Destroying the House

Destroying the House

Postby msbask » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:04 pm

My almost-11 year old niece was diagnosed with PPD-NOC at age 3. Follow ups visits with physicians seem to flip flop between PDD-NOC and actual mental retardation. I tend to side with the PDD-NOC diagnosis because she seems too smart(?) to be classified as retarded. She attends public school and has been in an inclusion class up until this year (5th grade) when she started in a special ed class because I believe the stress of the class size in her school coupled with the curriculum pressure was just to much for her. She does have a full-time aide in school to keep her on task. Current medications include Stratera (among others).

My niece is slowing destroying her house. About 5 years ago, she started picking the paint off the walls of her room. It got so bad that she literally peeled all the paint off one entire wall. Fast-forward 5 years and she has now moved on to peeling her brother's room, the family dining room, hallways, bathrooms, parents bedrooms. My sister-in-law has tried all forms of punishment (ie yelling, taking away privileges, time-out, etc), but nothing seems to work.

The real issue is that she does this while the rest of the family is asleep, so when you wake up in the morning, a wall is destroyed and the paint chips are all over the floor. I've attached photos of the damage she's done here (

(While this started 5 years ago, her parents separated in March of this year and the problem has definitely escalated since then.)

I ache for my sister-in-law because she's at her wits end. Everyone who knows them can't decide if she's being purposefully defiant or trapped in some kind of OCD nightmare. By the way, she never ever does this anywhere else but her own home.

Does anyone have any suggestion of a discipline tactic that might be tried. Everyone is very concerned about my niece and my sister-in-law.
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Re: Destroying the House

Postby BeckyDamgaard » Mon Oct 24, 2011 3:25 pm


Thank you for reaching out as both a Sister and an Aunt! Is this family currently running a Son-Rise Program? Do they have a playroom set up where she is worked with one on one?

This would be the start. The more your neice can be an environment where she has a high amount of control and there are limited distractions, the more supportive it will be for her specific challenges of connecting and relating to people. The more she can connect and relate to people, the more we can help her and teach her. If she is in school, then the environment during her day is the opposite of the one described above, which changes the dynamic to her having small amounts of control and a high amount of distractions. Therefore, she may be seeking control and predictability in any way she can get it which manifests in her ism (repetitious and exclusive behavior) of peeling the paint of the walls.

Right now I would have the focus be on remaining calm, comfortable and relaxed in the face of her doing this and not to give it a big reaction. We tend to give our children huge reactions when they are doing things we don't want. This reaction could be external (e.g. shouting, saying "No", pulling her away from what she's doing, etc) or it could be internal (judging the behavior, feeling angry or frustrated about what it means and how to deal with it) or a mixture of both. Because she's seeking predictability in her life, the way she is reacted to when this happens could also play into the behavior she's doing in some way.

The third thing to try would be to offer her an alternative that taps into her motivation of peeling. Give her a large book of stickers to keep in her room during the night when everyone else is in bed. Try non-toxic water based nail polish or glue pasted onto a shiny surface (a mirror, etc) that she could peel off instead.

In The Son-Rise Program, we do not use discipline tactics because we hold the belief that each child is doing the very best they can. Your neice, trying to gain control in an unpredictable world actually makes sense, hence giving her an alternative that is similar. There are however consequences to certain actions we all take as people and I would lock all doors to the other rooms in the house that she is also starting to peel.

All the best!
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