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Admitting a Child to Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment: A Parent’s Perspective

Four years ago, I admitted my then-six-year-old son to an inpatient psychiatric hospital. Much has changed in four years, but reading my thoughts from the time brings it all back. It’s an experience I wouldn’t wish on any parent; one I hope I never have to live again.

From my personal blog, January 2008:

11I have a call in to a local children’s psychiatric hospital about admitting Bob on the acute-care unit in the very near future.

Things have been getting worse over the past couple of weeks. The last time I picked him up from (his father’s), he was a snarling, angry, hateful little boy who kept talking about his dad going to jail and it being my fault, and he was going to hit me in the stomach for it. He started repeating the same annoying sound over and over again and when I asked him to stop, he gave me a mean laugh and said “daddy told me to do that.” And so on and so forth.

The weekend was rough. He spent a good part of it in time out for one transgression or another. He frequently growled and yelled “I hate the world!” and “I hate all humans!” and “all mommies should shut up and go away!”

Yesterday, the principal called at noon. Bob was being suspended for the day. When I got there, he was pacing the office like a caged animal. He refused to come with me. It took both of us to remove him from school and get him into my car. I then had to physically hold him in his seat for 45 minutes to keep him from getting out and running off. He kicked me, tried to bite me, and slapped me (hard) across the face. I took him to my office where he snarled at me until (husband) came to take him home.

21Today, he said he was ready to go back to school. We met with the principal and he apologized and said he was ready to do better. I emailed his teacher around 1:00 and found out today hasn’t been much better, and the other kids in his class are becoming afraid of him. I suggested he not go to art class (he doesn’t like the teacher) and got a reply back that he’d slapped another kid and was back in the office, and wouldn’t likely be going to art.

I don’t know what to do. Therapy hasn’t helped. The courts haven’t helped. Psychiatry hasn’t helped, because you can’t spend 10 minutes a month asking a 6-year-old how he feels and expect to get the whole picture. There’s only so much I can do, because in Bob’s mind, I’m the problem. And he cannot go on this way.

Which is why I made the call.

The thought of taking my baby somewhere and leaving him, even if only for an overnight or a few days…Jesus. It’s killing me.

96 thoughts on “Admitting a Child to Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment: A Parent’s Perspective”

  1. To my perspective childhood exhibits intrigued and difficult period of psychological development of person. So, it is very hard and challenged deed to parents to grow up and to bring up their children in healthy and appropriate way. Each mental and conduct disorder of this age indicate disturbing issue for parents, that should manage as soon as possible. There are many option and psychiatric approaching to treat any child mental pathology, but the main ones are inpatient and outpatient ward. Your bad experience with your six old child after inpatient psychiatric treatment isn’t the main reason to disfavour course of the respective conduct disorder. There are many biopsychosocial implications to mental and conduct problems through fragile and subtle childhood period. Crucial standpoint is to understand and accept that it isn’t your fault that you decided to admit your child in psychiatric hospital. I understand your concern about this amiss course of your child’s misconduct, but the psychological development is complex and still not proved issue. My opinion to this misfortune epilogue is to look forward and don’t accuse any acting on the past time, like inpatient treatment of your unfortunate child.

  2. Im 12 years old. An a girl. My mom threatens to send me to mental hospitals thinking its gonna get me to stop yelling or being ” mean” to her. But don’t most kids my age go threw that stage if anger. Depression. Because its puberty? My mom has ADD and a bipolar disorder. My dad is dieting slowly because his lungs or ssomething (I try not to get involed it makes me sad) and I dot have any mental or health problems. I have A’s and B’s in school. But a few days ago I was at my best friends house. And my dad couldn’t find her house and was getting really mad. And when I got iintothe car he was so pissed stetted yelling at me and taking it out in me. Making up so many thinks it blame on me to make himself feel better. I just sat their like… Holding my tears and anger in. But after I got home I was so mad. I couldnt keep my anger in because of the car ride. I blew up. Went off total bitch mode on my mom. And my mom having the bipolar thing she gets ticked easy and then I went to the bathroom to cry and I had to pee and this WA alike 5 minutes after everything was over and my mom knocked and said. ” anyone in here” I said ” yeah” and she was like ” ANYONE IN HERE” and I was like” YEAH” and then when I got out she said ” your grounded” so I said ” okay” and turned around to my room and she said ” DID YOU HEAR ME I SAID YOUR GROUNDED ” and get ticked easy also so I said ” I SAID OKAY!!!” and of course I was got yelled at then this guy vie never seen before came up behind my mom and said ” if you don’t stop Im gonna hit you” so I just shut up and I am only child so I don’t have anyone to stick up for me. And so my dad said ” maybe we should just send her to whites institue so she learns discipline because Im sick in tired if hearing a 12 year old talk to her mother like that or maybe I should put the belt to her ass maybe then she will learn. ” so I tried to stand up and tell what actually happened. that’s why I get into trouble so much. Because I try to stick up for my self and I can’t when their are 3 adults and then me. And I do nothing wrong. I feel like my parents are right maybe I should be put into a mental hospiand or a boot camp. Then come back home and be a total different person and then watch them wish they never put me in one. I don’t know. Am I even doing anything wrong? Are my parents right?

