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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are raising my husband's 9 y/o nephew (10 the 24th of this month). He came from a VERY negative home, mother won't work/can't keep a job for long, step dad is the same way, into drugs, no supervision, no discipline, etc. When he came to us they had no phone or electricity and no food, he's gained 14 pounds since the end of May and grown 2 inches taller. The bottoms of his shoes were missing b/c they'd been worn and she didn't have the money to replace them. I could go on and on but I won't.<br><br>
TJ is a sweet child and a smart child but he has problems, aside from the obvious. He has ADHD, OCD and is Bi-polar. He's on meds to help control these things and does relatively well on them. We know when its time for a pill b/c he gets repetative, loud, roudy and doesn't pay attention or behave. But other than that, he's a good kid.<br><br>
He lies though. We're not talking small lies, we're talking whoppers. He's learned from the best, his mother lies to get her way, get herself out of trouble, etc. So he comes by it naturally. The other day he told me that he didn't do his spelling b/c he didn't understand it, it was a classroom assignment he had to finish at home, and that the teacher refused to help him. Come to find out he didn't even ASK for help.<br><br>
Back at home he got into trouble running w/ kids who are/were older than he is/was and they got arrested. He didn't b/c he was only 8 at the time, he had to be 10 to be arrested and go to juvi. This is part of the reason we decided to have him come stay w/ us for the summer which then turned into requesting guardianship and having him stay indefinitely. This is where the problem is.........<br><br>
There is a boy in the neighborhood who is 13. He is a KNOWN troublemaker, he was arrested on the second day of school for skipping school for Pete's sake! He is rude, crude, vulgar, etc. He was even rude to ME! TJ is not to be near this kid at anytime and he knows it. However TJ's good friend Kristin is best friends w/ Sean, the 13 y/o's, sister. They run around together and we keep finding TJ w/ this kid. He then lies and says he wasn't w/ him, even hid behind a car this morning hoping I wouldn't see him w/ them!<br><br>
TJ is a follower and is easily swayed by older kids. This is what got him into trouble back home and this is why we don't want him w/ this kid.<br><br>
We have tried EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING to discipline him. He's been grounded, he currently has no bike, no skateboard, no TV, no radio and is on home groundation (go to school, come home, do homework, go to your room, eat dinner, bathe, go to bed, get up and repeat the next day, no friends, no playing, etc). We even had to resort to spanking him, which I HATE, but we cannot get through to this kid! We've tried immediate punishment, losing the bike, TV, etc, and long term punishment, no bike for a month, canceling his birthday party (which I also HATE b/c he has never had one), talking to him, having my DH, whom he adores, talk to him, having my mom, whom he adores, talk to him, etc. I do not know what to do!<br><br>
Most people have 9 years to prepare for a 9 y/o, we didn't even have 9 DAYS to prepare. And this kid has problems. I think he is salvagable but I don't know how to relate to him, make him mind, make him respect my authority, etc.<br><br>
HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<br><br>
Any and ALL suggestions are welcome.<br><br>
I have even thought about just letting him hang w/ this kid until they get into trouble and then letting him suffer the legal consequeces of his actions, maybe that would have an impact on him, but I really don't want to do that to his record. A 10 y/o w/ a RECORD?!?!?! I also have friends in the legal community and am considering arranging a visit to the juvenile facility here to let him see where kids like Sean end up when they get arrested. I dunno................
 

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I just want to say you are doing a REALLY GOOD thing to raise this child, sounds like a lot of people would have walked away from him. Have you tried showing him how disappointed/sad you are when he misbehaves? I really think you guys could benefit by visiting a child psychologist, sounds like you really need expert help. They can give you some concrete behavioral methods for dealling with this stuff and they know child development and the issues he has very well.
