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

  1. daisy says:

    Wow. I have a 5 year old who displays almost exactly all these behaviors. I have a 3 year old as well and he copies his brother at the most inopportune times like in public. I cannot go grocery shopping or anywhere actually with them because only 5 min or less after being inside a store my 5 yr old out of nowhere will grab something off the shelves throw it at me then run. Most times because i cant find him and everyone in the store is staring at me when im yelling his name fighting back tears, i resort to yelling bye then standing just by or outside the doors so he will come. Most onlookers give me bad looks and even threaten to call child protective services on me (some have!) I have been kicked out of stores when he was only 3 because he was out of control. Their father has been absent for their entire lives up until this past year. I let them see him and eventually started letting him take them overnights and then weekends. Then their dad and his girlfriend called cops and cps on me one day because i couldnt be at my house on their demand cuz they wanted to drop them off. They ended up obtaining a emergency court order to take my boys and kept them from me for a whole month until i finally was able to afford the response and take them to court for parent alienation among other things (a child in their home was inappropriately “playing” with my boys when they were left alone with her). Anyway judge ordered my kids immediately returned home to me and their dad not to get any contact with them until further court order or mediation and that he had abused the court process and was harmful to our boys. So since theyve been home over a month now, my 5 yr old says things like “youre not my mother, your a bitch daisy. C****** is my step mother” and “fuck you bitch im going to call the police on you bat” etc etc terrible things to hear my boys say to me. They had a problem with f u. And the b word for a short time that good old fashioned soap and everyone practicing watching language and showing nice verbal around them helped stop. But since being back especially my 5 yr old is out of control and im the bad guy. I end up sobbing. Strangers have had to return him to me from him running so far off and down the busy streets impossible for me to chase him.down with having a 3yr old in the car or house etc. I am positive dhs will take them if i try any inpatient or hospital intervention and their dad is just waiting to discredit me more with lies so my son being out of control only works in his favor. I want to get them into play therapy for the abuse they suffered by the child at their dads but because the stste health plan dropped us all last year without notifying me i cannot afford to pay it and having hard time getting help getting back on health care. My house is disgusting because of them throwing everything and anything on the ground and i cant clean (at least not when theyre awake) because they dump out their drinks or the milk one time i caught my son peeing on the floor. Im almost at my wits end. Im tired of being so depressed and hopeless alone and exhausted. Im tired of crying everyday or every outburst they have.

  2. Kim says:

    I have an 8 yr old girl who writes on walls says she’s gonna burn the house down and tried once attempted to kill my two miniature dachshund no amount of time outs help I have resorted to taking trick or treating away and now Christmas she don’t care she writes on and rips her expensive clothes from high end stores I had her in gymnastics dance tumbling etc. Didn’t help I home school her because in kindergarten she was stealing from students and teachers and caught her smoking so I thought she needs to be removed from public until she can be trusted she’s doing good with homeschooling reading 5th grade work and taking Spanish at 8 yrs old which they don’t allow until older but she reads so well they let her take it last yr already. I have to sit right next to her or she won’t do the work. In school they wouldn’t sit with her and I’m trying to teach independence not dependence. She is cruel to her siblings and cracked her newborn sister across the face. She’s getting worse every day. Threatens to kill herself and when u ask y she does stuff she just gives u a blank stare. She has also made up lies telling people we kick her in the head and but which is ridiculous. She doesn’t have a father cuz he’s in prison til she’s a grandma for raping his sister. I’m worried this may be genetic on his side

  3. tammy says:

    I have my granddaughter living with me I am beside my self don’t know what to do she refuses to go to school she don’t care about nothing the school has her doing her school work in the car at the school me an my fiance are setting in the car waiting for third period to start they are going to bring her school work out to the car till the hole day of school is done

