Violent Fits and Disruption from 9 year-old-Need Advice!

Updated on March 02, 2008
J.N. asks from Hillsboro, OR
42 answers

We are a large combined family. My 9-year-old stepdaughter has been a huge household disruption and as she has gotten older her "temper tantrums" have gotten more and more violent. She is now 110 pounds of solid muscle. I have removed myself from any confrontations involving her and let her father handle them due to untrue accusations she has made regarding me to her mother/the authorities in the past. Her father is the non-custodial parent but we have his children at our house very frequently. We now have a new baby and fear for her safety during her older sister's rages. She can be such a sweet girl but every time there is unrest at her mother's house she acts out in a huge way at our house. She tried to get physical with me when I was trying to get past her in the hallway during her last rage (while I was carying the baby) and her father had to put his arms around her to prevent her from hitting me. (We NEVER physically discipline any of the children, by the way) She goes through periods when she is extremely helpful ( wanting to help me cook and take care of her little sister) and then periods where she will not obey any of the house rules and is extremely confrontational towards her dad, myself and the other kids (especially her older brother-hitting, kicking, throwing rocks at him). Her mother will not support leaving her out of a visitation to enforce that the behavior is not acceptable at our house and has gone to great lengths to prevent my husband from excluding her on any of his parenting times with the kids. Their mother seems to encourage this behavior in the 9-year-old. I have been a parent for over 14 years and I do not know how to deal with this situation. We have done everything from enforcing restrictions (no tv, desert, playstation, etc.) to grounding her to her room (completely ineffective because she either refuses to stay in there or she starts tearing up my older daughter's things) to splashing cold water in her face to get her attention (just makes her more enraged). Her mother has refused to get her to a counselor (even when ordered to do so by the courts) and will not even agree to let her see the school counselor in anything but a group setting. We are at our wit's end. Her behavior has ruined family vacations and weekend activities for the past 5 years. Even though her rages are getting fewer they are bigger and more dangerous than they ever have been. What do we do?

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D.D.

answers from Seattle on

Hello J. -

You have gotten lots of advice on the potential emotional factors, so I won't reiterate there, but did want to confirm the info on diet offered by Tristan.

Red food coloring, processed foods, preservatives, sugars, hormone- and antibiotic-injected meats and dairy products, starchy carbs, and synthetic foods (such as aspartame) can all cause irrational, aggressive behavior. I would highly recommend getting her off of these items and get her onto a very clean, organic vegetable, legume, and fruit diet for atleast sixty days and chart how this affects her behavior and I mean be vigilant! Pack her lunches, no candy or soda in the house, no crackers or breads or baked potatoes, nothing that comes in a bag or box, etc. If you need more info, feel free to contact me.

Best wishes -
D.

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S.F.

answers from Spokane on

Have you considered having her assessed for childhood bipolar disorder? I was just reading about it and it may be worth lookint into.

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C.R.

answers from Seattle on

I really dont know what to tell you.... Although my concern is why doesnt she want her to go to a counselor??? Was she physically, mentally, sexually abused and her mom knows, but doesnt want anyone else to know??? That is my concern.

Good luck

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N.L.

answers from Seattle on

Hi Everyone,

I have backchannelled J. directly, but I wanted to take a moment to post a public message because I think it is important to communicate that this sort of behavior does not get better on it's own.

Children who are acting out in this way require a special type of discipline system that helps them develop age-appropriate emotional regulation skills. There are empirically validated treatments for this type of behavior (and much worse!) that have over 20 years of research proving efficacy. So if you are a family dealing with oppositional and defiant behavior, it is important that you seek treatment.

I am a clinical psychotherapist with a MA in clinical psychology and I am in Issaquah. This is my area of specialty, and people are certainly welcome to call me for a free initial consultation (www.FamilyRenewal.net). If you do not come to me however, do go to someone else and ask for a behavioral intervention! This family and any other can be turned around in as little as four weeks with the right treatment protocol.

So good luck to you J. and all the other mom's struggling with oppositional and defiant behavior. It is no picnic and it has some serious implications for every family member involved. Go to sleep tonight knowing there is HOPE! And for goodness sakes, seek it out and have a wonderful life together with the family you love!

Sincerely,
N. Laurent, M.A., R.C.
Clinical Psychotherapist
Eastside Family Renewal Service
www.FamilyRenewal.net
[email protected]____.com

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T.B.

answers from Seattle on

Wow. I cannot say I have the answers or background to respond. So I'll just pitch in my 2 cents, for what it's worth.

I would want to get to the BOTTOM (no matter how ugly it might be) of her behavior. I have heard that some kids act out in tantrum / physical ways if they were physically abused at any point - an ugly question but I'd want to find out, if it were me. Is it physical / horomonal? I'd get her to a doctor to do any and all tests - body chemistry changes at her age/weight can be a factor.

