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AuroraSilvermist
August 30th, 2004, 08:46 PM
I just don't know what to do. :sadeyes:

My 7 yr old daughter has had a habit of stealing (and lying, often about stealing) since she was a toddler. At first, we patiently tried to instill morals and teach her that those actions have consequences. We would revoke priveleges. We would have talks about what happens to young people and adults who steal. We tried to teach her techniques to control her impulses. As a rule, her stealing revolved around taking food and hiding out eating it. We would move the couch to vacuum and find wrappers and crumbs behind it that were NOT supposed to be there. That was bad enough, but tonight things escalated.

Tonight, our neighbors (also our landlords and friends) invited Shayla over to their house to play with their 3 year old son and 1 year old daughter. The neighbors tell us that she's always polite and good-mannered while she's at their house. But tonight, she asked if she could borrow a hat of theirs for a couple of days. My neighbor, Lori, consented. But then, as Shayla was leaving, Lori noticed that she had the hat wrapped around a suspicious lump.

"What do you have in the hat?" Lori asked pleasantly.

"Oh, nothing!" Shayla replied.

Lori said that she knew Shayla was holding something, but still Shayla denied it, saying she just liked to hold the hat that way. Lori asked for the hat and revealed a small ceramic cat. (This resulted in our neighbors having an argument over whether or not to tell us about the attempted theft. :( ) Eventually, Lori's husband Jeremy came over and discussed it with me and my husband.

:bangyourh

I just don't know what to do anymore. Shayla has ADHD, which makes her more impulsive than the average kid, but I don't believe this explains her stealing and then lying about it. Since this has been a habit for well over 5 years, I don't think it's "just a phase," either. (The psychologist who saw her for her ADHD suggested this, and she's no longer her psychologist because I find this to be more serious than just something that "all kids her age do.") When Shayla is punished for her actions, she cries and carries on about the injustice of the punishment...she seems to feel no remorse, and has no real fear of consequences. And yet, she has an above average IQ...she's a very bright kid!

This time, we've taken away her new bike for the time being and grounded her to the yard. We explained (yet again) that teens and adults who steal go to jail, and what that would be like. Her being grounded and losing her bike priveleges is small potatoes compared to what COULD happen if she continues on this path when she's older.

Before anyone says that this is "just a phase" or something "all kids do," let me express again that this happens ALL THE TIME, and after repeated corrections and talks and discipline she STILL DOES IT. I feel like we're not getting through to her, and I feel as though the psychologists we've seen aren't taking the situation seriously.

I just want to break down and cry. Right now, I'm willing to listen to any thoughts anyone has to offer, particularly if you've successfully, um...rehabilitated a child klepto. I'm worried. The consequences of her stealing are only going to get more and more severe as she gets older, and eventually it's not going to be family punishments, they're going to come from society.

Aine of the Fae
August 30th, 2004, 08:51 PM
It's not a phase and it's not something all kids do. Find another psychologist, there may be other issues besides ADHD going on. The lack of remorse indicates other psychological disorders that may or may not be chemically related, but need to be handled by a professional.

Fideal
August 30th, 2004, 08:59 PM
I wish I had some advice for you. The only thing I can think of is maybe sort of "steal" things from her, and then use that example to explain why it's bad.

AuroraSilvermist
August 30th, 2004, 09:08 PM
It's not a phase and it's not something all kids do. Find another psychologist, there may be other issues besides ADHD going on. The lack of remorse indicates other psychological disorders that may or may not be chemically related, but need to be handled by a professional.

This is what concerns me. Unfortunately, our insurance company is making it VERY hard to find a psychologist. Every one that is accepted by our insurance plan...doesn't take children younger than teens. We have a new psychiatrist that we saw for the first time this week. We'll see what he has to say about the situation. *sigh*

Shanti
August 30th, 2004, 09:10 PM
I agree with Aine...lack of remorse is not good. Find someone new to help with the problem.

Shanti
August 30th, 2004, 09:14 PM
What about her pediatrician. I heard that physical imbalance and even some food allergies can cause extreme behavior.

AuroraSilvermist
August 30th, 2004, 09:25 PM
What about her pediatrician. I heard that physical imbalance and even some food allergies can cause extreme behavior.

Her pediatrician suggested taking her to a counselor. We've been 'round and 'round with that and we're on our third. This one is a psychiatrist.

Shayla is on medication, but only just started taking it this weekend. She's on Adderall for her ADHD. Supposedly that should help with impulse control. We have another appointment in a couple weeks, and I'll address this again, explaining the most recent occurrance.

Never thought of food allergies. I'll look into that theory. Thanks, Shanti.

