Who is this Child?
Over the past year, our 16 yr-old daughter has indeed "gone crazy". My husband and I were completely blindsided by her behavior. The list includes everything from stealing my husband's prescription drugs, sending revealing pictures to boys, sneaking out, choosing unacceptable friends, and continually lying. She began treatment for depression last spring, and goes to counseling on a weekly basis. We've done the grounding, we've tried compassion and understanding...nothing seems to help! Reading your book has given me hope, still I become discouraged with the daily battles. It is taking over our lives! How do we know we are on the right track, when things do not appear to be changing? How strict is too strict? My husband and I disagree on this issue. I believe what you say, that discipline is teaching, but my husband is fed up, and wants to punish and take everything away. Please help me, help her! I know there is a 'good' kid in there somewhere!
I think it is definitely time to get an adolescent psychiatrist involved to see if there is some other as of yet undiagnosed issue with your kid, particularly if there is a history of anxiety/depression or bipolar disorders in your families, things that are best treated with talk AND medication therapies. Ask that your therapist consult with the psychiatrist, and then sit down with all of you as a family to decide where to go from here.
Tell your husband that "getting tough" with a kid that may have these disorders is like using gasoline to put out a small fire--the whole house could go up in flames. It is very hard to restrain one's temper with a child such as yours, but now is the time for very careful thinking and planning, not "feel-good" reactions of anger. It's far better to set up behavior-related incentives where your girl can earn the things she wants in her life.
Let us know how you make out.
Dr. Mike Bradley
I haven't been on this site in a while, for one because my post was not ansered by more than one person. However, I wanted to say that your dd and my ds sound very similar, and my ds has been dxed with bipolar disorder. My dh can't (won't?) see it, but what Dr. Mike says about putting out a small fire with gasoline sounds very true. My dh reacts to everything about my ds's behavior with anger and punishment. He "tried" to be nice to him for a while, but dh is also bipolar and not good at being nice, thinking through things, etc. It is really sad and frustrating for me. I have always been the one ds comes to. It is hard because he is shunning me now more than ever, and I have trouble with being his comforter, and his rock, when he continually craps on me by going out and doing drugs, staying out till alll hrs, cussing everyone out and breaking things, failing school and getting in trouble al the time there, etc. etc. It feels personal! SO I have not always reacted perfectly to him, either. I was mean to him last night because he left the house after a phone call and did not come home for Christmas dinner (we ate at 6--he came home at 11). After his anger at me for being angry at him finally subsided, he wanted me to sit with him and listen to songs on Youtube. Dh was asleep or would have said ds couldn't be on the PC at all. We have tried taking away everything, but it doesn't affect him other than infuriate him or make him shrug and say, "SO?" in the most annoying manner.
I have aksed my dh if it is worth it to him that he alienate our ds and risk losing him forever, and he says that is just how it has to be. Even my mother acts this way about it, although she gets angry that dh has this attitude, she keeps saying we need to "make" ds realize his actions are wrong. Same at school...they acknowledge his bipolar one minute, then say that his snapping at others, etc. are on purpose (they never wonder why he is irritable nearly every day, all day, even though that is a symtom of bp in teens?).
Just my experience in this sort of thing.
Thanks for your reply. Things have remained in crisis. My daughter chose to sneak out in the middle of the night on New Year's Eve. After not finding her in bed the next morning we called the police. It was a bad scene all around. We know for certain drugs are involved, ecstasy!! Ugh!! I am scared to death.
Here is what adds to my frustration...She is under a psychiatrist's care, and visits a therapist once a week! They keep telling me to be patient, but I feel like I should be doing more. When can I expect to see progress?
I am now trying to focus on behavior and consistent consequences. The pattern seems to be that when she is grounded she comes around, and wants to make good choices, but as soon as we give her a little independence she blows it.
Unless you have evidence that the helpers are not up to the task, I'm afraid you must let them do their thing and be patient. The fact that your girl is cooperating with treatment is a wonderful blessing for you, one you don't want to screw up by changing up your kid's therapists.
Hang in there and keep us posted.
Dr. Mike Bradley
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