    1. I wish I could take you in☺My name is Ashley and im 28,im married with 3 beautiful little girls,I’ve given birth 7 times total. My family would take you in with no question asked.I went through alot of the same things as you☺Good Luck sweet heart ☺

    2. Summer, it is unfortunate that we as busy adults do not take the time to listen to our children. I am a therapist and see so many children in my office because they have conflict at home. 9 out 10 cases, it is a communication issue between parent and child, which escalates when parents attends session. I am sorry that your words and feelings are not being valued. My advice to you would be to continue to work hard in school, reduce conflict by listening to your parents and based on previous incidents respond accordingly (keeping mindful not to escalate your tone). Seek help from guidance or school counselor should you need to vent.

  3. I have two adopted boys from foster that were abused and neglected. Since they were 4 and 5 both have exhibited rages, violent behavior toward others and themselves . Destruction of the house and I suffered a lot of verbal abuse. I had them seeing therapists every week psychiatrists . Both were on medications to try to manage their moods. The school psychologist would see them as well as I would get the calls from the principal. From the beginning I was very vocal at all the IEP meetings ( and make sure you have an independent education program !!!). They kept saying that they are doing okay in school etc etc. this is the important part! IT IS FEDERAL LAW that ALL CHILDREN are given a FREE and APPROPRIATE education !!! So when another episode happened where he tried to hurt his sister ) I took him to ER and they admitted him to a psych hospital . Best thing I ever did! Because they helped his meds get adjusted but more importantly because he is at risk for harming others and now they get how mentally ill he is ,the school district could not have him attend a public school that does not have the supports he needs ( small classes, an aid, therapists avail) . The classes in public school were not appropriate for him!! So I told them they have to find an appropriate place ! They did! They found a great therapeutic treatment non public school ! He lives there. He lives in a highly structured environment that can maintain the positive reinforcement and daily intensive behavioral program and schooling) And I don’t pay a thing ! ( it’s more then 100,000 a year) . So my advice is even though it’s difficult take your child to er! Stop the suffering and dysfunction in the family! Get a letter from your paychiatrist stating your child needs to be in an intensive therapeutic program because he is a danger to himself or others. Call for a meeting with the head of your special needs program. The fact that you are picking up your child from principals office for attacking another kid means that the public school is not an appropriate environment for your child to be able to learn and get an education . The school will just suspend or call you for pick up and act like its yours not their problem. WRONG! Most parents just don’t know this law!!!!!i hope this helps!! You have to be very assertive for your child’s rights. There comes a point as a parent where you have to realize that you are just not helping them anymore .

  4. We recently found out my husband is DEFINITELY bi-polar with hallucinations and paranoia. He has gone manic 7-9 times in the past 10 mths and it lasted for weeks. I am now familiar with the mental health system. I never put my husband in the hospital but I wished I had, he really needed it. They are to sick to realize It. When he finally came around he went to out patient therapy M-F 9-12p for 3 months. He is doing good, no meds

    My sister has been going thru Similar issues with my nephew(16) And he is way bigger than her the doctors keep saying he is
    bi-polar. He is on meds but still having several issues? and he has not spent more then a few days in the mental unit. I don’t think they should diagnose him by what my sister and nephew are saying. but what they see themselves. Getting a diagnosis requires doctor or therapist to see your child more than 1x or 2x. Over medicating the patient WILL send them manic and unfortunately I think that has been and continues to be a problem. Find a good out patient therapy for adolescents. If they can be seen everyday for therapy but at least 3x a week And parents let’s keep it real just because they have issues does not mean stop parenting, and unfortunately I see that a lot.

