New - need advice

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ARGH, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. ARGH

    ARGH Exasperated with fighting

    Hi there!

    I am the mother of a very defiant 7 year old son. I am at my wit's end and am now considering military camp as a last resort. We're (my husband and I) new at this, because our 12 year old and his 17 year old never had behavioral issues. We don't know what to do. Any help is greatly appreciarted.

    Our 7 year old (who I will call CL) is out of control. CL does not mind anyone and in fact, it seems that he thrives off of pushing people to their breaking point. He is extremely argumentative and ALWAYS has to have the last word in any conversation. I have tried on numerous occassions to explain to him that no one appreciates his behavior and that people don't care to be around children who act that way. It seems he doesn't care.

    I can tell him no and it's like a dare to him. Then when I get mad and start yelling at him or I spank him, then he acts like he doesn't understand why I am so mad. BUT... he doesn't do it nearly to the extreme with his dad as he does me. His dad can say no and 8 times out of 10, he leaves it alone. It's like he doesn't care what the consequences are, his impulse is so strong that he can't control it. He does little things that he should know better than to do. For example; at his babysitter's house, he will do something like stick gum on her furniture or purposely break things. Or in the mornings, he knows the routine. He gets up, goes potty, brushes his teeth and hair and then gets dressed. Some mornings he does it like clockwork and then other mornings, he refuses to do any of it until me or my husband get mad at him and he gets a spanking or we start arguing. It is exhausting.

    He is causing a lot of trouble in our house and is the main reason my husband and I fight. It upsets the other children at home and it's almost like it satisfies CL. I just don't understand. CL is a GT (gifted & talented - accelerated) student and is as smart as a whip, yet he doesn't seem to apply that knowledge to every day, common sense things.

    Currently he is on 20 mg Adderall, but when he does take it, he becomes a completely different child. He doesn't want to go outside and play or do anything constructive. He just wants to sit in his room and watch cartoons by himself. It seems there is no happy medium.

    Someone please help!!!
  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! Welcome to the crowd. Just about everyone on here has sung your same song! ;)

    First: Read the Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It's an easy read and will give you some insight as to how your child sees things.

    Second: What's his diagnosis? I'm assuming adhd because he's on adderall.

    Third: A few questions. Has he had any type of sensory issues like being sensitive to itchy tags, loud sounds, smells, texture issues (won't eat certain things cause they feel weird in his mouth) or anything like that?

    Has he had a neuropsychologist evaluation done?

    Any mental illness or substance abuse problems in either side of the family?

    How's he at school?

    Try and do a signature at the bottom like mine. It makes it easier for people to get to know you and yours.

    Again, welcome! It's a great group with a vast amount of experience and a lot of people who love to help!

  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.
    I have several questions for you that can help us help you.
    1/ Who diagnosed your child, and has he ever had a complete evaluation by a neuropsychologist (this is a psychologist who has extra training in the brain. Normally they do 6-10 hours of intensive testing). Are you satisfied with the diagnosis and the medication? I would not spank him as difficult child's tend to be non-responsive to that and frankly to most normal disciplining (I don't personally consider spanking in the norm, but they tend to not respond to anything by the book).

    2/Are there any psychiatric problems or issues of substance abuse on either side of CL's family tree? Suicide attempts? Any mood disorders?

    3/How was his early development: speech, eye contact, interaction with both you and his peers, did he cuddle, did he play appropriately with toys, can he transition from one activity to another without melting down, does he do well in school, does he seem socially "clueless" or clueless about life, and/or did he read very early, is he overly precocious and does he obsess over a certain topic. Does he speak like "a little professor?" Any odd hand movements, tongue clicking, high pitched noses, tics? I'm not a neuropsychologist, but he has some red flags for high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (Aspergers Syndrome). I'd check that out.

    Most kids who are defiant are that way because of a disorder that makes them unstable. It usually takes more than one evaluation to figure out what is going on. NeuroPsychs are excellent.

    Others will come along.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Welcome! Sorry- but i have to chuckle about military camp for a 7 yo difficult child. It sounds like something is going on with him that he needs a little help with and you are so frustrated you can't see straight because you don't know what it is or what to do- most of us here have felt that way many times, so you are among good company! I can't add anything more to Beth or MWM's good advice or questions, but there will be others coming along who have more experience than me. We've all felt the way you do, so just hang in there- you have found a great place!
  5. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just adding in my welcome. I have to say I can relate to your board name! There have been times when the title of a post from me is simply, Argh!
  6. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    Welcome, I can't add advice because I'm a recent returnee after a long hiatus, but you certainly have come to the right place! The wonderful moms here will have good questions and thoughts for you.

