only unlock whatever it is that is preventing him from reacting normally to everyday situations.

I will look up the disorder you mentioned - I've heard of it but didn't research it. Our son seemed to come from a nice foster home in his homeland - he was never in an orphanage.

Sometimes I wonder if he has some kind of primal anger (that even he couldn't identify) from when he was taken from his home and everything he loved - family, language, smells, foods, sights - and had to join some strange new family in a strange place...without even knowing why. That has to do something to a kid's psyche, doesn't it?

At times he is very cuddly and loving and friendly, so it's not an all-the-time thing.

Thank you for listening.

2xstepmom's picture
2xstepmom

2 possibly helpful websites: attachmentdisorder.net & NancyVerrier.com

Hope they help.

pf's picture
pf

That is a most interesting site; thanks for recommending it. It expresses just what I've been thinking for years - "primal," exactly.

Looking forward to Monday, when I can try to contact our local Child Mental Health agency.

A grateful thank you for your suggestions, 2xstepmom.

pf's picture
pf

Most interesting site - it expresses exactly what I'd been thinking all these years. I look forward to Monday, so I can call that Child Mental Heatlh facility.

I feel a sense of possibility already - most grateful to you, 2xstepmom.

2xstepmom's picture
2xstepmom

RAD is an unusual and difficult diagnosis to obtain. One child with whom I worked was diagnosed ADHD, ODD, conduct disorder (and others) and was put on many unnecessary meds. Once the RAD diagnosis was made, just after turning 6, the child began to work with me and other professionals familiar with the correct diagnosis. It took time to retrain the entire family and others in contact with the child to appropriately deal with the child, but once everyone was on board and committed to doing the right thing for the child, there was vast improvement.

One day when we were out, the child said to me "Remember when I used to do XXXXXX, why did I do that?" I explained that the early caretakers did not know about the condition or how to help. When I asked what specifically helped, the reply was "Oh, that's easy, I met you and X and X and you taught me it is OK for people to love me". This is why I say there is HOPE!!!

2xstepmom's picture
2xstepmom

Were you successful in contacting the CMH agency? Let us know, please!

pf's picture
pf

Hello,

I'm sorry I didn't see your note this summer. I'd forgotten how to access this site/account.

Just had our 2nd session with a person who is retired from career in social work. She has a distinquished career (I found out accidentally) - i.e., in our state's Womens Hall of Fame, served on mental health boards and committees, etc.

She said our son displays sociopathic tendencies, and sees him as a challenge she wants to work with. She's called our house several times, and has empowered our son by giving him her cell phone # to call when he does extreme good/extreme bad behavior.

Initially had reservations about her; she said she did not counsel by the "label" - rather by the individual. And RAD is so unique regarding therapy. But she's the only one around that our insurance covers.

Too soon to tell - i.e. He seemed to think I was going to buy him baseball cards tonight. I offered to look for some for him this weekend - guess that wasn't good enough; he responded by kicking me. He will be calling the counselor tomorrow.

I really appreciate you asking. The sites you offered were so helpful. Thank you!

gabbyuna's picture
gabbyuna

Hello,i myself have a 6yr old daughter. She is quite a handful! But getting better with STRICT disipline. My husband and i share the duties of punishing her for her wrongdoing.

You need to show your son who is boss. When ever he throw a tantrum, pull him to one side and warn him if he doesnt stop you will take away a privillage (eg. like: if he is going to a birthday party that week tell him if he doesnt stop being naughty he cant go. Something along those lines) If he persists warn him once more of the consequences. If they dont work, buy a plastic box that can contain toys. When he is naughty tell him he will lose a toy and it will be put in the box. he can only redeem the toy if he is good ALL day. My daughter responds well to this. Also there is corner time, no dinner, if it is a serious offence maybe a spanking might help or threat of a spanking. Poppy has reacted well to these and is becoming a better behaved child. But it will take time.

hope it turns out well!

Gabriella