Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Can Your Troubled Kids Make A Resolution? Goal Setting for the New Year

By John and Diane

New Year Resolutions are part of many people's traditional celebration, but are troubled kids able to make a resolution?

New Year's Eve is a great time to talk about resolutions - which are, after all, just another word for "goals."  Sitting down with your foster kids and discussing where they think they'd like to improve themselves in the new year can be a great way to begin an open conversation about where their behavior needs additional support, and what steps can be taken to do that. 

They key is to allow the child to identify their own issues and to brainstorm together on solutions that will be followed up on with counselors, teachers or with additional support within the household in the new year. 

Make this a family discussion, preparing action plans for everyone in the family; we all have things to work on, after all. 

Of course, many of our troubled kids will have difficulty sticking to their resolutions, and may fail in spite of every one's best efforts, but does that mean the discussion of goals was a waste of time?  Not really.  Even seeing others in the family work toward their goals, stick with their plans, fail, and retry, will serve as a good example for the child throughout the year.

Give your child the very best chance to meet his or her goals however. If you have a support team (counselor, social worker etc,) get them in on it and make a concrete action plan that can get your kid excited.  Break down the goal into easy to achieve steps and mark successes on a calendar.  Set milestones and celebrate reaching them.  Don't lose focus or enthusiasm.

What do you think?  What are some of the resolutions you and your family are making?  Here are some more articles on making resolutions with your kids.

Parents.com:  8 Ways to Help Kids Make New Year's Resolutions

image by:
AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by creepye

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Are You Anxious Over Your Child's Anxiousness? How to Deal

by John and Diane

We all experience anxiety at different times for different reasons and foster and adopted kids are no different. Their anxiety may be triggered by extraordinary circumstances like family visits or PTSD type flashes, or can be related to very normal triggers such as having to run a mile in gym class or visit the dentist. 

Helping to soothe the anxiety is a natural instinct, but helping a child gain more confidence and overcome their anxiety is a long term solution you should aim for.

The below article from PsychCentral.com has some terrific ideas on how to help your child cope with anxiety and overcome it. Keep in mind while reading it, however, that some of the advice may not be quite right for your child, dependent upon their specific circumstance and diagnosis, but it is a great place to start. 

Helping Your Anxious Child Become More Assertive

By Annabella Hagen, LCSW, RPT-S

Helping Your Anxious Child Become More AssertiveThe other day, I heard a grandfather talk about a phone call he received from his daughter. She told him how his elementary school-aged grandson had been teased and bullied at his local church when he wore glasses for the first time.
We often hear national news about bullying-related youth suicides. And frequently, many of my clients suffering from anxiety mention that they were bullied at some time in their middle school or high school years.
Do kids who get bullied become anxious, or are anxious kids more likely to get bullied? The truth is, it can be both. Children who are bullied experience trauma. They will develop anxiety and may need professional help to overcome that negative experience.
Some youngsters are genetically predisposed to becoming anxious. When they get bullied, not only do they have to work through their trauma, but their anxiety is triggered and they become more anxious.
What can parents do?

Be aware.

Parents need to recognize their children’s needs and fears. Consider modifying your teaching and discipline skills if your child experiences the following symptoms: long and intense temper tantrums, extraordinary stubbornness, meltdowns for no apparent reason, medically unexplained physical pains, body-focused repetitive behaviors (e.g., nail biting, skin picking, hair pulling), eating and sleeping difficulties.
If you don’t know your family mental health history, it’s a good idea to find out what type of mental health challenges your parents, grandparents, and other family members have experienced or are still experiencing. You don’t want to label your child with a diagnosis, but it’s a good idea to know what you may be dealing with, and to consult a mental health professional so they can evaluate your child and provide advice.

Adjust your parenting skills.

Sometimes children suffer from anxiety or experience other psychological challenges. Parents may not realize it until negative events occur, or their children are refusing to go to school.
We often hear parents say, “I love all my children the same.” The only problem is they also want to treat them and discipline them equally. This doesn’t work because each child has his or her own personality and disposition. What works for one may not work for the other.
Parenting books and advice abound and quite often parents get conflicting advice. For example, if you have a child who experiences anxiety, some parenting advice will simply not work. An anxious child who is sent to timeout may feel horrified sitting alone in a room.

Cultivate your children’s emotional intelligence.

When children are able to comprehend their own emotions and find positive ways to manage them, they are able to overcome stressful and challenging situations. This doesn’t happen overnight. We need to help them understand other people’s emotions. We need to model how to empathize with others. Research indicates that the ability to empathize and communicate with others can make a big difference in the quality of one’s life.
Children who experience anxiety may have difficulty understanding other people’s feelings because they are too busy trying to figure out their own. However, it is possible to help them develop empathy and manage their own emotions.
Parents can teach communication skills to their children. They can set the example by talking about their own feelings. They can teach them it’s okay to feel sad, mad, or scared.
It’s important to help children recognize their thoughts. I often meet adolescents, young adults, and even adults who have difficulty recognizing their thoughts and expressing them. Encourage your children to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, and to see how these affect their behavior.

Don’t tell them how to feel.

Quite often we say things like, “Isn’t this fun?” “Aren’t you excited about this?” What if they are not excited or having fun? You can express how you feel and ask them how they might be feeling. Ask them genuine questions to help them develop their own opinions and not to be afraid of stating them.

Build up their confidence.

Help your children recognize their strengths. Acknowledge their weaknesses and point out that everyone has weaknesses and that it’s okay. Help them understand that we learn from our mistakes. They need to understand that you love them and accept them for who they are, not for what they do and accomplish.
Children who develop confidence in themselves accept who they are, and recognize their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes children who experience anxiety can be quick in accepting defeat and get into a helpless mode. Frequently parents will be harsh and scold them and order them “to try, or else!” This parental attitude will exacerbate their child’s anxiety. On the other hand, some parents feel guilt and are sad about their child’s fears. They tend to quickly rescue them and inadvertently reinforce their child’s sense of helplessness.
When your children experience anxiety and you push them, they will clam up and your strategy will backfire.

Read more here: 

top image:
Attribution Some rights reserved by Pink Sherbet Photography

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Are Adopted or Foster Kids More Vunerable to Stranger-Danger? New Term: "Indiscriminate Friendliness."

by John and Diane

A recent UCLA research study has found something that many of us that work with children who have been in foster care or institutionalized in infancy already know and see everyday.  Kids who are separated or neglected by their parents or primary caregivers  early in life are prone to what they are calling "indescriminate friendliness" towards strangers - and anyone really, which can continue throughout their life.