  4. Kathy says:

    Hey I just admitted my 7 year old into a mental institution today, it was extremely painful and mentally disturbing at the same time to have to actually go forth with him being admitted. He constantly has anger issues at school and threatened to kill his self. He bangs his head off of things and says he likes to hurt himself. It is depressing to have to watch your own child go through so much mental issues and pain within themselves. They are so little so it’s hard to get a good reason as to why from them. All I can say as a mother of two and him being the eldest is to get them the help they need no matter how hard it may seem as a mother. It hurts your hurt and soul to watch them go through all the pain they are experiencing which leads to them actin out so aggressively. I haven’t went to sleep yet i am up and praying everything is going well in the institution. I pray God wraps his arms around my baby and keep him covered and safe through the night. Tomorrow he will start therapy and begin to get the help he needs. I prolonged him being admitted for so long but as time went by I noticed he needs the help so I have to do what’s right for him not me. I just can’t help him get through whatever it is he is experiencing in his head. Please say a prayer for my family. I will do the same for everyone on this site. In conclusion if your little one is acting out and displays any sign that there is a problem mentally or emotionally my opinion is seek all the help you can while they are young. The only thing going through my mind as of right now is my baby getting better. Watching him melt down with frustration and confusion from anger destroys me daily. Hearing from the school almost everyday gives me severe anxiety and depression. I’m also going to get family counseling so we can all work together to fix the problem! Good luck to you all

  5. Sharon ypma says:

    Were can i take my son who 6 to get treatment his behavior is out of control, at school he been so bad hitting other students , call them name running around the room at schools, im getting call every other day on his behavior!

  6. Jenny Hontz says:

    Please help we have s soon to be a 11 year old boy that is disrespectful he lies steals he is behind in school will not listen to me or his father he has a eating disorder need to find a long-term place to put him he also has been mean to his little brother that is 11 months old

  7. Claurina Madini Mokone says:

    I have an adult son who is a psych, I have nothing in the house today because of him, he keeps breaking everything i buy, he took off Electric box, broke windows, doors do not have locks now, I have to close my bedroom with a wallunit , so that I can sleep, the problem is that I am not home always, I work as a house mother for THE PINES CHRISTIAN CHILDREN CARE CENTER, leaving in for 21 days in a month, he is on his own all the time, sometimes he became abusive to others people, he is a danger to himself and community, I have looked everywhere for help but I am struggling, its hard being a single mother and facing that kind of situation

  8. Tammy Roberts says:

    I would like more information on the institution. My 6 year old granddaughter lives with me and school is a huge struggle, tearing up the classroom, not interested in learning, now starting to hurt classmates and teachers.

  9. Elaine says:

    Reading all of your stories I felt compelled to respond. There is so much help available not going down the institution route. In the schools, if your child is on an IEP, you can request that a behavior therapist attend school with your child. If your child is hurting other children this makes for a perfect candidate. The school district pays for the therapist. The therapist teaches the child how to deal with the school situation and even helps them make friends. This intern gives your child 40 hours a week of therapy. Also there are behavior companies that come to the home making an additional of 15 hours a week of therapy. These behavior companies teach children as well as parents how to behave through a science called applied behavior analysis which changes even the worst of behaviors (i.e. hitting,punching, kicking, screaming, biting) like magic. Also, have you thought that any of your children perhaps have autism? Autism is a neurological disorder with social and behavioral deficits. Most of these stories sound like a misdiagnosis to me. Autistic children vary so the only part of the autism you will be able to see will be these behaviors you are describing. Seeing a Dr. who specializes in autism is imperative. Many tests have to be performed to get a diagnosis. Good luck. My prayers and good vibes are with you all.

    Anyway, I wish you all the best.

  10. Angela says:

    Elaine, where is all this help available?? We’ve gotten nothing but total crap from the school systems each time we’ve tried. My daughter’s spent most of her life in online school (and still has trouble) because of obvious but untreated bipolar disorder. At each school, I fought for most of the year just to get her on a 504. They said no to an IEP. They treat her (and me) like crap and constantly tell me she’s making her issues up (physical and mental health). The first time we were in Becca court was 3rd grade! I brought the judge a stack of medical records and copies of the notes I’d had sent to the school, and he excused every single absence, and said now what about the tardies? I said, “those were days that my child was non-responsive after hours of me trying to wake her and I finally physically put her through the entire morning routine, carried her into the school, dropped her off at the breakfast table with breakfast set up, and walked away because there was nothing what I could do”. He gave me paperwork to sign saying we’d do better and told me to get her some help. She’s 14 now and we STILL can’t get help! I finally found a sliding scale child psychiatrist (the dshs ones were refusing to work with her)… hopefully that works out…
    But the school system?? I just don’t see it happening…

