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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1165
Experience:  Licensed as psychologist and marriage and family therapist
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My 10yo daughter, constantly gets into everything - from food to - well just everything.

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My 10yo daughter, constantly gets into everything - from food to - well just everything. She spreads it all under or behind the furniture, etc. She rarely finishes her meals, so it is NOT hunger. She always she is sorry - but with no feeling. I thought if it is for attention, that I will ignore it, maybe it will go away, nothing changed - EXCEPT she said that since she did not into trouble it must be OK!
She was a drug addicted baby that I brought home from the hosp. @ age 3 days, and adopted. She is exceptionally smart - could figure sq. root at age 5 yrs.!! I home school as public school could not handle what I have to go through. I am concerned for her future. She just takes/steals whatever she wants - with seemingly no thought as to the fact that it is WRONG. "But, I wanted it", is her answer, like that makes it okay!
What can I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. L replied 2 years ago.

Dr Levang :

Hello,

Dr Levang :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr Levang :

It certainly seems that you are at your wit's end and the frustration is mounting.

Dr Levang :

I have a few questions and then a suggestion.

Dr Levang :

What does her pediatrician say about her behavior? Is it linked to ADHD, fetal alcohol syndrome, a spectrum disorder...or what if anything medical.

Dr Levang :

I understand why punishing does help...negative attention rarely makes a difference. And...if there truly is something organic wrong..then no matter what she does she isn't going to be able to talk herself out of it.

Dr Levang :

A cognitive impairement does not seem to be a issue because of how intelligent she is...but has then been checked just in case?

Dr Levang :

A parenting program I highly endorse is called: Parenting with Love and Logic. By Foster Cline and Jim Fay. This program has been around for a long time. They have a wonderful website filled with tips and ideas. The concepts are very easy to implement - very practical - and they work! I encourage you to check this out.

Dr Levang :

I see you are typing. I will wait for your response.

Customer:

She was drug addicted at birth; she has been diagnosed with Bipolar, ODD, and ADHD. She is exceptionally smart. Learns instantly - for academics! But not in this area. So I also have read about kids who have no conscience - is that a possibility? At this rate she will spend her adult life in and out of prison/jail, and that is NOT why I took her at birth! I took her to SAVE her.metimes, I thin k she REALLY DOES NOT KNOW why she does these things!

Dr Levang :

I hear your care and concern for your child. There is a personality type that lacks a conscience. If you wanted to have her tested by a psychologist they could help determine that....at least you would have verification and then could work on interventions that would help.

Customer:

I think I will call tomorrow to check that out, I need to rule out everything I can in an effort to see what is left. Thank you - but - what if that checks out negative?

Dr Levang :

There is a difference between academic intelligence and emotional intelligence...also called EQ. There are several wonderful books on this topic. I would encourage you to get one from your library or read up on line. Often, very bright children lack EQ and can benefit tremendously from therapy or assistance in developing this part of their brain. The very bright child needs stimulation to keep their brain from getting bored. Often these kids need only one or two exposures to new learning and they automatically "get it". Most kids needs many many repeats to get to this stage. So the bright child needs more and more stimulation so that they develop to their potentials. So it is with EQ. The bright child may be lacking in EQ - but with stimulation they will learn how to handle the social world better. Most bright children do not feel they fit in with their peers. And...truly they don't. They understand concepts at such a rapid pace that they have difficulty communicating with their peers. While their peers are off being fascinated with Barbie dolls...they are more interested in the inner workings of the body's organs...you understand what I am saying here.

Dr Levang :

If you determine that she does have a conscience - then the EQ is where I would turn.

Dr Levang :

Because you home school...she may not be getting as much exposure to peer play...that is where she would be practicing EQ. So maybe you get her involved in theatre or sports or something that gets her out there interacting with other kids.

Dr Levang :

Obviously your daugther is unique for multiple reasons. And...absolutely you want her to grow up to be a successful, confident, and accomplished young lady.

Dr Levang :

To get there means that you have great responsibilities to ensure that she gets "fed" in all the ways she needs to. There is a book called "Raising Strong Daughters" that might be something else you want to take a look at. And...absolutely please think about the Love & Logic material...it is the #1 book I recommend for parents.

Dr Levang :

I understand the impulse to punish - to take away toys, privileges, and so forth...

Dr Levang :

But..in my 30 years as a clinical psychologist I have learned over and over that punishment is not the way to shape children. Rather, it is by setting limits and boundaries and by approaching our kids with unconditional love. At this point, there truly could be an organic basis for her behavior. If that is true, then trust that there will be protocols and interventions to address that. If not, and she is a stubborn child whose medical issues make listening and attending more difficult, then a program like Love and Logic will make a huge difference in how you work to manage those impulses.

Customer:

We are involved in 2 "Co-op" classes per week - where the parents teach the classes, so she is in with her peers as well as a few years younger and older kids; we have just joined 4-H and she is taking Golf. I do not want too many ectra activities.

Dr Levang :

It seems you have a reasonable number of outside activities and opportunities for her to blend and mix with others. Great. Good work!

Dr Levang :

Do you feel that you need a break? Like may be a day or two by yourself? I hesitate to ask this...but I am just wondering if the stress is just getting to be way too much at this point.

