12 year old - still causing problems, sanity rapidly evaporating.

(35 Posts)
biffa85 Sun 04-Nov-12 14:52:13

Our 12 yr old YD is now living in a childrens home. The home itself is lovely, and the staff have been brilliant - I really cannot fault them. But her behaviour is continuing to get more and more out of control and we are getting pretty close to our wits end.

Since she has been there (7 weeks now), she has absconded 3 times (once at 1:30am), she has started smoking. On family contact last week, she disappeared after school and was picked up by the police on the A50, 7 miles from our house and walking back to the home (some 15 miles from our house). Staff then brought back to our house, where she promptly kicked off and started trashing the place, all the time screaming vile abuse and both myself and DH. She then tried to shove past DH (who is disabled), so we ended up calling the police and having her removed. (All of this in front of 3 social workers from the home, a PCSO and two police officers, together with a police car parked at the top of our drive).

On the last 2 visits, when she has gone back to the home they have searched her bag and found - on the first occaision a bottle of wine and a can of cider, and then on the second occaision two bottles of wine and a can of lager that she has taken out of the fridge while here and stashed in her bag.

She has said numerous times that she doesn't want to come home and she hates us etc etc. I have threatened to sell her bearded dragon if she continues to cause problems when here on family contact; she has had her mobile phone confiscated etc. I really don't know what else to do.
Meanwhile, social worker continues to insist that she has no mental health problems. She may not, but I feel I am rapidly developing mental health problems as this damn saga drags on. sigh

Our problem is this: she is currently in voluntary foster care, so in theory we can withdraw her from the 'system' and bring her home whenever we want to. Clearly, this is only going to end in tears (probably ours) as she will be utterley vile. The house will have to turned into Fort Knox to keep her in and it's going to be very stressful. Part of me wants to just leave her there and part of me wants to be able to say that, no matter how bad she behaves, we've always been there for her. I know it probably souonds awful for me to say I'm tempted to leave her there, but her behaviour really is unmanageable and she has been absolutely vile towards all of us. Yet on a good day, when she is more like herself, I have hope that we may get through this and she may come back to us as herself.

It's such a nightmare and the stress levels in the house are through the roof. I know that some of you have been in similar situations as we find ourselves in at the moment - how on earth do you manage to keep your sanity?? I'm tempted to pay for a private psychiatric consultant to assess her and see if she has mental health issues that social services have failed to pick up on.

Sorry for rambling.

kittycat68 Sun 04-Nov-12 19:08:42

this may sound daft but have you been to your GP and asked for a CAMHS referal? she sounds like a very angry little girl.

Coconutty Sun 04-Nov-12 19:12:50

What does YD mean?

It sounds like you need the space between you at the moment, she obviously has issues with you and your DH which need to be resolved before she comes home. CAMHS is a great starting point but I am assuming you've been there already.

Sorry can't help more, sounds like you are really going through it. When did the problems start?

doinmummy Sun 04-Nov-12 19:15:20

Oh god you poor things. I would try and get a psychiatric assessment (have wondered about this for my DD) just so you know for sure. Has she always been tricky ? Can you pinpoint anything that started it all?

I feel ill qualified to offer anything other than loads of sympathy.

bigTillyMint Sun 04-Nov-12 19:22:07

What does YD stand for?

This sounds horrendous for all involved - I guess you have already had significant involvement of CAMHS?

When did her problems seem to begin?

Coconutty Sun 04-Nov-12 19:26:31

Youngest daughter? What help are you getting from her school? Have they done an Ed Psych report for you? What diagnosis did they give, if any?

Brightspark1 Sun 04-Nov-12 21:19:31

No need to apologise for rambling! It sounds like hell, I think I remember your previous thread, I'm so sorry it ended up with DD going into care. My DD who is now 16 went into care six months ago, despite being under CAMHS. Like your DD, she was never diagnosed as having MH problems! But her problems were seen as behavioural, though in your case , it seems odd that your social worker seems to think they are qualified to make a diagnosis, you might want to push for a CAMHS referral via your GP?
A children's home can't provide the same level of supervision as you might have been able to at home ( under different circumstances ). She is likely to be mixing with older, similarly out of control teens, and she is picking up their behaviours. My DD has also started smoking and drinking since being there. There is little you can do, other than keeping alcohol locked away when she is visiting. And I think that is the nub of the issue. At the moment you can't parent your daughter, she is not living with you; I know from bitter experience how hard it is, but it might be better to stand away and detach yourself from the parenting role for the time being. As much for your own sanity as anything else. As MaryZ has said many times on other threads, you need to find away of detaching. DH and I came very close to losing our own sanity, counselling has helped, as did doing small things for yourself, going for coffee with a friend, doing some exercise and holding your head high in the face of other's judgements. Keep posting here, I found it a great help to post what I couldn't talk about in real life.
I really feel for you and your family, the situation can and will eventually resolve itself.
I've probably rambled, but I hope i have made some sense.

flow4 Mon 05-Nov-12 09:54:19

I'm sorry things are so bad, biffa sad

If your instincts are telling you not have her home, then don't. Your job is to do the best you can for her, and at this point in time that may mean not having her home.

