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Kevin Kennedy, Ph.D.  
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Specialties: Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates
781-849-2275
Braintree, MA
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Managing Childhood Behavioral Problems

Jun 17, 2008 - 36 comments
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behavioral problems

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behavioral

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childhood



Over the years during which I have contributed to the “Ask a Doctor” Child Behavior Forum for MedHelp, one topic has dominated the questions posed by the Forum’s readers:  how to manage childhood behavior problems.  Indeed, in our outpatient practice at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in the metropolitan Boston area,  the largest number of pediatric patients are referred for evaluation and treatment of behavioral difficulties.

Some of the time, pediatric behavior problems are symptomatic of emotional disorders, such as Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Disruptive Behavior Disorder or a condition along the Pervasive Developmental Disorder spectrum.  However, in the majority of instances, childhood behavior problems occur on the normal spectrum and are not indicative of serious mental or emotional problems.  

Now, does the fact that many behavior problems are considered normal indicate that they should be ignored, that parents should do nothing to address them?  By no means.  It is important to manage childhood behavioral problems in a systematic manner.  What is meant by ‘systematic’?  It means that a structured  approach should be employed, an approach that is concrete, specific and consistent.  The approach should be employed almost every time the child displays the problematic behavior, and the approach should be adopted by any adult who regularly cares for the child.  The child should know precisely what will occur in response to the problematic behavior.

When systematic behavior management plans are implemented, parents can respond to their children’s behavior in a calm and rational manner.  They don’t tend to respond in highly emotional, often angry ways.  It is crucial in managing childhood behavior problems that adults maintain their equanimity, and systematic plans permit this because parents are secure in their knowledge of how to react to a situation. Consequently, they are not trying to ad lib, are not reinventing the wheel and are not acting impulsively on the spur of the moment.

There are two approaches to systematic behavior management that I often recommend to readers of the Child Behavior Forum.  SOS Help for Parents (written by Lynn Clark) and 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (written by Thomas Phelan) are two practical, useful and effective approaches to the systematic management of childhood behavior.  These approaches have withstood the test of time and have been of benefit to tens of thousands of parents. If you are struggling with questions about how to manage your children’s behavior, look at these guides for straightforward, common-sense guidance.  By managing behavior problems in a competent way, you will enjoy your children more and contribute to their success.

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by mamed, Jun 17, 2008
I agree but it is easier said than done.  I am a single mother of four, 18, 15, 3 and 2 and I also have a 4-month old granddaughter.  After a full days work, we go home and I am non-stop, supper, dishes, clothes, baths and bedtime.  I literally have about 2 - 2 1/2 hours to get everything done before bedtime (a lot of times 3 hours have passed before I realize it).  I feel overwhelmed and don't have the time to focus on a particular outburst at the moment necessary; everyone is talking, screaming or crying all at the same time and I'm just trying to get the task done.  My 18-year-old is working and taking night classes and on-line classes for college and the 3 and 2 year old are very clingy and whiny.  They very seldom will go in another room and play, they stay under me constantly.
I have been trying to let other things go and work on this problem and things are getting a little better, but I tell you, it's hard.  It's hard to be consistent when there is so much chaos.

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by Joan639, Jun 17, 2008
I would like information on Asbergers. How to handle the child behaviourlly with a mild form of the disorder?

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by 1234angiecat, Jun 17, 2008
Hi Joan639,
You could try www.aspergers.ca where they have some links to other resources that may help you. Also,there is a
Aspergers forum with medhelp where you can express concerns, questions, and so forth. Hope this information helps.

Angiecat

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by pj174, Jun 17, 2008
I have a daughter who is 37 years old and suffers from Freidreichs Ataxia.  She has a 12 year old girl and an 18 year old boy.  The girl carries most of the responsibilty for answering her mothers calls for assistance.  This happens any time day or night.  Her sleep is interrupted nightly.  She also has a learning disability and is a preteen.  She is having adjustment problems associated with her age but the other demands that are being placed on her seem to be aggravating her adjustment problems.  Lots of outbursts, angry, moody, tired, feels like she is being picked on,etc.  There is no way out of the calls for help that my daughter has to make due to the illness. Her son works during the day and helps with chores after he gets home in the afternoon.  He sleeps upstairs at night. What can we do to help our grandaughter? She is living the life of an adult and she is only a child. We have tried the child psychiatrist and all he would do was order medicine that made her sick.  There is no extra money for entertainment or a special day out. She is absolutely miserable.  I understand how she feels and what she is going through because I also have a son with the same disease.  I am also being called to assist at any time.  I can't imagine how hard it is for my grandaughter to wrap her young mind around such big problems. I can barely do it myself. Where do we go from here...something has to give.

