I have all respect for all of the parents/nurses that have responded here. Dealing with a multiply involved child that turns your household upside down periodically/daily is frazzling.
I'm not here to tell you NOT to do something. But I would suggest that you do it with care. I'm disturbed by seeing such young children on multiple drug therapy. They are not without side effect profiles. If you are interested in hearing from an anti-drug perspective, try www.breggin.com
Dr. Breggin is (in my view) a little radical because he has spent his career crusading against interventional psychiatry of just about any kind: ECT, anti-psychotics, and now SSRI's and stimulants in children. While my own view is a little more middle of the road--I'm not willing to say psychiatric drug therapy NEVER has a role in the care of a child--I think he brings an important perspective to the table.
To you, your blended family represents an average American family doing the best it can. To that little girl, it may represent the loss of her perfect family--her bio dad, her bio mom. She's mad as hell. She acts out. You've noticed that. You and your hubby can be doing everything right and living with the facts as they are but she's fighting that reality.
These kids can be hard to reach just because they are so closed off. "talk therapy" I think may be something they're not ready to take advantage of. (I mean, if it works, don't fight it but if it doesn't this can be the reality.) THEY start to see themselves as "hopeless cases". Spiral effect.
Things to try:
*Catch 'em being good (you know, from toddlehood parenting)
*Family Meetings (Parenting for the Drug Free Years training). Helps kids feel they have a voice in family decisions.
*Teach 'em to use "I statements".
*Practice active listening
*Don't forget to touch your child. One NP I know would prescribe 60 pats on the shoulder a day. That takes a second to do, so we're talking a minute of investment. Even for teens, a pat can be acceptable (not too huggy).
*Help your child practice positive self-talk
*Model good control of your own emotions: anger, frustration
*Keep them physically active, even if you have to do it with them. Bicycle, camp, exercise as a family. Excercise promotes secretion of natural positive affect chemicals.
*Do hold your child accountable for their behaviors. They kick the door in, they repair it. (They may need your help but owning solutions help them own problems.) They shatter something, they clean it up (when they are calm). Model saying "I'm sorry" and remind them that a simple apology helps de-escalate things.
*View meds as an augmentation to other behavioral and thinking interventions
*With our adult alcoholic (my step) daughter, we did a lot of expressing expectations such as expectation of sobriety, expectation of school attendance, expectation of meeting attendance. As an adult, we tied our expectations to cash assistance and told her that if she was drinking and not working on things, we would withdraw this from her.
None of these things are likely to help quickly and they are fairly labor intensive WHILE YOU ARE HABITUATING THEM. They get easier after that. I like to view these kids as needing explicit instruction in life-skills, but they will take that the best from someone they care about. She loves you.
Good luck to all of you. My own unique, high spirited little boy is 10 and I sense we are on the threshold of pre-adolescence.