What does this mean? It means that these children, (often your kids with reactive attachment disorders) approach all adults and strangers in somewhat the same manner - with an inappropriate  willingness and outward friendliness. These changes are not simply a habit they picked up to survive in an ever changing world of adults, but actually have a foundation in physical brain-changes that occur due to social neglect.

According to the study, " The early relationship between children and their parents or primary caregivers has implications for their social interaction later in life, and we believe the amygdala is involved in this process," said Aviva Olsavsky, a resident physician in psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and the study's first author. "Our findings suggest that even for children who have formed attachments to their adoptive parents, this early period of deprivation has led to changes in the brain that were likely adaptations and that may persist over time."
Indiscriminate friendliness is in some sense a misnomer. The behavior is not characterized by a deep friendliness but simply by a lack of reticence that most young children show toward strangers."

The study, based on MRI examinations in part, raises many additional questions, " What, if any, effects does early maternal deprivation has on children as they move into adulthood? And do these findings also apply to less severe forms of deprivation, such as neglectful home environments? The researchers are continuing to use fMRI to examine the role of parents in brain development and the contribution of early experiences to mental health outcomes later in life."

What do you think?

Read more on the study here at Science Daily

and be sure to read our post : http://fosterparentrescue.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-kids-that-hug-everyone-trust-no-one.html

AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by Wilson X

Monday, December 2, 2013

Start Your Tax Prep Now: Adoption Tax Credits and What it Means for You

Hi Friends,
Some of you who are adoptive parents might be a bit bewildered by the changes in the Adoption Tax credit laws for the 2013.  There are new credits to check into.. and I am NOT a tax guru by any means but basically here is the change: 
"Many potential adoptive parents find that adopting a child can put a strain on family finances. But there are several available adoption tax credits and benefits that offset the expenses of adopting a child.
State and Federal Adoption Tax Credits
Adoptive families can offset their adoption costs by utilizing the Federal Adoption Tax Credit, which is non-refundable. The maximum 2012 adoption tax credit is $12,650. For 2013, the maximum adoption tax credit is $12,970, for all qualifying adoption expenses, and is non-refundable.
In January 2013, the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was made permanent. The adoption credit is not refundable, which means that only those individuals with tax liability (taxes owed) will benefit. The credit will remain flat for special needs adoptions (those involving children who are deemed hard to place by a child welfare agency), allowing those families to claim the maximum credit regardless of expenses."  (http://www.americanadoptions.com/adopt/adoption_tax_credit)

So, if you are in need of some tax information, there is a ton of it out there for those of you who fall into this category.  Here are some links that you may find helpful. 

2013 Adoption Tax Credit Info.
Adoption Benefits: IRS
Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs: IRS

Attribution Some rights reserved by Philip Taylor PT

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Learning about Learning Disabilities

Hi Friends, We got this graphic sent to us, and it looked pretty helpful and informative, so wanted to share it with all of you.  Helps define some terms I hadnt been all that familiar with, and the Signs and Symptoms list is a great STARTING POINT for those of you trying to figure out some potential problematic issues with your kids.
Worth a looksy. :)
What do you think?

Science of Learning Disabilities
Source: Special-Education-Degree.net

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

School ADDitude: Tips and Tools for Kids with ADD/ADHD

ADHD children can learn reading skills that will help them with homework.

Keeping your ADD/ADHD kids on track everyday is tough, getting them organized and on track with their SCHOOLWORK is nearly impossible.  We have shared many tools and tricks for dealing with homework and studying here on FPR.  To review all our Back to School posts check out:

Teaching Through Play: Car Game Math with ADD and Slow Learners


Back to School Planning for Kids with ADD, Trust Disorders and More



Teaching Through Play: Frying Pan Math Helps Kids with ADD


Focusing the ADD Brain: Interrupt Homework for Exercise


Q&A: “How Can I Get A Tutor For My FosterKids?” 


There’s an App for That: Modern Technology Tackles ADD and Autism Issues


 We have also found TONS of helpful info. on http://www.additudemag.com.   If you aren't familiar with the site, and have a child or have ADD yourself, check it out. It's chock full of useful info.

Here is a great article on getting your kids organized with schoolwork. 

Help Your ADHD Child Organize Homework

Teach your child these after-school organization tips to help him learn to schedule and prioritize his daily homework assignments.

If your child has attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) or a learning disability, you may have gotten used to being the one who decides what he does, and when he does it. At some point, however, your child must learn to maintain his own schedule and set his own priorities. If he reaches high school without knowing these skills, he’ll have big trouble keeping up with assignments and extracurricular activities.
What does it take to get your child to assume control of his schedule? Create an ADHD school organization plan.
Step one is to get him into the habit of using a daily planner. Have him sit down with it after breakfast every morning, to review how his time will be spent that day, and which tasks he needs to accomplish. Make sure the planner accompanies your child to school, and that he writes down all test dates, due dates, assignments, and so on in it.

After-school review

When your child gets home from school, sit down with him and his updated planner. Together, review the homework assignments for the evening. You may be tempted to tell him what to do and when. Don’t. Instead, pose a series of questions to help him set priorities. You might ask, “Do you think you should start with those math problems? Or would it be better to do your math after you finish outlining that chapter in your science book?”
Feel free to make a helpful observation or two: “Last week you chose to work on your math first because you like it, and it’s easy for you. But I’ve noticed that you’re better at tuning in to details when you’re freshest, so you may want to make proofreading your book report the first priority today.”
There is no hard and fast rule about prioritizing. For some children, the best approach is to get the hard stuff out of the way first. For others, breezing through something easy is a confidence-booster that helps motivate them to plow through harder assignments.

Read the rest here

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Toy Reviews that Speak to You... "Toys Are Tools"

One of things that I'm most proud of is my magnetic chalkboard wall.  I love chalk.  I don't care about the dust.  I can't believe how easy and affordable it was to do this at home.  
My co author Diane stumbled upon a post on a Google Plus Page for ADD Moms the other day and saw a link to a website called Toys are Tools.

It took us a bit to figure out what this site was all about... It seemed to talk about toys, but also showed what seemed to be ways to make toys or play at home, and went into all the ways a game or toy "works" with your kids.   It looked a lot like a therapeutic treatment plan... talking about the toy/game and then breaking it down into goals and outcomes...