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by naveeda, Jun 18, 2008
hello i am a single parent and have adopted two children from Nepal they are 31 and 25 months old (just like twins)
the older one is a boy and the second one is a girl. One problem that i have constantly faced is thatNameer does not want to share any of his books , toys or bicycles with her sister . sometimes he becomes very cranky, cries and starts hitting evry one who is around (also its the age for temper tantrums ) but still would like to know ho me and his nannies should handle him?
also is this abehavioral problem or is it normal???
Naveeda

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by marialou, Jun 18, 2008
i have a daughter who is 13 yrs old almost 14 with a genetic rare syndrome called goldberg and shprintzen not to be confused with shprintzen and goldberg. i myself have researched with no help off any "specialist" that behavioural problems will more than likely occur regarding this syndrome. i know they have already and because her syndrome is so rare it basically isnt discussed,well at least not to me,becaused there isnt anything to compare her to. i understand what your saying but maybe if a parent had the help they needed they would not react in the spur of the momment as this could be the only way they know. i myself am probably guilty of that but also i know that there are reasons behind these problems.living with these circumstances day after day is hard though.especially when all you want is answers and no one can give you them. too many doctors are pencil pushing.maybe thats harsh i know.. but in my opion i feel thats the case

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by KariBurn, Jun 18, 2008
Is there a proven way to help a toddler learn to handle the inevitable emotional upset (which might lead to behavior problems) as a result of having severe and limiting food allergies?   My 22-month cannot eat dairy, gluten, eggs, beef, pork, peas, peanut butter, nuts due to the hives and stomach upset that results when an offending food is ingested.   He is just starting to notice (and get a little visibly upset) when he doesn't get served the food his older brother and parents eat or is denied foods at parties or restaurants.  It is impossible to elimate all of these foods from the rest of the family's diet so telling him he can't eat certain foods even when they are present is an inevitability.  I want to know when to start explaining why he isn't allowed these foods and how best to explain what that means to him--ie. you will itch and be uncomfortable.   Also, my son is starting to say "itchy" when hives do appear so should I start explaining his allergies to him or just be sympathetic?  Some articles about skin disorders and food sensitivities suggest that these young kids grow into behavioral problems and I'd like to avoid that--he currently displays very normal toddler temperment.

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by FECHO, Jul 09, 2008
Naveeda, you deserve lots of praise for adopting not one but two children, same age, at the same time.  Their age appropriate problems will occur at the same time, so you will have to have double amount of patience, double understanding.  But with lots of love it is doable, as a lot of parents of twins will tell you.  
The sharing problem is very normal for that age, it may last up to about age four, unless he will manage to figure out sooner what sharing is all about.  Here are a few good links to help you:
http://www.babycenter.com/404_how-can-i-teach-my-toddler-to-share_6823.bc
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/toddlers/48196
http://www.toddlerstoday.com/articles/socializing/thats-mine-2245/
You can find tons more info if you put "toddlers+sharing" in the search engine.

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by marialou, Oct 03, 2008
could you please give me some advise on how to handle my 14 year old daughter who has a rare genetic syndrome Goldberg and Shprintzen.with this she has a centronuclear myopathy and a 9mm syrinx inside her spinal cord T6-T11,she has megacolon,ophthamolplegia,learning difficulties and behavioural problems,and my god the list goes on you wouldnt believe.her older sister died 12 years ago aged 4 with complications relating to this extremely syndrome.my daughter is well aware of the problems her sister had and knows of her problems she faces everyday.she is my everything and it kills me to see her worry and suffer with problems doctors dont even know answers to.so tell me please doctor.wot approach should i take 1 or 2
put that in your textbook.