 

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You need professional help, and you need it *immediately*. I'm bipolar myself, coming from a bipolar family (it runs in families, btw) and you are not going to be able to solve all this child's problems by yourself. Get help. And don't just get therapy for him. Get therapy for you. Living with someone with bipolar disorder is very difficult, and you are going to need some special support to help keep your frustrations from turning into resentments. At one point, my husband and two of my three children were in therapy to help them find ways of coping with a bad bipolar episode -- it was absolutely invaluable to our family for *everyone* to have this kind of support.<br><br>
Having said this ... good for you for taking your nephew, and good for you for recognizing that you're going to need some advice. Not only are you taking on a 9-yr-old without the usual nine years to prepare, you're taking on a 9-yr-old with some special problems. Not everyone would be willing.<br><br>
Question -- it's really a question for you to ask your child's psychiatrist. Is he on a med or meds that he takes on a regular basis just to keep him stable, or just on a med or meds that he takes in response to him becoming "up"? I AM NOT A DOCTOR, but my understanding as a client is that there should be at least one medication that is taken steadily, usually on a daily basis, to keep the "swinging" down. On the other hand, childhood BPD presents very differently from adult BPD, so what I know may mean *bupkis*.<br><br>
I wish you plenty of patience. If you can hang in there, you will do your nephew a tremendous service; I will be forever grateful to the people who have helped me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for your reply.......<br><br>
We actually consulted w/ a psychologist last week to see about getting him into some group therapy for anger management and social skills. The psych didn't seem to think he needed either of those things after doing both a written and verbal eval w/ TJ and w/ us. This is a VERY good thing, he had serious anger management issues back home and we haven't seen any evidence of them here (whew!). However I agree that a psych may be the best line of defense in reaching this kid. I think I will look into that this week, I think we need help relating to him and he needs help deciphering what we say, apparently "Stay away from Sean" isn't blunt enough <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes">: .<br><br>
Unfortunately, a lot of people have walked away from him, his own parents readily signed the guardianship paperwork <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">. Very sad.<br><br>
I love him dearly and am willing to keep him as long as we need to.....I just need to figure out how to relate to him to help him mind and understand *why* this kid is so bad to be around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Zanna~ Thank you for your reply too! I agree, we need help. He is on Adderal 2/day for the ADHD, Celexa and Klonodine one/day each. I am going to get him in w/ an ADHD expert in our area to talk about switching to Strattera to prevent the ups and downs of ADHD. We also need to get him into a pshychiatrist on a reg. basis to help w/ the other problems. Really, he is a great kid and he is THRIVING so well with us, we just can't seem to make him MIND. Of course, he has never had boundaries, discipline or consequences to his actions. Oh, and he's a 9 y/o boy <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes">: which is hard enough to deal with, lol. He adores his Uncle Jarrod and is so willing to do anything to please him yet he doesn't seem to think about how his actions will make Uncle Jarrod mad.
 

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I just have to give you support and empathy. You are taking on alot and that is an amazing gift for this child. It is going to take a lot of time and some heartache I am sure. He has had nine years of lies, inconsistency, neglect, abuse, and a lack of love. That does alot of damage and that is going to take a while to heal. I don't have any specific advice, just wishing you courage.
 

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I think that you need some family counselling, from a really good child guidance counsellor who will work with you all. These sorts of children don't learn new rules and behaviours easily, and the standard punishment/encouragement/discipline techniques don't work in a standard way.<br><br>
Good for you for taking this on, but get yourselves some support now. I went to counselling with a temporary foster daughter some years ago, and it was the only thing that kept me sane. We did make a lot of progress, although eventually she moved on to a new family. But the advice you get from others fails to take into account that this is a damaged very complex child you are dealing with.<br><br>
Talking with a child like this, even by those who he adores, can take you round in circles and end up with bad feelings and disappointment on all sides. He just doesn't operate on the same mental level as an undamaged kid. I can't urge you strongly enough to get professional help.<br><br>