    It must be so frustrating for you to have a seven year old out of control when his older siblings were relatively easier. There are so many variables that come into play when kids have behavioral issues: are they on the right medications, do they even need to be on medications, are they getting psychotherapy, help at school, is there stress at home....and on and on. It just makes your head spin.

    My now-15 year old son was impossible to discipline when he was a toddler/preschooler. I had every childrearing book and none of 'em worked for me. Time out? Forget it, he wouldn't stay put. I'd put him in his room and sit with my back against the door so he couldnt' get out just to make him understand that I wasn't going to put up with his tantrums. I spanked him a couple of times, hard, and one day he just looked at me and said "that didn't hurt." That was the last time I spanked him. Though I certainly can relate to the anger that propels you to do it.

    Deep breath, there is a lot of information to be absorbed, but you will get through this. I'm sure that as angry and upset and guilty and sad as you are feeling, he must be suffering too, even if he can't verbalize it.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Oh boy, does this sound familiar!

    You've had some great advice in there.

    First - get your hands on "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene, as Nvts suggested. If you look over on Early Childhood, you will find some good discussion of tis book and why/how it works. You don't need a diagnosis for it to work, you just need to change your mindset and approach because your method of parenting, which is probably exactly correct and how you were taught to parent, is just WRONG sometimes, for some kids.
    This is NOT your fault though. You are a good parent. Chances are, it's BECAUSE you're such a good parent, that he is so oppositional with you. And I say this as someone who was just like you in parenting - doing everything as I had been taught, and as my experience taught me was correct, was right, was classic "Dr Spock" and had worked so well not only with easy child, but also with all my sisters kids I helped raise. I came to motherhood EXPERIENCED. I had been taught by the best - my mother. She could get the toughest kids to do anything. Or so it seemed to me.

    Your husband gets better results - this doesn't mean he's got a better technique. It's probably because you're more hands-on with your son than your husband is. You son feels more secure with you, he knows you love him no matter what. And this is good, don't get me wrong.

    The Ross Greene way of thinking IS different, but oh, how it works! Using it is NOT an admission of defeat - rather, it is a good parent determined to cover all bases. The Dutch boy plugging all leaks in the dyke. You don't always have to use a finger to plug the leak - sometimes you can look around and find anything useful, at hand.

    This method is also easier. I admit when I first read about it I mentally groaned, thinking I would be hard-put to think clearly about different methods. Probably lots of charts, meetings, stars and stickers, constant monitoring, regular updates needed, professional supervision. Nope. Not needed.

    Punishment - if it doesn't work, don't do it. All that happens is you lose authority. Better to not go there, than to go there and fail.

    The kids that do best with this tend to be the smart ones, the bright kids with a very keen sense of injustice. It needs a different mind-set, you need to be able to get into his head and think the way he thinks. Think about what triggers his bad behaviour or any outbursts. Think about what calms him down. Then make your own list - what do you give highest priority to?

    I won't go into too much detail here, but most of us would be capable of it - this has helped so many people here.

    You need to realise - sometimes no matter how bright a kid can seem, they can have gaps in their ability. Socially they can lag behind. These kids are GREAT at learning, but they are NOT mini-me characters. Sometimes their thought processes are so alien, you wonder if you will ever have common ground. But at other times they are thinking so clearly, you could swear you can hear it.

    Our ADHD/Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids learn by observing how others behave. They often do not discriminate between adults or children - to them, everyone is equal. This is technically a social ideal, but if you think about if, very few us us really want a child to talk to us in the same way we often talk to children. If you can, listen to a mother talking to her child and try to imagine yourself as the child. How would you feel, as an adult, being talked to like that? Some parents are worse - they do this almost as a way to validate their role as parent. "I told you not to climb on that railing! Now look at you, your trousers are all dusty! What will people think when they see you? They will think you're a disobedient little boy who doesn't listen to his mummy, that's what!" when really, all that is needed (if that) is a five second dust-down and the child's trousers are clean again. or clean enough.
    IS it any wonder that a child spoken to in that way will begin to talk to his mother like this: "How many times do I have to tell you, I don't like orange juice! I distinctly asked you for milk, and what did you do? You poured juice. I'm not drinking that! Why do you never listen to me?"

