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Children's mental health

Jaydan’s story

Understanding the impact of behavioural difficulties on children and families

Content warning: The issues raised and experiences shared in this report are upsetting and potentially triggering. They include domestic abuse, violence, racism, extreme emotional distress, and trauma.

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Daryl, Jaydan and Teddie are one of the 18 families interviewed by Renaisi and Close-Up Research. Together we wanted to better understand what life is really like for children experiencing distressing behavioural difficulties, and their families.

Images do not depict the families involved

Introduction

Daryl has two children: Jaydan (11) and Teddie (7).

The family currently lives with Daryl’s mum in her three-bedroom house with a small garden. Daryl has been there for two years, after his relationship with Jaydan and Teddie’s mum ended.

Jaydan and Teddie used to live with their mum, but in Christmas 2019 they moved to live with their dad. They still see their mum at weekends. Two of Daryl’s siblings also live in the house, along with a dog and a cat.

Daryl has lived in Lambeth all his life. He likes the area and how close by his children’s schools are, but has recently been aware of increasing reports of drugs, gangs and stabbings.

Following a suggestion from the Jobcentre, Daryl recently went through an assessment of his own and was diagnosed with ADHD, autism, dyspraxia and dyslexia.

About Jaydan

Jaydan is the child that Daryl describes as showing the most challenging behaviour. Jaydan was diagnosed with ADHD while he was living with his mum, and is currently being assessed through CAMHS to see if he has autism.

Daryl describes Jaydan as a quiet and bright boy who has a heart of gold. He likes to ride his bike, play football and spend time with his friends. He also loves to play video games such as Fortnite.

However, Jaydan can lose his temper and be argumentative, loud, rude and violent. Jaydan has smashed things such as his own smartphone and a Nintendo Switch. He has also stolen money.

He’s a combination of a good guy and a bad guy. All wrapped into one. Sometimes he lashes out using physical violence at his brother – sometimes he’ll break or smash something.

Daryl Jaydan's dad

Teddie is following in his brother’s footsteps. During lockdown Teddie smashed the family’s TV when he was not allowed to play on the computer. Daryl is currently trying to get Teddie assessed for his behavioural problems.

Context

In the past couple of years, the family has experienced several difficulties. Daryl had a stroke in 2019 and had to stop working as a bouncer.

 

It made things harder. And now... my children living with me, it threw everything to the side. From working full-time for the past seven-and-a-half years to being told I have dyslexia and dyspraxia – it was heartbreaking. I have channelled my anger and frustration to just thinking, there's always a positive to a negative.

Daryl Jaydan's dad

In late 2019, the children’s mum was abusing drugs and alcohol, and inviting people to the house to join her drinking when the children were around. Daryl also described an incident where his ex-partner called the police making “fake accusations”, and his children witnessed him being arrested.

Daryl describes how the behavioural issues started around this time, particularly for Jaydan. He started pushing boundaries, became more argumentative and had regular tantrums.

They were heartbroken, they were distraught, they were very angry and upset with their mum, because she didn't have a reason for doing what she did.

Daryl Jaydan's dad

Daryl decided the children should live with him after their mum had left them at her friend’s house to go drinking with her friends. He was adamant that he wants to be able to give them the chance to be away from drinks and drugs, and to “not see that life”.

According to Jaydan and Teddie’s grandmother, Karen, Jaydan started to behave in a more aggressive way when he was around 4-5 years old. She agrees that his behaviour has worsened since late 2019. Karen has taken care of Jaydan since he was little. She saw similar signs in Jaydan that she had seen in her other son, Daryl’s brother, who has an ADHD diagnosis.

More recently, the children’s great-grandmother and Daryl’s cousin both passed away – as did their family dog of 15 years, which has been traumatic for the children.

Current situation

The main trigger for Jaydan’s behavioural issues is feeling out of control. This includes situations where he is not allowed to finish a video game or does not get the food he wants, or when things do not go to plan. However, Jaydan has been on ADHD medication for the past three months, which the family feel has helped to calmed him down.

The family have been using different strategies to respond to Jaydan’s behaviour. Jaydan’s aunt describes how she ignores Jaydan when he has his tantrums – she lets him deal with it in his own way. His grandmother likes to engage Jaydan in household chores to get him to stay focused and calm. Daryl feels that playing video games is helping Jaydan to let out his anger, instead of focusing this on his family.

Impact

Daryl never saw himself being a full-time single dad, and it has come with its challenges. The rude language, the fighting and screaming at home, dealing with the children’s school and simultaneously looking for employment have all been hard on him. The house can feel crammed when everyone’s at home, so Daryl is currently looking for a new place.

Jaydan has had issues at school where he has been bullied and blamed for a lot of things in class. Daryl has had to fight hard to convince the school that Jaydan needed support for behavioural issues and wasn’t just a naughty kid. The bullying has now stopped, and Jaydan is dealing with his friendships better after going on the ADHD medication.

Jaydan and Teddie still see their mum, but talk about not liking the visitors that come to her house.

When we're at our mum's, if someone comes over and if we don't like them, we just go upstairs, but if it's for food we only come downstairs to go and get it. Or if we don't eat food, we just wait for the person to leave.

Teddie Daryl's brother

Support

Since the children have been living with Daryl, Jaydan has received support at the Mary Sheridan Centre.

Following some of the issues Jaydan had been experiencing at school, Jaydan now has a mentor, attends weekly group sessions with children who have similar needs, and has access to a teaching assistant. He also has a teacher he gets along well with, who supports him to get on with his schoolwork out of class when he has been punished, so he doesn’t miss out on learning. Daryl is trying to get an EHCP in place so Jaydan can have appropriate help when he gets to secondary school.

Daryl currently attends two parenting courses that focus on supporting children with similar behaviours to Jaydan.

These classes have helped me to understand the moral dilemma of going forward with behavioural problems, with the destructiveness, with the attitude, with the way things go forward because of how destructive Jayden was. The way he is now is completely different.

Daryl Jaydan's dad

Daryl has a close-knit family, from whom he gets a lot of support with Jaydan and Teddie. Jaydan is particularly close to his grandmother, and Teddie is very close to his aunt. Daryl’s family has been there for him and his children since the children were little.

My family and I are there to pick up the pieces for them when their mum didn't do what a mum should do. My family stepped in to take care of the boys, and that’s why I think my family and [my] sons have such a strong bond.

Daryl Jaydan's father

The family enjoy spending time in their local park which Daryl describes as helping to “give everybody a break”. They also like getting out of London to visit family members – Daryl has a sister who lives in Folkestone, and who they are hoping to visit this summer.

The future

Daryl feels he has all the support he needs at the moment. The only thing he is lacking is financial support that would help him respond to the children’s needs more. At the moment, he is spending money from his Universal Credit to pay for broken items around the house.

Daryl hopes that Jaydan will find a job that he enjoys.

I just want him to be the best he could ever be, and get a job... I will not have a say in what he can or can't do when he gets older. Anything that his heart desires, I will support him.

Daryl Jaydan's dad

Download all family's stories

Families shared their experiences of mental health and behavioural difficulties through a series of interviews (in-person and online) and other interactive exercises. Read some of their stories in more depth here.

Read their stories