You can still be 'there for her no matter what' if she lives elsewhere... In fact, if she is violent and out of control, it will probably be much, much harder to be 'there for her' if she is living with you, because then you will have to put all/most of your energy into crisis-management, protecting her from harm when you're not well-equipped to do it, and self-preservation.

You keep your sanity by detaching and by looking after yourself, as brightspark says (she knows what she's talking about; she's Been There too).

Definitely get a CAMHS referral if you haven't already. But don't put all your hope into getting helpful support from mental health services. They do not seem to be very good at supporting kids - esp those who are 'acting out' rather than being depressed and/or self-harming. Most parents (including me) seem to report frustrating months or years trying and failing to get support... sad It is difficult. Counselling needs to be voluntary - you can't force a child/YP to go, and if you try, it doesn't work. And of course most/many young people, especially the angry ones, don't want to sit down and talk about themselves, or can't. I'd say still try to get your daughter some support, because it will help if you can arrange it and she will go... But don't rely on it.

No-one has mentioned drugs yet, so I will. Sorry. If she is living in a children's home and already using alcohol, then it is extremely likely that she is also using skunk (a strong, modified form of cannabis ). It is very easy to get hold of, and will definitely be available from other kids in the home. It is a powerful mood-altering drug - it dis-inhibits users so they can't control themselves, and causes aggression in many and even psychosis in some sad

It is very hard to stop kids from using skunk once they get into it, because it is so widely available, but she is so young that even if she has started she can't have been using it long, so I would definitely say it's worth a try. Its long-term effects can be so damaging that it may be the strongest argument for getting her out of care, where she will certainly have easy access to it... But of course there are no guarantees you'd be able to stop her either.

As for 'what to do', this is the difficult, heart-breaking thing, because there is so little you can do. When people talk about their older teens (14/15+) I tend to say "You can't control them; they have to control themselves". But that doesn't sound right for a 12 year old, because of course they can't control themselves properly. I really feel for you.

I would say though, that punishment doesn't ever seem to work - not for my DS and not for other kids I know or have heard about. Whether or not she is psychologically ill, it is clear that your daughter is really struggling with life. She is probably feeling out-of-control. Her behaviour is awful, but it doesn't sound like she's doing it 'deliberately' - it sounds like she can't stop herself. I don't think punishments/sanctions actually help or work with kids like your DD (and my DS) - they just add to the anger and the feelings of powerlessness.

I think incentives work much better, especially very short-term ones that build up to something bigger. Focus on and reward the positive behaviour you want, not the negative. When my son stopped going to school, what worked to get him back was paying him: £2/day if he went, with a bonus if he finished first a week, then a fortnight, then a whole half-term. If you can find something your daughter wants, I would suggest rewarding her with it: "We will give you X for every day you keep calm, and XXX if you manage a whole week staying calm". IMO it is very important to make the rewards achievable - make sure you set the 'threshold' for some rewards low, so she actually succeeds. She needs to feel what success feels like^: IME, many/most kids who go off the rails seem to only know or remember what ^failure feels like sad Then gradually 'raise the threshold' so she has to try a bit harder to succeed, but not so hard that she starts failing again... It's a bit like limbo dancing hmm... It's a difficult balance... The idea is to make her 'remember' that re-engaging and behaving decently actually feels better than disengaging or behaving badly.

Sorry, I've gone on a bit. Hope some of it is helpful smile

biffa85 Mon 05-Nov-12 15:19:01

Dear All,
Thanks SO much for your comments. It's reassuring knowing that we're not the only ones that have been taken to hell and back by their offspring!

We were due to have contact today, but when I went to collect her she spent 20 minutes screaming abuse and me and her keyworker. She does it on purpose so that she can avoid coming home. Part of the problem, as her keyworker has said, is that unfortunately the 3 kids that are in the home at the moment are all relatively well behaved. The keyworker says that if they had some kids in that really caused havoc, it would probably frighten the life out of YD (yes, youngest daughter/devil). But because there's no major issues there at the moment, she's got quite a cushy lifestyle up there.