    Can you hear the parent's initial 'coaching' in that?

    This doesn't happen with all kids. It also isn't something you could INDUCE in all kids. But with SOME kids, like my difficult child 3 for instance (and before him, with easy child 2/difficult child 2 - I didn't know WHAT I had given birth to!) it's almost unavoidable unless you carefully avoid setting the pattern in the first place. And if the pattern is already there - it is surprisingly easy to say, "That was then. This is now. From here on, I will show respect to my children in order tat they may learn to show the same respect to me."

    it is amazing, but it works, especially the more consistent you can be.

    Read the book. Read the link - it all helps. Get your husband to read it too if you can, or you use your understanding of it to explain it to him (I did - it helped me make sure I 'got' it).

    And remember - you have done nothing wrong. part of your trouble could just be that you have an exceptionally bright child. That alone can do this. But the child may have some other issue magnifying this - ADHD is one possibility. I agree that Asperger's probably needs to be checked out.

    People may suggest ODD to you - they may be right. But I HATE the label because "Oppositional Defiant Disorder" implies to me that the child is being deliberately difficult purely for the entertainment value. I don't believe this is what happens, not in most cases. I think instead what you see is the automatic push-back that has been programmed into them out of pure frustration in them at a world (and people) who don't understand how difficult some things are for him.

    He needs to learn that it needn't be that frustrating, not if he has parents who are there to help him over the hurdles instead of putting them up for him to trip over. Again, it's easy to make the change and he should learn this quickly.

    I found difficult child 3's behaviour began to improve, even before I'd (consciously) implemented the strategies in the book. Changing my mindset to him was the beginning (and I hadn't thought my mindset was a problem at all) and I think this happened automatically. The next step was to focus my aims and be specific, at least in my own mind. I had to let go and stop trying to fix everything all at once. I also had to show him by my example, how I wanted him to behave.

    It was amazing how fast it began to work. Because there is an underlying disorder, things aren't all fixed completely. We always have problems to deal with. But our problems are kept much more manageable now, because difficult child 3 & the rest of us have the same aims in mind.

    difficult child 3 has grown up knowing that he has autism, but also knowing that it is an important part of his character - it is who he is. For him, it just means acknowledgement that his brain learns a different way. He also considers his IQ to be connected to the diagnosis. He met the exceptionally bright daughter of his therapist and asked the therapist, "Is your daughter autistic too? Because she is very, very smart - almost as smart as I am. So I figured, she must be."
    The therapist was a little taken aback at first, then flattered. And difficult child 3 now understands that people can be smart, without being autistic.

    There can be many other reasons for explosive behaviour. Similar techniques work on them all. This method customises easily.

    Welcome to the site. Help is here. Hopefully it's cheaper and easier than boot camp or military academy.

  8. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Argh - welcome!

    Glad you found us.

    Sounds like the medications need a review. Have you tried any other medications for ADHD? Concerta? Ritalin? Straterra?
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Argh (one of my fave expressions!).
    So sorry you're having such a rough time. I know how you feel.
    I see where MM is going with-her questions, expecially #3. That's exactly what I was thinking ... he's gifted but doesn't "get it" when it comes to social conventions.
    I would have more testing done.
    Our difficult child is very diff on Adderall, too, but he doesn't just sit there; he actually converses and gets things done, and is in a good mood. with-o the Adderall, he's hyper and mean.
    Best of luck. Stick around and let us know how it's going.
  10. Pookybear66

    Pookybear66 New Member

    Hi I'm new here but was reading through past post and found this one. I can relate-8 1/2 yo does similar things. Thanks Marguerite, your post had me laughing a bit. I think I need to take a look at that book because the part about how I might be talking to my child was too true. "Stop yelling at me"-said while yelling at him! Thanks for being here. I just joined and already love this place!
    difficult child 1-ds, 8 1/2, Learning Disability (LD) diagnosed from school, no psychiatric evaluation yet, allergies to airborne things, asthma, taking Singulair 5mg and Flovent44mcg, bright, early-talker, loving gr8 kid usually, especially gr8 when allowed to watch endless TV and play video games

    difficult child 2-wondeful daughter, 4 1/2, has no learning problems and actually wants us to give her work to do like bb does
  11. Just wanted to extend my welcome!