Help with 9 year old daugher

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by LANELLY7, Mar 12, 2012.


    LANELLY7 New Member

    Our daughter was recently diagnosed with ODD. She mainly displays the behavior at home and with the people who love her most – myself, my husband and my mother (she says she doesn’t misbehave at school because she doesn’t want to embarrass herself). However lately, it seems to be trickling into school a bit (this year her teacher has noticed that she seems to lack some confidence, but other than that, her teachers always think she’s the perfect student – I don’t think they’d believe us about what we deal with at home).

    A little history on our daughter. She has ALWAYS been tough. At 15 months the doctor commented that we seem to have an early case of the terrible 2’s (it’s never gone away). As a toddler it would take me an hour of chasing her around the house to get her into time out. I often wasn’t able to get her into her car seat – she would fight me for an hour and would end with me crying and her sitting on the floor of the car (once a stranger came to help me and we were successful because she stopped fighting when the woman came over). When she got mad at mealtime, we would have to throw ourselves over the table to keep her from grabbing everything and throwing it on the floor. At age four she sat on the step watching me empty the entire room of her toys –she pretty much laughed at me.

    Up until now, we have done conventional parenting with her –rules, consequences, consistency- tried reward charts (never worked), positive reinforcement (she just denies our compliment, “no I’m not creative!")… Since she always seems to care more about making a statement than the actual consequence, we were advised to make the consequence more severe – rarely worked. Ignoring her doesn’t work either. She just ends up looking for something she can do that we can’t ignore. Since November, it has escalated to a point where our family is no longer functioning. She has always been defiant, dramatic, irritable and manipulative, but now she is putting her hands on us, yelling at the dog/poking him, poking us with pencils, ripping our papers, locking us out of the house, causing signs of physical stress in her younger sister…

    We have realized that traditional parenting does not work on our kid. (Works perfectly on our six year old daughter, though). We have been doing a lot of reading (i.e. “Transforming the Difficult Child – the Nurtured Heart Approach,” “Explosive Child") and have been completely changing our parenting. Although, as my husband recently says, it feels like we’re not doing any parenting (i.e. give her a consequence – she ignore the consequence and her behavior escalates, don’t give her a consequence – she just continues doing what she’s doing ). We’ve been in survival mode lately – just trying to keep her behavior from escalating, to get the situation in control, but we’ve been having a near impossible time doing this.

    She’s an average/above average student (would probably do better if she didn’t have low self-esteem and get frustrated so easily and if she worked harder – she’s satisfied with doing the minimum necessary to not get in trouble/noticed), she’s a talented singer/actress and loves her theater class. She has anxiety (runs in the family), very self conscious, has an easy time making “friends,” but doesn’t seem to be able to build real friendships/maintain healthy relationships – bottom line – doesn’t really have any close friends.

    We met with a psychiatrist who thinks it's time to try some Prozac, but we're having a hard time getting our head around it. Sometimes it feels like she's totally in control, but yet, what kid would take it to such extremes if they were? We can't go on like this and need to try something big. But, is medicine the way to go? Any thoughts would be so helpful. And, if you got this far, thanks so much for reading my super long post - appreciate it so much!
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    (((Hugs))) Welcome....many of our children are just like your daughter.

    ODD is basically a placeholder diagnosis until the doctor can figure out WHY the child is defiant. Has the doctor mentioned any other possibilities? Does anything run in your family (or her birth family if she is adopted)?

    LANELLY7 New Member

    Thanks for your reply. The only thing we know of in our family is mild anxiety (myself, my sister, my father...).I finally went on a low dose of Prozac a few years ago and it has made a huge difference for me. She definitely has some anxiety, but we haven't yet come up with anything else. She's in therapy and it's not really helping. As she says (defiantly, of course), "no one can help me! I'm just a bad kid!" So hard!!!! :-(
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Anxiety is a horrible thing. Both of my sons and I have it. We each respond to different medications. Eeyore takes Abilify, Tigger takes Ativan and Clonodine and I am medication-free now but have taken Buspar and Xanax (and will again if I need to do so).

    I have found that traditional punishments (time outs, taking things away) just feed the anxiety and makes everything worse. When the boys were little we worked with a behaviorist and rewarded all positive behaviors and ignored all negative behaviors (unless we needed to stop them to prevent harm to someone). We had to be careful with the compliments as Eeyore rejected them, we have to reward "the behavior" and not "him" (ie. "I like that you put your dishes in the dishwasher." and NOT "You are so helpful!"
  5. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Check back tomorrow as more people will respond. I think lots are already sleeping!!
  6. ash33

    ash33 New Member

    I would definitely look into medications. My 5 year old is on medications and it's helped. And I take medications too. Before I was against it but when I tried them, I couldn't believe the difference. Good luck.
  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I totally lost my response to you, I promise to come back since I have to put Q to bed.

