Conduct Disorder paper


New Member
Hi! I'm a marriage and family therapy student. I'm actually doing a paper for one of my classes on child Conduct Disorder. I wanted to get some feedback from parents of children with conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. Namely, I'm interested in hearing about the most difficult part of dealing with these disorders. Also, what would you like others to know about being a parent of children diagnosed with these disorders? I'm giving a presentation to my other clasmmates about my paper and would like to share some of your responses with them. I would appreciate any responses. Thank you for reading this.


Former desparate mom
Let's give this student a hand at understanding a day in the life of a difficult child.

Hope we can help you.

Thanks mftstudent for helping to educate folks about our kids.


New Member
Hello and welcome. I think the hardest part about having a child with ODD in my opinion is enforcing rules and avoiding a meltdown. A quiet home can tun into a battle ground over something as simple as saying no to playing a computer game or requesting that they have a shower. my difficult child needs to be supervised at all times, can never be left alone in a room with younger siblings and is a constant risk of starting fires. He loves to minipulate and has gotten very good at calling the shots even when you think you have won. Hope this is a help.


First I'd say that there's a misconception, particularly I find in psychology/ social worker circles that these disorders are caused by poor parenting. No offense, but I'm comparing it to psychiatric trained people who tend to look for a mental health issue before concluding it's a parenting issue. No doubt that abused kids have the same kinds of problems but the reason many of us need the support we find here is that our kids are mentally ill/ neurologically impaired and it has nothing to do with parenting.

Second, our kids are very complex. For many of us behavior modification is not the answer. Sure we could all use a refresher course, but some of us have spent a very long time with psychologists doing behavior mod before anyone wanted to look any deeper. eg: I'd point out that Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) and auditory processing can be issues for many of our kids.

ADHD vs. BiPolar (BP). I'd like to see all psychologists trained to differentiate. So many of our kids are diagnosis ADHD and put on stims only to be diagnosis at puberty as BiPolar (BP). Some kids can have both but there's a huger percentage of BiPolar (BP) kids misdx when young leading to wrong therapies, wrong medications, etc. Obviously the diagnosis needs to be made by a psychiatrist or neurologist but the psychologist/ pediatrician tends to be the first line of defense under most insur plans.

I don't think these kids can be treated by a psychologist who doesn't understand LDs. Something like NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) should be basic vocabulary for psycholgists.


Former desparate mom
I'm interested in hearing about the most difficult part of dealing with these disorders.

There are many difficult parts to this situation. One of them is that the diagnosis is never concrete. It changes frequently over a lifetime. Of course, that means interventions change.
One of my biggest disappointments is that there is no overlap between medicine and education. Many teachers have no idea what they are dealing with or what the current approach should be. Learning Disability (LD)'s is a basket phrase that encompasses a lot of different issues.

Also, what would you like others to know about being a parent of children diagnosed with these disorders?

Being a parent of a challenging child means: social isolation.
Being told frequently,what you are doing is wrong.
Being called weekly,sometimes daily at your job because your child is acting up.
Being forced to make decisions about potent medications in order for your child to function
Being embarrassed at every family function.
Being asked to leave private schools.
Being almost abused by our challenging child.
Being forced to feel guilty to your other children for the time and money put into a difficult child.
Being scared to the bottom of your very soul of what your difficult child will become.

After all of that, still trying to have a life and to find some joy.

Hope this helps.

Hi, I'm a clinical social worker myself and believe me, all the professional training in the world doesn't prepare you for dealing with YOUR OWN kids.

I think the hardest part, for me, is hearing other people tell you, "If that were my kid..." and then hearing how much better they'd handle the kid than you. Either by swatting, belting, stares, intimidating, or they're such great parents their kids wouldn't ever even dare think of doing the things our kids do. HAH!

Despite all my professional training, I have found that good parenting doesn't mean you'll have a easy child. In fact, setting limits, being consistent, using points and other behavior mod. techniques DON'T WORK! At least many of them don't and surely not with my kid.

Used to hate hearing, "you're a pushover that's why she does it" or "you never taught her respect", or the worst..."if that were MY kid..."
WHAT?! Believe me, tried it all, tried everything. Even spanking her when she was little, NOTHING worked with her.

Been to psychologist, psychiatrists, social workers, ect. Some were helpful, some were not. To me, realizing that IT ISN'T ME that's the problem, that I AM a good parent and my child is not this way because of any lack on my part took me years to accept. It was a relief, but at the same time, like I said, took me years to accept, mostly because I kept getting the message that I MUST be doing something wrong. And I wasn't.

