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kids with behavior issues and therapy dogs...

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
This is something that has been on my mind. My middle son has some behavior issues. We have had doctors say it was ADHD, ODD, and now we are about to go back to the doctors again to try and pin point what is really going on with him.

For the past about 3 months his behavior has gotten worse. Around Christmas or 1st of the year he started telling us and the school he wants a dog around the home. Well I am not really suppose to have pets here so I had to tell him we can't for the moment. And thats when the behavior got worse. Lets put it this way last week a teacher set a note home to me with pictures that she had some puppies (cute ones btw) that she was finding homes for and we could have one. So I was trying to explain to my son why we could not have one. Well my 6 year old son said he was going to kill me (yes he said kill me) over this issue.

Now my question is could a therapy dog really help his problems? IF so what process do I need to go through to find out if this will help him? I do know someone personally with a litter of puppies at the moment. And I was thinking about taking him over there every afternoon (till puppies go to new homes) and see if it helps the problems. If it does not help no harm no foul and he got to be around puppies. But what if it does but things get bad again once the pups go to their new homes.

Can anyone give me some insight.
post #2 of 20
Having a dog of his own will not stop his behaviors. BAD teacher for sending the note with the pics. She has NO right to try to "force" the dog issue. Maybe you can work out a plan where he can "help" with a dog IF he controls his behavior at home and at school. It really sounds like he is trying to get his way by being "bad".

I am a Kindergarten teacher and have seen/heard how kids "work" their parents. You should hear what they tell each other on how they get their way at home. They KNOW what they are doing and PLAN it! "If I scream while we are shopping for new clothes she will get me a new toy."

Good Luck! Hang tough and you will all win in the end.

Kim
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Just for the record I don't mean a dog of his own. I know that any dog (any animal) that comes into the house is my responsiblty. I found out the only reason the teacher sent it is because he had been talking about there and he was trying to convince the teacher to just bring a puppy to my house. So for that reason I am glad she at least sent the picture home instead of the real deal.

Quote:
You should hear what they tell each other on how they get their way at home. They KNOW what they are doing and PLAN it! "If I scream while we are shopping for new clothes she will get me a new toy."
I don't think this is that case tho. One they never get their way when they act like that. So why would he think this will get his way. I have noticed , his teachers have noticed, my husband has noticed, that in the past 3 months his behavior is worse. Melt downs every day at home, at school, on the bus. My 6 year old said he will kill me. This can not be normal. Yes today I am calling some new doctors to get him seen about this. Even I know an animal can calm a child. He is calmer on the rare cases Pong will lay with him. But Pong is not much of cuddler when it comes to anyone but me and my husband.

Back when we used to have dogs he was a lot calmer. When we had to find them new homes to move here (long long story) the behavior slowly got worse. Now my son will say to my face is all seriousness he will kill me. If being around a dog will bring his behavior closer to normal I will look into it. And do a trial run with people I know that have dogs.
post #4 of 20
Does your son lash out verbally or hit? A therapy dog is not intended for this types of issues.
Behavior problems that last for a period of three months require more intervention. Talk to the school counselor to see what community resources are available. We have some that are free and some that charge based on income. Check your insurance plan, some offer a set number of free counselling visits under an Employee Assistance Plan. some limit the number of visits during a year.

The first step, however, is a good physical to rule out any physical cause for the behavior. This may include an EEG to rule out seizures and a brain scan to rule out any physical abnormalities. Chemisties to rule out diabetes or hormone issues (such as cortisone). Then move onto a psychiatrist and then counseling. Though it will take longer to go in this order, you decrease the risk of an incorrect diagnosis and a delay in getting the correct help.

Good luck and hang in there. Kudos for recognizing he needs help and getting it for him.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
No he does not hit. The main person he lashes out at verbally is me. I did talk to the school counselor all she could give me is a list of some localish doctors. Right now all his hormones are in check. We have to get those checked very few months because of the growth hormone thing.
post #6 of 20
No - I would not get a dog to try and cure your son's problems. He needs medical help. However, it might be possible if this teacher would allow your son to come over and interact with the dog and see what happens. If its done on a regular basis it may help - but it won't be in your possession.

If its a positive thing and you are sure you can trust him around animals and not hurt them, then make it a goal of when you could adopt a dog. But your son would have to earn the privledge of a dog. Demanding one is NOT the way.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
He is good with Ping and Pong. He has never ever tried to hurt them. In fact there have been times when I have seen him sit down by them and tell them about his day.

Yeah right at the moment all I really can do is just taking him to visit people I know with dogs and see how his reaction is and if long term it calms him some.

Its not so much that he is demanding a dog as in "I wanna dog you must get me one" type deal. Its more of an everyday "Mom I really want a dog". And when I try to explain to him why we can't have one at the moment he lashes out at me. Not anyone else just me. I don't know. As soon as I get my little one on the bus I am going call some of the doctors.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
No - I would not get a dog to try and cure your son's problems. He needs medical help. However, it might be possible if this teacher would allow your son to come over and interact with the dog and see what happens. If its done on a regular basis it may help - but it won't be in your possession.

