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Help - Very troubled teenager

(27 Posts)
heidivodca Mon 30-May-11 18:09:12

Help - 14 year old DS excluded (again) from school - expect he will be expelled soon. He is too difficult for the school (and us) to deal with. CAMHS referral was a waste of time - nothing came of this or child psycologist evaluation - he is bright but oppositionally defiant and within 'normal range' - so nothing they can do!! (school not best pleased with that result). He refuses to do any work in school and is a pain for most of the teachers - the school to be fair have tried quite hard - but now they have had enough. He has been excluded this time for calling the head a 'prick'. They have had enough of him being disruptive and I can agree not fair on other kids. DS angry about everything but does not know why - he has always been a very difficult child and I have thought we needed help since he was three!! However DP said he would grow out of his behaviour - but anyway has only got worse not better over the years. The GP won't help and thinks the problem is the school!!
Can anyone tell me what happens when a child of 14/15 is expelled? Not sure what to do - but feel we've been trying for so long and just can't give up on him though can't see any hope of a good future outcome which is so sad for him, any practical advise most welcome as I really don't know what to do next .....

goldtinsel Mon 30-May-11 18:24:57

I think you Local Authority has to find him a place <somewhere>, can you also go back to CAMHS if things are escalating? (They were no use for us either but I think you have to try and use the 'system' to be seen to be co-operative)...

You sound like you are so determined to help him smile These boys are hard work!

Selks Mon 30-May-11 18:37:06

If he is still open to CAMHS and things are getting worse, go back to them. But really they don't have a magic wand (unfortunately) and he would need to co-operate with them for them to be able to have any impact.
Also, speak to school and ask what they are doing to help him to avoid him being expelled.
If I were you I would request a big meeting between you, CAMHS, school, and preferably an education psychologist (who the school can get involved) and your son too, and press for an effective action plan for support to avoid permanent exclusion.
But what does your son think of the situation? How does he feel at the prospect of possibly being excluded? He needs to face up to the situation and (ideally - I know it's difficult) take some responsibility for his actions.
Seriously, you need to press for a big meeting. Contact the head teacher to demand this if necessary. All parties should be doing all they can to get your son's behaviour back to acceptable levels and avoid exclusion.
What are you and your partner doing about it yourselves? What sanctions and discipline are you putting in place when this kind of behaviour happens? It's down to you to address this with your son, as well as the school and services.

GypsyMoth Mon 30-May-11 18:39:15

sounds identical to my dd

she got a managed move to another school....which has worked well

could this be an option...

mumblechum1 Mon 30-May-11 18:41:59

Won't he go to a pupil referral unit? I think the LA is under an obligation to offer him some form of education, but it doen't sound as though he can stay in school long term,

As Selks said, he needs to accept responsibility for his own actions, albeit with support from the LA (and you sound v supportive smile).

Ultimately, he's old enough to be told that if he doesn't get his act together he's going to have a pretty miserable life on the dole.

MotherMountainGoat Mon 30-May-11 19:16:36

An acquaintance of mine manages a unit in the north of England for teenagers with precisely these kinds of issues - the kids other schools don't want to take because of defiance etc. There are small classes, psychological support, etc. It would be well worth finding out if your LA operates something like this.

heidivodca Fri 03-Jun-11 22:55:11

Thank you for the advice - nothing is ever his fault of course - I think a special unit may be is best for him (and school!!) - school think as he comes from a so called 'good family' may destroy him - but may be it will help him. We have had the big meeting at school with various reps but achieved nothing - think we just have to wait for his anger to subside (although he doesn't know why he is angry and really he has had so many advantages in live I really can't explain it) - I know it is going to be a very difficult few years but will have to try and get through it!! We follow a regime that we hope rewards him when his behaviour is reasonable and refuses to accept his defiance - but as stated boy is it hard work!!

Maryz Sat 04-Jun-11 00:34:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sweetkitten Sat 04-Jun-11 09:29:08

I dont know if you have a Fairbridge Programme running in your area, might be worth a look.. they are great, my DD attends one, they run all kinds of programmes and offer loads of help.. best part is they start off with a residential programme..which i know sounds awful but i was so happy when DD got on the course, it gave me 3 whole days off peace smile

heidivodca Sun 05-Jun-11 22:17:30

Thank you Maryz - we do try and keep some sort of life to try and relieve some of the stress - I agree we need to try and step back but can be hard sometimes! DS is our youngest so he hasn't been anything other than an annoying younger brother who can be ignored by his siblings. My ds is also angry at the whole world and cannot see that it is he is the one losing most by his behaviour. I hope there will be some light at the end - and all the best for your family.
Thank you as well Sweetkitten - I will also look into the Fairbridge programme - a residential programme is very appealing!!

