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Can You Give Me Some Advice Please?


My son is going to be 11 in April; he has always since I can remember been a child who wants everyone’s attention on him only. He is getting worse as he gets older. He has gone through at least 5 schools since he started going to school. He refuses to follow directions from any female, and some males. He tells me all the time that he hates me and why don’t you just kill me and get it over with already. He is in the 5th grade but is in 3rd grade math and reading and 4th grade for some of his other classes. I am really concerned. My son was about 1 year old when I started to see how he would not listen to women. He was around 6 years old when his brother was born and then he just was a totally different child. Always telling me to get rid of the baby that he wanted myself and husband to his self. And about 11 months ago I had my third child, a baby girl. He was very excited about that. The thing that concerns me the most is that he likes to hit his 4 year old brother and he is always getting into fights at school and on the bus. He is in a private school right now but myself and my husband have noticed that since he has been at this school he has gotten a whole lot worse. I am thinking it is because he is hanging out with the older trouble makers. He comes home and he thinks that I do not hear him using swear words, when I confront him he tells me that I am always accusing him of things. He is always back talking and screaming at the top of his lungs. Especially when his brother and sister are taking their naps. I had him tested for ADD/ADHD and it came back that he is not. My husband and I never fight or argue in front of our kids, so I know that is not the problem. My son also tells me all the time that "dad needs to divorce you and get some one better than you." Can you please help? My husband and I want to send him to boot camp or boarding school to help him. I am begging for your help. I have asked for help before and my son is getting 20 times worse than he was in the beginning. Thank you for your time. Very desperate mother in need of help.

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I understand from what you have written us that you have had your son tested for ADHD and the results were negative. However, I am not convinced and I also wonder whether he was tested for anything else. One reason I am not convinced is that his school grades are below level. He knows that and it may affect how he feels about himself.

What I recommend is a full battery of tests on your son in order to determine just what is going on with him. These tests should be done by a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and I urge a complete Psychiatric evaluation done by a child and adolescent Psychiatrist, working in conjunction with the psychologist. It could be that he does have some form of ADHD combined with an Oppositional Defiant Disorder. For that matter, it could be that his diagnosis is Oppositional Defiant Disorder without any attention deficit problems. However, there are many other possibilities including that he is suffering from depression and/or severe anxiety.

I "hear" your desperation and want to urge you to act very fast. The sooner you son is correctly diagnosed the sooner he can begin treatment. Treatment will most probably include individual treatment for him combined with family therapy for all of you. When problems like this arise they often have roots in the family relationships. However, even if that is not so the family needs to learn, through therapy, how to cope with and help your son.

I have seen many cases of people, now in their adulthood, who were sent to boot camp and to boarding school. None of the people I have worked with as adults had anything good to say about boarding schools. Basically, their complaints have been that those schools were authoritarian and cruel. In my opinion, you and your husband should go more deeply into the psychological and psychiatric root. He is still young and there is still hope that he can be helped. What is alarming but not surprising is that he is gravitating towards other troubled youngsters at school. This means that he may be seeing himself as an "outsider" and someone who is anti social. Only treatment can help redirect him but speed is needed.

By the way, there is nothing unusual about a child wanting to be the center of attention. In addition, there is nothing unusual about a child resenting the birth of a sibling. For some reason, he feels he never gets enough positive attention from you. Whether that is actually true or not makes no difference in the sense that this is what he believes. This is another reason why family therapy will be part of the treatment process.

You can seek professional help either through the private school, or going to a local mental health clinic, or by seeking help from private practitioners in the community.

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