Noticing that both parents are weeping when the video ends, Dr. Phil says, “That’s very difficult to watch, true?”
“It is,” Carolin replies. “It’s scary, but that’s our life every day. I don’t know what else to do.”
“It tears me up inside,” Scott adds, struggling to speak. “As a parent, as a father, I’m to protect my family, but I never dreamed I’d be protecting my family from my own son. I don’t know what to do sometimes.”
Dr. Phil notes that the couple has four other children in the home. “You’re concerned about the siblings,” he notes.
[AD]”Yes,” Scott replies.
On videotape, Scott reveals that Child Protective Services recently visited the home. “That’s your worse fear as a parent,” he says. “Once they realized that we had a plan in place, they backed off, but they did ask us several times if the other children have a safe place to go. That’s when we decided to remove the other three from the home, because we didn’t want them taken.”
“We sent them to my brother’s to be safe,” Carolin adds. “We have to protect them from their brother. We love being a family, but all of that has been taken away.”
“Someone could get hurt, so that’s always the first consideration,” Dr. Kazdin tells Scott and Carolin. “At the same time, I think there’s a great deal of hope in this situation. There’s a lot that can be done that’s positive.”
“For them, they’re hopeless. They’ve lived with this every day, nothing seems to change it. Why would you be so bold as to say there’s hope here?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Outside of the home, he has friends,” Dr. Kazdin responds. “He’s doing really well in school, believe it or not. The best predictor of whether these behaviors will continue is how well someone is doing in school, even though it seems unrelated. These are wonderful pluses. We’ve seen some things in the home that you might be able to do differently.”
“Doctor, what was your impression of this young man?” Dr. Phil asks Dr. Kazdin.
[AD]”I was impressed with a very talented boy. The fact that he has such remarkable accomplishments at school will make the home tasks easier,” Dr. Kazdin replies. “This is very promising, from my standpoint.”
Dr. Phil asks Dr. Kazdin to comment on a videotape of Nathanael picking on his two younger siblings, and Scott’s response to the behavior.
“Think of a tantrum as someone drowning. When someone’s drowning, that’s not a time to teach them how to swim. All you can do is protect and save the situation ” protect animals, protect people, protect yourself. Just stay calm and don’t make it worse. Then when the person isn’t drowning, you can do the swimming lessons,” Dr. Kazdin replies.
“I think you need to take this young man out of the home for a period of time. I know that’s not easy to hear. I know that feels like a huge defeat to send your son away,” Dr. Phil says. “I’m really recommending that we send him away so we have a chance to woodshed the two of you. He may be the best adjusted in this situation right now. He does well at school, he does well with friends, he just can’t get along with you guys.”
“He started getting really bad when he started going to school five days a week,” Carolin says. “He’s told me, ‘I control it all day. It’s really hard, but when I come home, I feel like I can release this on you because I know you’re going to be there.'”
“The fact that this child can articulate that is such a good sign,” Dr. Phil says.
Dr. Phil introduces, Patti Evans, chief marketing officer for the SUWS Youth Wilderness Program
, which helps defiant children overcome emotional and behavioral issues. “She is willing to place Nathanael in that program for the next 30 to 60 days to give him a chance to really decompress and give us a chance to work with you guys.”
[AD]”There are a lot of positive things we can work with. You’ve got students, you’ve got friends, you’ve got therapists who see bright sides. We’re going to work on things in nature that make his self-confidence better, make his self-esteem stronger,” Patti explains. She says they’ll incorporate equine programs and group therapy into Nathanael’s treatment.
Dr. Kazdin has agreed to work with the family via web cam while Nathanael attends the SUWS program.
Scott and Carolin thank Dr. Phil for his intervention.