New to community - looking for help

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by sbristow, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. sbristow

    sbristow New Member

    Dear members,

    I have two daughters (almost 6 and 7 months). After reading for hours, I believe my oldest has ODD. However, from all the posts on this site, everyone discusses an underlying condition. I have no idea what that could be. We have been to a psychiatrist and her thoughts were that my daughter was extremely bright and stubborn. I feel as if it is more than that and I am hoping someone has been through this and can offer some suggestions/hope.

    First, I should say, she has never had a problem with anyone except us. She has always done well in preschool and is excelling in kindergarten. In fact, her teacher said she would love to 20 more of her! She has a lot of friends and typically does not have any problems in social settings.

    With that being said, here is what we are living with. She argues constantly over nothing. If she doesn't want to do it, she starts an argument. When asked to go to her room for a timeout, she will usually start screaming, stomping feet, hitting the walls, etc. She is also easily frustrated. We have tried a combination of reward charts and timeouts for several months. This behavior started shortly after she turned four and has only gotten worse. She sleeps approximately 11 hours at night and on the weekend will typically nap for 2 hours. I don't feel as if there is a lack of sleep.

    We have nicknamed her (to ourselves of course) Jekyll/Hyde because that is what she is like. One minute is a crazy person and the next she is rubbing your shoulders. It is exhausting and insane to me. On thing to note, she has never resented her baby sister in any way. She adores her and the psychiatrist confirmed this.

    Can anyone offer some ideas of underlying conditions? She was an only grandchild for three years, but adores her cousin. She still gets lots of one-on-one with us and her grandparents. If anything, she is quite spoiled.

    My husband and I are just so tired. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Sounds like she is trying very hard to get things to be her way. There may be something else going on - I am not experienced in that to suggest what to look for. I am wondering if the book "The Manipulative Child" may help prepare you for some discipling challenges that may be coming your way? That arguing is a form of manipulation. Don't be afraid of the title. It does not belittle the child at all. It is common for kids (and parents) to fall into this behavior. Usually very smart kids of smart parents are the most vulnerable. Smart parents try to talk their kids through things and smart kids try to maneuver away from what they don't like or into what they want. Skills that may be helpful later in life but not helpful when they use them to not obey.

    Have you introduced more "big girl" activies at home? Find out from her teacher what activies she is drawn to at school and try to incorporate them somehow in your home? More puzzles, dress up, reading? Maybe give her a picture book and ask her to tell you the story? See how imaginative she is. Can she help in the kitchen? Let her pour the liquid into whatever you are making. Let her help make the salad.

    Did the psychiatrist diagnosis her with anything or is that still in the works?

    Welcome to you and your sweet daughter!
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    There are A LOT Of things it could be, especially since she is ok in school (could be a BIG LIGHTBULT MOMENT that she needs and thrives on structure). Or it could just be that she is still able to hold it in under certain circumstances, but that it is VERY hard for her to do it so that when she gets home it all comes out on you. I have a few questions that can help us help you.

    1/Does she have an psychiatric problems or substance abuse issues on either side of the family tree? This is biological only.

    2/How was her early development--speech, eye contact with strangers, ability to interact with same age peers (now and early)? Does she have sensitivities to light, sound, textures, anything? Does she have any unusual quirks such as lip smacking or making high pitched noises or flapping arms when excited or repeating things she has heard (verbatim). Is she unusually interested in letters and numbers? Any obsessions, such as dinosaurs or one certain movie she can watch twenty times? Does she often seem frustrated that you don't understand her? How does she do in large groups?

    Others will come along.
  4. sbristow

    sbristow New Member

    Thank-you for the replies. Here is a little more information. Our home has always had a schedule because it was something that worked well for her since birth. There is no history of mental illness, anxiety, or substance abuse problems in either of our families. As far as development goes, she has always been ahead of the curve - crawling at 6 months, walking at 9 months, speech was on a normal time frame, but was reading at age 4 and now reads on a high 2nd/low 3rd grade level. She has no sensitivity issues, no weird quirks, or obsessions. She does well in large groups. The two things that stick out at me are when she was little, she was not a baby that you could just "hand off." We called it her "approval" process. She would study everyone very intently before allowing them to hold her. However, she seems to have grown out of that as far as we can tell and is very out going. According to her kindergarten teacher, she is probably the most popular girl in her class. The other thing is that she does get frustrated at us if she thinks we don't understand her.

