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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71 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

  3. Bob says:

    We have found that it is very helpful to pull out a camera and record the child during their anger tantrums. Let them know that you are doing it so you can share it with people who are going to help them. Seems to calm things down with our foster son and you really do have something to share with professionals if the tantrum continues.

  4. Abby says:

    I’m an emotional wreck tonight. My 6 year old who is extremely smart, funny, silly little boy. However he has extremely bad outburst and is very rough with his brother. We have seen a psychiatrist, psychologist, evaluation after evaluation. He has aspergers. He’s so violent at times of tantrums. Tonight he tried to throw a brick at his brother being only one it scared me to the fullest. Hes calm now and doing well. What should I have done? Do I have to have him admitted? My heart is aching.

  5. christi says:

    hi,I need some help.I know this doesn’t belong in a comment box but I’m desperate.I have a 16 year old boy in 11 grade he’s on resperidone daily .5 mg morning and night.well all of a sudden two days now. he’s weird.sleeping a lot stares at you with a blank look he looks drunk and keeps saying he feels really weak.took him last night to emergency room and they just say he’s dehydrated maybe but seems totally normal.tested his blood ad well and it’s all negative .wat should I do. lost he also keeps scratching his body really bad. plenary someone give me some advice what to do.

  6. Hi Christi,

    I’m the blog manager here as there is no blog author for this blog at the moment.

    I would recommend consulting your psychiatrist (or whomever prescribed the medication) immediately. He may not be reacting well or even having an allergic reaction.

    There are many medications and this may simply not be the best for your son.

    - Natasha Tracy
    - Blog Manager

  7. Eris allen says:

    I need to find to help for 15 yr that alway s in troble and school.and at home
    He trying to make prblem in my life my faimly and boyfriend I put him a bunch behaiver housp and he getting troble with laws for something he always mean to younger bother to I need some ideals where mit can put in housp that keep in more then a mouth and how get something court to place him so he can some help

  8. Tanisha Dimiduk says:

    I read your story and completely understand. My son (now 8) has had some of the same issues hating his family, trying to hurt himself, meds, therapy, & 2 7 day hospital stays only to keep sending him home to continue the behavior. He attempted to kill his 3 year old sister & still nothing. A year & a half of therapy & NO change in behavior & not 1 person can explain y he has anger issues or hate his mfamily. He suffers from depression & no one has done anything to help him. 2 therapists, 2 psychiatrist, 2 Dyfs cases & a case manager & no one has yet to kno anything more or even suggested temporary out of home placement. What can i do?? I believe I’m becoming depressed myself.

  9. Cassi T says:

    My son is 6 and out of control. We havent got to see a psychiatrist yet and its over a month until his initial appointment. I cant go like this another month. My son is abusive towards me and my 10 year old son. He wont try to hurt his dad just destroys the house when he is home. Today alone since school got out(2 hours ago) he has thrown a glass bowl at me and shattered it, hit me with the broom, hit me with a metal flag holder and found a knife saying he was going to kill himself. He threw a pair of scissors at me this morning and threw the phone at my head this morning as well. He has also thrown knives at me in the past… The doctors office suggested we go to the hospital but it scares me that they will keep him. His dad isnt on board with taking him either. We are his parents… We should be able to help him shouldnt we? Im scared of how my child is turning out…

  10. Eris allen says:

    I need some help for my 15 yr boy bramden allen he out of control he been in alot of behavior hosp and meds he been in troble with and school amd home he mean to his 12 yr borther all the amd even my bpyfriemd he has a consherl that see him omce a week he want to be in control of the house and break me up with my boyfriend he also tore my car up I had pay 580$ in the last mouth to get fix he breaks in the house went im amd bring kid un my home without asking he in probtion also does any kmow where in can get help with him amd placed somewhere more then a mouth

  11. Rita says:

    My son was getting aggresive spells as well. I stopped giving him sugar and he got back to almost normal. Sleeping early also helps.