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned
    The Explosive Child by Ross Greene
    What Your Explosive Child is Trying to Tell Doug Riley

    Both books help sort thru what our kids who behave in oppositional and defiant ways are going through, how to help them and why reward and consequence programs do not work well for them in many many cases. I recently got a great copy (gave my ohter one away) at for around 2.50 no shipping. (used but in mint condition).

    Glad you are here, I am sure many will come along, lots of questions too, it helps us know which things relate to our situations so we can share what we have gone through but certainly you know best for your daughter and can pick thru our posts to see what helps. I know for me, this has been the most important support I have found ever. no joke....

    LANELLY7 New Member

    buddy - I just finished The Explosive Child (great book!), but haven't read the book by Riley - I'm going to go online now to look for a copy! We've definitley realized consequences, reward charts, etc. don't work and just escalate the problem. But we're not really finding anything that tells us what to do when she crosses the line (i.e. hits us, completely defies us) and we can't ignore the behavior. We've been trying to be more proactive in solving problems with her, trying to act before she loses it, but often times she breaks with little warning and without our conventional parenting techniqes available to us - we're often at a loss as to how to handle her. Thanks so much for your reply!

    LANELLY7 New Member

    ash33 - Because of my personal experience, I know they can work and am tempted to give it a try. Just so hard to give it to a nine-year-old - don't want to medicate unless we really need to and we're just so confused. We're also really scared of side effects - keep reading statistics on increased suicidal thoughts, mania, etc. Would you mind sharing what your son's diagnosis is?
  10. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Another suggestion is to keep DETAILED notes about each situation....the before, during, and after kind. Patterns might emerge that could give you some insight. The before can be as much as an hour preceeding the behavior. I know that's how I realized some of difficult child 1's triggers (saw the patterns). I also learned a LOT more through talking things through with him way after he'd calmed down. That's when I realized how very differently he thought and how "out of whack" his reactions were. It might help you....but it might not.....but thought I'd throw it out there.
  11. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I hear that... the only thing that has ever worked for me for the aggression has been medications (clonidine, concerta being the ones that make a difference in that area), anti-depressants actually made him MORE aggressive so fair warning, that happens to some kids, lots of stories here, but for many others it has helped a ton. There are other groups of medications for kids who get aggressive plus anxiety.

    The other thing that made a difference was literally what those books say to do in part anyway.... I worked hard to reduce the issues in the areas I could.... didn't make everything a huge hairy deal. I have home behavior people so he is OUT for three days per week and we could get along better. I have been slipping on that lately and the aggression and rage is increasing. I am going carefully through my list of issues with him and today I got my priorities better straightened out and other than one huge meltdown he did well...especially after the meltdown. Unlike a couple of days ago, I sorted thru it with him one thing at at him to get thru the next thirty minutes, then negotiated the next hour and then he made a ton of great choices and now I have this really great smelling (took a shower with the new shampoo he wanted) kid who is in bed and asleep after actual hugs! Trust me, this is not the way it always goes for me but I wanted you to know that it really can work sometimes.

    Have you had a complete evaluation (neuropsychological) done? These psychs are able to look at behaviors, learning ability and strengths/weaknesses etc...and tie it to how the brain works and it helps to get at the underlying causes of these types of behaviors and anxieties etc.... it is much more thorough than a typical psychiatric or psychiatrist....(not saying they are not great for what they do...just for our kids we need a much broader picture taken of things)...

    So they will look from a learning perspective, thinking perspective, mood perspective, etc... is it developmental, brain chemistry, etc....

    (she is at an age where everything becomes much more intense,--- requirements for independence, academic and social language/communicaiton, social skills requirements, etc. She is at the age that many kids are identified with some kind of learning issue or developmental issue that flew under the radar because it may not be as obvious as a kid like mine. I had many students who between grades 3-5 really started to struggle in school. It is super common. Worth giving a bigger look-see.....

    Many of us also do a full speech/language pathology and Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation (for sensory and motor) then give those results to the neuropsychologist so they can be incorporated into the big picture analysis.