Well done to you for giving this boy another chance. I really admire people who do this. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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I would try to use a lot of positive discipline....notice when he IS doing what he is supposed to, and always, always, always comment on it. Find lots of really positive things to comment on...anytime he follows the house rules, helps you out, does well at school, any kind of hobby/sport he is good at. I have worked with kids from neglectful/abusive homes and they often have an image that they are "bad"...that they are incapable of being good so why even try. You will have to work really, really hard for a really, really long time to show him that he is a "good" kid, that you will not abandon him even if you do not like what he is doing. (some kids who have been abandoned by their parents will try to drive away new caregivers through negative behavior because they are so scared they will be abandoned anyway, and it is easier to know they were purposely making bad choices then to think that it was something about them that they cannot change). It sounds like punishment is not working....even when you take away things that he probably really loves, he is not responding, so maybe surprise him and change your whole approach?<br>
Find out what would motivate him to follow the rules...is there anything special that he would work to obtain? Is there anyplace that he really loves to go? Or would doing something special alone with his uncle be a big motivator? And once you figure out what it is, help him come up with a system where he can work towards earning that. And when you set it up, make sure you set it up in a way where he WILL be successful at first, so that he sees that it is something he can obtain. You might have to begin with very small steps, and then build up from there. And be really concrete in describing what he needs to do (instead of "following house rules" list the two or three things you would like him to do the most)<br>
I would also concentrate really hard on building up his self-esteem in any way you can. Find something that he enjoys and is really talented at...sports, karate, art, whatever....and then nurture that talent. There are often very cheap classes available through the ymca or school. And if he does get involved in some sort of class, do not take that away when disciplining him...let him have that one class or thing that he is really good at to look forward to. Does he have any other friends at school? Helping him get involved in activities and helping him learn friend making skills might be really helpful. If he had other good friends, this one boy might not be so important to him anymore.<br>
Finally, I also think that counseling would be really, really helpful. It will be much easier to obtain weekly counseling services from a counselor than a psychiatrist (they focus mostly on the medication rather than the interpersonal stuff). I think that individual and family counseling could be helpful...he has a lot of issues from his past that he is going to need to deal with. Sometimes you can find a counselor who would be willing to do a combination of individual and family (he meets by himself for three weeks, and you all meet together as a family once a month).<br>
One other thought....did mom use drugs when she was pregnant with him? It seems that some kids who were "drug babies" when they are born (particularly babies born addicted to crack) have a really difficult time understanding the consequences of their actions. You can explain the consequences until you are blue in the face, and they might nod and act like they understand, but in the end are soooooo impulsive that is it *extremely* difficult for them to stop themselves and think about the consequences. He might not be able to control all of this, even if he was trying hard and really wanted to.<br><br>
Good luck...you are such a wonderful mama for taking care of your nephew!!!<br>
Christy
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you ALL for your replies! It really means a lot to have your support and help in this matter <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">.<br><br>
Christy~ WOW WOW WOW........when did you meet TJ? You just described him to a T! I think you've hit the nail on the head more than a few times, he is impulsive and can't seem to control his behavior at times, he does have good friends at school and in the neighborhood, its just that this kid seems to be everywhere, except w/ kids his own age who are no longer allowed to hang out w/ him b/c of his negative behavior. He wants to play football but since we just moved to a new city I haven't found a team for him yet, I need to do some calling around today. Also, he loves to swim. Maybe if I tell him that if he's good all week we'll go to the indoor pool we just joined on Friday when his Uncle Jarrod gets back in town he'll behave. Of course, that will depend on how he does/acts in school AND at home and if he remembers to bring his homework and notes from school home. Good idea! THANK YOU!
 

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Wow! Too bad you and I don't live closer. I could use some commiseration. My 15 year old son was with his biological parents until he was 5 years old when he entered the foster care system. He faces sooooo many of the same issues it sounds like you are facing with your nephew...the lack of impulse control, the need for meds due to significant issues, the *lying*, etc.<br><br>
I have so much to say...hang on...