Also, I recall hearing a study about a school in the midwest somewhere where all the "problem" kids went - they focussed on diet and eliminated ALL sodas, sugars, microwaveables, etc. (it was a controlled environment) - went ALL fresh fruits, vegs, etc. and they saw a HUGE difference in behaviors - something like a 60-70% decline in negative behaviors. So, diet could be another component - our brains feed on what we eat, too. Exercise, the same - it helps get rid of tensions and get the endorphins flowing! Just trying to come up with ideas - obviously, there's not a consistency between her mom / your family, which, if not solved, can be destructive in itself. And what about any kinds of drugs? Again, an ugly question but, if you love this child, my feeling is you have to ask EVERYTHING and be willing to turn over EVERY stone.

The older she gets, the less you'll be in a position to help. Society won't be able to help. Worse, if it escalates, it's yet one more child that can become a threat to society (we're seeing record changes in levels of depression, etc. amoung youth these days). Whatever the case, there IS A REASON. And if you can get everyone on the same page and working in her interest, it would be the best chance she has to resolve what's at the heart of it, know how much she is, indeed loved (develop greater self esteem and self control), etc. My heart goes out to your whole family. Wish I could say something to make all the difference! -T.

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D.I.

answers from Seattle on

First of all good for you for trying to stay positive with this little girl! That is extremely important especially at this point of her life! One thing that seems like a red flag to me is that her biological mother does not want any counseling for her dauther at all. I find that especially strange when the courts have suggested it. It seems like the advice from an unbiased "third party" like the courts would make the mother think that it wasn't just a slam on her parenting by her ex but rather something she needed to do for her child.
One suggestion if the mother won't let any "counseling" take place is to have your dauther become active in a youth organization... lots of times church youth groups, girl scouts, the YMCA etc. have people who are trained to work with youth and have great insight. It sounds like she needs to have something more than just a great mentor but it may be a start.
There are also lots of parenting classes given by community colleges etc. that may be a good resource for you. They can put you together with other parents who are going through similar situations.
I think that you really have to be pro-active for your other children as well- especially when things get physical!

Good luck!

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T.M.

answers from Portland on

It sounds like she may have a hard time expressing herself verbally about what she thinks and feels. I have an almost 9 year old and a 7 year old step-daughter. When I first married my husband his daughter was 4. She went through a time where she would throw a fit if I had to do anything with her. We finally had to sit down with her and explain to her in her terms what was happening to her family. We talked it up to her that it made her special to have 2 moms and dads, 2 rooms, lots of stuff. We also payed more attention to her moods and redirected her before she got out of control. Your step-daughter would be old enough to sit down with her and talk about acceptable behavior, not just the rules for behavior in your house but in public too. Ask her how she feels when she is throwing the fit and ruining other peoples things. Then let her set her punishments. Give her some ideas and then let her come up with some of her own. Make sure she knows and understand consequences. So when she gets in trouble you can implement her punishment and it takes you out of the mix. Post them where she can see them. Set a goal with a prize. Keep it simple. You could also make it a family thing where each one of the kids have the same system. Then if one of the other kids get in trouble she won't always feel like the problem child. Make sure she feels she fits in your family and that she is noticed and important. Give her jobs that she can handle so that she can fee accomplished. We never used missing visitation time with dad as a punishment because she is part of our family and families go through good and bad stuff. If she knows it is an option then as she gets older she will use that as a bargaining tool and that won't make your husband feel good. Always make sure that you are using positive affirmations with her when she is doing good things and let her see that you are a real person too. Let her know how her behavior affects other people, both good and bad. Another thing to look at is her sleeping habits and her nutrition. Is she drinking lots of caffinated drinks? Is she getting little sleep? Also watch her when she sleeps does it seem sound or is her night filled with nightmares? All the small things can build to become big things, so don't discount them. Be consistent and true. She will see right through you if you are not. And last of all, I don't know if you are religious but I would pray. You will be given guidence to make appropriate choices for her. Move forward with love!

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D.T.

answers from Portland on

If her mother isn't taking her to a counselor like the court ordered then she is in violation of a court order. You should take her back to court or notify the court that she is in violation of this. There is something going on with your stepdaughter whether it is odd or bipolar or anything else only a doctor (a psychiatrist is best) can diagnose her. It sounds like she needs help and you may need to go to court again to get her that. There is a book by a Dr. Greene called the explosive child that may give you some ideas on how to cope with her.