cheapskatemum Sun 05-Jun-11 22:57:37

Hi Heidivodka. In most Local Authorities, when a child is permanently excluded from school they are educated at a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). Classes are smaller, there is usually no uniform, most turn a blind eye to smoking. I have taught in several and sometimes they work really well for the child. You might find your child learns a lot more anti social behaviours, as PRUs are often the catch-all for teenagers just out of young offenders institutions, excluded from residential emotional behavioural difficulty (EBD) schools and the like. Has anyone mentioned Statementing? You're doing well, hang on in there!

uselesscamhs Mon 06-Jun-11 10:53:49

Hi heidi. As posters above have said a PRU would maybe be the best thing for your DS and you need to get that sorted out as soon as possible because the LEA will have no responsibility for him once he reaches cshool leaving age. He will be 16 during the next academic year? Have you met with school to ask for a referral to the PRU rather than wait until he is permanently excluded?

The LEA would remain responsible for his education until he is 19 if he had a statement. Tho' here this would be very difficult to acheive at his age and with his 'diagnosis' - maybe it's easier where you live. This is something else which might be helpfully explored at a school meeting?

A place at a therapeutic boarding school/EBD school are really limited and very expensive so not attractive to LEA except as a last resort for children with extreme behaviour problems. The cost is in the region of £150k/yr.

Alternatively, would DS be happier at college rather than school? Sometimes it suits teenagers better as it's a more adult environment with different goals. I guess it depends on what he wants to do, too.

slug Mon 06-Jun-11 11:02:22

A good PRU can work wonders. I used to teach in an FE college. Inevitably students who came to me from a PRU were joys to have in the classroom. I don't know how they did it, but I have the utmost respect for the teachers who work in them.

cheapskatemum Mon 06-Jun-11 20:55:25

I would just add to uselesscamhs' post that it is very, very unlikely that a child from a supportive home background would be placed in an EBD boarding school. The one I worked in, the students were there to give them a break from their homes (and teach them some more, ahem, beneficial values).

It's been mentioned before, but can you access family counselling? It might help you all to work out where the anger's coming from, why your DS became difficult at 3 years old etc. We've started this recently and it has been enlightening.

heidivodca Sat 11-Jun-11 18:40:55

Hello again and thanks to all - Well he started back at school last week and lasted less than two days - he is supposed to go to college two days a week but is refusing to go as says is worse than school. Have tried for two years to get a statement for him - but no joy there either. I don't think he became angry at three it is just that he has a negative personality and that was clear from three when he started (eventually to talk) - until he could speak properly his only word was no!! It has just been downhill ever since really - if he doesn't want to do something he wont do it - even if it something necessary - for exmple when he was 6 it took 10 hospital staff to hold him down so that they could prepare him for an anaesthetic for an operation (emergency repair to a finger from an accident - finger trapped in a door)!!!! I do think a PRU might work for him - really couldn't get much worse - though he is refusing to accept the possiblility that that is where he is heading - so we might have to 'home educate' him to avoid prosecution. We are hoping that my dh gets the opportunity for early retirement and we will try with some home tutoring to give him some education - but he will end up with no qualifications - though that really is the least of my worries. Just trying to keep breathing at the moment!!

SureSlimCanterbury Sat 11-Jun-11 20:09:53

Hi Heidi, sounds like your DS is really putting you through it. My DH and I foster teenagers, and most of them have been excluded from school. We have had some very challenging children, and have found asking them what they want in life and how they are going to achieve it - always an interesting conversation.

Also when the S**T hits the fan, and then calms - take them to a PRU/Job centre/Supported lodgings/police station/homeless shelter and show them the reality of what they are facing if nothing changes.

Just an idea but I believe job seekers allowance for 16+ is about £47 per week, give him the money (less his room rent, about £8 pw and electricity about £10 pw) and let him do the rest, don't cook, wash, clean or drive him anywhere - show him what life without qualifications and on the dole is like. Don't get involved in how he spends the money, but keep talking, stay interested - might give you a bit of a clue as to what is going on between his ears!

Oh and most importantly write him a letter and tell him how much you love him, and why his behaviour upsets you so much. because you want the best for him and he is such a special young man, with such potential etc etc. Tell him of all the things he has done that you are proud of, big and little things, try to list 20? and good memories, maybe a few photos in the letter too. MAKE HIM THINK!