If its a positive thing and you are sure you can trust him around animals and not hurt them, then make it a goal of when you could adopt a dog. But your son would have to earn the privledge of a dog. Demanding one is NOT the way.

Ditto that!
post #9 of 20
I work at an elementary school. Along with our average kids, we have an autistic unit. We also have children with emotional disorders and some with bi-polar disorders. We have several that have not yet been diagnosed, but have been identified and are in the process of diagnosis - it can be that the diagnosis is that the behavior is within the normal range for a child that age.

Does your school district offer parenting classes? They are a wonderful resource. It may simply confirm that you are handling everything correctly or you may get a hint that can make huge improvements in your life. Even though my children were never diagnosed with ADHD (I still think my middle child has it), I learned some wonderful organizational tips to pass along to my kids which made it easier for them. I also learned how to defuse some situations - and it worked!

Google community resources in your county. I bet there are some you would benefit from if you knew they were there.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ok I just called and the soonest appt I can get him in is the 4th. I explain the situation and they are concerned they are going to see if anyone can switch appts so that he can be seen this Friday. She said that might not happen but at least I know he can be seen on the 4th.
post #11 of 20
Since are son is bi-polar, I can offer some insight. Ben is now 13. Since childhood, there was always something a little bit different about him. That became more obvious when he was in school. When he was about 7, we took him to psychologist after our doctor's advice.
Ben's behavior got worse, around 4th grade. We were reluctant to get a psychiatrist.
In 5th grade, he had his first of 3 major psychotic events and we had to put him in the child's psych ward. He had to have a psychiatrist before he left. In 6th grade, he missed 55 days of school. He had school counselors and psychologists and his own psychiatrist. Our school district finally recommended him for a special school run by our county.
Ben has made so much progress in this school. All the kids have behavioral issues. Because it is the county, he gets a school psychologist, case worker, a psychiatrist and a free bus. He even got a perfect attendance award. The best part for us is that the other parents are having similar problems with their child.
All that being said, here is be my advice:

1) Go to the pediatrician first. She or he can talk to your son and you and see if he needs to get medical testing. Ask the pediatrician for a recommendations for a child psychologist near you. Hopefully, you will get more than 1 referral. Interview them.
2) Find out what community resources are available. Sometimes there are free programs and others that have a minimal fee. Ben saw a psychologist at a local university who did not charge much because she was an intern. The EAP recommendation above is a good idea, too.
3) Look for a local support group of parents with children with behavioral issues. They are great.
4) Avoid going to a psychiatrist right now. The reason I say to avoid them is that she or he probably put your son on drugs and 6 is very young for that. It is hard to diagnose what his problems may be at this age.If your son starts to physically hurt himself or others, talk to your doctor and/or psychologist. If he says he wants to die or kill himself, immediately check him into an emergency room or a child's psych ward. That is advice from his doctors.

All of that being said, please don't get your son a dog. It was terrible for the teacher to send those pictures. Express your displeasure at her behavior and tell her that a dog is out of the question. You are the one your son asks for a dog. Saying no is what makes him lash out verbally to you.

Many for you and your son.

You can PM me any time.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by kimkats000 View Post
Having a dog of his own will not stop his behaviors. BAD teacher for sending the note with the pics. She has NO right to try to "force" the dog issue. Maybe you can work out a plan where he can "help" with a dog IF he controls his behavior at home and at school. It really sounds like he is trying to get his way by being "bad".

I am a Kindergarten teacher and have seen/heard how kids "work" their parents. You should hear what they tell each other on how they get their way at home. They KNOW what they are doing and PLAN it! "If I scream while we are shopping for new clothes she will get me a new toy."

Good Luck! Hang tough and you will all win in the end.

Kim


My son is 6 an lemme tell ya.... This kid will do or say ANYTHING to get his way
Ping, all of the things you say he does, my son does it too... It's the age and it's normal
post #13 of 20
I would say that your son might benefit from a therapy dog, but I would try to find out before you get a dog. See if you can find anyone with a friendly, calm dog who would be willing to visit with you and your son. Watch him during and after the visits and see if/how his behavior changes. I do animal-assisted therapy with my dog, and there are programs in our organization where the dogs and handlers work with children or adults with emotional or behavioral issues, sensory processing difficulties, communication or behavioral disorders.