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by Kate165, Oct 17, 2008
by kate165  
Several months ago I asked for help for my 9 year old grandson. Sets fires, killed, by cutting up, a turtle, attacks his parents, sisters. Was hospitalized 3 times, for about 5 days. Knows how to manipulate the system. Because he never stays there long, they only see what he wants them to see. Cannot take him to stores, if you don't buy him what he wants, he curses, throws things around. When Mom removes him and goes home, he kicks at the car windows, back of seat.Strong, big for his age. Violence is getting worse. Has been diagnosed: BiPolar, Asbergers,  type of Autism. ADHD,  you name it. On many meds, changed according to new diagnosis. Goes into rages when denied what he wants. Punched holes in bedroom wall after parents were told to strip his room. Beat up another child in school last week, Mom was never called. His psychiatrist said he doesn't know what is wrong with him. Parents are married, do not drink or run around, has 2 sisters, one is ADHD, on meds, doing well, older sister has no problems. Your response to my first comment was that he needs to be placed immediately. Okay....how, and where? He was in KidsPeace supposedly for 2 weeks, they kept him 5 days, said he had Asbergers. Looked on the other two stays at Pottsville Hospital as vacations. Meds are not helping. He has told his TSS that his father beats him, not true, lies about other family members treatment of him. But since we all know now, we tell the parents exactly what happens when he is with us. I am his one grandmother, he attacked the other one, knocking her to the floor. I have seen the beginning of a rage while in the store with him, but he controlled it. However, as he turned away, I could see the tensing of his body. Thought that if he raged against me, I am 71, I would have the manager call the police. They have been at the house several times, but only talk to him. His TSS at home saw the latest rage for the first time, for no reason, and she was in tears. What do the parents have to do to get him placed? Dad works, Mom is not at the time, as she had a back injury, surgery that didn't work, he has threatened to break her back. When Mom did work, the children were always with family, not day care or child care. Please get back to me, tell me what steps need to be taken, and if there are any facilities in Pennsylvania for him. Thank You, Grandmom

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by andrewskeeper, Oct 31, 2008
hello,
I have and 11 year old boy who for the most part is a very well behaved boy. If you tell him to clean his room or do anyother chore he doesn't feel like doing he get very angry. He yells and destroys property of his fathers and mine.
Is this normal behavior or not.

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by Mary778, Nov 03, 2008
I have a 12yrs. old daughter with autism. Since last 2-3 mos. she is getting very angry  and Violent with no aparent reason. She had her 1st period in Sept. bur that is the only one she has till now. I don't know how to control her . Please help me.

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by sarah1710, Nov 10, 2008
i live at home with my mum and younger brother, he is 12 years old. his behavior is really hard to deal with for my mum and me. he's ben this way for many years and was originaly brought up by his father. i would like to discuss this with you or someone who will listen and offer advice, we are our wits end, really. thank you.

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by deb663, Jan 06, 2009
Im 34, single mom of 3 yr old son. My husband lost his life in a auto accident when our son was only 9 mths old. After almost 2 yrs, I began to date. I've been seriously involved with a wonderful man for about 5 mths.  We are experiencing problems where my son's behavior is concerned. I admit to being a bit laxed with him & I've made my share of mistakes from not following through.....maybe out of pitty, of because of guilt. I work and go to school...so, what little time I spend with my son....I tend to give in to him. Recognizing this makes me feel like a failure & I'm working on that. My boyfriend has really made a possitive infuence on my son & wants to help me out with him, but he feels it's not his place. We're both puzzled about what's next. I'm trying to figure out how to balance being the nurturer and the disiplinary to my son. What advice can you give?

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by sassy8824, Apr 24, 2009
My daughter has been spitting all the time for the past year but now she is doing it all day and night. She is 5 yrs old. She carries around a towel now when we are home and continues to spit in it because she was using tons of paper towels, toilet tissue,etc. She says she cant swallow her spit because it makes her feel like she is going to throw up. Have you heard of this before?