Good luck!

corsilk Sat 11-Jun-11 20:18:30

Do you agree with the CAMHS assessment as being bright with oppositional behaviours?

heidivodca Sat 11-Jun-11 22:58:03

Well it was the Borough educational psychologist that said that (Camhs said and did nothing for him - we had one initial appointment a year ago and then he was sent to a medical doctor who said there was nothing physically wrong with him though he did exhibit oppositional defiance - which I knew! - and that she would refer back to camhs who we have yet to hear from again - though everyone - including school - says they are a waste of time anyway) but yes I think he has very extreme oppositional behaviour and always has and he isn't (or wasn't) stupid. However in school (when he is there) he usually does nothing - refuses to engage or write anything in class or is sent out. Apparantly he never has homework!! School don't know what to do and neither do we. He refuses to see possible consequences of his behaviour - and anyway he always says it is not his fault!! It is always someone/something made him angry - and anyway it isn't going to happen to him if we try and tell or show him possible future outcomes of his behaviour. The head says ds reminds him of dealing with a four year old and I agree - but no-one has any answers at all - he has already had run-ins with the police and no doubt many more to come - but nothing and I mean nothing seems to work. I have tried setting out in writing why his behaviour is so upsetting and he said he would try but it just seems that he can't help himself - which is so destructive to us as a family but most of all to him. It is a helpful to post this - so thank you for all your replies as I feel am at a large brick wall and banging my head against it!! Oh well one way or another I suppose it will pass but am not hopeful at the moment of a good outcome - which is so sad for him.

cheapskatemum Sat 11-Jun-11 23:11:36

Sorry if I'm teaching my Grandmother to suck eggs, but have you researched Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) for strategies on how to deal with it? I taught a student who had an actual diagnosis of this about 10 years ago & his Mum had some printed sheets of info which were really useful & I've used the info many times since with students who were likewise OD, but didn't have a diagnosis of ODD. I guess it was frustrating for your DS, not being able to say what he wanted, if he was a late speaker. Is there anything at all that might motivate him: moped/CBT, for example? I'm thinking carrot, rather than stick.

Maryz Sun 12-Jun-11 10:32:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

flow4 Sun 12-Jun-11 13:01:19

Hello. Sounds very familiar. My son is now 16, and seems to be settling down, but he has been haaaard work. I think some kids are just more 'difficult' than others, and when they reach adolescence they go through a few years of being truly horrible. As a parent, you just have to hunker down and hang on in there.

School WAS part of the problem for my son - he did no work and got into trouble a lot and generally found it very stressful... But as soon as he could see the light at the end of the tunnel (around the start of this year) he relaxed a bit. He's doing GCSEs now, and may get a few of them, and is applying for construction apprenticeships with a place on a level 1 joinery course as a fall-back.

Basically he just wants me off his back, and the more I can manage that, the easier things are. I have told him I will support him in whatever he does so long as it's work or study, but I won't support him dossing around on the dole. I have to tolerate things some I don't like - like tobacco and cannabis smoking - but not in my house. It's a compromise, but it works, mostly. He's stopped swearing at me and stealing from me.

For me, it helped to stop trying to work out 'why' he was behaving the way he did, and just be clear about my responses to it. I found in the end, it didn't really matter whether he was stealing because he was disturbed, angry, mentally ill, or just plain bad... I just wanted it to stop: so I started to hide my purse from him so it wasn't possible. Similarly, it didn't matter why he was getting into trouble at school - whether he was bad or unhappy or misunderstood - Rather, it helped to ask him whether he wanted to be getting into trouble, and then to help him remember what he must DO or NOT DO if he wanted to stay out of trouble. We had a lot of conversations that ran along the lines of "But it wasn't my fault, s/he made me do it" (him), "But DID you do it?" (me), "Well, yes, but s/he made me" (him), "Well if you did it, then that's why you're in trouble; you'll just have to deal with it" (me), "But it's not fair" (him), "It doesn't matter whether it's fair. Schools aren't always fair. It's the RULES, You just have to deal with it".... Then leaving him to deal with it...

The hardest thing for me has been recognising my lack of control (he made it pretty clear to me the last time I grounded him - he was about 14 - when he just laughed at me and climbed out of the window). I have had to come to terms with the fact that I am NOT in control of all sorts of aspects of his behaviour and choices - and he will fight me if I try - but I AM in control of my own behaviour, reactions, safety, and most aspects of my home environment.