It didnt feel "sell-y" but gave a really USEFUL review of educational toys (really great for our troubled kids) and introduced us to a lot of interesting games and toys we just don't see around here.

Overall,... I think its worth a few minutes to check out. Bonus! There are giveaways.  :)

Here's a taste: From Toys are Tools

Toolbox Compartments

Toys are Tools understands that most toy stores categorize toys differently than we do.   You've seen it before, Action Figures, Pretend Play, Building Sets, Musical Instruments, and you may even find a category entitled "Learning" or "Educational."  That one always brings a chuckle because we think all toys have some learning value and the view of "learning" should not be limited to learning reading and math.  Likewise, the above named categories could probably all fall under the category of "Pretend Play" too.

We are doing something different here.  We think it is more helpful to parents and educators to look at toys in the way that it is most impactful to a child's life.  There are many uses for toys.  Toys are things we give to kids to encourage more exercise, to help them practice building and creating something in their minds, and/or help them connect with others.  Thus Toys are Tools categorizes the toys just as you categorize a toolbox, that is, we divide them up to show how it serves you and your child.  You will see that most toys have more than one feature and so you may find the same toy under different categories.

I can't believe how handy my husband is.  He bought the desk and plastic compartments at Home Depot.  I bought the chair online.  This is actually a closet in their room!  It took him less than one day and cost us less than 70 dollars.

Toys are Tools' Compartments:

Lose and Win Gracefully: Practicing good sportsmanship is sometimes easier with these games and toys under this listing.  If a child has challenges in this area, you can start here and work your way up to games are for some reason, tougher for a child to lose.

Think Like a Scientist/Engineer: We undervalue science education these days. I think that this is huge mistake and you are hearing this from a person who barely passed high school chemistry.  However, Number 1 loves this compartment and so thanks to him, I have found some of the most creative, well-constructed, challenging toys out there in the market.   These toys will be great for the child who likes learning by trial-and-error, experimenting, and tinkering. Some of these builder kids are said to have high visual-spatial intelligence.  You might also find that they like to break stuff "just to see how it works."  This kind of makes me crazy but I try to remember that kids don't get to exercise these skills enough in school.  I'm not sure why but it's not fair and so I'm going to encourage him to tinker away but not break anymore things.  Additionally, Toys are Tools believes that this compartment is also great for children who have difficulty in this area as long as the child is receiving supportive and knowledgeable guidance while playing with this toy.

My Body Needs to Move: These tools are for kids that need to move around more just as much it is for kids who have to get their energy out.  They are fun and easy ways to help kids burn some fuel.  These toys will focus on lots of areas like keeping fit, being balanced, and being coordinated (is your little one a little klutzy?). This category may likely morph into one or more categories later.

Social Scene Helpers: I rather be the host or helper at a party than just go as a guest.  This doesn't mean that I can't enjoy myself as a guest but I find myself stuck with a bit of social anxiety right before I go to a place where I am talking to people for open-ended goals like "mingling" or "catching-up" - it's just so scary! Sometimes it helps if I have a job or a prop (like a dog, a new bag, etc.)  For kids, I think it's the same and so this is quite likely my favorite category.  You will often find me at a playground with Number 2 toting a bag of props on hand.  They can help Number 2 make friends because it gives him the opportunity to hold something and feel less vulnerable in an intimidating setting.  It also acts as a conversation piece and gives him the opportunity to share it too.

It's not enough to have waterproof paper in the tub!  Oh no!  I had to use it as an opportunity to leave messages for my kids.  I don't want to be bathing them forever!  Toolbox category: I Can Take Care of Myself

I Can Take Care of Myself:  I find teaching this trait to children increasingly challenging as our lives become busier with afterschool classes, homework, and  meetings with families and friends.  I find myself too much in a hurry sometimes to teach very basic self-help skills, especially if they are having trouble with it.  Sometimes kids get these skills by osmosis but if they don't, consider toys in this category to be your assistants.  It is worth your while.  I used to work with teenagers who sometimes couldn't figure out that using an alarm clock would help them get to school on time.

Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy:  I find that it is hard to teach these things but for my kids, I need to make sure they really get this because it will help them build self-esteem and good relationships.  Toys that fall in this category will hope to act as catalysts in learning these traits and values.

More Make Believe Please: I've seen Number 1 and Number 2 really struggle in this area even if they have a real talent for it.  It's hard to explain but regardless, most if not all experts can't stress enough the value of pretend play.  To be sure, we agree that it helps kids with skills in problem-solving, sharing attention with other children, self-reflection, and expression.

Work Experience:  I am still figuring out this feature but truth be told, my child learns great when he's working and sometimes toys or toy-like things involves hard work!   You can liken it to volunteer work which is something not mandatory, definitely not play, and yet very rewarding.  Some may call at least one aspect of this kind of education, kinesthetic learning.  I wonder if that has anything to do with how we'll never forget our first slow dance because every point on our bodies registered information and so your brain recalls it to you with all those facets in mind.

Read More: Here

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ask FPR: How to Deal with Sexualized Behavior When You Don't Know History

 by John and Diane

We often get messages from our readers here on FPR, and take time to answer to the best of our ability, after some time goes by we like to erase any personal data, and share the exchange with everyone, as we know that for each One parent that asks a question, at least a dozen more have the same issue.

Here is an issue we cover over and over again, but it never hurts to talk about again, maybe in a new way.  Sexualized behavior in foster (or adopted) kids is difficult, and even more so when you are unaware of any sexual abuse history in the child's past.  New foster parents are often afraid and unsure as to how to handle this behavior, and if it's paired with an attachment disorder (and commonly manipulative behavior) the complexity of the situation goes up ten-fold.

The below is part of an ongoing exchange with a parent of a couple of foster children. She also had biological children in the house.  The discussion revolves around a 7 year old foster daughter. The child may or may not have an attachment disorder.

Q: The 7 girl we have is demonstrating very sexualised behaviour ie drawings,verbal, acting like a teenager we do not know her past other that there were 5 older brothers what advice can you give us thanks 

A:  FPR:  

My first bit of advice is for self-protection for the men and boys in the house.. your husband and any brothers in the house. You want to have cameras in the public areas in the house because undoubtedly at some point she may accuse someone of something untrue and you want to be able to prove that it didnt happen.

You need to get her counseling as well, if she isnt in any yet. This is a huge red flag and I would guess as you probably have already, that she had been sexually abused by someone earlier in her life.