    Oh, by the way, I also bought the therapeutic companion book to the explosive child which goes into more detail (painfully so at times I admit) for working on building the skills that are needed. It is out there, maybe try the library before purchasing, I had a gift cert. and it is expensive.
  12. Buglover

    Buglover Member

    My advice for you ( I am also just starting to figure out what is going on with my kiddo, who is 6) is this: sit down and write your daughters life story, include every bizarre behavior she has exibited and try to find a pattern to what may have triggered it. We could NOT figure out what was up with our daughter, who exhibited behaviors across the board from ADHD, ODD, Autism, even early bipolar signs ????? I mean I was so sick of trolling the internet trying to figure out how to FIX MY KID. Her pediatricians would say "some kids have tantrums at age 5" blah blah "some kids stop napping early" (uh, really? THAT early???? I was lucky to get a nap out of her at 10 months) blah blah "some kids wont eat much " blah blah blah blah. I had a stack of books up to my eyeballs that I had read and no matter what no diagnosis fit, and her pediatrician thought she was fine. Then one day we were in a public bathroom (very loud, tiled) and she refused to use the restroom. She stood in front of the sink with her hands clamped over her ears and refused to move her hands to wash them. There was another girl about 7 standing there watching and she said "Oh!!!! Does this bathroom HURT YOUR EARS????" and my daughter nodded her head and started crying. And THAT was how we figured out what was bothering my poor daughter, the noise! Her ears are so over-responsive that she literally melts down over sounds that most people think are normal. So your daughter (remember, kids have no way of knowing that they are not perceiving things correctly as they have nothing to compare it too) could have a sensory processing problem (tactile/auditory/visual, etc) that causes her to get extremely agitated, then she would act out. My own daughter will get so worked up she will run through the house screaming that we all hate her, etc. because she is so bothered by her own behavior. She also "holds it together" at school, which seems to be a very common theme on this forum. They let it all out at home, and its extremly difficult. It is VERY STRESSFUL and difficult on a family and the other kids involved.

    So anyway, after writing out her whole history after that girl commented on her ears, we were able to figure out that most of the time when daughter has freaked out there has been a loud situation involved, or a transition where she may face loud noise. Does you child struggle with transitioning? This would mean the actual drive to school, the process of getting ready for school, a meltdown in the car on the way home from school or anywhere else. If they are anxious about something happening once they leave the house )which could very well happen) they can get very difficult.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Has your daughter ever had a comprehensive evaluation by a child behavioural specialst team, or a neuropsychologist? Ever had an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation or an Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) evaluation?

    Our experience was that ODD... means "there is more going on". You may have to push hard to get evaluations. You may have to pay for some of the initial ones yourself (we had to, and we're in Canada where that is not so "usual"). Occupational Therapist (OT) and Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) evaluations are worth getting before a comprehensive evaluation, because even many of the best evaluation teams don't include these... BUT, if you have the reports... they WILL use them.

    What would you be looking for?
    Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation: sensory and motor skills issues. These snowball... what may not be obvious to us, is HUGE to the kid. And every year that goes by where these things are not recognized and dealt with, compounds the problem.

    Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) evaluation - at this age, I'd be especially looking for the full range of APDs (not just the classic Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) which affects processing of verbal language)... things like auditory figure ground are extremely subtle, and extremely frustrating for the kid.

    You may well find that your child doens't fit "one" diagnosis (diagnosis). Rather, there MAY be a number of things going on... any one of which would require interventions and accommodations, but when taken together... it's almost worse than a "major" diagnosis like Asperger's or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).... partly because nobody believes you that it can possibly be that bad!

    Complicating factor: sleep. How is her quantity of sleep? How about quality - harder to measure, but if us humans don't get enough quality sleep... that alone can induce significant behavior problems even in adults (worse in kids), and if there are other existing issues, sleep problems WILL make them worse.

