Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dealing with Childhood Behavior Problems: Sans Medication

My oldest son will be 7 in May. For the most part he is a creative, outgoing and fun loving little boy. But there is a side to him that is dark and at times almost scary.

For the first 3 years of his life, it was just him and I. I worked 2 jobs to support him. Sure he seen his father, but his father is NOT a great role model and often put him in the middle of our issues (and still does). Nonetheless, during those 3 years, I never saw him exhibit any behavior that would lead me to believe that he would develop a behavior problem later on in life.

I met my husband about 3 and a half years ago, right before he turned 4. My son took to him immediately and slowly the shy, reserved little boy was vanishing and in his place was a outgoing, happy little boy. At that point, we started to have a little insight into the inner workings of his mind.

If he could not figure something out, he would throw things or have massive meltdowns. He bit my husband countless times. A visit to the pediatrician told us that this was normal 4 year old behavior.

When he was 5 he started Kindergarten. It was at this time that we really started to think that there was something going on with my son. Slowly, the school noticed it as well.

Half way through the 2007 school year, I received a phone call. I had to go and pick up my son from school so that he could serve his one day suspension...for throwing chairs. Yes, my quiet little boy threw such a fit that it caused the class to be evacuated.

I had a meeting with the principal and his early intervention teacher. They brought up the word "therapy" often. I didn't want to hear it. I guess, looking back now, part of me was in denial.

After talking to my son about the ramifications of his behavior, I talked to my husband. Something had to be done about his outbursts, as they had been getting progressively worse, but I again was in denial. If something was wrong with my child then it was my fault...I had failed as a parent.

About a month after the incident, CPS showed up at my door and it was then that I really seen what exactly was going on with my son. CPS was there to investigate a reported claim of abuse by my husband to my son.

Thankfully, the investigation was unfounded. However, the whole fiasco left me shaken. Why would my son say these things about my husband? What was going on?

After sitting my son down and talking to him, he revealed that his father had been coaching him on what to say. His dad wanted my husband to get in trouble. His dad said that he wanted my son to come and live with him. My son never wanted to go.

After the first of many CPS incidents (yes they still continue to this day) we decided to take my son to a local mental health facility. Walking through those doors, I felt a huge sense of failure looming over me. What did I do wrong? How could I have failed my son?

The therapist was a nice guy. However, he immediately suggested the one thing we were not willing to do at that time...medicate my son. I refused to have medicated to function. So after 3 sessions, (in which we got nowhere) we decided to talk to his pediatrician.

His pediatrician had him tested and came back with the diagnosis of ADHD . , ADHD, did not surprise me. We had suspected that he would have that all along.

That was a year ago. While I would like to say that the situation has improved, that isn't all true. While his emotional growth has been amazing this last year, his academics suffered and he is currently working to catch up so he doesn't have to repeat the 1st grade. The situation with his father has intensified. Lucky for us though, we have taught him what is right and wrong. He has learned to come to us and tell us what his father is telling him to do. It has allowed us to curb potential outbreaks in defiant or aggressive behavior. His father places the blame solely on me for his behavior problems and refuses to acknowledge that he does have a problem and it is not any ones fault.

Through this all, we have remained steadfast in our demands that he not be medicated. It hasn't been easy. We have seen a couple different therapists that want him medicated. Luckily, we have the support of our pediatrician, who believes that my son's behavior can be dealt with and modified without using medication. He has warned us though that a day may come when we have to medicate him, and we understand that.

For now though we are using positive reinforcement and redirection with him. He still does see a therapist for play therapy which is helping him deal with the issues with his father.

Dealing with childhood behavior problems is not easy. Especially when you cannot get anyone to listen to your concerns. As a parent, though, we know our child, we know what is "normal" and what is not. The best thing you can do is be your child's voice. They cannot always figure out or understand why they feel the way they do. I am glad I kept at the doctor, because now we know that my son isn't a "bad seed" he just needs a little extra help to be the best that he can be

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this personal story. It's wonderful that you want to try alternative methods instead of using medication. So many parents look for an easy fix and are quick to use medication. Good luck.


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