  5. Trying to keep it together tonight my ex-husband and I or possibly admitting my daughter a nine year old into a pediatric psychiatric ward in New Jersey she has been diagnosed with ADHD ASD SPD and possible bipolar disorder. The past 2 months her behaviour has changed dramatically violent outburst hearing noises screaming being violent towards me and her little sister she refused to go to school for the last two weeks of school and I have taken a leave of absence from work since June. It’s her mood swings that are the scariest we’ll be laughing and having fun one second before you know it she’s kicking me with all her might saying that she can’t take it and she needs help and I’m not doing anything to help her she goes into violent rages and attacks her sister and when I screamed for her to stop it’s like she doesn’t even hear me then she tells me that she doesn’t remember even hurting her. She is currently taking Abilify she was taking quillivant for two years but I suggested taking her off it due to the fact that it’s a stimulant and she may have a bipolar diagnosis my heart is breaking tonight thinking about having to leave her and it’s killing me but two psychiatrists and others have told me that they feel that she needs more than just outpatient services and that I have to keep in mind that time doing this for her best interest but it doesn’t seem to help my broken heart

  6. Don’t emit him, and don’t put him on meds, try to explain the situation, I was one of those kids, therapists load of meds I was a zombie I wanted to die, my mother abused me for 6 years with my new born sister *6 years old now* and now I’m a wreck, I am suicidal, I can’t feel most emotions, I live in the hood I fight AL the time I’m a social outcast at scool and I laugh at death

  7. Hi. My daughter is 11yrs old and has been baker acted in the last month twice for anger, rage, homicidal thoights about killing her family and hearing voices. The doctors don’t believe it is schizophrenia but are saying she has a major mood disorder, conduct, disorder, conversion disorder, major abandonment issues and borderline multiple personality disorder BMPD. I suffer myself from BMPD and depression. I have felt so alone the past year and like I have failed as a parent. Reading other peoples experiences helps because I know I am not alone. I am looking for inpatient residential treatment but am skeptical. My 9 year old son had to move out and is now living with my father because my daughter hurts him and has actually strangled him. The doctor actually told me he is worried she is going to snap and act out on her plan of killing everyone in the household. I am a mental mess and. I am looking for guidance on how to keep my own sanity not only for my daughter but for my son who is only 9 and his life has been turned upside down. Please how do you parents cope with this craziness?? She has been in outpatient counseling for a year and it is only getting worse!! Please help!! Are there any support groups in Florida Pasco county or Pinellas County? I am glad to know I am not alone but I feel like it. I had so many hopes and dreams for my daughter but those are slowly dwindling. She had to be pulled out of 6th grade and I can only hope she will not be retained any more grades due to her extreme mental issues. For those who have found the light at the end of the tunnel please offer advice!!! I have no where else to turn.

  8. Hi, I have a 5 yr old son that has autism, cant seperate fantasy vs. reality (thinks that power rangers and transformers are real, things hes a good guy everyone else is a bad guy), is aggressive in school home, on 1mg Risperdone. Has hit his teachers, smashed kids heads in chairs, etc.. there are 2 years of documented behavior from school, this is going on daily. Home life is the same. I am at my wits end when he told my husband he wanted to kill him. During this event he was calm and was not having an outburst. Leading up to this there has been comments of “mommy i want to punch you”, “mommy i am going to hit you” that are un provoked, and “i like to make brother hurt”. I told his psychatrist office this over the phone and said that i have to take him to a hospital to get a psch eval. Im scared to take him , because I know they will find something. What do i Do?

  9. Martha Johnson, your son, and your family are blessed. Your story is one of the best ones out there and it gives us hope.
    In my world, my son’s school was not the best for him and because of his autism, he has a tendency to mimic the other student’s negative behavior. My son is also seeking for friendship and attention the best way he knows how and those crucial years (between 8-12) can really shape a child’s social world.
    Right now, we are facing much troubles with our 13 year old because he has become more violent (at puberty, he sort of realized he was stronger ) towards all family members. I have tried to enroll him in various programs but one way or another, it does not work out.
    My son takes medication however, I believe these somehow suppress his real emotions and these burst out later on, when they wear off. My son is very intelligent, however, his interpretation of the world, of people can be very different and difficult to deal with.
    We continue to work on communication with him as it is apparent, these children can become very manipulative.
    A prayer for all the families out there going through difficult times, I hope your children will find the help they need.

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