Torn... Should I send my 6yr old to residential care?

Willow - posted on 02/15/2014 ( 1 mom has responded )




I'm struggling with the decision to send my 6yr old son to residential care. To make a long story short, he started having issues at age 2. Of course he was so young that the damage from his behavior was minimal and everyone just said he will grow out of it. But he didn't. As a matter a fact the bigger he got the tantrums followed. From age 1-3 he was in a private daycare where he was an "angel" so she said. Of course no one who had immediate interaction with him could believe it. His energy was through the roof and violence was a way of life. He would throw things, hit everyone he came in contact with, never listen regardless of the situation or person. His behaviors were risky and impossible to manage.

As a single mother with limited support and a full time, demanding career I was at a loss as to what was causing this behavior. I couldn't take him anywhere in fear of a tantrum occurring and embarrassing public episodes. With his day care provider claiming nothing of the sort I came to the conclusion that the environment was unstructured and ideal for him. We came to this realization (my family and I) because we found that the only time he exploded was when he didn't get his way. As a matter a fact to this day if he is allowed to do as he pleases he will be an angel.

So I removed him from this nanny and placed him in a public daycare hoping this would help. However it blew up in my face. From Jan 2012 (barley 4yrs old) until Oct 2013 he was kicked out of 7 daycare's. I lost a job, 4 nannies, a dog, 2 apartments, and 2 cars as a result of his behavior. He was so violent (throwing chairs, hitting staff and kids, running out of the class and building, swearing spitting, you name it he did it). In Oct he was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD and against my beliefs I started him on medication. This past Nov I was able to get him into public kindergarten. And without fail the behaviors continued. I can't put him into any after school programs nor can I hire any babysitters because they quit within a week. He's significantly behind in almost all areas and the school isn't helping, although he doesn't have any learning disabilities he is allowed to do as he pleases at school because no one wants to deal with the tantrums (nor are they equipped to do so).

So now here I am again, at risk of losing my job and everything that follows (housing, car etc). I found a school that specializes in ADHD and associated disorders and focuses on short term behavior modification in order to integrate the child back into the public system. However I am afraid that with the issues that he has plus severe separation anxiety from me, this will cause permanent emotional damage.

I'm torn, I'm tired of crying because my son cannot have friends, I can't have a relationship and we can't live a normal life. I want to help him not hurt him. Behavior counselors and psychiatrists have all been tried. Anyone have experience with residential care for a child this age?


Rebekah - posted on 02/15/2014




My heart goes out to you. Sounds like its been a very rough time. Is there the option of a day program (partial/outpatient) he can attend before going the step of residential? I don't know if you have services near you called "wrap-around" provides a team of people (behavior specialist, therapeutic support staff, etc) to help guide him and offer you interventions with him. Have you investigated any other options for treatment? He is young to be away from home for an extended period of time... I would wonder about that too... however his behaviors sound extreme. If you've tried everything else and you continue to lose your job/home/etc, then it may be time to try something intense like a residential to get the intervention he needs. I would certainly ask them how they help young children cope with separation from parents (how often is visiting?). You certainly don't want emotional damage from this, however he sounds as though he is hurting emotionally now, not being able to sustain friendships or a stable school placement and seems to be in constant distress. Something needs to change.

As an aside, I'm wondering if he's been diagnosed correctly? At 6, it can be hard to tell, but I'm wondering if you got a second opinion? Are there any relatives that have similar behaviors that might suggest there may be other things developing? Just a thought... meds/treatment may not have worked if his diagnosis may be something else? (and maybe it is on target...just putting it out there as a possibility) Best of luck to you.

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