She has denied taking alcohol from the fridge, and claims that someone else must have done it and it wasn't from our house. Unfortunately for her, the bottle of cider she took is 2 years out of date because it's been there so long - so I can prove that it was from MY fridge. She keeps on about wanting to be treated like a grown up, but then acts like a 3 year old. She doesn't face up to her own actions and accept responsibility for anything, and seems to think the answer to all problems is to run off or scream abuse at people. It gets quite wearing listening to her constantly screaming at me to go and drop dead.

We have a monitoring meeting on Wednesday morning, where we will re-do the contact plan. YD won't be involved as she'll be at school (unless she manages to get herself suspended again), and even when she was involved in the last meeting when it came to organising the contact plan, she hasn't stuck to it.

We're also supposed to have contact tomorrow - I'm due to collect her from school, bring her home for tea and then return her to the unit in the evening. I daresay she'll come up with a plan to scupper it entirely. Meanwhile, as I work from home it's practically impossible to get any work done at the moment because she's either here causing havoc or I'm to-ing and fro-ing to the home and back.

She is already under CAMHS, who have assessed her and said she has no mental health issues. However, we don't seem to be getting anywhere with getting someone, anyone, to recognise that there IS a problem - whether it's mental, behavioural or hormonal - I don't really care which one, I'd quite like someone to slap a label on it so we know what's going on and can figure out a way of sorting it all out.

On a lighter note, it's Monday - which means it's the one night of the week that me and DH go out to the pub to play poker. It's nothing too exciting I know, but it gets us out for an hour or two and ocaisionally I win money!

bigTillyMint Mon 05-Nov-12 18:20:25

SO CAMHS can't see any problem even though she has had to go into care????

What is happening at school? Any problems there?

biffa85 Mon 05-Nov-12 18:59:02

School have been VERY supportive and have put in place all sorts of measures - she can go to 3 different teachers if she's struggling to cope and they will put her in a 'safe' room. Having said that, she has so far been excluded from school for 11 days this half term - 10 for assaulting a teacher and 1 for shouting at a teacher in the corridor to piss off. If she gets to 15 days (which I have no doubt that she will), we then have to have a meeting with the governors to try and keep her in school and not permanently excluded.

She doesn't have a large number of friends at school and has always got on better with kids a lot older than her.

School also attended the last meeting with the social worker, home staff and a lady from NSPCC who is helping her with coping therapies and backed me up when I said that her problems seem to have started since she started her periods in year 7 and her behaviour has been going downhill since then.

She's in care on a voluntary basis at the moment, because when it all kicked off at school in September, she was threatening to kill herself at school and if she came home. CAMHS then assessed her in A&E and concluded that she should NOT return home due to the threats she was making to kill herself - hence, we signed her into voluntary care to try and keep her safe. Despite all this, they say she has no mental health issues - despite being suicidal, aggressive mood changes etc. We really are banging our heads against a wall in trying to get anyone to recognise that she HAS got a problem of some sort.

bigTillyMint Mon 05-Nov-12 19:40:09

Aren't the school pressing CAMHS too? I can't believe they aren't doing more - are they trying to blame it all on you? Even if they are, then they should still be offering some sort of counselling/therapy or pushing for her to be seen by a psychiatrist or something.

Was everything OK at primary school?

flow4 Mon 05-Nov-12 20:28:44

CAMHS are under massive pressure, and their thresholds for specialist support are quite high. From what you describe, it sounds like your DD is already getting 'tier 2' support following a CAMHS assessment, but doesn't hit the 'threshold' for 'tier 3' support. Lower level support is often 'multi-disciplinary' - i.e. provided by people from different services, incl. social services, schools and maybe NSPCC, rather than MH specialists. Effectively, they are not saying she doesn't have any MH problems, but that she doesn't have bad enough MH problems to qualify for specialist support. hmm

Generally, children/young people won't get to see a CAMH specialist unless they have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder, or are at current, ongoing risk of physical harm, eg. from suicide attempts, serious self-harm or eating disorder.

There is a national debate about whether CAMHS are 'fit for purpose'. This article is interesting and depressing, and links to the 2008 CAMHS review report for further info.

I know a lot of parents who have tried to get CAMHS support for their DC - maybe 5 in RL and a similar number who have talked about it here - but only one who has been successful. sad Which is why I said "don't rely on it" above...