Valkie
August 30th, 2004, 09:57 PM
My boys were on Adderal for a while... with me, the best thing about medicating them was that I was able to get them to slow down enough to evaluate their own actions. They were able to see the difference in the way that they behaved. After a year of meds, they were able to keep control over the impulses without it... that and the side effects were becoming too much.

One of the things that I'm wondering is if she is truely showing no remorse for her actions, or if she just doesn't see the problem with taking what she wants. I like the idea of 'stealing' something from her... my oldest had a bit of that problem until he got a friend that would steal things from him... he woke up from his skewed ideas really quick... but I don't know if it would work with her being that young.

definately give the meds some time to work... it took about a week before I was able to start re-training my boys.

AuroraSilvermist
August 30th, 2004, 10:09 PM
One of the things that I'm wondering is if she is truely showing no remorse for her actions, or if she just doesn't see the problem with taking what she wants. I like the idea of 'stealing' something from her... my oldest had a bit of that problem until he got a friend that would steal things from him... he woke up from his skewed ideas really quick... but I don't know if it would work with her being that young.

The thing I worry about is...what sort of behavior would I be modeling if I stole something from her? Is stealing okay to prove a point, then? I don't think I'd be able to pull it off, even if I wanted to.

My theory is that Shayla steals to get more attention. (Negative attention is better than no attention at all.) It's not that we don't pay attention to her, and love her, and cuddle her...but she needs more. In fact, she seems to become this black hole of needs so often that I think I have developed a tendency to respond to her with distracted nods and "uh huhs" instead of genuinely listening. Obviously, that's not making the situation any better. Maybe if I was more aware of my own behavior (obviously, I'm getting there) and paid more attention to her needs and spent more time with her...she would in turn start needing less. I don't know. I'm grasping at straws.

Valkie
August 31st, 2004, 12:23 AM
Is it possible that she has self esteem issues? Does she have any out of the house activities like a group play day? Has she started school yet?

AuroraSilvermist
August 31st, 2004, 02:12 AM
Is it possible that she has self esteem issues? Does she have any out of the house activities like a group play day? Has she started school yet?

That's a good question--I think she DOES have self-esteem issues, but I'm not sure what's causing them. My husband and I love her like crazy, and I make a point to tell her how proud I am of her accomplishments, even the little ones, and how special she is to me. She has lots of friends at school and in the neighborhood. She's a really great kid!

But somehow, no matter how much she's loved, or how much attention she receives, or how often we show her how important she is to us...it's never enough. I worry, because someone in our family has what's called borderline Borderline Personality Disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bpd.cfm), meaning it's not severe enough, as a rule, to impair the person's ability to function in society, and yet such a diagnosis is VERY serious. The thing that scares me is...the symptoms fit Shayla so well: poor impulse control; an undefined sense of self; neediness; wildly fluctuating moods; feeling "bad" or unloved (Shayla will often say, "I'm such a stupid girl!" :( ); fear of abandonment (Shayla insists I stay with her until she falls asleep at night and she freaks out whenever I leave to go to the store or bank or whatever). And yet, BPD isn't a diagnosis to be taken lightly, and the new psychiatrist gasped and said, "I would never diagnose BPD in a child!" at the mere mention that Shayla had similar symptoms.

I'm willing to make all the changes I need to in order to be the parent Shay needs in order to thrive, but I feel so darn lost. It feels as if nobody understands or wants to help...at least not amongst people who can such as counselors and physicians. Her father and I know there's a problem; her grandparents see it (they spend a lot of time with her); her first grade teacher saw it last year...and yet it still gets ignored. I'm really at my wits end. :sadeyes:

Sorry for ranting on and on here. Guess I just needed a place to vent. :geez:

Starry Di
September 1st, 2004, 09:22 AM
They wouldn't diagnose BPD in a child because (from my perspective) it's really hard to. Adult BPs act like small children.

http://bpdcentral.com/nookboard/index.php

Is a board on BP that might help you =) My mother has BP, so I can understand your concern. Some of the people there have daughters and/or sons with BP, so they might be able to tell you more advice on what to do =)

GaiaDea
September 1st, 2004, 09:23 AM
My DD has ADD, not ADHD, but I understand. It seems to be that ADD and ADHD kids are about 1 or 2 years behind their age group in emotional maturity. DD used to steal and lie also, and we did several things to counter this.

Whenever we caught her stealing or lying, she lost priviledges. She also lost her current favorite toy. It was taken and "thrown away". (put up out of sight and reach while she was asleep) This was explained as being the same thing she did to *insert name here* when she stole their *insert object here*. The point was ALWAYS made about how *insert name* feels the same way when you stole their *insert object*. The toy was ALWAYS kept for no less than a week, and sometimes was never returned, depending on her behavior. (I have about ten barbie dolls in a box now)

We also began giving her caffeine as a medication to help her focus, as other meds were contraindicated for family history reasons. It does seem to work well for her, and she only needs it occasionally now (she's 11 1/2 now).