Customer:

All your suggestions are good, and it is refreshing to hear someone who understands what is gong on and has realistic ideas and suggestions!. Most do not have the faintest clue just HOW serious this is and how important it is to do something positive ASAP! I have been hearing, "Oh, don't worry so much, we have plenty of time." First uttered when she was age 4. Now she is going on 11!!

Dr Levang :

I am glad to help! I assume you have had her IQ tested. Sounds like she would be in the gifted range - right? That's a real challenge for the parents...but so darn rewarding in the end.

Dr Levang :

Their minds are like sponges.

Dr Levang :

I believe that Great Potentials is the on-line bookstore for gifted materials.

Customer:

Stress? Boy oh boy! But at this point I can still think straight, and I have NO one with whom I could leave her. No one knows her like I do, and when she gets up in the middle of the night after only 2-3 hours of sleep - WHO is going to stay up with her??? I have had Doctors look puzzled when I say that - they cannot figure out WHY I have to stay awake, just because SHE is!!!!! Get real, if a child is awake, of course an ADULT must also be awake!

Dr Levang :

Yes..frustrating when professionals lack insight on the very basic things like sleep, eating, daily life skills...

Dr Levang :

What hobbies does your daughter have?

Dr Levang :

I've always found that playing to their hobbies and interests was a good way to strengthen skills.

Customer:

VERY gifted = she was reading on her own at age 3, doing math at age 4 and at age 5 she got hook on SQUARE ROOT! She is currently taking Zoology 3 , LOgic & Reason, and Biology. Not bad for a fourth grader - (age wise). I try to educate horizontally instead of vertically, trying to keep her within a reasonable proximity to her peer group - to help with socialization issues with peers. She needs to finish being a little girl before moving up too fast!

Dr Levang :

Yes...and that task of allowing her to be a little girl is a HUGE challenge. I have found that theatre is a good option in this regard. I don't know if your community has Destination Imagination - a world-wide competition for young kids - but that might be something to check out. You should be able to go on-line and check this out. Highly competitive, highly imaginative, huge dependence on critical thinking skills and improvisation.

Dr Levang :

The thing about the peer group is that academically she is many many steps above them, but emotionally she may be at their mark. Still...kids her age are likely to bore the heck out of her because their vocabulary and thinking skills are so far behind her. But I like what you are doing by exposing her to older, younger, same age...good strategy.

Dr Levang :

I just found the website:

Dr Levang :

It is called: Destination ImagiNation

Customer:

Hobbies - Singing - GIFTED here = we areconstantly fight off the Talent scouts - she is not ready for that part of th world! She has a kitty, 2 dogs, and we live on the edge of town - nothing but fields behind us; 4 H and Golf lessons; and we are having a pool put in - she loves to swim Our yard is a virtual playground - Play houses (3) a tree house is 1/2 way done and swings under many trees. Volley ball net, slide coming out of an elevated playhouse. She even has a special place in the yard where she can DIG to her heart's content. You are right these kids have to be kept BUSY! And that is what I try to do. But they also have to learn that there are times they may have to just sit still and be quiet! That is SO hard!

Dr Levang :

Yes...teaching them to be calm and quiet is difficult...but they do need to rest even if they fear missing all the fun!!

Dr Levang :

You seem to be doing a wonderful job with your daughter! Really remarkable! She is lucky to have such a caring, understanding, and wise mother!

Dr Levang :

I imagine you have already used singing as a basis for rewards - going to concerts, getting her new cds or recordings of her favorite singers - still...you might want to think more about how to "exploit" her love of music and singing as a strategy for behavior modification. It's just a thought...

Customer:

I am sorry that I did not put ,=my age down - I am 70 - 71 in June - inside I am 45 or even 10. I have NO medical problems and take no prescription drugs, and I can ouy run my 10 yold! I can walk farther with less effort than she can - in fact I can do 2 x what most 45 year olds can do, while I am not OLD too many judge me based on my AGE - it is just a NUMBER that says when I arrived on this earth, and I refuse to let it make me old! I owe my child another 40 healthy years, and I am planning on it - Hope God is~~~

Dr Levang :

Wow! You are a remarkable, remarkable woman! Yes you put most folks to shame!! Good for you mom! Absolutely...I hear whining all the time from people of all ages...and, as you say, it is just a number on a piece of paper. Likely there is some truth in that your 10 year keeps you young! It's a wonderful pairing - your wisdom and vitality and her energy for life!

Customer:

I like the idea of MUSIC as a reward. In fact you are the first person with GOOD ideas - most of which I have not tried, but definitely will. Thank you SO much for your time. - Oh yes - this is my 5th adoption and my 9th child total! Not counting 32 foster kids! I am a sucker for kids!

Dr Levang :

And absolutely - 40 more years of good health, a happy and productive life with your child!

Customer:

God bless you for doing what you are doing - I shall go feed my child now - bye!

Dr Levang :

Well...thank goodness someone out there cares about children. I am always reminded of Anna Freud (Papa Freud's daughter) who had a burning desire to ensure that children were well taken care of...she always said, "Who is caring for the children?" Ain't it the truth!

Dr Levang :

Such a delight talking to you! I am glad I could help!

Customer:

So true, SO true! Goodnight!

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1165
Experience: Licensed as psychologist and marriage and family therapist
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