It sounds like it's all very, very stressful for you biffa. It is bad enough having to get 'official' services involved to help with your DC; but it is even worse when you do everything to try to get help, and then it doesn't actually deliver what you need...

wigglybeezer Mon 05-Nov-12 21:59:36

I know what you mean Flow, ds1 has behavioural problems, probably due to a mixture of borderline ADHD/ASD type issues. Over the years he has had mild OCD, anger management problems, lots of problems, none of them serious enough to warrant major help from CaHMS but enough to seriously affect family quality of life.
They stall in the hope the problem will go away by itself. When DH had anxiety problems he was sorted out fairly quickly as have been various relatives with depression, children are left to suffer.

Brightspark1 Mon 05-Nov-12 22:09:50

I am sorry to say that you might never get a 'label' or diagnosis, in my experience MH diagnoses are nothing more than a description of symptoms. But that shouldn't mean that nothing can be done, your daughter's problems, whatever they are, are obviously severe and need a concerted joined up approach. I know that getting everyone to talk to each other is like herding cats, but your daughter is falling through the gaps, leaving you feeling powerless angry and frustrated. The monitoring meeting is your opportunity to demand the support you and your daughter need, especially as the home visits sound a bit of a disaster. Make a list of your concerns and what you want to see happen, remind them that your daughter has been suicidal, repeat yourself as necessary. This will help you to make your voice heard, and that the meeting stays focused. I always found these meetings intimidating and stressful (despite being used to these sort of meetings in my job!) and would often end up in tears , if that happens, don't try to hide it, they need to acknowledge that you are stressed and upset and justifiably so, make them realise how the situation is affecting you and the rest of the family. Pull them up on any jargon they use and make them clarify anything you don't understand.
Good luck

biffa85 Mon 05-Nov-12 22:18:47

I'm beginning to lose count of the number of agencies that are involved with her. Obviously CAMHS are seeing her, social services are involved although her social worker is possibly worse than useless, she has a keyworker worth her weight in gold, NSPCC are giving her coping strategies, SUSTAIN are also involved with her although I think they've only seen her once so far. I don't think I've missed anyone off the list! We also have a family support worker working with US, but up to now she hasn't met YD and so has no idea what we're up against.

We will wait and see what happens tomorrow when I collect her from school to come home for tea. I suspect we shall have problems.

I think the biggest thing out of all of this that is annoying me is that, despite her being suicidal at the age of 12, self-harming, aggressive behaviour etc etc, no-one else can see that there is a problem (apart from school, who agree with us but can't help in getting a diagnosis).

bigTillyMint Tue 06-Nov-12 06:42:33

If she is at risk of permanent exclusion, then surely the school should be looking at what next (not just "keeping" her there) and also perhaps at Statutory Assessment. This is what would/should happen in my LA for primary-aged children. She needs to be seen by a paediatrician and a clinical psychologist for assessment by the sounds of it.

Has An Educational Psychologist seen her at all? What measures are the school putting in place? And how was she in primary?

starsandunicorns Tue 06-Nov-12 07:21:21

Hi biffa just wanted to say i understand. i went through this too my dd1 strated at 11 got worst just about coped till she was 14 then it all fell apart had so many ppl visting i felt like the crappest mum ever. was put on ad my dd skipped school got drunk smoked did drugs became violent towards me (even the dv team of the police came round a good few times )got death threats etc it sounds like you have more support than me school wasnt supportive my gp already had reffered to test for mh but she wouldnt attend more than a few apps my sw for dd blamed me for her hitting me i was sudical self harming they wouldnt take her into care. i am glad that you have your oh with you for support my ex and parents didnt want to know anyway just wanted to say you can pm to vent i live near the A50 so maybe you are close to me its nice to see other mums being supportive i got flammed on here ealier in chat should of put my question to all of you you may of understood

biffa85 Tue 06-Nov-12 08:34:30

Bigtillymint - she was fine in primary school, pretty much. Had one day where she walked out of school and into town instead of coming home, but apart from that her behaviour was fine. It all seems to have changed when she started High School and periods started as well. There's supposed to be a Personal Education Plan meeting on Thursday which I assume is to sort out school etc. Not sure how to go about getting an educational psychologist involved but will mention it at the monitoring meeting tomorrow morning.

Starsandunicorns - it certainly sounds like you've been through hell with your DD. I'm sorry that you didn't get any support from family. I have to admit I think I would have completely cracked up if it hadn't been for the support we've had from family and friends. DH is doing his best to cope with it all, but he feels guilty for signing the forms to have her put into care at the hospital. And I know what you mean about feeling like the worst parent ever - I felt the same, especially when the social worker suggested we have parenting classes! (Presumably he has no children, never mind a 12 year old from hell). In some ways, I think we've been lucky to get her into care because I really don't think we could have managed with her at home for much longer without us cracking up. Luckily, Eldest Daughter has been an absolute star through all of this, although she finds it difficult going to school in case YD is there and starts a problem.