If you do decide to get a dog, I would suggest you consider a very tolerant adult dog who is known to be good with kids, preferably a calm and laid-back dog. There are breed rescue groups out there for most breeds.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dixie_Darlin View Post


My son is 6 an lemme tell ya.... This kid will do or say ANYTHING to get his way
Ping, all of the things you say he does, my son does it too... It's the age and it's normal
Maybe some of what he does may be normal (tho I never had these problems with our oldest) but I hardly think its normal for a child (of any age) to tell his parent he is going to kill them.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ping View Post
Maybe some of what he does may be normal (tho I never had these problems with our oldest) but I hardly think its normal for a child (of any age) to tell his parent he is going to kill them.
Actually, it is

You have to think about it. When a child is mad at you he thinks of the worse possible thing to say that will hurt you the most. "I hate you" doesn't hurt anymore. They know that we know, they don't mean it and that it "just doesn't work anymore"
There are a couple things you can do when he says it:

A. Ignore It! He wants attention.. Good or bad, it's attention either way.

B. Look him dead in the face and say "I'm sorry you feel that way. But if we get a dog, we will lose our home. Which means you would lose your bedroom, your toys and all the things you like in here." Then ask him how he would feel if that happened?
If he says he doesn't care, Take away some of his favorite toys or deny him some of his favorite activities.

You'd be really suprised at how much a 6 year old does understand.

He's only saying this because he thinks by you getting him a dog it will show you feel guilty for him "hating" you.

It's called a guilt trip Little kids and mother's are pro's at it
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom of 4 View Post
...Talk to the school counselor to see what community resources are available. We have some that are free and some that charge based on income. Check your insurance plan, some offer a set number of free counselling visits under an Employee Assistance Plan. some limit the number of visits during a year.

The first step, however, is a good physical to rule out any physical cause for the behavior. This may include an EEG to rule out seizures and a brain scan to rule out any physical abnormalities. Chemisties to rule out diabetes or hormone issues (such as cortisone). Then move onto a psychiatrist and then counseling. Though it will take longer to go in this order, you decrease the risk of an incorrect diagnosis and a delay in getting the correct help.

Good luck and hang in there. Kudos for recognizing he needs help and getting it for him.
Excellent advice there! But I also agree with someone who said not to let a psychiatrist put him on drugs at this age.

I do think that kids have an uncanny way of knowing what they need... and if he needs a dog who will listen when he needs to talk about his day, that's probably not a bad thing at all. But since you can't really have a dog... is it possible that the nearest no-kill shelter might let you and your son come by and walk dogs a couple of times a week?

I know he's too young to volunteer himself, but if they understood the situation, they might let you volunteer and bring him come along. It could be good for your son and good for the shelter, too. There are never enough dog walkers!
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ping View Post
This is something that has been on my mind. My middle son has some behavior issues. We have had doctors say it was ADHD, ODD, and now we are about to go back to the doctors again to try and pin point what is really going on with him.

For the past about 3 months his behavior has gotten worse. Around Christmas or 1st of the year he started telling us and the school he wants a dog around the home. Well I am not really suppose to have pets here so I had to tell him we can't for the moment. And thats when the behavior got worse. Lets put it this way last week a teacher set a note home to me with pictures that she had some puppies (cute ones btw) that she was finding homes for and we could have one. So I was trying to explain to my son why we could not have one. Well my 6 year old son said he was going to kill me (yes he said kill me) over this issue.

Now my question is could a therapy dog really help his problems? IF so what process do I need to go through to find out if this will help him? I do know someone personally with a litter of puppies at the moment. And I was thinking about taking him over there every afternoon (till puppies go to new homes) and see if it helps the problems. If it does not help no harm no foul and he got to be around puppies. But what if it does but things get bad again once the pups go to their new homes.

Can anyone give me some insight.
Your son said he will kill you if you don't get him dog, so then you get him a dog, no way. That will teach him the wrong thing. What will he say when he wants something else, wants grow with age.
The dog is not the answer to your problems. Sorry. Shame on the teacher for trying to go above you and coerce you. You are the parent. You set the rules for your home. And if you get caught having a pet, you might lose your place, and the dog. And what if the pet dies? And some dogs can be too much to handle so research a new addition wisely.

Therapy dogs are certified dogs, not just any puppy. http://www.tdi-dog.org/
post #18 of 20
Incidentally, I work as a psychodiagnostician. The behavior you describe sounds like childhood onset bipolar disorder, which a few others have mentioned. Of course, your child should receive a thorough assessment to confirm a diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment. A lot of people confuse ADHD and Bipolar; however, it is possible to exhibit both conditions. Bipolar is also typically confused with ODD, which I never use as a diagnosis.

I don't think a therapy dog will help your son in the long-term. It may make him happy for a short time but it will not alleviate the negative behavior. He may require psychotropic intervention (meds) if necessary.

I definitely recommend that you find a psychologist that specializes in psychological testing, who can conduct a full battery. This is the type of work that I do and the results from testing will be passed onto a psychiatrist or therapist who will provide treatment. I have seen many misdiagnoses from pediatricians because they lack the adequate psychological training to make an accurate diagnosis.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by cococat View Post
Your son said he will kill you if you don't get him dog, so then you get him a dog, no way...
A dog is not going to solve your problems. You've already received great advice so I'm just going to say good luck and I hope you can get the right help for your son.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SwampWitch View Post
A dog is not going to solve your problems. You've already received great advice so I'm just going to say good luck and I hope you can get the right help for your son.
Yes, a therapy can be a good supplement to treatment in the right context. However, it won't help alleviate symptoms in the long-run.
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