  12. Becky says:

    I have an 8 year old son that was diagnosed with Aspergers Disorder at age 4. The past 4 years have been really rough. He threatens and gets physical with staff and students at school. We had tried everything possible from Psychiatrists to Psycologists, one on one mentoring, in home intensive therapy, A TEECH assessment from UNC Chapel Hill and countless other programs. Nothing had seemed to help. After a serious incident at school we decided that we were going to have to take him to a mental health facility for a assessment before he got charged and got placed there through juvenile court. As much as it broke our hearts, it was one of the best things we have ever done for him. He was admitted for what began as a possible 7-11 day stay for medicine management and daily individual and group therapy with other kids. He was there for 29 days. He had an additional diagnosis of Bipolar disorder while in the hospital. Upon being discharged I felt he was 90% better than he was prior to being admitted. Its now been 8 months since he was in the hospital, he seems to be building an immunity to the medicine and things are getting really bad again, maybe even worse than before so its looking like we will be going back for another assessment. For all the Moms, Dads, Grandparents or guardians who are debating this option in my opinion its worth a shot. As hard as it is on us parents its better to do something now than to wait until they are older and you cant do anything. Hope this helps in some way.

  13. Helen says:

    All the talking on here is good but once again still no help on where to go and what to do to get help for my 16 year old grandson

  14. Christina says:

    I understand. As I write this I am sitting in the ER waiting for a bed in the pediatric unit for the night. Why a regular hospital? Because here in Idaho there is only one option for inpatient treatment for a suicidal 11 year old. That option is three hours away and all 24 beds are full. So we must wait. And if we can’t get a bed in Boise tomorrow we can only hope the University of Utah has one. She needs help and I’m scared she will only fall through the cracks. I don’t want to find her hanging in her closet one day. I fpund out tonight, she has already tried several times, thankfully, unsuccessfully. So here we sit. I’m terrified to let her go, but see no other option. I just pray we can find a bed.

  15. dfghdaf says:

    hi, I am 15 years old… I have anxiety and depression that started when my dad died… I cut myself in the past… I haven’t done it recently… I have voices in my head that tell me whether or not I should hurt myself or someone else… I have before… I have asked my parents for therapy but they don’t believe in therapy… I want help before I hurt someone I love… what do I do?

  16. Hi,

    Please call a hotline as soon as you can as someone there may be able to help you and point you in a better direction. You can find a list of resources and hotlines here:

    - Natasha Tracy
    - Blog Manager

  17. Nacole says:

    My 11 year old daughter is currently in a behavioral hospital for depression and having taught of suicide. She frequently has tantrums and always getting into trouble. They are testing are for disorders (such as Austism).. This is all new to me and I have no idea where to start. I’ve been reading materials about Austism and some of the articles are describing my daughter. She was diagnosed with ADHD at age 7. Now the providers are telling me they think she has a incorrect diagnose. She is a very smart honor roll student. I’m just not sure how to help my baby.

  18. Melanie Holmes says:

    Hi! I am looking for help in the right direction. Long story short my 10year old daughter is very angry disrespectful young lady. Our family has been through a lot this year. I believe some of her issues are due to mine and her father’s mistakes. However she can not continue on the path she is on. She calls me a bitch tells me to shut up says she hates me she wants to kill herself. She says she wishes she had a different family. We currently live with my father. Her father is currently in jail. She is just as disrespectful to my Dad. She tells him to shut up calls him a old man .Tells him he’s country and needs to go back to the country. She tells him she doesn’t have to listen to him because he knows nothing about raising kids.Instead of asking us for something she trys to tell us what we are gonna do. I need help with her. She is now trying vto get physical. I’m afraid she’s gonna get hurt or she’s gonna hurt someone in the house.I would like to find a inpatient program near our town. I love my daughter so very much. I feel like she needs intense inpatient therapy. Can anyone possibly point me in the right direction.

  19. CYNTHIA says:

    Hello all, I am having some of the same challenges as you. My 11 year old son was recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It sound like many of you might be in the same boat. Read “THE BIPOLAR CHILD” by Demitri Paroles, it might shed some insight. Everyone thought my child had a discipline issue… then I read that book. Good luck!

  20. CYNTHIA says:


  21. Sary says:

    Hello, I have a twelve year old daughter that was suspended from school. They said that she had threatened to kill two other students, I talked to her and she said that it was a joke, as of right now I’m trying to get her back in school, the play therapist said that that she is sick, the the therapist wanted to put her in a treatment facility. I don’t want to do that, I just want her to go back to school. Is there a way that I can get help?

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