    As far as "big girl" activities goes - she has lots of opportunities. She is allowed to help cook when appropriate, she rides a bike with-out training wheels, we have tons of books, and an entire playroom that looks like a Toys R Us store (the upside/downside to being an only child/grandchild for so long). She has an amazing imagination - she plays with her baby dolls, dollhouse, loves to build things with her TinkerToys and Legos, and loves to draw and make crafts (she has a fully stocked art desk available for these activities). Also, her teacher gives her more advanced schoolwork and homework to keep her challenged.

    The psychiatrist's conclusion was that she was very bright and simply wanted her way. And, yes, she is very good at manipulating. The one thing the psychiatrist wanted us to work on was not "explaining" as much. We definitely did that. So, we have made a point not to.

    I hope that helps. It seems it is the basic problem of not getting her way, but the reaction (just to us and no other authority figure) is so extreme that makes us wonder if she has ODD or something else.

    Again, thank-you for reading and responding. Any help is greatly appreciated!!!
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If you want more answers, I'd still have her see a neuropsychologist. She could have Aspergers. It is rare that a child is just "defiant" because the child wants to drive his parents nuts. Does she respond to normal behavioral modification methods, such as 1, 2, 3 Magic? Those methods tend to work very well with "typical" kids, but don't work with kids who have other stuff going on--perhaps some disorder.
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. From the perspective of a too too experienced parent ;) I'll offer a couple of "observations", lol, even though I obviously haven't observed. I am not offering solutions just some thoughts that might or might not be of help. Here are some random thoughts:

    1. With my first child my expectations were that she would be "nearly" perfect because my husband and I would do everything possible to be the perfect parents. Like your daughter she was "almost" perfect. We worried at any sign of defect thinking perhaps we had done something wrong. By our third child we learned about difficult child behavior. difficult child behavior disrupts life on a very regular basis. Often it interferes with sleep. It is not usually something you analyze to recognize. It is. Sometimes it is only shown at home (or in some cases in reverse) but it impacts in an obvious, disruptive way. There is the destruction of property, sneaky defiance and behaviors that sap the joy from the environment.
    2. With my first child, like you, I had to stop talking. ;) She was so very bright that I was explaining myself to a little kid and reasoning with her. She was extremely bright. She would try to outreason me and that would really chap me off. LOL She would act like a little defiant hellion at home and then go off with Grandma and be the most police, lovely (and best dressed thanks to Grandma :D) little girl in the universe. I had to stop talking and make sure that I only enforced the important rules. It was too easy for me to expect her to do what I wanted done right away. Sigh. My 3rd child (now GFGmom) literally could not follow the rules regularly no matter how hard she might try. easy child's and difficult child's are different.
    3. I have raised eight children with varying success. The "gifted" or extra
    bright kids were far more difficult than the couple who were average or a tad below. Gifted kids very very often are difficult because they are just too bright for their own good.

    I hope you don't mind my longwinded response and the hint that she may in fact just need a little different parenting. It is not easy finding your way as a parent and believe me I made some really poor choices. What I think from your post, however, is that you and your husband have been given a little girl that is a challenge but probably not a difficult child. There are books about the different needs for parenting gifted children that might be of interest.

    At adult sales seminars over the years they have a key word. KISS. It is the key to successful sales. "Keep It Simple Stupid" :redface: Once I realized that I talked too much trying to overcome objections from potential buyers, my sales flew up the scale. My parenting philosophy is similar. You are a terrific Mom, I'm sure...parenting may be easier by keeping it simple. Hugs. DDD
  7. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I had a daughter like yours when she was the same age. She was bright, the perfect student, got along well with others, but was a huge problem at home. As an example, if we asked her to pick up her socks, it could lead to a tantrum. She was violent at home with her sister and me. It was impossible to get her to do a time out. Well we could get her to do it, but it would take hours to do the 5 or 6 minutes. People were stunned when I said she was a problem at home.