  11. Stacy Libengood says:

    Both my sons nee help, but the youngest more so than the older one … yet older only by 10 months & 3 weeks.. so Irish twins is what I have.. I am absolutely so overwhelmed with their behavior that I can not live a normal life at all.. Noone in my home does & it’s just the 3 of us. The foul laugage, the hitting the screaming, Smashig all & anything.. they see no limits to what they are capable of, I work at a very High quality Child Care Center, I initially took the job to have care for them as well as employment, that was almost 8 years ago… now my boys are 8 & 9 … I do t k ow where to turn.. they start immediately as son as they see me when they enter the Child care ceter from the school bus & see me, I try so hard to be MIA bUT can’t stay hidden In the building for to long as we all move around & do bathroom breaks with the kids.. ect!! & that is jumping way ahead, I can hardly get them out the door in the morning to get on the bus, I mostly drive them which makes me late for work at least 3 times a week for work. I know that I am blessed with my job being so understanding, but I am falling apart. .. I can’t wait every single day to get them home but before I even get the 1 mile to our home I am already crazy with their actions.. the punchig, kicking, awful swear words… I will some day most likely have a car accident… right now it’s Friday night.. they just ran away to their dad’s / grandmas house.. it’s 4 blocks away but it’s crossing a large main st…the father has no visitation order, pays no support & I don’t push anything on the man, he is still like a kid himself but honestly I need the break if they do keep them for awhile. I could write a very large boom about my kids & it would probably never eND if I listed how they blame me for the way they fight & the names that they call me, the $$ that I speND on them cuz they promise to gain respect to me if I get them what they ask for… it never happened yet!!! I am so lost anymore , they only show this behavior at ho.e or to the family so their bebavior assessment”s came out not deemed at this time for care, it Made me look like I was crazy, if I don’tget some help soon I may just admit myself some where & let their father see what this is like!!

  12. Stephanie says:

    First of all, my heart goes out to all of you. I know what you are going through. My son started off with a 504 in the 4th grade. They wouldn’t give him an IEP until 8th grade. You have to fight, fight, fight!!! The schools here are some crap as well. My 16 year old son was diagnosed with Bipolar, depression and anxiety in August and it has been hell ever since. We have gone through 4 ER visits and 3 psychiatric hospitalizations. As I write this, we are in the midst of the 5th ER visit and waiting for placement for a psychiatric hospital. At this point, no psych hospital will accept him even the three previous hospitals will not accept him. I know how it feels to be called names, lied on to law enforcement, calls from school, the aggression, the violence, the holes in the walls, the kicked in doors, the school refusal, etc. You are doing everything you can to help your child but you are out there fighting by yourself. I even have a family member who has no children that tells me that my son can change this behavior! Yesterday my child struck me several times for the first time. I got law enforcement involved after fighting this fight alone since August. It broke my heart but I had to file charges. Because I have developed anxiety because of all of this, I had to call CPS because I cannot have him back in my home. The one thing you all have to remember is that no matter how much you love your children, you have to take care of yourself. I never heeded that advice until yesterday. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your child but sometimes that is the ONLY way to get your child help. I don’t want another school shooting, night club shooting or Army base shooting. I could not live with myself if my son was responsible for something like that. My son has made threats of violence against people and this FORCES the courts to help my son. It is sad that it had to come to this but sometimes it gets bigger than you. Stay strong.

  13. Janeta says:

    I have a 4 year old son who displays terrible behavior. He was kicked out of daycare for hitting other kids. He threatens to kill his self. He threw a marble candle holder at me it hit the back of my head. I hv tried to find a mental institution in my area that will accept a 4 year old. Can anyone help me? I live in New Castle, In.

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