Thursday, May 21, 2015

Out of control....

  I am going to speak very openly about some issues here. I know some will judge me, but I don't care. If you have advice or ideas, shoot them to me.  I am that desperate. I need to do whatever I can to help my son. We have made a lot of progress but now we are stuck and the future doesn't look so bright. Tear me up but help my son!
  I love Jon. I love him as much as any of my kids, maybe more because he needs me more than they do. But...he works very hard at being unlove able. Here is what has been happening.
  Ever since my nephew died at the end of January he has tanked at school. His grades went form 98% to 56% in just 8 weeks. How did he do this? He put nonsense answers on his work, he didn't turn in his work and he actually ATE one spelling test. He has been telling lies, stealing and has a nasty attitude.
  Yesterday, I had a bag of one dollar bills and change that Levi needed for a sale at school on the dining room table next to their lunches. I told Levi his money was there and Jon grabbed it and ran. I told him to bring it back and he did. I thought it went into Levi's bag but when we got to school,it wasn't there. The table was bare when we left.
  When we got home I asked if anyone had seen the bag because I had lost it. No one had seen it. Five minutes later Jon 'discovered' the bag of money on the table underneath a shirt (no shirt was in the table before that). He acted like he was the hero, finding the money.
  Then tonight I got a call from his teacher. He has not turned in any work in the last two weeks. If she had been logging in those zeros he would be failing third grade. Then she told me he failed the big state exam for reading. Normally that would mean he did not graduate to fourth grade but they changed it this year. Whew! He just has to,do lots of tutoring and extra work next year. Note, he is perfectly capable of passing, no, excelling in that exam. He is very smart. He sabotaged himself. The math results are not in yet. If he fails that he will be retained in third grade.
  He is doing this to himself. I cannot stop it. He,is self-destructing. I have no,idea what to do. Do I give him more ove or more consequences? Do I let him fail and hope he gets it? Do I give up and hope he just stays out of jail?
 He lies, he manipulates, he has fits, he is mean, he talks incessantly just to hear his voice, he is hell-bent on self-destruction. How do I save him????


Kate said...

I think you take a big deep breathe and try to stop the catastrophing:

1. Jon failing third grade or going through a kleptomania phase at age 8 doesn't necessarily mean he'll end up a hardened criminal behind bars.
2. Consider letting Jon fail the third grade. You can't make him pass the standardized test or even turn in his homework. He's clearly a smart kid who could pass if he wanted to.
3. The consequences for a smart kid failing third grade? Being bored stiff doing third grade all.over.again.
4. If you haven't already done so, cut all the pockets out of Jon's pants/shorts/swim trunks, replace his bookbag with a clear plastic backpack and his dresser with a see-through plastic nightstand, etc. While you cannot make your son stop stealing, you can make it harder for him to steal and easier to see if he's been stealing stuff.

M- said...

Maybe consider the Nancy Thomas "attachment camp" in Colorado. I'm not sure she still does this, but I considered it for my son a couple of years ago. I've only heard great things.

Anonymous said...

Its very hard but here are some thoughts. You strike a balance, building a relationship is huge for him to have a conscience and yet I would also pick a few things and enforce those. Its going to be impossible to get him to do all the Hw,etc so pick your top priorities that you can enforce - perhaps some of the Hw you watch him do it and then you mail it to the teacher or ask another to put it in her mailbox. Try to minimize the temptations to him, like the clear bags mentioned,etc. And also show him you know the tricks and are in control and can be more creative than him, so he sees its useless but also so he feels safe. They often don't feel safe when they can con a teacher or parent, they then feel they are smarter and must be in control because they can't trust others. For the relationship, try instead of asking him where it is to get to the root and say something like: I know you feel scared and out of control, or I know this game.

Read as much as you can by Nancy Thomas and all the other writers, and try various things until you see what applies to him.

You might have to compromise, perhaps letting him watch more tv than usual which is better than stealing. And it saves his sanity. I noticed some of the treatment centers all ice-cream and movies most of the day to keep them calm and in control, and while at first I was horrified. Now I think well its better than prison! :)

So again I would not worry too much about passing the grade, that can be made up and is less important than building a conscience and relationship and showing him you know and can predict what happens. As my kid says now that she has mostly (not totally) given up the sneakiness "wow you really know what to do with kids". And the best part is seeing her stop herself sometimes (still not always) because of our relationship and her conscience. But it takes a looong time.
But I would enforce some things, like enforce a certain amount of HW a night.
Hope that helps!
Do NOT beat yourself up, this is very very hard and almost not humanly possible. You are doing a great job. I read in a book that said if you were a sane, honest, responsible,etc person before, you still are! Dealing with a child with mental health issues does not mean you are the crazy one :)
And professionals have shifts and still don't have a magic cure, we do this 24/7.

Deb said...

All the others have given great advice.

I will add, stealing at this age is normal, as I have found out. Hopefully John will grow out of it. It did help that I refused to praise Bug for "finding" things and instead emphasized the impact to our household budget when he took money from my wallet. It took some time, but we are in a much better place now.

You are a great momma. You are doing fantastic things. In the long run, is it so bad that he repeats a grade? But I also think he is "lost" right now. You had to leave, there was death, all of that can be abandonment. Add to it the school year ending, and it is a recipe for traumatized children to 'give up' because the unknown is so scary.

Keep up the fantastic work.

Many hugs and lots of love to you,

Kate said...

Please consider bypassing the Nancy Thomas stuff - it's, umm, unproven science at best and incredibly abusive at worst.

Her method tends to involve forcing kids to submit/ask for everything. And that before even getting to the forced-snuggling-and-eye-gazing-and-caramels-bribes (kids, even ones with trauma and/or mental health issues have an absolute right to decide who does or does not get to touch them). Her approach gives me the heebie-jeebies.

(Fwiw, I'm neither adopted not traumatized but all of my sisters were adopted from foster care... they gave our parents a run for their money, albeit not nearly as much as I the biological child did... but are all awesome, gainfully employed, happily married, la-abiding citizens who finished college by 22. I'm the slacker who didn't graduate til 23! My sisters -- all w/same parents -- were adopted at nearly 17, 8 and 7).

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

So, my totally uneducated guess would be that he's got some major anxiety going just under the surface and it is dripping out with all the stuff he's doing.
I don't remember, is he in therapy? It might help to go over (and over, and over) the common childhood fears when a death occurs. Our kids rely on predictability and control, and death is as far out of control as you can get. Abandonment would be a big part of it- could you die? Could he? etc.
We have the end- of- school- wtf going on here.