    She was diagnosis'ed with ODD and the underlying disorder was thought to be depression. She probably did have some depression but it turns out that the underlying disorder was food allergies. When she stays away from those foods, she is a "easy child". She isn't perfect but regular parenting methods work for her. When she eats those foods, she is back to being a depressed, defiant, difficult child.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2009
  8. sbristow

    sbristow New Member

    Thank-you so much for all your thoughts. I was curious about what "fairlyoddparent" said concerning food allergies. How would you go about discovering that? Keep a food journal in conjunction with behaviors? We have severly restricted her dairy intake recommended by our acupuncturist to help with seasonal allergies and we have seen a huge improvement. We eat approximately 90% organically and try very hard to limit any junk (except at grandma's).

    Also like "fairlyoddparent," most people are shocked to hear we have any issues. She is always perfectly mannered, etc. when out or with others.

    In regards to "DDD," I would say her behavior is quite disruptive to our homelife. It can take hours for her to calm down after starting over something simple such as not wanting to brush her teeth before bedtime (a task we have done every night since she was a young infant). We sought help after our second daughter arrived to try and ease the tension to make it a happier place for everyone. However, it could just be she is smart and because we have "talked" too much, we have dug our own grave. The worst part is I thought we were doing the right thing by explaining everything so she didn't see she "understood" why she was being disciplined. Of course, I have now learned at her young age, she isn't able to grasp the "why" in the way I would.

    My husband and I try to keep a sense of humor about it and joke she is our "learning curve" to parenting. It appears our first round has not been a huge success.

    In any case, would you (as much more experienced parents) recommend getting a second opinion or just try to stay as consistent as possible and limit our "explaining?"

    Thanks again for everyones' response. My husband and I really appreciate all the help. It is just a relief to know we are not the only ones who have dealt with a child like this since none of our friends have these issues. Again, thank-you for any input.
  9. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    How is the "not explaining" going? That has to take strength to do. I also was an explainer and I gave my diva too many chances to do the right thing. I always expected her to choose the best way but alas, she was just a child and choose the child's way no matter how much I explained. Just like your child, she was very bright but just was not ready to understand the adult's way of seeing things. As with DDD, my diva could out explain me in her sleep. I was sure she would grow up to be a salesperson or politician or lawyer (the kind that can get the most guilty of guilty person off the hook). It would have been so much easier if I could have seen things the way she did. I wish I would have had the Manipulative Child book when she was a toddler. It helps show you ways to stop explaining.

    Any way, your daughter sounds lovely. You need to follow your mommy instinct on this. Keep looking for answers if you feel there is something to be found. Midwest's suggestion of a neuropsychologist would be a great place to start. Maybe have her tested for allergies as fairlyoddparent spoke about.

    We would love to hear some strategies that you are finding helpful. What are some frustrating times that you have found a way through?
  10. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    My daughter's allergies are to gluten and milk. We have a family history of celiac disease (gluten problem) and my other daughter had the usual celiac stomach problems. When we found that her problems were from gluten, we all tried the gluten free diet. I found out that I had symptoms that I didn't even know about.

    We did a test through that tested for gluten and milk. They can also test for soy, eggs, and yeast. We found out about it through that test but what convinced me is the results. I needed to do the test to find the self discipline to try the diet, but you could just try eliminating various foods.

    Since you are already eliminating most milk, I would try to eliminate it all to see what happens. Then you could try gluten and/or the other top allergens of soy, fish, egg, shellfish, nuts, peanuts. Some people also include corn as a top allergen. I have heard lots of stories of behaviour improving by eliminating gluten. I don't know much about the other ones.

    My daughter will turn into a difficult child is she eats the frosting off from a cupcake. That is all of the gluten she needs to react so you really need to be strict to see if it works. The good news is that I thought it was working for her within a few days. For me, I could tell by the second day that I was never going to willingly eat gluten again.

    There is another thread on the Early Childhood forum from Dr. Riley mentioning food allergies that you might find interesting.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2009
  11. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I don't know anything about allergies but that is an interesting thought. I did have one of the grandsons skin tested by an allergist about ten years ago but :surprise: I can't remember why! Obviously it turned out to be a non issue.

    Perhaps it would be helpful to spend a week or two keeping a journal to track the eruptions. There may be a pattern that has not been apparent. Do not let your little genius know you are keeping it, lol. I casually did that with one of my imperfect offspring and found that by rearranging our schedule (like you a schedule is important for my family) a little bit there was a marked reduction in temper tantrums.

    Just for curiosity sake, did the J&H worsen after the arrival of your second child? Perhaps being top dog for almost six years resulted in a marked change when sharing became necessary? Sending a hug. DDD
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would get a second opinion.