 

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I am no expert on this stuff, but it occurs to me that maybe you shouldn't make supervised athletic activities contingent on his good behavior. I don't know what the current thinking on ADHD is, but it used to be that children who were "hyper" were encouraged to move around. It might help his behavior. So you don't want to say, "we'll go swimming if you are good" since swimming might be something he needs to help him be good. Any extra-curricular you can get him to without going bankrupt will get him supervision from other adults and expose him to new, potentially better-influence friends.<br><br>
also, can you afford a cell phone for him, so that he can/has to check in with you when he goes places?<br><br>
I admire you for what you are doing!<br><br>
Edited to add this link:<br><br><a href="http://remedyfind.com/rem.asp?ID=5061" target="_blank">http://remedyfind.com/rem.asp?ID=5061</a>
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sierra~ Sounds like we are tackling some very similar issues! I'm thankful mine is 9, almost 10, and not yet a teenager. Can't wait to read more of what you have to say <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">.<br><br>
captain optimism~ The swimming we do is at a waterpark type indoor pool. Granted it may be what he needs to help him behave but it also isn't something we feel we should give in and do if he is misbehaving. Does that make any sense? What I'm trying to say is that he loves it so much that it would be a really good reward for good/appropriate behavior. The cell phone idea is a good one and we've considered getting him walkie-talkies for use around the neighborhood to keep tabs on him and communicate with him, however he hasn't demonstrated the best care of possessions, he tends to "forget" things easily and we're afraid they'll get lost. Thank you for the link, its GREAT!<br><br>
Keep the ideas comin' mamas!
 

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Okay, so I said I had so much to say. Here it is:<br><br>
First, if TJ came to you in May, you are still in “transition” as a family. You may have had a honeymoon after he first moved in, and now things are going to be really difficult for a while. TJ wants to know how you are going to parent him and where your limits are. He wants to know that he is safe with you and that you won’t abandon him or stop loving him if he is just “bad enough.” He likely blames himself from not being able to be with his parents, whether or not he expresses this. He also didn’t have any more time to adjust to you as his parents than you did to him. So expect rough waters for a while. Things *will* settle down, even though he’ll always be who he is. We had a six month period that was *incredibly* hard, and there were many times when we questioned our ability to parent our 15 year old. My other comments are…<br><br>
1. TJ is going to grieve the loss of his biological parents, whether now or a little later, whether outwardly or inwardly. Therapy and other mental health services are critical for him regardless of the behavioral issues. Don’t wait to get this started.<br><br>
Interview the mental health practitioners you use carefully. Look for someone experienced in adoption, foster care, etc., but also be aware that some of these people are trained in a way that makes them pathologize the kids.<br><br>
2. TJ is a kid. He is not a “lost cause.” Nine years old is tough, but that doesn’t mean that he is going to be awful when he grows to be 20 or 30. If it takes my kid (who is severely developmentally delayed) until he is 30 to learn what he needs to learn, I’m going to stick by his side.<br><br>
3. There is something so incredibly unique about raising a child after s/he has lived with his/her bio parents. There are incredibly unique issues, and you’ll need a unique set of tools. What works for bio kids is not the same set of tools that you need for a “foster” child. Take whatever foster parent training your state offers. They probably offer an initial pre-service training (which I am understanding based on the things you have stated in your post you haven’t taken). Then look also for trainings on “creating a healing home” (this one is the most important of all possible trainings), “managing grief and loss,” “dealing with aggressive youth”/anger issues, etc. Trainings are almost always free through the state for foster parents and guardians.<br><br>
4. Do not spank TJ. Ever, ever, ever, ever. In fact, due not get physical with him at all for behavioral management. Physically restrain him only when it is totally clear that life and limb are in danger. Whether or not someone can argue that spanking is okay for a biological child, spanking and physical parenting is not okay for a child who has been abused and/or neglected. Also, if TJ is dealing with neurological issues such as impulse control deficit and ADHD, and has other special needs, spanking will not achieve anything you could believe it potentially would achieve for a non-special needs kid if you were a proponent of spanking.<br><br>
5. While I am not big on teaching kids “extrinsic motivation” (teaching through rewards), it has been a survival tool for us with our 15 year old. We would not be able to parent him without it. For our reward system, we keep a calendar on the fridge. The system involves getting marks on the calendar for positive behavior (he calls them “pows” because the marks are made with a rubber stamp that says “Pow!”). The general rule for getting a mark is “doing what needs to be done in a respectful way.” In our home, that means following our five household rules and not putting off things that need to be done (like going to bed, etc.). He does not get a mark when he mouths off, expresses anger inappropriately (slamming doors, etc.), doesn’t respect other people’s bodies (touches them without their permission, etc.), and so forth.<br><br>