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R.S.

answers from Portland on

I think you are right that it could be more dangerous as she gets older and if you guys can get a counselor for her on your time I would consider it. You guys have to take the responsibility for keeping her and your family safe if the mother isn't.
I would try hard to reward her as much as possible when she is being helpful.To praise the mature part of her. When she has a tantrum I would try to hold her or have your husband do it in a quiet area. If she isn't safe enough to be in a room by herself. She seems to me to need the containment to be treated like a young child, as she is acting like one. During this time I wouldn't engage in any talk with her, just silently hold her. If she asks to be released I would tell her you will when she's calmer and ready.

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M.W.

answers from Spokane on

As a mom with the same combined family situation that you are facing, I must say that you WILL live thru it, I promise! I had 2 stepsons who visited, new babies, just like you, had been a mother for years, too, and dealt with the tantrums too. After ripping my hair out, attempting to let Dad handle it (ya, right), and praying till my knees bled, I just sat down. Whatever they did, I just sat down and stopped till they did. It took time, but I discovered that no reaction was the best reaction. After a time, they realized that they could not get a rise out of me and it lessened. True, much of it was prompted by their mother, she refused counseling, too,making me out to be the evilest stepmother, but they came to realise I wasn't the evil witch she'd tried to convince them I was. By their teens, we became friends and they, one by one, petitioned the courts for custody transfer- and won. I raised them thru high school- as friends, not as their mom. We agreed they had a mom (evil or not) and I could just be their friend and 'teach them how to deal with life'. It worked. Try it and good luck. Patience, calm, a listening ear and loving heart from me produced 2 wonderful men, now in their 20s who have called me Mom a few times, but have told me I was more of a mom to them than their own mother has ever been.

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

As Dr. Laura would say, not all problems can be fixed. I'm sure the child is feeling poorly about being a visitor in her father's home, while her father is making new babies and raising someone else's kids. It's understandably tough for her. If the mother is unhelpful there may not be much you can do about her. Although, being sweet and buttery helps getting through with some people (I recall something about attracting more flies with honey?). However it is also unacceptable for the girl to be a threat to you or the baby. John Rosemond is an author/family psychologist. He has a website www.rosemond.com, a syndicated column in some newspapers, and lots of books about traditional parenting (what your grandparents did). Some of them that might be applicable would be New Parent Power, Raising a Nonviolent Child, and others. You might check out your local library for them, or try amazon.com. He is no-nonsense, and his strategies can help to get control fast. Another school of thought that seems reasonable to me is the Parenting with Love and Logic books, by Foster Cline.

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J.B.

answers from Medford on

Try removing all sugar from her diet. Fruit included. You can use stevia instead. It is hard, but you should see results. If not, get her tested for allergies. I know it sounds weird, but my son had these rages too, and I was afraid. We both got off of sugar for the summer and at the end of summer, I noticed that we hadn't had any major blow outs. We even went on a vacation. We had cake for my birthday in Sept., and the next day, he just lost it completely. He said, "Mom, I don't know what's wrong with me." I remember him saying that before, but this time I was able to say, "It's the sugar." It is hard, but very worth it! We weren't big sugar eaters anyway. What little he got was enough to set him off though. I had tried counseling, parenting classes, books, etc... Of course you have to convince the mom, too. Eliminating sugar is hard, but so is dealing with an enraged child that is only going to get bigger. Getting rid of sugar could save her from an angry, out of control life.
Blessings to you and your family

PS: When I took him to counseling, on my dime, she said I was doing everything right and he needed to change his attitude.

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J.K.

answers from Spokane on

Hi...it sounds like your step-daughter has some built up anger and it gets triggered from time to time. I'm wondering why her mother will not support counseling...is she trying to hide something? Does the mother have men around that could be abusing her?

Has your husband tried taking her on father-daughter outings alone? She may be acting act for his attention. She is heading into the preteen/teen years and it is absolutely essential that she has a good relationship with her father.

Another suggestion is to get her on some good vitamins. I know that sounds silly, but my daughter too has a difficult personality. After much reading, I learned that sometimes a vitamin deficiancy can throw their brain chemistry off. I have found that when we are consistent in giving her the vitamins, her behavior improves.

Hope that helps! Good luck to you!