    Just some ideas...
  14. addie

    addie New Member

    Hi! I am just curious about the suggested use of Prozac. Of course i would never presume to question a psychiatrist (well, not in your case) but I have parented children like yours for years, and never come across Prozac being the medication of choice.
    she certainly sounds ODD, very similar to my two girls but identical to neither. Mine presented differently though both suffered from ODD; one is developmentally delayed, the other normal to high intelligence. Sadly, in my experience of my girls and the many others I have fostered, the more intelligent they are, the more difficult it is to control their behaviour.
    I am possibly a bit out of touch with medications being used today, since my current two fosters have been with us for years and are under control, but one of them has a 3 yr old sib (living with bio-mom) who has just been put on risperdal for ODD. Yes, it is shocking at 3 yrs old, but has been done by a highly respected pediatrician, even though in my humble opinion pediatricians tend to be more conservative in the use of psychotropic medications than psychiatrists. But I have to say the child is extremely difficult, very similar to her sib who is in my care, and risperdal worked for mine, though she no longer needs it.
    I wonder why Prozac instead of risperdal or Seroquel, which are both highly effective for ODD behaviors. I have never used Prozac for children, but IF it was risperdal or Seroquel then I would suggest giving it a try as although some say it has to build up in the system, in my experience you would know pretty quickly if it was working.
    If ODD is the correct diagnosis, I would suggest that the sooner it is brought under control the better, as she will soon be entering adolescence. That is a signifant time in her development.
    i guess no harm in trying the Prozac. I mean, if it is not working, or just making her dopey, you will soon know and can discontinue. It sounds like you have tried everything else and it's not working, so time to try something different.
    I have read all those books, and love Transforming ... Also a newer book by Ross Greene called Treating the Explosive Child.
    My opinion about the use of medications is that if they work, they give you a window of opportunity in which to work, to do all the behaviour management that you can/is required, and then to wean the child off if possible, which again, in my experience of this type of explosive and violent child, often can happen. It depends on the cause of the behaviors.

    Oh, how well I remember the times spent huddled as a tear soaked wreck not having a CLUE how to get help, what help I needed, driving north, south, east and west to various professionals none of whom were much help, until I came across an ad for a drug trial and my dev. delayed daughter met the criteria. It was at a well known psychiatric hospital, and I was ready to try ANYTHING other than put her in an institution, which would have happened if we revoked the adoption. She was unmanageable. The difference when she went from the placebo to the risperdal was miraculous, but if given th choice I prefer to use Seroquel (I work closely with the same psychiatrist for all my kids) as I find there is less weight gain and less susceptibility to rhinitis.

    One thing I find very interesting about your daughter is her self awareness, her reluctance to act out at school or in public. But is there a lot of passive aggression? I never thought my youngest (and eventually the most difficult one) was ODD at all, never crossed my mind. She did not rage (till much older). But she refused to go to school or do anything SHE did not want to do, even at 2 which is when we adopted her. I thought it was funny that I had to build in extra Jess-time before going anywhere as if there was mud, for example, she would appear to accidentally fall into it, requiring going back to change. I coped. But the passive aggression got worse, and worse, and worse, creeping up over the years.

    Having said that, I stil think that self awareness, that unwillingness to draw attention to herself, is a really good sign and if you can get the right treatment for her now (which might well mean medications, even if only short term) well, there is clearly something there to build on.

    Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't know who diagnosed her, but before I'd do any medication (especially Prozac...very bad here for both me, my son and daughter), I'd take her to a neuropsychologist for a much more intensive evaluation. ODD is kind of an unhelpful label that doesn't mean anything. Ok, she is defiant. Why? ODD rarely stands alone.

    You are wise to be careful about medications. I have taken them all my life since age 23 (I have to), but until they get it right (which can take 5-10 years), the medications can be worse than the problems. Research any medication the doctor prescribes and ask questions. Prozac was a total disaster for us. I don't like SSRIs for children. JMO, but lots of kids get worse, not better, on antidepressants.

    My son also did not act out at school. Never did. And he got progressively better at home as he got school and community interventions so that now he is not a behavior problem, although he still has some issues that are non-behavior related (he is on the autism spectrum).

    Do the neuropsychologist first. Speech and launguage is covered in this. So are things such as ADHD (they have a computer test) and sensory issues. In fact, they barely missed anything! You will have much clearer picture after that. Welcome to the board :) but sorry you have to be here!
  16. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    The others have already given you excellent advice and I agree that it sounds like your daughter needs a much more thorough evaluation, and appropriate diagnosis, before much change can occur. Although I'm sure you've already tried these things, until your daughter has been further evaluated, I would continue picking your battles wisely. Respond only to issues where she is in danger of hurting herself, someone else, or destroying property. Ignore the rest no matter how difficult it is. We found that by ignoring difficult child 1, the intensity of his "tantrums" increased at first but gradually, when it began to dawn on him that he wasn't getting the rise out of us that he wanted, they lessened. Don't talk to her when she is in "meltdown" mode. If you have to speak to her, make your sentences short, keep them to five or six words at most. Talk to her in a neutral voice. Let natural consequences take over whenever possible. Although traditional methods of parenting won't work, consequences that are a direct result of her own inappropriate behaviors just might.

