S.O.S.-Can someone help me? - FamilyEducation
S.O.S.-Can someone help me?
11/13/2008 at 11:03 AM

For over 2 years, now, my almost 8 yr. old stepson has been stealing from me,  & my two daughters, lying about it and other things, and physically & emotionally hurting everybody in the house but Dad.  We have more than 40 items missing - never to be seen again - some expensive or irreplaceable.  Although we are now on our 3rd therapist, we haven't seen much change.

Mom & Dad have been divorced since before he was 1.  Mom is unstable - comes to our house crying & making a big "Jerry Springer" scene about the littlest issues.  I have no contact with "Mom" what so ever.  I just wish she would stop disrupting our household and get some medical help with her hormones.

Back to stepson.  I have looked everywhere, but can't find any of the stolen goods - he must have thrown them out or taken them to Mom's.  I am going NUTS!  How do we get him to stop stealing, lying, or doing what's wrong?  What if he gets into serious trouble one day or really hurts somebody?  This summer he hit his 1 yr. old brother so hard with his bike that he BOUNCED off the pavement with his head and it's a miracle he wasn't seriously damaged!

Sending out an S.O.S. - PLEASE HELP!! 

Put a doorknob with a key on your bedroom, keep the expensive and irreplaceable items there. Check with your homeowner's insurance to see if filing a claim would be a good idea--I really don't know. Have the boy evaluated by a psychiatrist, not a therapist. (Aside to SnglDad--I don't have a diagnosed mental illness, and I THINK I'm sane.) This behavior may have been coming even without the stress of being in a blended family with a new half-sibling, he may simply be mentally ill. In any case, I would try increasing my own compassion quotient while protecting the family from his behavior. The kid is either mentally ill or so unhappy that he is making life miserable for himself along with everyone else.

If it's gone to the extreme of physically hurting others, I wldn't let him in the house. As for the stealing, this boy needs a reality ck. Maybe a night in a juvenile detention center cld do him some good--or at least it cld shake him up a bit. If counceling's not working, something needs to be done! If and when this boy shapes up, then let him back in your home. Show him all the love and care you can give him. It's obvious that he's screaming for attention, and he needs it.

Are you kidding me? A 7 year old in juvinile detention? I think we can do better than that!

From my job in the child mental health field, it is possible that a visit to a police station or a juvenile detention facility can help. Scared Straight for the junior set. Seems extreme, but it does work in some cases.

Ok, I agree that's a bit extreme for a 7 yr old, but what other options does this family have? They've been through 3 therapists already, and none of them have helped. Is a mental ward a better option? This family shldn't have to live in fear every day of their lives wondering what this boy will do next. Why shld they have to lock away their things? That's not going to solve anything. This child will just find something else to steal at home, or even worse, steal from another person outside of his home. What's next? Is this family expected to walk around w/ helmets on their heads all day to prevent themselves from getting wacked w/ a baseball bat. Come on. This boy needs serious help, not a family who tiptoes around him afraid of what will happen next. If anyone has any better suggestions, please, let's hear them. Let's just not let this boy continue to get away w/ what he is doing, regardless of if he can help it or not. If this is infact a mental illness, this child may need medication to help control his impulses. Maybe the family shld consult a neurologist.

If this is a mental illness, the child may need hospitalization. If this is a socio-pathological problem that does not have mental illness as part of the constellation, then it is intractable, and putting the child in detention will do what incarceration has always done, protect people from criminal behavior. Pretending that a family has all the resources to deal with severe problems just lets the problem continue until something horrible happens. Therapists are not psychiatrists. Get a mental health doctor, not therapist, to see the child.

Thank you for all the suggestions. You are right - we started locking doors and locking things away, and guess what? He just found something that wasn't locked away to steal. I agree - you have to deal with WHY he is doing this, you can't lock away everything. The problem is: Mom & Dad don't think there's that much of a problem. They think I am "overblowing" things & that this is just how some kids deal. I say "No way! This kiddo is screaming for help" So he's going to keep at it until they come out of denial and get him help. For now, I'm just along for the ride...

If this is a mental illness then the parents (including you) are responsible to seek necessary medical treatment. To fail to do so is neglect. Get yourself an appointment with a psychiatrist and find out what should be done.

How can I do that? It has to be Mom or Dad. I have tried making appointments in the past & been told that they can only discuss with Mom or Dad. I have convinced Dad to take him, but we have not been to anybody "serious" - the last one was a student at a university training to be a psychologist. Everytime I bring it up, it creates a lot of stress or argument as they don't seem to think there is a problem.

the mom or dad has to make an appointment for the child. I didn't say make an appointment for the child. I said get YOURSELF an appointment. For you. with a practicing psychiatrist. one that has a medical degree and a state license.

Best thing to do is get a security camera, all you need is a tv with a vcr and setup the tv/vcr with a tape set to lp. (long play) set the video camera up on a spot, hidden if need be, and set your tv/vcr to record. it will tape the next 6-8 hours, depends on settings, will video him doing all the things he says he isnt. Also, you can purchase a video camera, that will take shots, at 3 seconds apart, and put them on a memory card, you can scan thru them instead of going thru 8 hours of tape. get it on tape, and then approach the non believers, but also seek help for him. He is retailating against you because you are not his mom.... but, he needs to be stoped'