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K.K.

answers from Portland on

I know exactly what you are going through. My now 12 year old daughter was just like your daughter. The last time she threw such a tantrum, she learned a thing or two. After some counseling, we found out that 1, putting her in her room and shutting the door triggered memories for her that she didn't even know she had (Her egg donor used to shut her and her sister in a bedroom for hours). Finding that out, meant that I couldn't do that... if I chose to put her in her room for a fit, I had to either leave the door open (and disrupt the family) or stay in there with her. The problem was, like your daughter, she accused me of all kinds of things. She would go so far as to scrape herself until she bled and say I did it.
However... about 2 years ago, we had a break through. She began arguing with me while her dad was on the phone. This simple argument, which I didn't give into but kept telling her "I'm not going to argue with you, pleaes go to your room." turned into a screaming fit to the point that I had no choice but ti carry her to her bedroom. Once I did that though, I couldn't walk out and shut the door. So... I closed the door and sat with my back against it while she sat there and screamed.... for 2 hours. The only thing I said was "I love you enough to protect you." It was the hardest thing her dad ever went through considering she was screaming for help the entire time as if I had beaten her bloody. At one point, he did walk in and check on her... he saw me leaning against the door, told her he loved her and walked back out. He COULDN"T get involved or it would have been over. She did manage to get a tac out of a poster on the wall and made herself bleed and then screamed that I had cut her. I simply took the tac away and again told her that I loved her enough to protect her. When she stopped screaming, I calmly talked to her and asked her if she felt better. We then came to an agreement that she could be trusted with the door open, but being alone. Since that day, things have improved at least 50%. Prior to that, there was a day that I actually showed up to a biker rally to meet my husband with a busted and black and blue lip because I had asked her to brush her hair before we left the house.
I can tell you a few things we now know about my daughter. She has fetal drug and alcohol syndrome for one. There is also shows signs of being bipolar, but those symptoms fit FD/AS to a T so there is no real way to tell at this point. We do know though, that any change in scheduling... extra activities, staying up later than normal, etc... will result in a breakdown for her. For instance... I let her watch a movie last Friday night (till around 9:30... bedtime is normally 8)and then go to a birthday party on Saturday morning. By Saturday night she was throwing a tantrum and there was no talking to her about anything. They are not physical anymore, but she still goes into screaming fits... but only if her schedule is disrupted.
I can tell you that leaving her with her mom as discipline is NOT the answer. This little girl has major insecurities as my daughter does... and her dad not taking her is only going to play on those. In her eyes, it's not discipline and it doesn't teach her anything positive. It teachers her that he doesn't love her ENOUGH.
I would also be willing to bet that something isn't right at mom's house if mom won't let her go to counseling at all. If she is court ordered, is it possible to take her when you have her?
It sounds like you're at the end of your rope, but please, I beg you... don't give up on this child. She needs you more than you know.
I belong to a step parenting support group online. The ladies in the group are great and have wonderful advice. If you would like to know more, or just chat, send me a message. It might help.

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C.T.

answers from Seattle on

I'm sorry your family is dealing with this J.. I can't imagaine.

Since there is a court order for counseling that the mom is ignoring I think you have to take it back to the courts. This little girls is screaming for help the only way she knows how. Clearly her birthmother (custodial mother) whatever you want to call her is not addressing the need at hand.

It truly frightens me that things are escalating. It has to be stopped post haste. Let the court know that the needs of the child aren't being met, PLEASE!, before this escalates to the point that someone else has to call the authorities or it's too late.

C.-WAHM to 4 y/o virtual twins former career nanny, now
owner: www.BeHappierAtHome.com

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E.W.

answers from Seattle on

It sounds like your step daughter is a threat to the safety of your family and needs professional help. For some reason her mom has way too much control over what she does or doesn't do when she's at your house. IMO: you need to talk with your husband about what is acceptable in your home and then go from there. If the behavior isn't acceptable (which it shouldn't be) then you need to take the necessary steps to get her help. I'd make it clear to her mother that her behavior isn't okay and that she's a danger to you and herself. Then I'd also make it clear that she needs professional help and as her father your husband needs to ensure she gets that help. Your step daughter needs the adults in her life to step in and make some decisions about how to make her healthy again. If the mom doesn't like it-tough. She can deal with that however she chooses.

I know it may seems harsh but something needs to be done right away. Your step daughter is screaming out for help and you and your husband need to make sure she gets that help.

Good luck!
E.

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T.B.

answers from Eugene on

Read the book, "For your own Good." It sounds to me like she is angry. When someone is angry, they do not need more isolation and discipline, they need their feelings validated. If you do not have the ability to ask the right questions and lend a nonjudgementsl ear to express her feelings, then maybe you could read up on art therapy or music therapy. One on one time with an adult that would be her advocate in life would be good, yet you might not have the time with other kids involved. What is she interested in? Would she want to learn a skill, like piano, to build confidence and make her feel special. Everyone needs to feel special. When she gets angry and throws tantrums, maybe you could tell her she needs to go to her room until she wants to communicate in a positive way, then give her a chance with no other kids around to talk about her frustrations. Just by talking about anger and the reason why we are angry it diffuses feelings and helps people work through a situation. Give lots of hugs, reassurance and love. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Who knows what happens or is said at mom's house. Good luck.