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by nicci464, Jun 29, 2009
hi there,  this is the first time I've every used this sort of thing before.  But after trying most other things I thought that I might give it a go!  My son will be 5 in August and I was a single parent up until a year ago when I meet someone and we now  live together.  My son is a very affectionate little man and has very good language and communication skills.  In the last few months though he seems to have changed and has these what I would call little episodes where if he doesn't get his own way he turns he starts kicking and screaming very very loudly and what ever I say he wants to do the opposite.  I have tried to ignore this I have gotten angry I have smacked and I have stayed calm and unfortunaitly onthing seems to make a differance.  I still make time where he and I do things together by ourselves but that doesn't even seem to make a diffenace.  Does anyone have any other suggestions as to what might be wrong and what I can try to understand whats going on with him when this happens

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by victor46, Jul 17, 2009
I have a nephew who is verbalizing that he wants to become a girl. He is 14 and has been acting very feminine for the past 7 years.  He plays out the role of a girl. He walks and talks like a girl. His Mom died when he was 3 and he has 2 natural older brothers. His father is very controlling, strict discipline and believes in spanking. My brother is in a new marriage of one year and now he is in a blended family. He was the youngest of 3 in his natural family and now he has become the oldest of three boys. His 2 older brothers are out of the house and his 2 new brothers can't stand him as he plays out this role. He tries to get them into trouble all the time by acting out his role.

He has been overprotected by his Dad ever since his mother died. He always wants attention and is a master manipulator.  I believe he is dealing with issues of abandonment and  wanting to get his Dad's attention. Now that his Dad has re-married he wants to divide the family and create a wedge between his 2 new brothers and his Dad by having them hate him.

Does anyone have any suggestions about the type of expertise I need to convince my brother to seek? ( He is in denial and feels it is a phase that he will out grow.)



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by Sister2009, Sep 17, 2009
Hi Dr. Kennedy,
This is the letter I sent the mom who, on Aug 29th,  reported her ex-boyfriend's 7 yr old son trying the have sex w/ her 4 yr old son. Do you have any similar concerns???????(jpayne51486, Aug 29, 2009 09:44PM)


I am very sorry to hear about what happened to your 4 year old son. I will pray that he will get the quidance he needs to recover from this tragedy. I have 3 children of my own ages 10,8,and 6. I can understand how difficult this must have been to address.I know that your inital reaction was to help your son by removing him from the 7yr old "Perpetrator" however I see this 7yr old as the VICTIM as well!!!!!! I have a serious concern for this 7 yr old boy who was the son of your ex boyfriend. There must be a reason why he would be acting out in this way. Children do what they are taught to do. Are you not concern that the boy is being molested or raped by his mother, father, or another care-giver or relative. My initial response to your letter was WOW how much more of a cry for help does this poor 7 year boy have to make. HE IS SCREAMING OUT HELP ME!!!!!! I understand that you have broken up with your boyfriend but what about calling CPS????? Please do not let this boys cries go unheard and ignored. GOD BLESS...a concerned mother

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by shy_girl26, Sep 30, 2009
Hi

I am the mom of 4 boys 12/8/5/1 I am having problems with my 8 yr old he does not listen and I do not mean sometimes all the time. His teachers are not able to handle him he gets notes home from school about being disruptive in class(4 in the last 4 days) it is like he does his work in class then gets out of his seat and starts to talk to the other children. At home you have to tell him atleast 10 times to do something ,  you can take away one of his privledges for him not listening and the next day he is not listening again kind of like he forgot about losing something he enjoys from the day before .. He has almost been kicked off his baseball team b/c no one seems to be able to get him to listen. I have tried hallering , grounding, removing objects he enjoys ( computer,psp, xbox) I have tried everything the teachers have tried every thing I am lost and do not know what else to do. I was  reading an article about a child being an over achiever I guess you could call it and it sounds like my son, the parent stated they are getting the child checked for ADD but I do not feel he has this problem can someone give me some advice I am scared he is going to get expelled from school.

Also I am so frustrated and feel my frustration is adding to the problem

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by benherb, Nov 29, 2009
My grand-daughter is now 8 1/2 and still sleeps with her mother every night.  The father is forced to sleep in another room.  Now there is a new baby who is another little girl 2 weeks old.  The two girls and the Mom sleep in the same bed.  The father still sleeps in another room.  This does not seem healthy.  Any comments?
Just the grandparents.