It sounds callous. Maybe it is. But it's practical. He wanted independence, and I was resisting it, always stepping in to try and 'help' or 'sort things out'. I WAS 'banging my head against a brick wall' (as you said). So I stopped.

I don't mean I stopped caring, or talking. I always talk to him, and you never stop caring, do you?! But I stopped trying to DO things and SORT things. And it has helped. I think he felt I was treating him like a 'problem' and he was probably right. He didn't like it. Now I try to find as many occasions as possible where i ask HIM for help... I don't always get it, of course, but the number of time I DO is growing pretty quickly - from abou 5% to 50% over the past 2-3 months, I'd say. Last week he fixed our broken toilet seat, took the bins out AND vac-ed the living room and stairs!

I think he wants to grow up, and has been really frustrated and furious that the world won't let him. Maybe your son is the same.

It's soooo hard when they're 14, because they really ARE still your responsibility, and children, even if they don't want to be. As they get older it DOES get a bit easier, honest! Good luck!

heidivodca Sun 12-Jun-11 15:04:48

Hello again - yes I have researched ODD and he fits the bill - was releived in a way that the Ed psych agreed. We do try very hard to follow the advice for dealing with ds and in particuar the advice in 'lost at school' by Ross Greene - but am always open to new ideas or other suggestions. Have read that occupational therapy might help but gp would not refer and can't find any private help for his age and particular problem - we are in S London so if anyone knows about this or has tried it would be interested (was an article in Times but may still be at 'research' stage).
Maryz - I hear what you are saying but we may have to protect outselves - but is the last option we will take - I have found out is a private school in Sevenoaks that might be good for him - we could just about afford this but will only work if he is willing to attend - and his first reaction is to resist any change/move - though he wont follow few simple rules to stay where he is and where he says he wants to be.
Well Flow4 - what a lot of sense - I am grateful to you - I agree why is like he is doesn't matter - he is what he is what ever the reason and yes I have to accept this and deal as best we can. Think I was slipping into a bit of a depression but that isn't any good for anyone. You are right I can control my own behaviour and my own reactions (already have to hide any money including my purse - which has been good as he knows that he can only get any money as a reward - though (I think this is a positive) he is quite enterprising and sells stuff at school - sweets etc though has been lighters - which led to him being excluded again!! However he said those were his best profit makers - buys 5 for a £ and sells for £1.50 each!! We are trying to encourage this aspect of his personality as I don't think working for anyone other than himself will work. Well lets grin and bear it and try and survive the next two years - will keep calm and carry on and makes sure he knows that we are always there for him X

Maryz Sun 12-Jun-11 15:31:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ByTheSea Sun 12-Jun-11 15:45:56

It is very hard and I think you've received some excellent advice here. Well done for carrying on through such hard times with your DS.

For what it's worth, cheapskatemum, residential EBD schools are not just for children with unsupportive homes and I personally resent your implication that they are. My very bright DS2-14, diagnosed with RAD, ODD and ADHD, had very extreme behaviour, which was dangerous to the younger children in our quite supportive household. He is statemented for his EBD though, and we fought hard to get him a place at an excellent residential school, where he is actually engaging with schoolwork for the first time since about year 5. He wouldn't be where he is now if not for our support and perseverence.

heidivodca Sun 12-Jun-11 19:45:14

It is only the oppositional defiance criteria that he 'fits' - no ADHD/dyslexia or anything else - he is determined that he won't go to the PRU (or anywhere else) so he has only 5 more weeks to go to avoid total exclusion - I think the school think it is a no brainer - he will give them the opportunity to get rid of him soon enough. We are hoping for home ed with local authority support which we understand may provide home tutors - and actually having him home for three weeks recently was better than him being at school - he was less stressed and on occasions quite nice. He met up with friends after 3 so he wasn't isolated 24/7. He could earn money by doing the school work set for him and chores around and about - which he did almost without complaint - as a result he earned enough to go away with friends which was the deal. I thought he wanted to go back to school and might improve - but that hasn't been the case but that is a matter for him now. He is supposed to start GCSE year (ie year 10) in September but again whether this happens will be down to him - He has slipped behind in maths particularly so we have offered him the chance of a tutor or tutors to try and catch up and he didn't have a tantrum at the idea (which in itself was a shock). I know the next few years are going to be hard but am determined to remain positive and agree have had some great advice from you all so many thanks and fingers crossed! But always open to any suggestions because boy is it hard work sometimes (bad enough with average teen boys but this ....) Oh well onwards we go!!

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