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N.Z.

answers from Portland on

My step-Daughter used to be like this with her mother. They told us they had to hold her down so she wouldn't hurt herself or damage the house.
She needs counseling, even if you have to go to court again. There is no other way to deal with it. Her mother isn't helping her, she may in fact be causing more damage in the long run.
Its hard but, be strong. Better days will come.

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J.E.

answers from Seattle on

This sounds alot like my 11 year old, only i am a single mom. If the courts have said she is to go to counselor then look into you being able to bring her. If "you" cant then let the courts know. I would also only have the child on court visataion days only. If there is no schdule for days then your husbend is to have her he needs to go to court to get set days and also mention that there is no couselor involved in her life. When and if these changes happen make sure the child knows why. I would start there i guess. That may get you the help she needs. It could be a mentel thing and need addention. It could be that shes haveing a hard time in life. I know its hard on my kids without their dad around for the past 6 years now. Its got to be hard for her to deal with 2 homes, little baby and so on. Try to remember what it was like for you growing up. I hope the best for you and your family. Sounds like your doing your best and thats all you can do is your best. Take care!!!!

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B.M.

answers from Portland on

Since the biological mother isn't willing to help her own daughter, have you and your husband considered getting full custody of her? There is definitely something going on with her that she needs profession help. A talk to a lawyer to see what you can do can't hurt. The best of luck to you.

B.

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A.L.

answers from Seattle on

Hi J. - Just a couple of quick thoughts that might be helpful to you. Kids (everyone, actually)at the most basic level want to know that they are important and that they belong.

If your S/D isn't experiencing this sense of importance and belonging, she acts out in a mistaken attempt to feel important and like she belongs in your family. She gets what she wants - but not in the positive way that will nourish her.

If you think of her as trying to achieve this goal (not make you insane)it might help you in your choice of tactics. All that punishment, yelling (I would be anyway) doesn't give her what she's longing for...special time with her and her alone, encouraging her (I appreicate your help, You worked hard on that - how do you feel? I hope you feel proud of yourself), that kind of thing.

If you change your behavior, her's may improve. If she's flipping out - don't flip out back at her. Removing yourself has been smart!!

Check out http://positivediscipline.cmiregistration.com/Default.aspx
for more ideas and help.

And good luck - she is lucky to have you - and she needs help, and your family probably does as well. Get it. A.

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B.T.

answers from Portland on

Have you had her blood sugar checked? Sounds a lot like me when I was young. Blood sugar that is either too low or too high will cause a person too feel jittery inside even if it doesn't show on the outside. Now that I'm older and on the verge of diabetes, I look back at all the signs that have been there my whole life. When I was a kid, I didn't know the difference between having jitters from unbalanced blood sugar levels or feeling like I was going to go crazy from a panic attack. Everyone who knew me, described me as a bit high strung. Ask her doctor if he would do the blood sugar test on her that requires her to drink a very sweet drink that is given to her at the start of the test (if she gets to choose a flavor, pick orange. it's my favorite) and then they take a blood sample every hour or so for about 3 hours. Your step-sweetie won't like it much, but if you find that she is having blood sugar problems, you'll be so happy that it was detected early.

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C.L.

answers from Spokane on

Hi I am also a mom and was a jealous sister obviously there is no easy answer. I am not sure what you have tried. Since the mom is ignoring the problem and maybe even encouraging it that makes it more difficult. have you tried more time with her alone? as a mom I know how difficult it can be but I have found that it makes a huge difference with my 9year old. unfortunately kids don't reason like adults and act out. have you talked to the pediatrican to rule out actual medical problems. I would try to do more rewarding than leaving her out. as a child that felt replaced by my siblings I think that would be the way to go. make sure she knows she is still special even with the new baby and family.
this is just my opinion. hope it helps.
good luck!

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D.V.

answers from Portland on

Not being a lawyer I can't say authoritatively, but I would think if the court has mandated counseling then the bio-mother doesn't have a choice in the matter. I would talk to your lawyer about this. It may be best to seek full custody so you & her father can get her the help she needs. Also, since it appears her rages are inspired by events at her mother's home, getting her out of that home could be a great relief to her. Sounds like she wants to be a good daughter, but at her tender (& hormonal) age she doesn't have the tools to contain or control her impulses yet.

If getting custody isn't in the cards, why can't you make sure she sees a counselor when she comes to your home? Since the court mandated it, her mother can't keep her from visiting just because you are following the court order that she will not.

You have many prayers with you & your family!