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by KAVEKLIMBER666, Dec 03, 2009
AS A CHILD i BANGED MY HEAD UP AND DOWN ALL NIGHT. MY PARENTS NEVER BROUGHT IT UP OUT OF EMBARASSMENT I GUESS. THEY JUST LOCKED ME AWAY IN A ROOM. THEY DIED SINCE BUT I AM RUINED. EVEN THIOUGH I TRY TO  GET OVER IT, I CAN'T. A MILLION SELF HELP BOOKS LATER I STILL HATE MYSELF AND AM SELF DISTRUCTIVE. I KNOW I AM PROOF THAT NEGLECT IN THE EARLY YEARS OF LIFE DETERMINES THE REST OF YOUR' LIFE. MY E.MAIL IS   ***@****  I KNOW YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TIME TO GIVE ME ADVICE, WITH ALL THE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE YOU HAVE WRITING YOU, PLUS YOUR' PRACTICE, BUT SOME TIMES EVEN A SHOT IN THE DARK HITS SOMETHING. THANKYOU .

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by metry31, Jan 13, 2010
At what age is it inappropriate for a single parent to share their bed with their child (opposite sex). I'd alway thought it was at the age when when child knew there was a difference between "boys and girls"...but had an argument with a male friend who had no problem sleeping in the bed with their daughter at age 9! I'd love some medical professional (and parental) feedback. Thanks!

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by lala087, Jan 19, 2010
My name is Laurie I am 22 and I have a 6 year old son who is so out of control and he just cannot listen if his life depended on it it’s like he is always out in left field some where if you tell him to do something he will not do it never ever and sometimes he will just repeat everything you say I don’t know what to do I really don’t iv tried sending him to counseling we have tried some exercise I have done just about everything I’m waiting on an appointment to put him on meds and I hope it helps. He is so bad I cannot take him anywhere not out to eat to a store a movie I can’t even take him to get gas because he is so bad and cannot listen he is all over the place looking at and touching EVERYTHING. Whenever I do take him out people just look at us funny and sometimes they say stuff about how bad and I even hear some people call him dumb or a retard. I cannot even get a job because no one will watch him .I need help somehow some way I just really need help I’m starting to lose my mind I don’t know what to do anymore I just don’t like I had said I really need help nothing I have tried has worked. Please please please please help me and my son. I talk to him about why he does bad things and asks like a very bad boy and all he says is I don’t know sometimes he will cry and tell me he wants to be good he does not know why he can’t do it may be he cries and says that to get away with something? I really don’t know all I know is that we needed help badly. It is getting to the point where I no longer have any friends because they can’t handle being around my son his behavior is staring to affect my refashion ship with my boyfriend and his kids there are getting annoyed with his bad behavior. I feel bad for my son because I don’t think he knows what he is really doing and how it’s going to affect others he always asks me why we hardly go out or why no one wants to play with him for more than a few minis. When he plays with other kids he really gets overly hyper and he just does not know when to stop and when he gets like that the other kids don’t like it so they no longer want to play with him. he also has some anger issues. I really hope someone can help me!!!!

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by Hardjayboy, Jan 28, 2010
I have a 14 year old step son and he's reached that stroppy stage where he just seems to argue or be sullen all the time.  He's decided to take up karate so at least he will finally get out of the house.

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by eborose, Feb 08, 2010
My daughter is 2 yrs old and has been pulling her hair since shes had hair! I tried to set limits and tell her no but it just kept getting worse and worse.  Acouple months ago she actually stated eating it at night in her room and she has been pooping it out and this seem extremely painful for her.  I finally resorted in shaving her head so it was just short enough to where she cant grab hold of it. She doesnt seem affected by it at all, she thinks it sooo funny when she looks at herself in the mirror.  Do you think this was a bad decision on my part?  The doctors kept reccommending I do this but Im worried that right when it growns back she will start pulling again. Any advice?