Hope this helps.


New Member
The most difficult part of being a parent of a child with ODD?

Finding help. Of course there are doctors of all kinds to turn to. However, when medications, therapy, counseling, don't help, finding the right help is next to impossible unless you have a great deal of money or are elegable for SSI.
If you are of middle income, it's like running into a brick wall over and over.

This leads to the helpless feeling. When you love your child and cannot find the appropriate help, watching your child stuggle and suffer is the absolute worst.


Active Member
i think the hardest thing besides having to constantly be three steps ahead of your child, is having to prove your worth as a parent and having people point out to you that you may have guilt and wondering why when at the same time they are viewing and scrutinizing your parenting style under a microscope..i know in the social service field we are taught to look for something concrete, that there must be a reason-someone to blame-- especially when we cant seem to get anywhere either...its the parenting or some kind of abuse or neglect or drugs --something tangilble that we can point to. that is just not true. .sometimes there is just no fault which is why i like to refer to these as no fault brain disorders...i am a child and youth care worker...i know how to implement behaviour mod programs with consistancy using both positive and negative stimuli, i have tried these with my daughter. they work for a time, even changing the rewards to keep her from being bored is fruitless after while. she will straight out tell you there is nothing you can do to make me not do this becasue i want to do it right now...sometimes there is just nothing that can motivate some kids to do well...sometimes it just serves to push them deeper into a hole. emphasis on he sometimes... sometimes the tools are not accessible. there is something misfiring that will not allow them to forsee or perceive benefits of anything. getting this across to people is the hardest thing other than dealing with an odd child for me...i think there is a misconception that if kids behave like this they must have low functioning uncaring parents...its so sad because the kid is labelled in school as unsupported...sonja --sorry my keyboard is broken and i have lost access to spacing, caps etc...


New Member
If you need a "Show and Tell" for your odd presentation I would be happy to lend you mine for as long as you want


Active Member
You have very little control over them especially when they are raging which can be very out of the blue nature
Don't respond to behavior modification - positive , negative reinforcements , they don't have a cuurrency , you can't break them They have incredible intensity , anger , short fuses, totally inflexible and incoherent
They have an incredible drive , mission mode in getting what they want
knowing that things will really improve once they feel it is right for them
Yours Allan


Active Member
Namely, I'm interested in hearing about the most difficult part of dealing with these disorders.
- Constantly worrying about whether it's going to be a good day or a bad day.
- Frustrated that my parenting skills aren't good enough to tackle the disorder
- Seeing my son, who's so bright and sweet with so much potential, sabotage everything he's got going for him.
- Listening to other people who haven't been there telling me that all I need to do is learn how to say "no" and make him see who's boss.
- See my son fail in the school environment not because he's not smart enough but because he won't do the work - and trying to uncover the reasons when he won't/can't tell me.
- Giving my son medications when I've been anti-medication my whole life and I'm not even sure they are doing any good.
- Seeing my 3 year old imitating my son's worst behaviors
- Hearing my other son, who's just a year older, say he'd rather go play at other kids' houses instead of inviting them over because of his brother and the way he acts when someone comes to visit

Also, what would you like others to know about being a parent of children diagnosed with these disorders?
- More often than not, it's NOT the parents' fault. They've tried everything and are still searching for answers. We are the same as a parent crusading for better treatment for their child who has any other disorder or disease.

- We don't want to fight the school system, we want to work with them.

- We have tried every parenting trick - time outs, spanking, behavior charts, rewards, natural consequences. We've been stern, we've been understanding. Mostly, we've been consistent in what we expect from our children. We expect them to follow rules and punish them when they don't. We've been to every parent/teacher conference and go to more field trips than most of the other parents. We are involved in their lives. We are just like the parents of "normal" kids, we just have kids that have extra challenges, and we face those challenges every day without a break. Our children don't break the rules because we didn't give them the proper tools.

- My child is very intelligent, can be very sweet and loving, and has a sense of humor. He enjoys life and can be very enjoyable to be around. He is also the most stubborn person I've ever met and has great difficulties understanding and fitting into the world around him. He can be mean and can get violent. He can be these two people at the same time - as his parent I am searching as hard and as fast as I can to help him bring out the good and help him control the bad.



Well-Known Member
Wow - Linda, nicely said! I agree with every word, except I have not other children so I do not have that guilt to deal with.