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S.M.

answers from Seattle on

I understand exactly how you feel. Although we are not a "step" family, our 11 year-old daughter acts out simlarly and has since she was 5 years old. Counseling is helpful but must be accepted by all parties or it gets fruitless. My daughter is on medication and this does help with her ADHD, oppositional defiant outbursts, etc. Even though she is both our child we go through the hitting, name calling, defiance etc and then later will have the sweetest child (like living with Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde). Some things that have helped us are consistency. Say what you mean and follow through. Warn once and then do it. Rewarding good behavior and trying to ignor the bad behavior (this is a hard one and sometimes you cannot ignor it). Setting up routines and structure. Try and spend one to one time with her and have fun together. Sometimes you have to just outlast her acting out and not react to it. A good book we have been given is "SOS Help For Parents" by Lynn Clark.

Set clear expectations for her and let her know what they are and the rewards and consequences for them are. Try and do this when things are calm and not in the middle of a battle. Help her find ways to stop herself when she gets on that path and "turn around". In my daughter's case, when she gets going in the defiance at times she reaches a point where she doesn't even know what she is doing. At times if we say, Emily, Stop. You are going down a path you don't want to be on. It is time to change directions (or whatever words you want to make). The goal is to get her to recognize when her behavior is out of control and stop it before she totally loses it and begins hitting, etc. Ask her what is going on when she gets this way and what she was thinking. It doesn't always work for us but this had averted many a huge disaster in our household. It also puts the responsibility for controling her anger on her. Let her know that its okay to feel anger over something but help her find ways to acceptably express it. This is where counseling can be so vital for her and the whole family.

S.

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S.B.

answers from Seattle on

It sounds as though she and her mother are controling your home. It seems like it is strictly a control issue indirectly through those 2. The 9 year old is very angry and rebellious. Does the ex-wife have other men staying in her home? Perhaps there is something inappropriate going on there... The 9 year old is feeling insecure for sure. I definitely would advise getting help, you will have to help the girl's mom to see that not only is it destructive for your family but very damaging for her child as well. If you let to many years go by everyone will be damaged by this unpredicatable, angry child. She needs help! S.

M.B.

answers from Seattle on

J.,

You've already gotten a lot of good advice. I agree with going back to the courts and telling them that the mother is non-compliant with the court order for therapy. She is a real danger to you and the baby right now, but also desperately needs to know that she is still loved by you and your husband. One thing that I haven't seen suggested is getting her a Guardian ad Lidum. That is a person appointed by the courts to look into the welfare of the child, and only the child. I have a BIL that is fostering/adopting and has a guardian for those kids. The only interest that the guardian has is for what's in the best interest of the child. That may be a help for your family.

PLEASE don't abandon this little girl, she just desperately needs some help that her mother in denying to her. Both you and your husband need to let her know that she's still loved, even when she's being a terrible monster.

Hope this helps,
Melissa

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J.S.

answers from Yakima on

J. My oldest son was like this how ever I did get counsling. some of it worked some not cps got involved & it was hard but my sons behavior problem was 1 from my divorce. 2 he had ADHD you can look this up the court system came to my rescue. you may want to run this by a counselor yourself to get this child help befor its to late.
My son was placed in a boys group home he went to school & all but we had to have family countsling it was a giving My boyfrend at that time now my husband did not like it but it was that or nothing.
We got to the bottom of our problems it took a year but it was worth it My son today is 31 years old & at the time he said he hated me but thanks me for it today & has a daughter now with his behavior problem & is seeking help the same way for her.
If your Husbands X was court ordered to seek help you want to cheak into this ASAP if for no other reson your step daughter neds the help & desurves a happy live as all of you do.
J.- Proud Mother of 4 & supper proud Grandma of 9
Let me know how thing work out for you & your Family.

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A.R.

answers from Seattle on

I am also a stepmother of two children and have two biological children. I know that it is very hard to deal with a difficult stepchild. My husband and I have been married for just over 10 years. My stepkids were not very nice to me or my children. My husband works alot and most of the weekend visitations are with me and my girls. With their Dad being here at night. My stepson has decided to discontinue his visitation with us due to the rules in our house, he does and will come over to go on vacations and for holidays. What I would like to share with you is that you are not the only stepmother that has to go through this. I don't thin keeping her from your house to enforce your rules will help, from my experience it will only make it worse. I have learned to be consistant with all the kids and to listen to them. When she is throwing her temper tantrums she is doing it to get your attention or soemkind of attention. Let her throw her fit, but she needs to do it in her room, you and the rest of the family don't need to listen to the tantrum. Give her a few minutes or so, then calmly go in there and ask her what is wrong you just want to find out what is bothering her so that you can maybe help her. If she yells, let her know that you are not yelling at her and you would appreciate he not yelling at you. You will probably have to do that over and over, but after a while she will come around. It is important for you to know that it will take a while. You said this has been going on for approx 5 years, remember I said we've been married for just over 10 years, my stepdaughter has figured out that I'm not going anywhere and neither are my girls, we are a family and no matter what we will always be a family. There is alot going an at her moms and that is and was alot of our problem that could very well be part of your problem too. There are parenting programs out there that some of the schools and hospitals have, blended family programs, and books. I didn't do any of the programs, but I did read about things, and the most important thing that works for me with all my kids is listening and letting them tell their side, everyone has a side. I have even brought all the kids together and let them each speak one at a time without interruption,everyone gets a chance to speak even you. Hang in there I hope everything works out for you and your family. I will try to find the book i read and get back to you with the title.

