Children by nature can be frustrating for parents. As they go through various developmental stages, they get disruptive. Life events can make an already fragile teenage mind erupt into chaos.
I guarantee that you are not the first person to think “my son is out of control, where can I send them? You also won’t be the last. I can assure you that you do have options.
We’re going to get through this together. First, we’re going to go over what exactly is disruptive behavior. I’m going to list quite a few of them. Some of them may apply, and some of them may not.
For example, maybe your daughter is violent but is very honest. That still qualifies as disruptive behavior. Then, we’re going to look at some common reasons behind those behaviors.
Last, we’ll go over your options, from options that can take place in the home to ones that do not so that you can make an educated decision about what is best for you and your family.
In this article
- Disruptive Behavior
- Common Causes Of Disruptive Behavior
- Options For Out Of Control Children
- Don’t Forget About Yourself
- In Conclusion
Disruptive behavior can be a lot of different behaviors or only a few behaviors. Typically, the following are classified under the umbrella term “disruptive behavior”:
- Consistent rebellion against authority figures
- Consistent anger
- Breaking or vandalizing things
- Harming themselves, others or animals
- Threatening to harm themselves, others, or animals
- Falling behind in school
- Starting fires
- Abusing illegal substances
- Drinking alcohol
- Throwing temper tantrums
While these will all be classified as disruptive behavior, there are many more behaviors that can also be termed disruptive. Disruptive behavior is any behavior that is disruptive to themselves or others in the home, workplace, or classroom.
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These behaviors are usually seen as rebellion, impulsiveness, socially inappropriate, etc. If you don’t know whether your child’s behavior is disruptive, you can always call your pediatrician and ask them. They won’t mind the phone call.
Common Causes Of Disruptive Behavior
Although these behaviors can be disturbing and unsafe, many of them have common causes behind them. It can provide you with a little bit of relief, and help alleviate some of the common parental guilt, to know why your child is acting out.
Knowing the reason behind why your child has such disruptive behavior can also help you make the best decision for addressing such behavior.
Sudden changes at home or school can result in disruptive behavior. This could be lying, stealing, or throwing temper tantrums. Children often don’t understand what is causing the behavior themselves or realize that they are acting out.
However, it could be a temporary behavior that will subside as they adjust to the change. Common changes that result in disruptive behavior include:
- Divorce or parents separating
- Them no longer seeing a primary caregiver or person they cared deeply about
- Switching schools
- Arguments at home
- Parents or siblings having disruptive behavior
- A new teacher
- Death or loss
Children of all ages thrive when they are in a consistent environment. When children do not have that consistency or a sudden event changes it, it can take them time to adjust.
Often, that adjustment is seen in them acting out. If their behavior is a one time thing, or only happens when there is a significant change, they may have a hard time adjusting.
Conflict tends to resonate more with children than it does adults. It puts them on edge. Most of us assume this only happens with smaller children, but it also happens with teenagers.
They don’t always have the effective communication skills to resolve conflict, and might not realize that it’s what is behind them acting out. If they are arguing with friends, family, or even just neighborhood kids, it can result in them acting out.
Disruptive Behavior Is Unintentionally Encouraged If It’s Effective
Children learn from a very young age what is effective, and what’s not. A baby as young as nine months old can figure out that if they cry they get what they want.
This typically starts out because they want to be held or played with. As children get older, it can turn into getting new things, like that new Playstation.
Take a step back and look at how you react to your child’s behavior. If they are only sporadically disruptive when they want something, this can be the cause of their behavior.
Mental Health Disorders
Children with certain mental health disorders are more likely to act out. We usually think of this with disorders like Opposition Defiant Disorder or ADHD, but it can also be seen with other disorders.
For example, depression can make a child more irritable. So can anxiety. Anxiety can also make a child act more hyper when they are younger.
If your child has a mental health condition, this could be the cause behind their defiance, violence, or other disruptive behavior.
I try not to put too much of my children’s personal information on here because I feel that their story is theirs, but there is one example that explains this better than anything else.
My youngest daughter is not my biological daughter. She has been through more trauma in her little life than anyone should ever go through. Some of this is still unresolved, but I don’t realize it until it happens.
For example, one particular week was packed with defiance and disruptive behavior. I was at a loss as to what was causing it. Her medicine was effective.