OK, I would say one of the hardest things is to watch this child not fit into the world. Alot of them have no friends. Sometimes it is because they treat their friends poorly (same as they treat us - just the friend does not have to stand it!) at times I also think it is because they are punished so often, they do not get a chance to be social.
I have taken AIM away from my difficult child for good! Phone privleges - gone for weeks at a time. Sometimes she gets it back and the next day loses it again. She can not be trusted to go to the mall with friends, so she does not get to do much - and then - what friendships she did manage to start - get ruined once again.


I would have to say actually finding the correct diagnosis and doctors for your child is the hardest part. Finding a counselor who will listen to you and can help you find solutions instead of blaming you. I recall days crying on the phone begging receptionists to please talk to the dr. and see if they will see difficult child. There is only one child psychiatrist within a 150 mile radius where we live that sees children as young as difficult child. It took me almost a year to get him in to see a psychiatric. doctor. I would drive up to the institution here and just cry in the parking lot, debating weather or not to bring him in and commit him. I think it has added an extra 10 years onto my body..going through all of that drama. Thank God I finally have gotten with an excellent team of dr.s who have taken time to get to know difficult child and our family and who are advocates for us.

Being exhausted after a routine trip to the grocery store with the child.

Being told by others what they think you should be doing, as if you haven't tried it all already, or that the problem is a lack of discipline at home.

Hearing the teachers say that he/she seems fine in school in a manner that implies I must be doing something wrong at home; then after the teachers know there is a problem, they don't believe anything the child says.

Feeling more like a referee than a mom.

Feeling helpless.

Having your child in therapy weekly since June (this time) and the only diagnosis you get, is that she has all the traits of ODD and ADHD hasn't been ruled out. Behavior mods...not helpful.

Crying yourself to sleep at night because you are so busy attemtping to control the child's behavior, or to at least keep the peace, that you aren't able to enjoy your children.

Feeling like all you do is fight...fight for help for your child, fight for understanding, fight for some kind of control of the situation.

Always second-guessing yourself...always wondering if you are doing the right thing...are you hurting/helping.

Hurting for your child.

And as another said, we are the ones at all the school functions, field trips, room parties, etc. But then we are the ones accused of not being good parents because our children have problems.


New Member
No one knows what it feels like to be afraid of their own child, except for the parents on this board. Thank God for this board. I would not be alive without them (I was on the verge of giving up when I found them).


The most difficult parts...

Having to give up custody of your child because you can not keep yourself or your other children safe from the rages.

Being accused of being an unfit parent because you are looking for help for them and/or yourself. (this happened one month after being told in a very large meeting that "we've never seen such vested parents in trying to help their child".

Having your marriage fall apart. Not because of difficult child directly (Never the childs fault) but because of the extreme strain that you are constantly under.

Losing your job/career because of how much time you needed to take off.

Waiting for the next's just a matter of time. Like a bomb waiting to go off, you never know when it will be.

Watching your baby sleeping and crying over all the lost dreams that you had for them when they were little.



New Member
Living with a child who has a mental illness is a unique experience. Its like walking thru a minefield blindfolded. Its even harder when you the parent find out you have the same mental illness. Then the guilt pours on. You passed this on to your child and doomed him or her to a lifetime of being different. Its something we have to live with everyday of our lives. Eventually we start to get the blindfold removed with the help of medications and therapy and those tools begin to help us navigate our way in the world. The world becomes a bit more of a friendly place for us. The minefields have been cleared. We still need some help and accommodations but with help, we can do pretty well. We start to bloom. We start to notice that things are looking up more and more. Maybe it wasnt such a disaster to be here. Different isnt so bad.


New Member
It is really hard to explain. I went through a very difficult pregnancy, was told that if I did not abort I would die. I let it go; my son was too important to me. A beautiful little child was in me. Once born I was surprised that this was what parenthood would be like. He wouldn't sleep. He cried all of the time. He was never satisfied. It has never stopped.

You cannot imagine that your son would be so cruel to you and that they could be so cruel to themselves. They hate what they are. They know they are different and want to love you more than anything. Teachers call them lazy, stupid and stubborn. He is gifted and creative - he just can't show it all of the time. It is hard to imagine a job this hard. We love our children even when no one else can. We give up everything including our sanity, trying to find the key to helping our children. The hardest part is remembering all of those dreams we had about the beautiful little child that was yet to be born...



Well-Known Member
The most difficult part of raising a kid with ODD/CD is that they hate you. At least, they put on a perfect act, and I don't know if it will ever go away. They make up alternate realities to prove their justification for hating you. No matter what you do for them, they hate you. Help them? They hate you. Let them go on their own? They hate you. Get them help? They hate you.

Being the primary caregiver to one of these children is a horrible, lonely, thankless thing to be.