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by mommytoo5, Mar 11, 2010
Mr. Kennedy,

        I' am hoping you could help me. I have an 8 year old son who is very temper mental. He will explode over the littlest of things. within 2 months he hit children on the bus and in class and has choked other children. we have a very loving relationship and we are very close but when I ask him what is wrong he tells me nothing except he just got angry. I asked him nicely the other day if he could help me set the table and he flipped and started  screaming and throwing his toys around and stormed off. I have tried medicine for adhd. but that was messing with his other health problem. he has hypercalcuria and A.D.H.D. I just don't know what to do. if you could help with anything suggestions it would be greatly appreciated. please email me at ***@****       thank you

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by cec1973, Aug 08, 2010

PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME


I have a son 2nd grade just turned 8.He has been suspended from school twice. ( they seem to think this is doing something,punishing him and it doesn't work.)
he is APPARENTLY Including continuous disruptions, verbal aggression towards SEP teachers and teacher aides, kicking and throwing objects, loud noises to gain attention, failure to follow instruction etc..
They remove him from class,they remove him from all playground interaction they provide teacher aids school is saying now we have done everything we can.Pediatrician says they diagnosed him through school counselor with intellectual impairment but he is not impaired.he has problems...he writes back to front, upside down, but reads fine.Pediatrician is the first one i met who found my son has an extra beat in his heart,so he has to be switched on...he doesn't want to try drugs yet wants an MRI but cant until he is 10 ! So what do we do in the mean time...
I am lost he is nothing like that at home i had an older child much worse ( PDD-NOS) with ASD,ODD,ADHD,ADD & depression.This child is in no way like that..he can sit quietly and draw ,read, work etc at home,the only prob we have is tantrums when he doesnt get his own way or when he is asked to do something IE Clean your room, brush your teeth,but happily goes out and picks sticks up off the yard for dad to mow.?
So what do i do?          quit my job we end up living below poverty line,so the school has a apart time student like they want he doesnt get an education and because we cant afford to feed and clothe him properly DOCS come and take him away ? How fair is any of this to anyone?


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by Tortured_inpatient_child, Nov 21, 2010


I am a survivor of child abuse in the name of psychiatry.

I notice my post addressed to you on the child behavior forum were erased, as if you could simply erase what your organization, psychiatry, did to me and has done to millions of children like me.

My challenge to you, now, is to show enough regard for one of your organization's victims to the extent you don't censor their messages on the internet.

My normal behaviors as a minor were labeled "symptoms" by a psychiatrist. As I'm sure you realize, just about any unwanted behavior shown by an adolescent or child has been pathologized by psychiatry.

In my case my "symptom" was not wanting to live with an abusive parent.

To "treat" my "symptom" I was found guilty of mental illness and condemned without due process or trial to unlimited incarceration at a "residential treatment center." Presumably, the aim was to remove unwanted ideas from my mind through force, like my desire to leave my abusive parent.

I was  kidnapped by this organization.

Google "teen rendition" or "teen escort" to validate that, indeed, so called rtc's do kidnap victims.

I was then held prisoner by this organization

Google "family foundation school truth" or "wwasp info" or "fornits" or "rick ross" forum and "straight inc" or "private prisons for teens" or "teen advocate" or "heal teen torture" to validate that, indeed, RTCs or "therapeutic boarding schools" or "emotional growth schools" do, in fact, function as prisons.

I was then tortured and brainwashed.

Sounds crazy, I know. But educate yourself by googling "CEDU" and "brainwashing" and "cult". Or "rick ross" and "straight". Or "the cult that spawned the troubled teen industry."  

"Cult expert and intervention specialist Rick Ross says there’s an unfortunate market for “rehab” centers that take burdensome children off the hands of troubled parents."

My question to you, is what do you think is the appropriate punishment for the psychiatrist that did this to me?

Do you recognize that "inpatient treatment" for minors is, at this point in time, almost always imprisonment without due process?

Do you believe that kafakesque horror is honestly helpful to anyone, let alone just?

Do you recognize that there is no protections for teens and minors in "impatient treatment" because the govt refuses to criminally prosecute cases of systematic torture that go on in these organizations under the justification they are private businesses and are outside its jurisdiction?

What is your policy on ensuring the inpatient centers you refer to respect the human rights of minors (respect due process) and provide them with relatively little abuse, as well as an opportunity to report abuse considering that, as of now, not torturing teens is something these organizations only do out of choice, not out of threat of punishment.

What do you say to people like myself, who say that we were injured by your organization---that there was nothing wrong with us, and the APA's insistence on medicalizing our behaviors caused us harm?


What do you think about teen rendition?--kidnapping of minors to compel them into the captivity centers?

Google "no spank" "George miller" "attorney general" GAO summit abuse in residential schools to get some insight into how "powerless" the judiciary claims it is to intervene on behalf of minors in bondage.