good luck
Another proud mom & stepmom

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H.G.

answers from Portland on

Don't let her mother know she is still acting out, this is what she wants. I would go back to the courts and see if you can take her to the counseling. Have the courts notified the mother is not is not following the order. If you can and have the room I would try to get full custody. Something is drastically wrong at her moms house and she is asking for help in her own desructive way. I wouldn't tell her or he mother anything you are doing. In the mean time stop all suger in her diet, I know it will be a pain to make special meals and snacks but, this could make a big positive change in her attitude while she is at your house. I would fill her up with sugar just before you drop her back to see if her mother thinks it's so cute, literally when you get to moms house have her stay in the car and eat a lot of it right then. An explosion mom can't handle could bring about a change in moms attitude about counseling. I would also find out her friends names and phone numbers and talk to the parents and see if on your husban's visiting time she could go over for a few hours. This will get her out of your house and she might be able to talk to her friends about the problem in a non-school setting. Make sure her freinds parents know about not giving her sugar. You might even let the parents know the problem and talk to their children about it and see if the kids can't tell you something after your step daughter is gone. Use every resource, this girl needs your help!

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L.S.

answers from Seattle on

Check out this website:

www.thinkkids.org

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C.W.

answers from Seattle on

Wow, I am sorry to hear that you have to go through this. Sounds like you guys are a great family. If at all possible it sounds like to me that she needs to be evaluated at some place like Compass Health Children's Intensive Services. I used to work there and she sounds like some of the kido's they deal with. They would be able to provide respite for your family and work with the family, there is a crisis pager in evenings if she escalates to where you can not handle her and need some help. I hope this helps or at least gives you some direction you can look into, she is not going to get any smaller and it sounds to me she will hurt one of you really badly.

take care,

C.

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A.M.

answers from Seattle on

I would get the courts involved again. If there has been a court order for counseling, take it up with them and point out that the mother is not following the order. Request permission from the court for your husband to be the one to take her to counseling.

My son is 10 1/2 and has had his own issues with my husband, his step-father. We found that keeping him as busy as possible makes a huge difference. We don't indulge him or spoil him, but we find tasks and activities that he can do and be proud of when he finishes. Sometimes we pay him for the work he does.

It sounds like you could all use some family group therapy however, so talk to the court about the situation (not in front of your 9-year-old of course) and see if they can't do more to enforce things. Volenteer to do all the "work" since her mother obviously doens't care.

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R.O.

answers from Eugene on

Dear J.,
This sucks!! I can feel your pain, and I don't think there is a pat answer to your question. My advice however is quite simple, she must get some professional help, you obviously see that, and if her mother doesn't, she needs it too!!!!! It sounds like you have been very diligent in this attempt, so you have been pushed into a corner. Make it clear that unless she gets into some therapy, she will not be allowed to stay at your house, you make an appointment with one first, offer to take her, if time permits, and most importantly, have group councilling as well. Let her know that you love her, but right now you don't like her, that has quite an impact! Violent children have to be helped, cuz it won't get better by itself, something made this happen, and until you know what that is, she is a danger to your family as well as herself. She will start cutting herself, (reminds her she is alive) yes, I have had some experience with this. Mine however was my own daughter, and having several close family members die in a relativly short period of time, sent her over the edge, it was a living hell, we got all the way to IV drug use, so you see its important to get help now! You should know that my daughter is married with 2 beautiful sons, and has been drug free for 6 years, sad part she's only 20! Hope you can get some strength from this if nothing else!! R.

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B.G.

answers from Portland on

I imagine that there has been counseling involved in the process of combining the two families? If not, find a good family counselor who will not blow this girl off, but will take her seriously. She obviously has a serious problem with handling her anger, and is headed down a dangerously slippery slope. She needs SERIOUS help. I wouldn't allow her in our home, especially with a new baby around! I would also look into finding her a mentor (college age?) who she would respect and admire. Wow. You've got a hard road in front of you!

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B.J.

answers from Portland on

sounds like she might be bi-polar, have you had her checked? I think that at the very least she should see a counselor.

