Frustrations with Child not wanting to follow rules - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 04-08-2014, 05:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey has anyone had a foster child who cannot remember to follow directions, or even perhaps dissociate themselves when you are trying to talk with them? We have a 4 year old little girl diagnosed with adhd secondary to frontal lobe disorder. It's a 50/50 whether or not she will remember what you have told her to do. she cannot take a shower or even brush her teeth unless you are with her because she will get distracted by something else. I get frustrated because she will not listen to me. Any suggestions? The DHHR will not approve for her to be on medication. I just want to give up.

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#2 of 10 Old 04-08-2014, 06:59 PM
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Welcome to MDC. I've been a foster parent since 2006 and was also a teacher in an inclusive Head Start classroom. I understand your frustration.

A few things from your posts jumped out at me. You used the phrases "not wanting to follow rules" and "will not listen to me." Many four-year-old children are easily distracted, but this child has a brain disorder and ADHD. She needs you to provide the executive functioning and focus that she's lacking. She needs you to provide the "next steps" for important tasks. I would strongly recommend using pictures of each task, depicting each step. You both can refer to these pictures. For tooth brushing, you can even brush yours, while she does hers. Most typical four-year-olds should not be showering alone, this child's special needs make your assistance/presence even more crucial.
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#3 of 10 Old 04-08-2014, 06:59 PM
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Ok, so for many four year olds, teeth brushing is something you can send them to do, but I have overseen bathing for all of our children when they were that age. I wasn't sending them to go take a shower. I had to bathe them or hang out while they showered.


How is her speech? Are you able to give her a one-step direction and have her repeat it back to you before she does it?

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#4 of 10 Old 04-09-2014, 08:52 AM
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My 6yr old bio-daughter is like this, with no diagnosis. I think the picture cards pp mentioned will work wonders, or you could make up a toothbrushing song to sing together to learn the steps for brushing?
With my dd, I often kneel down and look her in the eye on the level before i ask her to do something, and then I ask her to repeat back if she seems inattentive. It helps a lot.

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#5 of 10 Old 04-09-2014, 12:39 PM
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We use pictures too!   Our son has been like this since 4, he's 5 now.  I have watched him take his dinner plate, walk towards the kitchen and then wander into our den.  He is utterly shocked to see a plate still in his hand and has no recollection that he was headed towards the kitchen.   Just yesterday we saw a doctor for (PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, SPD, ADD - whatever you want to call it) and he said that these kids cannot understand consequences or rewards for behavior.  "no carrots, no sticks".  It took me a bit to figure this out, but our son needed to be treated like he was younger.  We had the pictures for him to look at as reminders, but we really lowered our expectations.  We stay in the bathroom with him in the morning and coach him through the whole process.  If your state pays out "levels" for kids who require more care, start documenting that now.  (I just love how they will make you add another task to prove how much extra work you have!)


It is exhausting and I feel your frustration (says the Mom that got a prescription yesterday for her kid!)   If you can wrap your head around the idea that she's more like a 2.5 - 3 year old it might feel a tiny bit better.  The doctor we saw told us he prescribed Intuniv for a four year and they are doing very well.  Is there any appeal process on the med issue?

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#6 of 10 Old 04-14-2014, 06:59 AM
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Hi, I have a 4.5 year old bio-daughter with very similar problems. She doesn`t follow directions very well and my she ignores me a lot.


What really helps is getting down to her level and asking her to look at mommy. When she is looking directly at me she can follow easy directions but never anything complicated.


I hope you find a solution soon.

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#7 of 10 Old 04-14-2014, 07:05 AM
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Yes, my bio daughter who will be five in two months, has trouble following multiple directions at one time and needs to be supervised to reliably complete anything. I have observed the same in other children her age. My mother assures me it's par for the course. I remember being the same way when her age. And I don't have ADD or anything.
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#8 of 10 Old 04-14-2014, 05:47 PM
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My DD is pretty normal and she still needs help with those things at age 6. I have to repeat myself a lot, and sometimes I even take her by the hand and take her to the room she needs to be. Take her to the bathroom, hand her a tooth brush. Take her to her messy room and give her one small job at a time. eg. Pick up just the ponies.High expectations lead to frustrations and disappointment. You need to lower your expectation to that of a 2-3 year old. She has special needs. She is not doing any of this on purpose. Set her up for success, and praise the heck out of her. 

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#9 of 10 Old 04-14-2014, 06:38 PM
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This post just caught my eye (I don't have foster children), and the age of the child. I have very low expectations on kids following rules. Especially hard to think they'd ever WANT to follow them. My 8 and 5 year olds are sweet and loving to me and each other, and main concept in this house is high morals, not rules. I'm the mom and I'm resposible of most things. (they have to clean their rooms, but I have to remind and give them reasons why they should, constant battle...) I dont feel that even my 8 year old has good enough fine motor skills to do his teeth properly, he doesn't go back and forth fast enough for me, he doesnt hold the brush in correct angle and misses corner teeth, so I still finnish the job for him. with my five year old... it's even hard to make him not squirm and joke around while I'm brushing his teeth. And they have no developmental issues, they are doing great in school, they are just not very orderly and obedient, they are silly kids. At the end of the day I'm definitely at my wits end and it's hard sometimes, but I know they will do all this on their own one day, and then I'll miss these crazy nights. I know my life would be easier and perhaps I would loose my temper less, if I had managed to make my kids very independent early on... or maybe I've kept my sanity by not expecting too much... I know families where 9 month olds put themselves to sleep... not here.... I still have to cuddle in between two kids and read two books, and wait till they fall asleep... Crazy maybe, but those are also the sweetest moments of our day, the ones that make us feel close. So especially if your child has adhd, and what ever the history on being taken away from birth mother... I would say lower your expectations on obedience and rules, and concentrate on reasons why you wanted a child. Maybe because you wanted to feel love, give love, not because you thought it was going to easy... or because you wanted an orderly mini adult in the house...

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#10 of 10 Old 04-19-2014, 12:23 PM
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Welcome, mountainmom1. Thank you for becoming a foster mom. 


I have fostered two 4-year-olds. In your shoes, I would start by taking that "ADHD secondary to frontal lobe disorder" DX and putting it completely out of your mind. It may prove to be entirely correct, it may prove to be complete bunk, and frankly it's not relevant to what you need to do for this child at this moment. (I had a fecally incontinent 4-year-old with no cognitive or developmental issues whatsoever, he was just neglected and freaked out.) You have a traumatized preschooler on your hands who has almost certainly been neglected by her caregivers in the past. She doesn't have the self-care skills you want her to have, but she can develop them over time with your help. 


You have observed that at this point, she cannot complete self-care activities such as bathing and teeth-brushing without direct supervision. So directly supervise. Every ounce of energy that you put into being frustrated that you have to supervise her is a total waste. She needs it, so you have to provide it. It's not atypical for children that age to need help with self-care even if there has been no neglect and no trauma in their lives. If you provide consistent support in bathing and teeth-brushing for several months and see no change in her capabilities, THEN it's time to worry. 

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