I look forward to your response




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by Hilushka, Oct 17, 2011
What to do with a defiant 4 year old who normally is smart and can do many things on his own - that is whenever he wants - but when asked refuses. When just politelly corrected or I point a little mistake in what he is doing he gets upset and stops trying. I can insist, I can promise a reward or even threaten with punishment he will just freeze and do nothing...What is this behaviour? How to deal with it? May he have some mental defficiency? I am lost for he started school and I cannot even ask him to write a letter (I never ask for something he wouldn't know how to do) a simple letter he wrote on his own many times. When asked he will not.. or just once corrected he will go blank  ..stare at the walls ...do nothing...This worries me for it absolutelly doesn't look normal. eems that he stops thinking at those moments and mentally is somewhere else.  

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by Ravensheart, May 19, 2012
Dear Doctor; I have such an important question I pray you will have the time to answer it.

I know a woman who when her son was born fell in love with him and not so much with her husband anymore. There is a name for the condition but I don't know the name please excuse me. Anyway, The little boy sleeps with his mother and he is now 5 yrs old (May 14 2012). The problem I see is that the child (Declan) still sleeps with the mom who's husband often sleeps in another room because she claims he snores. But I think its because she is a bit over protection and possessed with him. Anyway, she often dresses in front of the boy (or did up to a month ago) and she also allows him to go into the bathroom with her. All true. She is also the one he prefers to bath him. NOW... Here is where I am concerned. Today, outside a pretty girl maybe 30-35 the same age as Delcan's mom who is 39) and Declan turned to look at the woman than look back at his mother - with eyes wide and glea on his smile. His mom just looked at him and said, "Declan, she is too old for you." Now I don't have a big education. BUT... this chilled me. A 5 year old boy looking at a 35 yr old woman?? This can not be normal under the circumstances of her treatment of the child. Don't you feel the boy is in danger of emotional wreckage from his mother?? Please don't tell me and oyur readers that this is "NORMAL" behavior for a five year old boy.

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by grandad_joey, Oct 10, 2012
Ravensheart... I'm no expert, but your mind seems to be assuming the worst. Many children bath with mum, even at 5 yrs.. a parents nudity isn't a bad thing, it can help a child grow to be body confident. A 5 yr old turning to look at someone isn't inappropriate... the mothers comment is odd but not wrong, in my opinion. Of course you know these people and see them first hand, so maybe there's more to it than I realise. the husband sleeping in another is odd but not uncommon.. if possible try to suggest to her that Declan should really be in his own bed and room. she could stay with him until he's asleep then go to her own room. I know someone who was in similar situation.. it took over a yr but their daughter finally is in het own room alone. Declans mum may be overly protective, but hopefully its nothing sinister. are you able to discuss your concerns with her ? or even mention it to her doctor. he won't discuss her with you, but at least he'll be aware of the situation. if your concern is severe, I think you should consider your next move ? maybe even call child protection team ? be certain of your suspicions and be sure your not , well, jumping to some major conclusions. hope my opinion can help you, even slightly. sorry you have such concerns over someone, its a very difficult situation you've found yourself in.


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by lisaob1, Jan 15, 2013
wow...i must admitt Mr.Kennedy...long ago did you type your obnoxious post..and also how do you bend over to touch your toes with that stick up your..ask no questions.....totally not in the real world...god forbid anything happens to you....totally totally a jackass