There were no sudden changes. She was just particularly angry. All week. Then, one day, she shouted about an incident that had happened three years ago. We talked about it. We cried about it together.
We discussed ways to release anger and then did them together. At the end of that, she was doing much better. Sometimes, children shove things they don’t want to deal with into the back of their minds. Then, it festers. Eventually, it will blow like a volcano.
Getting In With The Wrong Crowd Can Change A Child
Children want friends, and they want to fit in. Sometimes, those friends are doing things and your child jumps right in. No one wants to think of their child as being the one to follow the crowd, but it happens.
If your child went from a sweet, loving child to abusing drugs and having risky sex, take a look at the crowd that they’re hanging out with. Get to know their friends.
It’s easy to dismiss disruptive behavior as a child being defiant because they have ADHD or they are simply rebellious, but this is not always the case.
Children do not have the coping skills to deal with a wide range of emotions that they experience. Some teenagers do not have those coping skills either. Because of this, they react to frustration with disruptive behavior.
This could be violence, aggression, or simply refusing to do things. It might not be because they have an aversion to authority. It could simply be that your child doesn’t understand something, is embarrassed to ask questions, or gets frustrated easily.
Other Common Causes Of Disruptive Behavior
Although the ones listed above are relatively common causes for disruptive behavior, they are not the only reasons your child may be acting out. Other common causes include:
- It’s appropriate for their current developmental stage
- Wanting/needing more independence
- Being overwhelmed
- Their attention needs not being met
- A learning disability
Please keep in mind these are all relatively common reasons that you’ll see disruptive behavior. However, this is not a complete list. Your child might be acting out for other reasons as well.
Speaking with your pediatrician or child’s therapist can help you identify the cause behind your child’s behavior.
Options For Out Of Control Children
If you’re still thinking “my son is out of control where can I send him” or wondering “what can I do with my out of control child” this is the section for you.
If you’ve already tried several of these, just scroll past them. Not all of these options will tell you where you can send a child, but they can be effective at managing behavior. If you haven’t tried them yet, they’re worth a shot.
Speak With Your Pediatrician
If you haven’t already, speak to your pediatrician. Some parents feel embarrassed by their child’s behavior and want to avoid that route, but there’s no need to feel shame.
Your child’s behavior could have nothing to do with you. It doesn’t mean that you did something wrong. Your pediatrician can be your biggest asset in learning how to manage your child. They can also prescribe medication that might help.
Therapy can be beneficial to both you and your child. Sometimes, your child needs someone to talk to about anything that they can. They need to learn to let out their feelings.
A therapist can help your child learn how to express themselves in a healthy manner. They can help them learn healthy coping skills that they don’t have yet.
A therapist can also help a child learn how to identify those emotions so that they are better able to deal with them.
A therapist can also help you. Your child acting doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent, or that your parenting style is wrong. However, it might not be effective for your child.
They can teach you how to recognize certain emotions. For example, this is how I learned that hyperactivity in my youngest is also a sign of anxiety.
Then, a therapist can help you as a parent learn how to properly address those emotions and the behaviors that come with them.
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Some medications can be used to treat a variety of disorders. For example, ADHD medicine is occasionally effective in treating symptoms of PTSD.
If you look up this information online, however, it doesn’t always tell you that a specific medication can treat a specific symptom.
If your child’s behavior is so disruptive that it is having a negative impact on your household or your child, consider asking their doctor or therapist about this route.
If these aren’t working, it doesn’t matter how you parent and therapy just isn’t cutting it, you still have other options. A therapist will usually work with you to move from the least restrictive treatment to the most restrictive treatment.
One of the more restrictive treatments available is inpatient treatment at a facility. The structure and consistent therapy provided tend to work well with children that do not respond well to other treatment options.
Most facilities let parents visit with their children. Some offer weekends home if a child is making progress and it is safe for them to be in their home, too.
If your child is out of control, and it is not safe for you or your family, you can press charges on your child for things like domestic violence. Consider it tough love. This can be the wake-up call that some children need.
Diversion programs exist for children that have never been involved in the system before, and these let your child see the consequences of their actions without giving them a criminal record.
Often, children will be put on probation for a period of time after being released to continuously monitor their behavior and progress.
Probation officers will often work with parents to make sure that children have the best chance to succeed in life.
Living With A Relative
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If your child reacts better with a specific relative or they have a more stable environment, you can send your little one to live with a relative.