    While I agree that medication can be frightening, if used appropriately, it can help pave the way for positive changes to occur. Try to think of it as if your child had a physical illness. If she had an ear infection, she would need an antibiotic to get well. In much the same way, she might need medication in order to be able to communicate more effectively.

    Thinking of you today... SFR
  17. LANELLY7

    LANELLY7 New Member

    Thank you so much to everyone for your thoughtful responses and support. LOTS of good stuff to think about. (In fact I had dreams about all your responses last night.)

    Haven't had any Occupational Therapist (OT) or Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) evaluations done (had to look up the acronoyms - all so new to me!). Really haven't noticed any sensitivity to sounds, motor skill issues, etc., but I guess it's worth a try (all her development milestones were on target). The nuersopsych evaluation looks interesting, will also have to look into that - didn't even know that existed!

    I never thought transisitions were a trigger, but after more thought, I guess they are. She doesn't want to stop doing things that....she doesn't want to stop doing! She doesn't like to be told no, she doesn't handle hearing no very well. She often tells us we're mean parents because we don't let her do what she wants to. And if we did, she would be happier.

    Why the Prozac? I think because he's thinking anxiety/depression (although probably more anxiety). But, I was so overwhelmed in the meeting yesterday, I probably didn't ask all the right questions. I also think I didn't question Prozac, and was actually relieved when he mentioned it, because it is the one drug that I am familiar with and am not scared of. I think, as many of you hit on, one of my concerns about giving her medications is, what are we treating and is this the right medication? We think this, we think that, but we don't know anything!

    Re: ingnoring her. It seems that everything escalates when we do. That is why I believe recently it has gotten worse. Laying on the floor kicking and screaming isn't getting our attention so she is getting desperate and trying to find things we can't agitating the dog or ripping her sister's artwork. She gets a pleased smile on her face when she realizes I'm no longer ignoring her.

    I'm especially having a hard time when she's hitting me. Our therapist recommended restraining her, but it's EXHAUSTING for me - she's not so small anymore and gets even more physical when I try to hold her down. But, if I just take it (I do some blocking), she doesn't stop.

    Re: passive agressiveness - yes, I think that's what goes on with her friends at school. A friend recently told me that her daughter was turned off by mine when she was trying to talk to my daughter and my daughter intentionally ignored her by singing (she's in theater - singing is her absolute passion...and also a great tool to annoy people with - she does it to my younger daughter all the time). She also likes to push people's buttons.

    Thank you again to everyone. My family is struggling so much right now, we're all scared and worried and confused and feel so helpless. Your ideas and support have been amazing!
  18. Buglover

    Buglover Member

    Hi Lanelly7,
    I wanted to mention one other thing that works for us, that we figured out when she was a baby and we found out later it actually works to reset their system in a way. ANd that is you give them a big, long, firm hug with a good squeeze action. Now I know it may be the very last thing you feel like doing (more like running and screaming the opposite direction sometimes) but it just works for a lot of kids. Something about over-riding nerve impulses with other nerve impulses, somebody on here will know the right terminology. My daughter is also an attention seeker, she cant stand being ignored and it does make it worse if you try to ignore them. But when you give her a good hard hug and tell her you love her she will just suddenly go limp and be all quiet and relaxed. Now she will even just stand next to us and say "You need to hug me now". I am not sure how this will fly when she is 15 but for now we just wing it as we go until we get her in Occupational Therapist (OT), she is on a wait list.

    Also, I know there is a school of thought that when they are kicking/screaming they are being "brats" but honestly I think she is also trying to tell you that she DOES need your attention, she is NOT ok, she is not handling the stresses of life well, etc. So maybe for some kids it is a form of manipulation but for some kids they are genuinely trying to tell you they need help, whether that means a hug, your undivided attention, occupational therapy, or prozac. One thing I figured out very quickly is that my parents generation would not have tolerated my daughter at all, I shudder to think what would have happened to her.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  19. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    My almost-NT 15yo... STILL "demands" hugs and cuddles - and she doesn't even have sensory issues or anything else going on (she's ADD). GIRLS can get away with it "forever"... guys have a little harder time.
  20. LANELLY7

    LANELLY7 New Member

    We've tried hugging her and it just gets her more mad (she's not an overly affectionate kid). However, a few days ago I started rubbing her back while she was blocking me at the door and that actually seemed to calm her down. I'll definitely have to try that again!