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B.M.

answers from Portland on

Is it possible the she might have adhd with odd? Odd is oppositional defiant disorder. It is a true disorder too!Goggle ODD and you will see what comes up. My newphews have some similar issues and they are good kids, but do have issues they can't control themselves. I would honestly consider looking into these things as well as couciling for her and with her to see if you can figure out what is all going on for her. She needs love and help. I hope all will get better for you. best of luck

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D.H.

answers from Seattle on

If there is a court order for the daughter to see a counselor.... start there. Go back to the courts because the mother is in violation of a court order if she does not follow through. If the mother still doesn't comply, the courts will start to impose penalties on the mother. As soon as that happens, I'm sure the mother will start taking her. Or check to see if the court will allow the non-custodial parent to take her to see a therapist and the do it yourselves when she's with you guys. It is very apparent that your family needs help. I'd also recommend you and her father getting some counseling as well on tecniques to use when she does get out of hand. I used to work with at-risk kids and believe me... there's a bunch of tools out there... but you have to educate yourselves as well. It may be good for your whole family to seek counseling since when there is a problem like this it is a family problem as well. Not just a problem with "the kid." Maybe the child is struggling with the idea of a "new baby" replacing her in daddy's heart.... ?? There could be many different things.... but a child's anger like that usually stems from somewhere. If she doesn't do this at home.... then you know where it's coming from.

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K.K.

answers from Portland on

WOW! I am in awe and overwhelmed by everything that you wrote. By trying to get her counseling was and still is the best solution(if the counselor is good). It is very difficult to respond to this in an e-mail, but I will try. I have so many questions, but will not ask them right now. I would spend one on one time with her for a few minutes, or more if you can, every day she is with you. I know that this seems impossible to do when you have a large family, but it is VERY necessary. Make sure you are doing something that requires interaction and that she knows she is at the center of your attention. Know that it is okay to give a child a gentle swat on the behind with an object (not your hand because they will correlate your hand with punishment) when they are knowingly defiant. After the punishment hold her, make eye contact, let her know that you love her very much and you want her to succeed in life and that is why you cannot allow her to... hit...kick...etc.
Write down the rules of the house and agree on them with your husband, make sure all children know what is expected of them and what the punishment will be if any of the rules are broken. Be consistent and always follow through.
Try giving choices. For example if she is in the hall and there is not enough room to get by say, "Can you show me how a ballerina dances across the stage?" or "how many steps does it take to get from here to the other side of the room? Can you show me?". Be creative and try to focus on the positive.
Make a reward chart. When she arrives at your house tell her you have something to show her that is very special. Tell her that this is a reward chart and if she can make it through one day without hitting/kicking anyone/anything than you will take her to get her favorite ice cream. It sounds like there is a lot that needs to be addressed so set your goals small.
It is hard for me to write advice in an e-mail when I don't know you or your children, but I pray that I gave you some ideas. If you don't have a friend or group of friends that can help or support you find one quick. There are clubs for moms that support each other and many churches have women's groups.
As you already know this is not just one issue that needs to be addressed, but many issues. I am at a loss for words. Please let me know what happens. My heart goes out to you.
I need to go for I have a child who has to use the bathroom very badly and can't go without me.

K.:)

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C.P.

answers from Bellingham on

I would call some sort of authority. 9 is WAY too old to be acting like that. WAY too old. Maybe her mom is afraid of what proffessional help might reveal? I'm sorry, but at that age, there is a LOT to blame on how she was raised. It's really mostly not her fault, although past the age of 8 she can fully make her own decisions since that is the age where children fully comprehend their behavior and it's consequences. This may have been impaired by past lack of parenting.

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M.S.

answers from Portland on

First of all, I think leaving her out of any visitations, or her even knowing you want to will only make the problem worse. A child should never be grounded from her parents. I think she just needs a lot of reassurance about her place in the family. She needs to feel loved, needed, and wanted. She needs to know that she can't be replaced and that you all want her around. She is not only very angry, confused, and hurt, but she is trying to see if there is anything she can do to get you guys to not love her anymore. She is probably a little jealous of the kids that get to live with you guys all the time and feels like you must love them more.
She really does need some therapy! Maybe you guys can arrange it for the time you have her. She also needs tons of one on one time. Instead of using punishments that push her farther away, try rewarding her with a one on one date with either of you when she behaves well.

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A.C.

answers from Seattle on

Get her into counseling, her father should be able to take her to counseling even if he has to go through the courts to get the ok. I always worry about any parent who does not want a child to seek counseling....it seems like they may have something to hide. As an outsider looking in and a stepmom myself, I see this as a cry for help from your little girl. I feel for you and hope she can get help!

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