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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.

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

  1. Toni J says:

    Yes it is very hard to deal with these issues.. and it looks like you may need to track down some resources as it is not easy to get the right resources.. I would start with an assessment clinic that also does evaluations..Only because i have dealt with some of the same issues.. I know that some clinics will just hold the child in limbo.. Too long with therapy that is not working.. and suspect it is for the insurance. removing visitation while dealing with the crisis and in the meantime I would use some play therapy at home to allow him to express anything he wants to say without taking it personally.. Just remembering he is young and only feels hurt therefor taking it out on everyone.. He has to be able to express it at some point

  2. tonia says:

    Hello. I have a 6 year old little girl who has ADHD, ODD, and possibly autism on the spectrum, I am waiting on results. I am struggling because she is sweet child who has frequent angry outbursts that are getting violent. I was told by her doctor to take her to the hospital but I don’t know if I should because the tantrum may stop by the time I get her there,. So I guess my question is when do I take her and does she have to be in the middle of an outburst in order to go. I live in Ohio. Thank you

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