Monday, February 22, 2010

When All Systems Fail

If you’ve been reading this blog and are unaware of the affects of a mood disorder, you may be thinking that all my son needs is some good old-fashioned discipline. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard this, once in a social setting my son went into a rage and a man announced that all my son needed was a good spanking.

Believe me, we’ve tried a lot of parenting methods. I’d like to think that I’ve become somewhat of an expert. From the strong-willed books (that advocate spanking, which when we tried he would respond with a spit to our face and tell us to do it again-so we no longer spank). Then there’s the raising boys books, the five love languages, the praying parent books, the James Dobson answer books and yes, good old Dr. Phil. Then there were books on setting limits and explosive children. I even contacted one author by phone to seek help but he wanted to charge $300 per hour.

Feeling desperate, I would peek in on the “Supernanny” tv show, though I noticed that my child’s behavior was always more extreme than their kids when my son was in the “Mr. Hyde” state. I then tried the video series 1,2,3 Magic provided by our health care system. This is a great tool we still use today, but if my son was out of control, no timeout was going to work. In fact, a lot of the rages started when I was trying to place him into a timeout. And for the record, I didn’t just read these books, but took notes and even made cheat sheets to keep close by so when my son would become hard to manage I would be able to reference the recommended techniques. In the end, I came across a lot of great resources and most were very effective since my younger two boys responded just as the book said they would.

Then, as we moved along with the 1,2,3 magic timeout techniques, we tried reward systems that were multi-level to bring out the most positive behavior (though a huge pain in the butt to manage). There was ticket systems, sticker charts and marble jars to keep track of good behavior, lots of positive words of affirmation. And when my son was “Dr, Jekyll” our home life was running smooth. But once his trigger switched, it was all meaningless.

Our doctor even had us attend a ADHD class, which was useless since he wasn’t ADHD. But with hope we tried to apply what we’d learned.

Besides parenting techniques, we tried removing food coloring dyes (which is everywhere), reducing sugar and increasing proteins. The doctors performed blood tests to make sure his thyroid was normal and they ruled out the possibility that he may have a tumor on his adrenal gland. We added fish oil supplements to his diet and tried exercising after school to exert energy. We even tried the game of chess in hopes of training his brain how to think ahead. We also were in therapy being given play-by-play direction on how to handle every situation that came up. But none of this worked. So when all systems failed, we turned to medicine for the first time.

10 comments:

  1. I know how you feel! I used to say if Nanny came to my house she would retire. Somtimes i could relate to how the mom felt over whelmed, But as far as the kids go Andrew seemed more extreme then the kids on the show, And really the Nanny didnt try anything i already havent done or knew to do. They just never seem to work for us... Thanks For Sharing! Whata great idea to start blogging about our journey!

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOL! That is so true Deborah. Today I was in Kaiser disciplining my son when a woman asked in the elevator if I'd watched the Nanny show. I just smiled and said that I have learned a lot of parenting techniques, and it came well before I saw the Nanny show. I use to laugh at the "naughty spot" she set up. I would see her place kids on there and would laugh thinking that she could never get my son to stay on that circle, and she would have to duck from flying objects as she tried to drag him there!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've done all this too! People tell me all the time it is my parenting and I tell them I raised my daughter the same way and look at her. She does something wrong, she has a timeout, she says she is sorry and it is over. He does something and I am afraid of what will happen. Rewards don't do anything, he doesn't seem to care if we take things away, and time outs are a joke. He is a little easier to talk to after the rage now that he is older, but he never seems to remember them so how do we prevent another?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember being frustrated too that rewards didn't work and either did taking things away. Once, in a desperate situation, I took away a new birthday gift after his behavior continued to escalate. It was like he seriously had no control on his behavior. I regret taking this action, I now know better and know that if he can do better he does and if he doesn’t, he needs help.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This blog is like reading about my daily life. Our son is seven and we have seen this behavior emerging over the past year. My "wonderful" in-laws make sure to remind my husband and I what terrible parents we are whenever they see us. Somehow, my other son responds well to our discipline, but the seven year old is completely resistant. He has been on tenex since August 2009 and just started risperdal due to major rages over the past few weeks. The timeline you ladies describe fits my son perfectly. We are still in the midst of getting an accurate diagnosis. It's a looong road....I hope things can somehow improve soon.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, I feel your pain. We got lots of the "be better parents and things will get better" advice when we started seeking help for our daughter. Everything from be more consistent (from a pediatrician who didn't know us) to make her do the things she is afraid to do so she will learn there is nothing to fear (from the first psychiatrist we saw). All of this when we had 3 other children at home who were not experiencing these difficulties. We know we are not perfect parents, but we always try to do the very best we can for each child.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You’re right Kelly, we truly are doing the best we can. Helping my son is a job in itself, all the research, the appointments and the therapy, there's so much love that goes into our children and I like to think that along the way I've learned a thing or two.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can't tell you how glad I am to have found this blog. In reading several of your entries, it is as if I could have written them myself.I have friends with "challenging" children, but have never really felt they could really understand the craziness that goes on in our home, on a daily basis.

    My 5 year old son was recently diagnosed with mood disorder, and we just started meds. At first we saw no change, but after increasing dose, we are seeing some positive change. Though, after a day like today, it is hard to feel positive.

    My heart aches for my child and any child struggling with these demons. Thank you for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Jessica! Welcome to my blog. I'm sorry to hear about your son, I hope the meds work well for him, it can change your life if it does. If it doesn't work in the long run, keep trying different options, we tried a lot of different meds before we found what worked. It is a tough road but worth it when you get there. I hope to hear from you again, it is great to find support in one another!
    Love,
    Mama Bear

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for your kind words. It most definitely does help to find support and know I am not alone.

    ReplyDelete