I shall go and don my tin hat and fortify the barricades ready for tea-time.

flow4 Tue 06-Nov-12 08:42:46

Definitely post here and not in chat/AIBU if you need advice or even just someone to listen. There are people out there just looking for a fight, and certainly more than a few judgemental arses... hmm
But here, as far as I can see, even if people think you need Telling, they do it sensitively, because they understand how hard it can be, and how you can be driven to the edge of madness and over... And people here know parents with challenging teens need support and often don't get it in RL...

flow4 Tue 06-Nov-12 08:47:51

biffa has your DD had a CAF assessment? Because she should have done, specifically so that she doesn't 'fall though the gaps' like Bright says. If not, I'll post more... smile

biffa85 Tue 06-Nov-12 08:57:16

flow4, what is a CAF assessment? I've never heard of it - or at least, I don't think I've heard of it.....

flow4 Tue 06-Nov-12 09:21:25

OK... Common Assessment Framework = CAF.

They were introduced specifically to make services work better together to support children/young people and their families, and make sure no-one 'falls through the gaps'. It is a joined-up assessment, and it's optional so you as your DD's parent don't HAVE to agree that she has one... But if you do, it means (a) all the agencies involved with your daughter share information; (b) your DD gets a key worker/lead worker, who should be someone she trusts, and maybe already has a good relationship with, or if not, someone she can develop a good relationship with; and (c) you can go to this key worker with ANY concerns and questions - so you have a 'familiar face' to help you and are not just dealing with different people every single time you need to talk to someone.

There is more info here.

If you feel like there is any buck-passing going on, or you have services saying "your DD doesn't meet OUR criteria" then a CAF assessment is especially useful, because it focusses on the child and her needs, rather than the services and the ruts they get into. hmm

It helps to try to get a key worker/lead professional who has some influence if possible. There is a bit of a balancing act to be done, because the people who have the best relationships with children/young people are often the most junior... But if you can find someone you feel is a bit more senior and who is really on your daughter's side and will push and fight (along with you!) for her to get the support she needs, then that can really help... And you can ask for this person to be the 'lead professional' in your daughter's CAF process.

I know about CAF 'in theory' (and in theory I think it's great!) but don't have experience of it in practice. I guess it may be working more or less well in different areas. Maybe there are other people here who have direct experience of how it worked for their DC...?

biffa85 Tue 06-Nov-12 09:24:45

Flow4 - that's really useful, thank you. Both her keyworker and the home manager are brilliant - I can ring the home any time of day or night and it's not a problem. The manager has been very supportive of us, so I will mention it to her tomorrow morning when we go to the monitoring meeting. Thanks again for the info.

Maryz Tue 06-Nov-12 09:29:54

biffa, sorry you are having such a shit time.

Can I ask - has anyone suggested a residential boarding school? Because if she is being continually suspended from school, she will eventually be excluded.

You will then be at an advantage if she is a "looked after" child - there are few residential schools that cater for "troubled" children, but there are a few, and at her age I would have thought that might be where she is heading. To be honest, something needs to be sorted out for her now, while she is so young, because when she gets to about 14 they will be thinking "not too long now, we will stall, because when she is 16 we won't have to worry about her any more" - which is what happens to a lot of kids. So they end up out of school and out of control at 16 sad.

In the meantime, I think you need to be much more pragmatic in how you deal with her. I don't think you should insist she comes to contact if she doesn't want to. I think you need to take a step back and pass a little of the responsibility to her. By kicking up, having tantrums, being violent, she is getting loads of attention. If you can possibly ignore some of it, maybe she might stop doing it so much [hopeful].

If you know that turning up at school to collect her is going to cause a fight, then contact ss, tell them that you will be there but if she refuses to come with you, you aren't going to make her.

You have to get some work done and get on with life as well. So while she isn't living with you I would take two days a week where you don't (or at least try not to) think about her at all - get some work done, and do something nice for yourself.

You also should get referred for some counselling - you don't want to end up like me (and stars and so many others), blaming yourself and falling to pieces because you can't make her behave.

The thing I've realised is that there are some things you simply can't control, so matter how hard you try and how much effort you put into it. So you have to let them go, and manage things that you can control - yourself, your own reaction, and planning for the future.

You need to make a list of what you would like to happen next (and not "I want my dd to love me and come home", sorry sad) - things like counselling for you, an education plan for your dd, her future residence (foster care, a home or a residential school - if she is absconding it is their job to keep her safe, even if that means a secure unit).

Work out small things that you would like to achieve, and can achieve, and work on those.

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