Children who have been sexually abused will role play the sexual abuse with other kids in the home and the other kids will not understand what is happening, so they get caught up in it, so counseling help is necessary for the whole family.

Don't hide the situation from the whole family. Have a family meeting about it and talk about it frankly, (that she is drawing these things.) Let her know that she is not going to be punished for drawing things like that, but she cannot act out anything like that. Talking about these things is important to protect her and the rest of the kids in the house.

 Check out the blog post "Putting a Bounty on Bad Behavior"

 Don't over react to her acting out sexual behaviors, treat it like anyother bad behavior. Talk with your husband and have a safety plan in regards to your husband and sons where you don't put him in situations where she could accuse him of stuff... if this isnt nipped in the bud she could accuse him of something inappropriate by the time she is 13.

 I have dealt with sexualized boys and girls in my home, and it can get scary fast. You really have to document everything and be sure to get counselors involved now so that it is documented that you are working on these things.

 Talk frankly with her about masturbation and things like that as she had already been sexualized so, the cat is out of the bag, so to speak... but let her know you won't tolerate the behavior in the home (public areas) or from her at her age (having sex or acting out her drawings.)

Use the House Rules we have on our blog with the Sexual Issues additions and the Bounty on Bad Behaviors info. with the sexual issues addressed as well so that everyone in the home, the kids, know to tell you when something happens.

Re: the masturbation etc.. realize you can't stop things like that.. you want to control it.. the location where its happening,  Let her know that its ok to do in a private area, be blunt, because its a natural behavior when kids are exposed to sexual abuse.  But only IF you do come across it.
I also have a few books listed on the blog on this topic as well.. look under the Recommended Books area towards the bottom of the blog home page.

Do you have a problem you can't find an answer to? Send us a message here or on our FB page and we will do our best to help you find an answer. 

Attribution Some rights reserved by Ivan McClellan Photography

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Is Neurofeedback the Solution for Your Child? Follow Our Journey: Part 6 The Final Report

 The below post is from our friend “Marie.” She is sharing her story with us as she tries a brain-retraining program (neurofeedback) with her daughter who has ADD and severe memory issues.  This will be an ongoing series following their progress and success.  We hope you find it helpful as you search for solutions for your own children.

If you missed the first four parts of the series, read them here: 
Is Neurofeedback the Solution for Your Child? Follow Our Journey: Part 1.

Is Neurofeedback the Solution for Your Child? Follow Our Journey: Part 2 The First 3 Sessions

Part 3:  Seeing Signs of Success and Positive Changes!

Part 5  The First Report Card Since Neuro-Feedback Started

Part 6: The Final Report

For those of you that have been curious regarding the final results of my daughters Neurocore experience I wanted to fill you in.
After my daughter’s 29 sessions were complete I was called in to the office to hear the final assessment. I was anticipating good news and possibly a sales pitch to add more sessions or to consider possible “brush up” sessions on an occasional basis. I was again very pleasantly surprised and impressed.
When I sat down with the clinical specialist she went through all of the post testing data and compared it to my daughters test scores in the pretesting phase. The results were no less than astounding! I won’t bore you with the technical breakdown mainly because I would not be able to do it justice. What I can tell you is that after she shared all of the encouraging results, there was one statement that stuck out to me the most.   
 She said your daughter’s brain will not change back
The brain has learned what it needs to learn, and unless she enlists in the military and sees major combat or something that would cause extreme stress on the brain over a period of time, her brain will retain what it has learned.
She met all of the goals we were hoping for and beyond.  Her daydreaming score changed dramatically from her baseline score taken at the beginning, as well as other areas in which she gained positive results. I can tell you that my experience at home confirms all of the results.
 Since we finished the program in the summer, I was anxious to see how she would do in school. As if starting middle school wasn’t challenging enough, this year she happened to be starting in an ALL new school with all new students, a long school bus ride and getting up an hour earlier!  She has adjusted without a hitch. 
She is more organized, able to get ready in the morning and get to the bus on time without a more than an occasional reminder. She is completing her homework and enjoying school.
The technician finished our meeting by saying she was going to mark her chart as closed. No sales pitch for more or pressure to return. I was so impressed by the whole experience I am considering signing myself up!  

[ We here at FPR are not getting paid to support Neurocore or Neurofeedback in any way, we just wanted to bring you this information and a chance to get real feedback from a parent who tried it with her own daughter. ]


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Proof of Attachment from a RAD Kid or The Tale of Two Dogs

We had written many times about the usefulness and dangers of pets in the home, especially with children with attachment disorders.

In a blog post from August 2013 How Do I Deal With: Kids Who Hurt Pets     I talked about an incident at my own foster care home with a RAD child. We were discussing the possible dangers of having a child with an attachment disorder interact with a dog.

Here is an excerpt:

Now, my advice comes from my own experience working with RAD kids and my families own pets.  I have had the same issues with kids being too rough with pets, mistreating them, and I have cameras in my house, I feel like I supervise the kids as well as anyone can.  And I lost a pet. A small breed dog under unfortunate circumstances- most likely from one of the kids hugging the struggling dog too roughly.   It was devastating.  The RAD child then acted as if nothing bad had happened. He had to learn to allow others in the house to grieve the loss of the pet, I had to accept it, and counsel the child through the event, to try to discover what had happened, without allowing my own personal feelings to come out, or to take them out on the child, ... it was terribly, terribly difficult.

In the end, I guess it helped build trust between this boy and myself. He was sure he'd be kicked out of the house for the incident, and I didn't kick him out.  I tried to get to the bottom of the situation, and we continued to work on his skills with pets, and worked and worked on it.  He has come a long way and I do believe he will be a success story yet.  Time will tell.

I wanted to talk a little more about this, and give you an update.

So, this child I referred to came to me at 12 years old with RAD (reactive attachment disorder) ADD, compulsive disorders and other behavioral issues.  He had come from a psychiatric hospital setting, where he had been for a over a year, and my home was basically his last chance at living a normal life in the "real world."

After this incident with the dog, "Billy" (not his real name of course) acted very inappropriate to the circumstances. While the rest of the children grieved, he sang happily, explaining that he was singing "for Fido," but his affect was clearly inappropriate. Once he realized he wouldn't be kicked out of the house for the incident, and after days and days of counseling and attempting to get to the truth of the incident, we (the counselors and treatment team and I) worked hard and watched "Billy" to insure that he did not act out any further with the other house pets.