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by strugglingfamily, Jan 17, 2013
Ok I have never used a site like this yet I am at a loss as to how to deal with my step son. I have 2 children boy 10 girl 8 and also 3 stepsons ages 11, 10, & 8. I have them full time as their mother passed away may years ago. I have never had any problems dealing with any children.... Until my 8 (almost 9) yr old step son .... His behavior is nothing I have ever seen and all Dr's counsoler's neone have helped its as if they don't believe me. To describe... He Will poop his pants at home school grocery store EVERYWHERE. scream and cry as if someone is is being mean or physically hurting him for literally hours almost daily he has now begun these crying episodes in school .. He does well in school and knows the work yet he hides homework won't turn it in refuses to do it and when I ask him if he has homework it starts a three hour crying event this happens 8 out of 10 times. He is on medication yet it is not working the school calls almost daily to ensure he had his medication as he can't leave kids alone crawls on and under desks asking him to stop makes it worse  he then Will turn around and be perfect as uf nothing happened and if I question him about this he says I don't remember! The other four kids have begged me ti naked him stop byte I don't know how. He went to an inpatient clinic because a year ago he stabbed two sibling with a pencil resulting in having ti go to the hospital. He woke at 4 am and could hear his brother snore so he sat on his brothers chest and began punching him in the mouth! Just tonight he cried and screamed because I wouldn't let him go to bed at 6pm so this fit lasted  from 545 until I gave up at 745 and made him go to bed. If he doesnt want to do something he ensures that none of us do anything. His behavior and having to go to the school and pick him up early because they can't deal with him has caused me to lose my job as his dad refuses to deal with anything and does not see the problem! Spanking taking things away losing privileges nothing works he acts as if nothing effects him he is extremely cold and compassionless we can't even grocery shop as he has had these types if problems mid store and then screamed stop choking me.... I assure you nobody was near him yet in the middle if the store when a child screams like that you can imagine the scene. ANY ADVICE??????

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by strugglingfamily, Jan 17, 2013
I just want yo add that it isn't a certain thing that sets him off no type of trigger and what ever triggers him one day is different the next. When in trouble he throws himself down bangs head on floor or wall and hits himself.... Then screams that we gave beat him! Thus is all daily activity and its frustrating Aswell as making life miserable for the other 4 children too.

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by michele514, Oct 01, 2013
Dr. Kennedy,
I have an 11 year old step-daughter that has been diagnosed with ODD. She has displayed behavior problems since a very early age but it seems the older she gets the "meaner" she gets. She is a bully at school and has had conference after conference with teachers and other parents to discuss the issue. She is verbally abusive when not given her way on the playground and gets "in their face" and scares them into doing what she wants. Her grades are not great but could be worse. Sometimes she adamently refuses to do things the teachers ask of her because she doesn't want to do it. She lies about pretty much everything. Has temper tantrums when things don't go her way (literally throwing herself on the ground and screaming). She never takes responsibility for her actions or words and seems completely uncaring about hurting others. She is lately, obsessed with death and asks everyone how they want to die. she stabbed one of her baby dolls with the end of a wire wisk until all the beads were gone and then wanted to give it a funeral.  She laughs at stories of young children being hurt saying things like "oh how cute the baby has a cast" when hearing about an infant who had suffered a broken arm as a result of abuse. We now have an infant of our own in the house, her other siblings are older, and the babies safety has become a serious issue. She will hand the baby objects that she can choke on, even after being told directly "not" to give the item to her sister becasue its a choking hazard...as if she wants her to choke. She wrapped an infinity scarf around her sisters neck while alone in the room with her for a few moments. Then calmly began playing on her ipod again. When asked what happened she admitting to doing it, but only said "I was having fun" as her excuse. No remorse or care that she could have strangled her sister. Recently she had a temper tantrum in a store because she wasn't getting the item she wanted and we sent her to the car to wait for us while we checked out. While in the car she unbuckled her sisters car seat from the seat belt, leaving it open to fall over if we turned a corner or what not. Thankfully we noticed before we drove away. She adamently refused to admit she touched the car seat even though she was the only one out there and it was buckled when we got out of the car. She says hateful, hurtful things to anyone not giving her what she wants and manipulates as often as she can. Her therapist states she is not a good candidate for therapy as she just sits and blames others for everything and won't focus on herself. I have asked them to give her the PCL:YV to assess whether she meets the criteria for childhood onset antisocial disorder but they refuse. We have tried every positive parenting program out there, from ignoring all negative behaviors and only focusing on the positive to see if they will increase in number...there were never any positive behaviors to focus on. It was poor behaviors at school, parents not wanting her to play with their children any longer, and increased safety risks. What would your suggestions be for a child that displays no conscience (no emotion to anyone or anything except when she is not getting her way then she cries)? I am completely at a loss. I have a Masters in Forensic Psychology and have worked with at risk youth my entire career yet I can't seem to cope with my step daughter.
Thanks
Michele

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by flave68, Jan 26, 2014
My 8 yr old son throws things wen he's mad.he never can be still, even wen sleep.n says the same things over n over.the more I punish him , the worse he gets.wants wrong?

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