Another symptom of both ADD and ADHD is a lack of feeling for others. What I mean is, these kids have a hard time realizing that other people are really real, and have feelings too. So they can act in very callous ways to others at times, not truly undertanding that other people have feelings and can be hurt exactly the same way they are. This is a tough thing to overcome, and requires creativity to make the point--repeatedly, as ADD and ADHD cause kids to have issues with memory too. Basically, we had to treat her in the same manner as she treated others so she would understand, and we had to be VERY verbal, explaining ALL the time.

Another thing that helps a lot with ADD and ADHD kids is scheduling. These kids NEED rigid schedules, as much as possible, as they do not shift gears very smoothly to deal with changes. This means that she will need a set bedtime every night, a routine for morning and evening, and if you have a change in plans, tell her as soon as you know, and remind her repeatedly about the change, so she has a chance to adjust to it. This will realy help her emotional stability, and will help in all other areas too.

I have noticed that ADD and ADHD kids DO tend to go through a really tough time with lying and stealing at this age, and it IS a serious thing. Kudos for addressing this NOW, as if you don't it will continue. It took about two years to completely iron out all those issues with DD, and required a LOT of verbal intervention and very sharp supervision on our part. It can be overcome, and it isn't easy to do. However, when the light goes on, it is a wonderful thing, and leads to a more responsible and compassionate child. Don't give up, you are doing the right thing! Nobody said it was easy to raise a responsible, moral adult. It does get better, I promise! It just takes work to get there.

GaiaDea
September 1st, 2004, 09:40 AM
Also, it is VERY common for ADD and ADHD kids to have low self-esteem issues. Kepp telling her that SHE isn't bad, but that sometimes she makes bad choices, and EVERYONE has consequences for all their choices, both good and bad. SHE is a good person, her CHOICE was a bad CHOICE, and has bad consequences. That way her self-esteem is not tied purely to her actions, and gives her a little emotional distance to deal with her SELF separately from her ACTIONS. In other words, instead of telling her "bad girl" or "good girl" say "that was a bad choice" and "good job" about her actions. Create opportunities for success often, no matter how small. Things like "would you take mommy's glass and put it in the sink?" and then "Good job! That was a big help! Thank you!" Emphasizing politeness helps too, especially when you are always careful to be polite to her. Thank you goes a long way, as does telling her she is a real help to you, and pointing out verbally when she has done something well, even something as small as remembering to turn out a light.

I feel like I am being really wordy about this, but I know it worked with my kid, so it is at least worth a try.

Also, BPD, depression (clinical) and ADHD/ADD all have overlapping symptoms. It is very likely that it is just ADHD, and the resulting depression and low self-esteem. Kids know when they are different than others, and it weighs on them like a stone. they tend to feel less than, stupid, defective, etc. Positive reinforcement, random hugs, and opportunities for success and the resulting positive attention will go a long way to help with this, and also helps a kid have a strong sense of self, which will help them with peer pressure in their teens. It is often hard when you kid says they hate you and that you are mean and terrible, but if you can remember to always reply that you will love them no matter what, you will get through it. We who have ADHD/ADD kids learn a LOT about patience and the price of being a parent, but we also get the greatest rewards from our kid's successes.

love and hugs

AuroraSilvermist
September 1st, 2004, 01:16 PM
GaiaDea, thanks for the excellent advice! I can't tell you how comforting it is to hear from somebody who can relate, and understands what I'm going through.

Yesterday afternoon, Shayla asked me if she could have a Go-gurt (you know, the kid yogurt that's in a little tube that you squeaze?). I told her yes, but reminded her that she should have JUST ONE because I was saving them for their school lunches. That evening, as I was making the kids some herbal tea (it helps them get to sleep), I went in the fridge to get some lemon juice and discovered SIX Go-gurt tubes missing. It was a NEW box, and nobody else had had any, meaning Shay had taken SIX and eaten them on the sly. My first reaction was to get very angry. I scolded her, and told her that I expected her to do chores this weekend to repay the money for the food she'd stolen. And then I just lost it...I broke down and cried. It's so difficult to love your children fiercely, and then have one of them that you're just not able to reach. I feel like my daughter is broken, and I don't know how to fix her. It's hard to avoid feeling like you must be an awful parent when you just can't seem to find a way to correct this sort of behavior.

Thanks again to everybody for their advice and insight. I deeply appreciate it. I'm trying to remain hopeful. Maybe the new psychiatrist will have something to offer.