He has four opportunities to earn a mark each day: during his morning routine, during the day, in the late afternoon/evening (after school time), and during his bedtime routine. He gets 50 cent portions of his allowance money with each mark, up to $10 each week. Any mark above $10 is 10 minutes of computer time. If he gets the full four marks in the day, he also gets a sticker, which earns him a $10 portion of his clothing allowance (after $60 of clothing allowance, he earns 30 minutes of computer time with his stickers).<br><br>
By the way, the way it works with his foster care agency is that the money we are given for him includes $40 in allowance per month and $60 in clothing allowance. He is entitled to that money no matter what, so if he doesn’t earn it, we put it in a savings account that he will receive when he turns 18.<br><br>
The main thing we wont do for a reward is buying him something, which is what he frist thought we were going to do. He freaked out when we first introduced the earning allowance idea, and he had one of the biggest possible tantrums ever.<br><br>
6. A child who has not been properly parented often needs to “re-live” bits of their childhood. They might have a developmental jigsaw puzzle where the pieces don’t all match up. For instance, a kid could be 9 years old and be 9 academically, but be 13 in terms of what he has been exposed to, 12 in terms of sexual development, 7 emotionally, and 8 socially.<br><br>
For this reason, I would not allow TJ much, if any, unsupervised time. Give him small bits of “freedom” at a time. Start by giving him as much unsupervised time as you might at 4 or 5 year old (if it makes you feel any better, our son is at the preschool level-- 3 years old-- for the most part, although he is just starting to be able to take walks around the block and go down to the corner store...with a ten minute limit). Work him up to more only as he shows readiness. He has shown you he is not ready for what you are giving him by continually doing something he knows is not okay. Do not let him unsupervised, even with a cell phone or walkie talkie!<br><br>
7. The lying is a toughie. Often kids who lie don’t always even think about what they are doing as lying. They may not know that it’s not truth, or they might convince themselves it’s not. In kids who have been abused/neglected, lying is often a survival technique. Our reaction to our son lying depends on what kind of a lie it is. Sometimes he just tells stories (like, “Mom, I saw a car today with an electrical outlet inside just like the one in the wall”). For these lies, I usually try to help him distinguish fact from fiction. I often say, “That’s a great story!” (to which he sometimes replies, “It’s not a story,” and then I have to wait for him to emotionally become unattached before talking about it again). I usually also try to validate the fear, hope, need, or other emotion he is coping with through his story (for example, “You’d be a great inventor!”). Lying to get out of trouble is a huge deal in our house, and there are long discussions and then serious consequences for it. Lying for unknown reasons about stuff that went on in school or whatever, we respond to a little differently. We might say, “I don’t think that is what actually happened. Can you tell me another version,” or “What other ways might that have happened?” If he continues to argue that it is true, we say something like, “I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.”<br><br>
8. Do you have a safety plan and a crisis plan? If not, sit down and write down all the things you need to do to ensure that TJ remains safe. Constant supervision might be on the list. Having backup care providers is on the list. Dealing with bullying at school is on our list for our son. Then, make plans around these needs. Have it written out and accessible. A crisis plan is also needed for if he gets out of control. We have the on-call pager for our son’s case manager as well as his mental health provider. We will call the police if he is so out of control he can’t keep himself (or others) safe or if he threatens or destroys any of our property. Because of his developmental delays, if he walks off our property without supervision, he is considered a runaway and we will call the police immediately. We also have the numbers of some neighbors who can help us if an emergency arises. As a side note, foster parents usually get some kind of “respite care,” which means a break from the child, on average about once a month. Our son goes to respite (a 48-hour break) at his respite provider’s house twice each month. Perhaps check into whether you could get some state assistance with this or if you have any friends you know who could care for TJ. It is soooooooo important. I can’t stress that enough.<br><br>
9. Finally, does TJ have an IEP at school? Sounds like he could qualify based on emotional/behavioral disabilities. Even if he is doing okay now, I’d look into it before he hits middle school or junior high. If you don’t know what an IEP is or want more info, please feel free to email me. You can email me by clicking on my profile.<br><br>
Hope this helps. I get really passionate about supporting others who are caring for children who haven’t been parented well. Good for you!<br><br>
Sierra<br><br>
edited to add a couple things
 
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