His interactions with the other pets in the house in the past two years has been a roller coaster. He teased one of the other dogs for a while, and so he was told to leave the dog alone, and he eventually appeared to feel bad that the dog avoided him. He was taught to offer the dog treats and treat the dog nicely to get the dog to come to him in a gentle way. He also walked the dog and took over care taking duties.

We also have a bird in the house. At times he took great interest in the bird, giving it water, food etc.  One day I noticed the bird had feathers missing and he admitted to pulling feathers from the bird.  We discussed this as well and talked about how this was unacceptable behavior.  He knew this was wrong behavior because he took time to do it out of camera range.

We had one other incident where one of the other dogs nipped at him. He claimed it was a scratch from something else, but it was clearly from the dog. He must have needed it.

During this 2 year time period though, although there were slip ups, there was also steady growth. I saw that "Billy" was able to be gentle, was able to understand that humans were caretakers for animals and understood his responsibilities with the house pets and the chickens we had in the yard. I was seeing signs of responsible behavior.

"Billy" began a closer relationship with one of the other family dogs, another small breed dog, who seemed to enjoy his company and slept with him at night. Although I had some fears about this, I had to trust "Billy" and show him that I could trust him to be a careful dog guardian.

He did well.  Then the dog became ill.  The dog was an older pet, and began having kidney issues.  "Billy" was concerned and displayed his attachment to the dog. He took responsibility for the pet, cleaning up the dogs "mistakes" in the house, and even purchasing special pet food with his own money earned by doing chores.  He literally doted on the dog.

As the dogs health continued to decrease, "Billy," now 14, cradled her in his arms and rocked her. She would seek out his company, and he would oblige her to make her comfortable.

"Billy" held her in his arms when she died.

He did not sing this time.This time he cried.

He was unsure what to do, but called to me, and we arranged for a funeral. He prepared a casket and insisted on putting her favorite blanket and pillow to make her journey comfortable.

Although, again, I am sad to lose a pet, this has been a unique opportunity to see the growth and change in this child.  It is not often that we get a chance to see reactions to similar circumstances in a RAD child 2 years apart, and then, to see, such drastic changes.  It really feels like a miracle, and one of hope that I wanted to share with all of you.

"Billy" took pride in care taking for the pet, and has now taken over duties for one of the other dogs in the home.  He is making friends, is involved in school and after school activities. He still has problems, to be sure, but he has come a long way.  He is motivated to be the best he can be. 

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Doc Tharp

Friday, September 6, 2013

Can "Mindfulness" Training Help ADHD Kids in School?

Hi Friends,
We have talked a lot about Neurofeedback recently, and have seen really good results from that, and today there is an article in Science Daily about Mindfulness Training.

Basically it talks about the benefits of "Mindfulness" training for kids who have trouble staying focussed in school.  But what IS "Mindfulness training?

"Mindfulness" is defined as learning to direct our attention to whatever task is at hand at any given moment. When someone is taught mindfulness, they are taught to slow down and experience the moment they are in. This is not a natural state for children who may have ADHD or other mental distractions that keep them from functioning at their best levels in school. 

Not all schools offer Mindfulness training courses as part of their curriculum, and not all parents are able to or have access to private Mindfulness programs.  However, the Internet is full of all kinds of games for kids, exercises and information on Mindfulness techniques that any parent can take advantage of the opportunity if they think their child might benefit.

Check out the links below and let us know what you think!

Mindfulness training improves attention in children





Attribution Some rights reserved by chefranden

Friday, August 30, 2013

Dealing with the Negative: Keep Positive Yourself and It Will Trickle Down to the Kiddies...

Oscar-canHi Friends,
My Co-author Diane recently discovered a new blog that is focused on the positive. Making wise choices, thinking positive and dealing with the negatives in life in a pro-active way.

With foster parent burn out being a real threat, it's important to be reminded to look up at the sun sometimes.

With this in mind, I wanted to share this particular blog post about Trash Talkers (we have all dealt with them) in hopes it gives you a little pep talk, and maybe gives you some help in talking to your kids about similiar issues in the future.  Enjoy, and check out subscribe to Carrie's blog at : Carrie Jolie Dale

First off, remember the golden rule “If you cant say anything nice don’t say anything at all.”  

But doesn’t that sometimes just feel like you are the one getting short changed?

Doesn’t it just sometimes feel like those mean, negative nellies and neds need to be put in their place, and have one massive karmic review done? 

Trust me when I say, this one was hard for me. I was challenged big time on this one going through a difficult divorce and also making the decision to pursue my love of writing + coaching. 

The divorce situation if almost understandable(albeit frustrating), but why the coaching and writing? Why would people be negative about that?

Why would anyone be negative towards you when you decide to chase your dreams, speak your truth,and  live your passions? 

Because it stirs up their fears, their insecurities, and their wounds. If they are bashing what you are doing, and picking on you—chances are they see you stepping into your light, and they notice how they have allowed their own light to be dimmed.

There are going to be those that try to knock you down—always.
When we, as entrepreneurs—CHOOSE to spread our wings and GO FOR IT—it can stir up stuff in others. 

It’s not you.  It’s not about you.  

And it really doesn’t matter what they think about you. It doesn’t matter if they like you, what you write, or what you are creating.

What they think of you is not the point. How you react to negativity—in any form—is the point.

Read the rest at : CarrieJolieDale.com

Friday, August 23, 2013

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Aspergers? How Can You Tell the Difference?

Hi Friends,
A friend and reader shared this recent article on the similarities and differences between OCD (obsessive, compulsive disorder) and Asperger's disorder, which is a high functioning level of autism.  The two disorders have many similar traits and sufferers display some of the same mannerisms, which often confuses parents and even doctors and counselors.

The below article comes from www.ocfoundation.org.  It's a little "academic" but the case studies are interesting and you may recognize you own child in some of the stories.  Read on.

Differentiating Between Asperger’s  and Obsessive-Compulsive DisorderBy Fugen Neziroglu, Ph.D.
and Jill Henriksen, M.S.