This is a relatively common solution for many parents to choose from. It instantly removes your child from any negative situation at your house, even if that’s just their group of friends.
You also know that they will be taken care of properly, can see them whenever you would like, and can watch their progress.
Most parents do this by signing over guardianship of their child. In this scenario, the parent retains custody and rights to the child. They can revoke the guardianship at any time.
However, the relative they are living with will be able to make decisions regarding your child, which they will need to do if their child is living with them.
For particularly defiant teens, a boot camp is an option. Although it’s not my favorite option, it will teach a child to respect authority.
When selecting a boot camp, it is important to carefully read reviews to determine whether it will be in your child’s best interest. Some boot camps produce wonderful results without damaging the child.
Others, however, have hundreds of reviews about how the children were beaten, had bruises, were humiliated, and much more. Think carefully before going with this option.
I think every parent that has thought “my child is out of control where can I send her” has also considered the option of foster care. There are definitely some benefits to this, but there are also drawbacks.
Once your child is in the custody of the state for so long, you can lose your parental rights and never see them again. Foster care isn’t always good for children either.
Being removed from their home can be traumatizing, adding to those behavioral issues. On the other hand, the state might be able to provide better care for your child.
For example, some medical insurances will not cover inpatient therapy and some parents can’t afford the medical bills. The state might be able to provide that quality of care where you cannot.
This has been the deciding factor for some parents, particularly those with disabled children. If you’re considering turning your child over to the state, make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
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I’ve been there. I’ve spent time looking up “what can I do with my out of control child?” I’ve sat in the therapy meetings.
Undergone parental training to learn that every child really needs a parent that will cater to their specific needs, and how to be that parent.
I’ve learned a lot through the various mental disorders, trauma, and other things that we’ve been through as a family.
One thing that I learned is how important I am too. It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of disruptive behavior day in and day out. It’s easy to lose hours of sleep thinking about how you can help your child or what else you can do.
It’s far easier to feel so much guilt when your child is going through something and you don’t know how to help them. You need to do the hard part, though.
You, as a parent, need to realize how this is affecting you. If your household has become a toxic environment, you need to take a break.
Go for a drive. Hang out with friends more. Take care of yourself. Get your sleep. Meditate. Do things that you love. Do not get lost in the chaotic environment that your child has created.
This accomplishes two things. First, you will become the same toxic level that your child is at if you immerse yourself in it.
That’s not someone that you want to be. When you take more time for yourself, you maintain your own identity, and you’re a healthier person for it.
Second, you’ll be able to care for your child better. You’ll be able to make this decision logically instead of emotionally. When you’re on an airplane with a child, you’re often instructed to put your own air mask on before your child’s.
As parents, we instinctively want to protect our child, so we want to put their air mask on first, and airlines know this. They don’t tell you to put yours on first because they don’t care about your child. In fact, it’s the opposite.
When you put on your air mask first, you’ll be receiving an adequate supply of oxygen. Then, you can make sure that your child is properly taken care of during the emergency.
If you’re gasping for air, there’s a good chance that you won’t put your little one’s air mask on properly.
This same scenario can be applied to life. If you’re struggling to cope with your child, you won’t be able to help them the best that you can.
This is one of the many reasons that it’s so important to take care of yourself. You should do this anyway, but it’s especially important if you have a child with disruptive behavior.
Sometimes, as adults, we need someone non-judgemental to talk to about what’s going on in our lives too. You need to be able to vent about your child in a healthy environment.
A therapist can provide that among other things, too. They can also help you learn how to cope with the range of emotions that your child is bringing out in yourself.
If there are areas that you need to improve on in yourself, a professional will help you do just that.
Go get your nails done. Enjoy a day at the spa. Whatever you consider pampering yourself, do it. Children can be stressful, and us moms deserve a break too.
Instead of feeling guilty about that, simply enjoy it. It’ll leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Disruptive behavior can stem from quite a few underlying conditions. It can have a variety of causes. Some of them you can do something about, and others you simply can’t.
If you’re wondering where can I send my out of control child, you’ve got plenty of options. Take a break, and logically think about what would be best for your child.
Whether that’s inpatient therapy or boot camp is up to you, and depends on your child’s particular behaviors that need to be addressed.
As a parent that goes through this, I do want you to know that you’re not alone. Someday, you’ll be looking back on this exact moment instead of living in it.