OriginalWacky
September 1st, 2004, 03:07 PM
GaiaDea, thanks for the excellent advice! I can't tell you how comforting it is to hear from somebody who can relate, and understands what I'm going through.
<gently snipped>
And then I just lost it...I broke down and cried. It's so difficult to love your children fiercely, and then have one of them that you're just not able to reach. I feel like my daughter is broken, and I don't know how to fix her. It's hard to avoid feeling like you must be an awful parent when you just can't seem to find a way to correct this sort of behavior.

Thanks again to everybody for their advice and insight. I deeply appreciate it. I'm trying to remain hopeful. Maybe the new psychiatrist will have something to offer.
I'm sitting here mulling this over, and I can't think of anything useful to add after all the things you've already done, and that GaiaDea suggested. I will offer my sincere hope that you will figure out some way to reach her, and find the help you need through these tough times.

GaiaDea
September 1st, 2004, 05:00 PM
Unfortunately, with a kid that has ADD/ADHD, sometimes (a lot) you HAVE to be the bad guy now, so you can be the good guy later. It isn't fair, it isn't fun, and it is exhausting. But it is WELL worth it when five or six years later you have a well-adjusted, responsible, polite child that is the envy of everyone with "normal" kids. This is the same stuff that your grandparents called "parenting", and most parents are afraid to apply to their children today. It takes a huge amount of nit-picking now, so that you can just generally supervise later. This really is worth the effort. Trust me. I have been there, the awful crying jags, feeling like an awful human being, feeling like a tyrant, feeling completely lost and overwhelmed by this monster of a kid, feeling like a total failure as a parent, hating the image I projected in public for a while (always correct immediately--like a puppy, these kids won't remember the offense later).
IT WAS WORTH EVERY AWFUL FEELING!!!
I spent a long time correcting every single error on DD's part, and now, at 11 1/2, she is polite, respectful, can follow more than one direction at a time without supervision, will actually pick up her room without me nagging too much, she does her own laundry, can make coffee, tea, and microwave meals by herself, is allowed to spend hours in other friend's houses (and is polite!), and actually does her homework after school. She is polite on the phone, and will actually find out who is calling. She asks before going outside or using the phone to call friends, and can reliably tell time and come home when requested. Honestly, she gets upset when her friends are rude to their parents, and tells them so! This is a total 180 from just a couple of years ago. She used to be so bad that I didn't know how to control her at all! So I got tough on everything, and it worked. I allowed no slack unless there was a last minute change of plans, or something that was my fault. I always apologize when I'm wrong, and always use courtesy--please, thank you, would you, etc. I always told her I was proud of her when she accomplished something, and always told her I love her, lots and lots. Lots of random hugs, some special time just for us to be silly, that sort of thing. Pick the battles, ie, it doesn't matter in the long run if her socks match, but it does matter if they are clean or dirty. It doesn't matter if she put her hair up in a way that looks silly, it matters if she brushed it or not. Who cares if she wears stripes with paisleys, is she dressed within the school dress code. Focus on the important things--respect, courtesy, honesty, responsibility, appropriate behavior, grooming. Everything else will fall into line later, right now it is the basics that are important. I remember DD wearing the most ridiculous things to school, but she was within the dress code. It was an opportunity for success--she got to pick her clothes, as long as she met the code. She has now figured out that tennis shoes don't really go with a satin dress, so all is well. I have to confess I often got the giggles over her clothing choices--after she got to school!

Don't lose hope! It will all work out!

lovemy1dane
September 1st, 2004, 08:00 PM
My son has ADHD and does not steal, however my DD does not have ADHD and like your child , she does steal although so far only from us. When I ask her why, all I get is "I wanted it and could not stop myself." I have tried shrinks and everyone here says it is because she was raped as a 3 yr old. (What does that have to do with anything???) I feel for you and understand your situation. I wish I had answers for you though. Keep hanging in there. Have you tried letting her see what it is like in jail? Maybe taking a tour? I did this with my son once (they even put him in a cell with a real prisoner who scared him straight) (the prisoner was the local town drunk like Otis from Mayberry) The prisoner played a real tough guy like from a big city. They thought it was fun. That was 5 years ago and he still remembers how scared he was and how he NEVER wants to be there for real!

aluokaloo
September 1st, 2004, 11:40 PM
I had a roommate at my grouphome would do things like this she would sort of know what she was doing and sjhe sort of did it, the diagnosis started with an A but I can't remember what its called, I got the worst of it because I was her roommate I also had a friend who did this, and displayed similar traits to my ex-roommate I mean he just swiped an entire meal off of somebody's table while they were inside staring at him. Good thing they were to shocked to do anything. It was like some sort of pschological cleptomania. It started with an A like Addisons are some such. Oh I can't remember! But it might be the same thing.