     In recent years clinicians have continually seen a rise in Asperger‘s Disorder (AD), especially among child and adolescent populations. Whether this rise is due to an actual increase in AD or merely a result of improved definitions and increased awareness is unknown. In 1994, AD was first added to the DSM-IV (Kirby, 2003), therefore, it is only recently that parents and professionals are more aware of this disorder. AD is a complex disorder that resembles OCD in several ways; therefore, it becomes increasingly important to have an understanding of AD so one can better differentiate it from OCD. The purpose of this article is to help individuals, family members, and professionals better understand how these disorders are similar and how they can be differentiated from one another. A couple of case examples will be used to illustrate certain behaviors before we go on to the specific characteristics of the two disorders. For consistency purposes, the male gender is used throughout this paper because males outnumber females in AD. However, one should note that this is not the case with OCD.

Case Example 1
     Matthew is a 9-year old boy.* He performs well academically in school. In class, he pays excellent attention; however, his teachers have noted some underlying anxiety regarding his academic performance. For example, Matthew takes a long time to complete tests and writing assignments. His teachers report that he is well behaved and follows classroom rules, but at the same time, Matthew will report to his teacher when his peers do not demonstrate the same behavior. Additionally, Matthew becomes agitated or upset when he is rushed and is unable to complete an assignment. At home, mornings and evenings are particularly difficult for Matthew.
  He takes a long time getting ready for school, e.g., brushing his teeth a long time, dressing and redressing, going in and out of the room, etc. Also, he gets to bed later than he should making mornings even more difficult. He reports that he is unable to fall asleep because of “certain thoughts” and his bedtime rituals. Matthew’s mother is concerned with her son’s outbursts of anger. These fights usually occur around dinnertime when Matthew does not have his own way, such as, having his plate and silverware washed again before his food touches it. Matthew’s mother has also become increasingly concerned about her son’s peer relationships. She feels that Matthew is having difficulty making friends. As his friends become more interested in sports, Matthew has less in common with them and has started to spend more time alone.

Case Example 2
     Eric is a 12-year old boy. Eric’s academic performance is strong. He is currently taking advanced coursework in mathematics and science. Eric’s teachers are impressed with his language ability in these areas. He uses adult words and has an advanced vocabulary surrounding science and history. Recently, Eric has been having trouble in school. More specifically, Eric only wants to read, write, and research specific topics, such as European history. If his teacher asks him to write about something else, Eric becomes very upset and argues with the teacher endlessly. In exasperation the teacher usually allows him to write about whatever he wants. Other times he is sent to the principal’s office. Additionally, Eric becomes irritable when things are out of the routine, for instance if he has to read a book different from the one he had been told to originally. Eric has one or two friends, but does not usually initiate social contact with children. Eric frequently needs to be redirected by his teacher to complete his work. 

In addition, he often requires extra time to complete his exams. Eric often appears anxious in school and when he feels this way he will continually ask the teacher questions and seek reassurance from her. At home, Eric demonstrates difficulty completing his homework assignments. He becomes fixated on one small aspect of his assignment and then runs out of time to complete the rest. After school, Eric can spend hours reading about history and will engage in hours of discussion about the topic. He enjoys comparing one history book to another. He will line up his books in alphabetical order and then analyze each one of them. Eric prefers “sameness”. He enjoys eating the same kind of foods over and over again. He also prefers soft fabrics and puts his clothing on each morning in a particular order.
The first case example is that of OCD and the second of AD. AD is at the mildest and highest functioning end of what is known as the Pervasive Developmental Disorder spectrum. As described by Treffert (1999), the disorder is characterized by normal speech development in childhood (e.g. single words by 2-years of age and use of communicative phrases by 3-years of age). Despite nor- mal verbal development, an individual’s speech may be repetitive or of unusual voice quality. For example, a child may repeat back what you just said, or he may repeat his own words. Furthermore, the child may demonstrate poor turn-taking skills during conversation and may dominate the conversation, especially when it concerns his special area of interest. Nonverbal skills in individuals with AD are also impaired. For example, individuals may not express a full range of facial expressions. At times, it may appear as though the child is looking through you and he evidences poor eye contact. Failure to develop social relations is another characteristic of this disorder. 

Some believe that the insufficient conversational and nonverbal skills lead to poor social relationships. Children with OCD do not lack the social skills as those with AD do. However, in some instances a child with OCD may develop poor relationships with his/her peers. This may occur when a child’s obsessions and compulsions occupy a lot of their time, which can lead to social withdrawal. Furthermore, if the compulsions are severe the child may be unable to hide them from his friends, which could lead to teasing. The child may also develop poor self-esteem because he views himself as being different from other children, but overall children with OCD have normal peer relationships (Fruehling, Johnston, & March, 1998). Children with OCD can follow social rules, but they may adhere to an adult moral code and become upset when their peers do not follow certain rules (Neziroglu & Yaryura-Tobias, 1997).
  Without training, guidance, or instruction AD children will demonstrate difficulty adhering to social rules, such as not talking while others are talking or knowing when to appropriately end a conversation. Many AD children will also demonstrate poor motor coordination and clumsiness.

For example, elementary school children with AD may have penmanship problems and experience difficulty with activities during physical education class (Williams, 1995).
As demonstrated by the case examples, there are several similarities between OCD and AD including: shifting, incompleteness, emotions and compulsions. In both disorders the children have strong academic skills. Children with AD often demonstrate strong rote reading skills, calculation ability, and excellent memory (Bauer, 1996). Neziroglu and YaryuraTobias (1997) also report that children with OCD usually have above average academic ability. Both children will rarely feel relaxed and they will spend most of their day feeling anxious. In AD, this is especially true if the child does not know what to expect next or is overwhelmed by stimuli such as loud noises. In OCD, the child is anxious in regards to their obsessive thoughts and whether or not they are performing their compulsions correctly. Both children may experience incompleteness and require extra time to complete assignments at school and home. For the AD child, this is because they are distracted by internal and external stimuli. Therefore, they need an adult near by to redirect them to the task at hand. For the OCD child the reason differs. The child may take a long time to complete a task because they are concerned with perfection and/or doing a task until it feels right (i.e., doing it a set amount of times). Therefore, they may rewrite a paper, erase frequently, or reread the same passage repeatedly.
 Children with both disorders will demonstrate a need for sameness. Usually the child with AD chooses to eat the same food each day, wear the same clothing, or play the same video game, whereas the child with OCD is looking for sameness in his/her daily routines. If the OCD child exhibits the “sameness” of the AD child it is for a different reason. Both children desire control over their environment so that they may perceive it as safe and predictable. However, children with OCD may eat the same foods each day because they are “safe” or not contaminated. In children with AD the reason varies. Children with AD have sensory issues, so they may not like certain textures, smells, fabrics, or sounds (Kirby, 2003). Sometimes children with OCD may also complain of not liking the feel of the seam on their socks, or be concerned with smells that are “dirty”.

    Both children will demonstrate difficulty with shifting or transitioning between tasks. For the OCD child, this is because of the need for symmetry or balance. For example, if a child is working a home- work assignment on the computer and he is called for dinner, he will want to complete the entire assignment before he begins eating. If he does not complete the assignment, he will continue to feel anxious. Another example may include a child in school who has to tap the left side of the desk the same amount of times as he tapped the right side of the desk. Individuals with AD are resistant to change in their routines, prefer “sameness,” and have difficulty transitioning between tasks. For example, the child may like to always have breakfast before getting dressed and then having the parent take the same route to school each morning. An AD child may become overly upset with even the smallest changes in his environment, such as, the teacher switching the types of crayons used in the classroom. Repetitive activities are a defining characteristic of this disorder. These activities are preferred and engaged in at length. Similarly, the individual often has an intense preoccupation with one or two areas (i.e., weather, history, trains, or dinosaurs). Therefore, the child may engage in repetitive play surrounding his area of special interest, such as, lining up his model car collection on the floor. This preoccupation is abnormal in its focus and/or its intensity. In the area of interest, the individual has an incredible capability to memorize facts. Although overall conversation ability is typically poor, when discussing his area of interest, the individual may possess advanced knowledge on the topic (Treffert,1999). However, when discussing his area of interest, the conversation is usually one sided and the child may not pick-up on social cues regarding the other person’s disinterest or know when to stop speaking.
   Since common features of AD include anxiety, repetitive behavior, and fixed habits, it is apparent that this disorder can mimic OCD (Yaryura-Tobias, Stevens, & Neziroglu,1998). Research studies in the psychology literature have focused on distinguishing between the restricted, repetitive, and stereotypic behavior associated with AD as compared to the compulsions found in OCD (Baron-Cohen, 1989; McDougle, Kresch, Goodman, Naylor, Volkmar, Cohen, & Price, 1995). In general, AD is typically characterized by a more severe impairment in social interactions (e.g., poor social reciprocity, poor peer relationships, and poor verbal and non-verbal skills). In addition, individuals with AD tend to have a more restricted pattern of interests and activities than those individuals with OCD. For example, a child with OCD may be obsessed and fearful of contamination and germs, whereas, a child with AD has a positive interest in a particular area. The next section will focus on some of the important differences between AD and OCD that can assist one in further differentiating between the two disorders.

    As previously mentioned, a defining feature of AD is that obsessive thoughts surround involvement in an activity or area of specific interest. For example, an individual with AD may have a restricted interest in the area of trains. The high level of interest in this area may appear obsessional; however, it is important to bear in mind the definition of an obsession. By definition, obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that cause marked anxiety or distress. Individuals with AD typically do not experience anxiety or distress surrounding their area of interest. In fact, they derive pleasure from it. However, in OCD individuals experience a marked level of anxiety or distress. Therefore, ways to further differentiate AD and OCD is to assess whether the individual experiences anxiety or distress related to his obsessive thought patterns or compulsions. If the individual derives pleasure from the repetitive behavior and not just pleasure from anxiety reduction, then this feature is more likely linked to AD than OCD.
   To minimize or neutralize the distress, an individual with OCD will engage in compulsive behavior. In AD, obsessional thoughts do not have specific compulsions attached to them.
Researchers have hypothesized that individuals with Pervasive Developmental Disorders may be unable to monitor their internal states and report anxiety related to obsessive thoughts (McDougle et al., 1995). Therefore, it is important to also examine the content of the behavior that occurs. It has also been found that some of the more common compulsions in OCD patients, such as checking and hand washing, are rarely found in AD (McDougle et al., 1995). Although, restrictive and repetitive behavior may mimic a compulsion, it is not completed with the intent to minimize anxiety or distress, nor is it specifically associated to intrusive thoughts.
 Distinguishing between AD and OCD is potentially easier when each disorder is occurring on its own. However, as we have seen in our clinical experience, patients present with co-morbid AD and OCD. Co-morbidity is defined as the co-occurrence of two separate disorders at the same time. In these instances, it can be very difficult for clinicians to distinguish between what may be repetitive behaviors related to AD and what may be an OCD compulsion. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) to minimize rituals and restrictive interests in an individual with AD is not very effective because the child does not experience anxiety and therefore there is nothing to “habituate” to (habituation is the process by which anxiety is extinguished). It is through habituation that compulsions are reduced in OCD (there is neuronal fatigue occurring in the brainstem reticular formation). Rituals related to AD provide comfort to the individual and are not anxiety provoking. There is no negative situation to expose the individual to, however, one can limit some of the repetitive activity. If we attempt to strip the individual of this activity entirely, we potentially risk removing one’s positive coping strategy. On the other hand, if a clinician can distinguish between behaviors related to OCD and those that belong to AD, then one can attempt to successfully treat the OCD related symptoms with ERP. If an individual with co-morbid 

Asperger’s and OCD presents with an overwhelming amount of compulsions and ritualized behavior, by treating the OCD with ERP the amount of compulsive behavior that the person engages in can be reduced. After the OCD symptoms are treated, then one can proceed with other treatments to address the AD related behavior. Treatment of AD typically involves social skills training, parent training, and behavior therapy to decrease unacceptable behavior, while increasing more adaptive skills. For example, if a parent wants to increase desirable homework performance in his or her child, then the parent can make activities related to the specific area of interest (i.e., reading history books) contingent upon homework completion. One should note, that targeting undesirable behavior in AD children does not mean changing those behaviors that are considered “odd,” rather interventions should target behaviors such as repetitive questioning, inappropriate homework behavior, or increasing appropriate social skills.
  In summary, individuals with AD or OCD may evidence similar symptoms, including, shifting, incompleteness, anxiety, compulsions, and adherence to rituals. In general, individuals with AD are more socially impaired and demonstrate difficulty forming reciprocal relationships. In AD, individuals may have obsessive thoughts surrounding a restricted area of interest, but these thoughts do not likely cause a marked level of anxiety or distress as they do in OCD. Lastly, compulsive behavior in OCD is completed with the intent to minimize anxiety. In AD, individuals derive pleasure from engaging in these activities.
* To protect confidentiality, case descriptions in this article are based on composite or fictionalized clients.

Fugen Neziroglu, Ph.D., is a board certified Behavior and Cognitive psychologist involved in the research and treatment of OCD for 25 years.  She is the Clinical Director of the Bio-Behavioral Institute in Great Neck, NY and Professor at Hofstra University.  Jill Henirksen, MS, is a school psychologist who works with children and adolescents and interned with Dr. Neziroglu at the Bio-Behavioral Institute.
image by
Attribution Some rights reserved by sleepyjeanie

Monday, August 19, 2013

Walking the Thin Line: How to Transition a Suicidal Foster Child into Your Home

by John and Diane

I recently posted a blog with some information on working with foster kids who threaten to hurt themselves or are suicidal.  I have been working with a child like this and it has been a delicate balance that I have been struggling with.  I wanted to share my journey with all of you, in hopes that you might give some advice, or perhaps learn something from my struggles.

I got this foster child we will refer to as Mary as a young teen, with a history of self- abuse and a recent suicide attempt.

After release from the hospital Mary came to my home in a delicate mental state. Although she was receiving some counseling, after a few days in my care, she seemed to be adjusting well to my home and the other children. She had a "boyfriend" at the time, whom she relied on heavily, but there was no physical intimacy between them.  I allowed continued, monitored interaction as I felt it was necessary for Mary to have some support and a sense of continuity in spite of the new living situation.

I admit, I was nervous about Mary's history and although I usually go into "Jesus Mode" with my incoming foster kids, learning their history and gaining their trust, ( Read more about Jesus Mode in " Tantrums and Trust Disorders" )  I just didn't know how hard I could push Mary, how strict I could be with her regarding following house rules and how much I needed to restrict her.  I felt like I needed to coddle her a bit more at the beginning, as she had extreme self-worth and self-esteem issues, was extremely sensitive to redirection or correction and quickly fell into "dark moods" and depression that worried me.

I spent a few weeks attempting to build Mary's self-esteem, confidence and self-worth.  I gave her opportunities to feel part of a family unit, to express her self and feel safe within boundaries. I spent a great deal of time counseling Mary and building a trust bond with her.

During this time however, I saw Mary becoming more manipulative, using her depression as a way to get her way.  I was worried about this. Was I seeing this correctly? Could I correct this behavior? If I began to set stricter boundaries, what would happen? Would she retreat into self-harm?

I had a heart-to-heart with Mary one day when she was trying to push her limits. I told her that it didn't seem like I could make her happy in my home. No matter how much I did for her, it seemed like she needed more and more to make her happy. That was not going to work for me. We talked about all of the things I felt, the manipulative behavior, and I was straight with her, outrightly telling her I felt manipulated. I am not one to beat around the bush. She didn't have much to say.

Diane, my co-author and I consulted on all of this and came to the conclusion that it was a good time to start setting some boundaries and making trust a two-way street.  A common practice amongst therapists is to make a contract with patients who have suicidal tendencies.  The contract is a promise from the patient to the counselor that the patient will not harm themselves.  Creating a contract like this between Mary and me would be a great start in building trust between us and removing part of my fear. It would also give me an opening to discuss how I would need to begin putting some boundaries on Mary, and begin treating her like more of the family. During this discussion Mary officially moved from her "Jesus Mode" status to a more regular member of the household.

It's difficult to know when it's right to move a child forward, but I guess instinct and experience must be relied upon, as well as consulting with your treatment team. You, as primary caregiver though, know the child the best, and must do what is best of the child and the family unit.

Attribution Some rights reserved by B.Riordan.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Do I Deal With: Kids Who Hurt Pets

Hi Friends,

We have talked a lot about kids and pets here on FPR, and we have mentioned many times about how necessary it is to supervise foster kids with pets during pet therapy or as you are just getting to know your "new" kids, as many times abused or traumatized children will act out, or children with RAD or attachment disorders may need coaching when interacting with animals.   Yes, we have kind of danced around the topic, but we aren't dancing anymore.

We recently got an email from a friend and reader asking a very straightforward question, and although we have a lot of information on the topic, we didn't have a straight-enough answer for her.  We thought we should go ahead and talk about the topic of kids who hurt or abuse pets or animals and what you should do about it.  (imagine us shifting uncomfortably in our chair.)

First, the question from our reader:

Q:  Recently our little guy has really been picking on our dog. He's getting worse and worse little by little. We have a no touching animals rule in the house, but he disregards that rule despite the consequences. Any ideas?  [ the child has shown evidence of RAD or an attachment disorder.]

A: FPR:   This is basically what is happening:  RAD kids don't know how to show love, and so when they try to show the dog affection, they try to control the dog (which is the only way the child knows how to deal with people and animals..thru control) and so eventually the dog revolts against it and struggles against it, so the child gets rough.  Now the relationship between pet and child is damaged.

 So, you have to show the child how to rebuild the relationship with the dog.  Give him treats to give the dog and teach him how to interact properly with the dog.   Also, only supervised play with the dog until you are sure that the child has learned how to interact with the animal.

The no- touching the animals rule isn't going to work. You have to spend time teaching them how to play with the dog and have only supervised time with the animalsA No touching rule is impossible, you might have a "no picking up rule," "no hitting the dog rule" is okay, but you have to take control of the dog and keep them separate.

 Let me know how it goes and keep up with it even if you think that they have learned it...
sometimes they can trick you and revert to the bad behavior. 

Now, my advice comes from my own experience working with RAD kids and my families own pets.  I have had the same issues with kids being too rough with pets, mistreating them, and I have cameras in my house, I feel like I supervise the kids as well as anyone can.  And I lost a pet. A small breed dog under unfortunate circumstances- most likely from one of the kids hugging the struggling dog too roughly.   It was devastating.  The RAD child then acted as if nothing bad had happened. He had to learn to allow others in the house to grieve the loss of the pet, I had to accept it, and counsel the child through the event, to try to discover what had happened, without allowing my own personal feelings to come out, or to take them out on the child, ... it was terribly, terribly difficult.

In the end, I guess it helped build trust between this boy and myself. He was sure he'd be kicked out of the house for the incident, and I didn't kick him out.  I tried to get to the bottom of the situation, and we continued to work on his skills with pets, and worked and worked on it.  He has come a long way and I do believe he will be a success story yet.  Time will tell.

Here are some other resources for you. Some very interesting articles here I encourage you to read if you are dealing with this problem. 


Children Who are Cruel to Animals: When to Worry

Children Abusing Animals

 Cruelty to animals a sign that heeds attention

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Btwienclicks