I'm new . . . help

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by becklit, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. becklit

    becklit Gimme 5

    I have a 5 year old son that has had behavioral issues for a couple of years now. He's had a tough time socially in Kindergarten (i.e. hitting, spitting, etc.) He is a very smart little boy and academically he is doing very well. He's reading at about a 3rd grade level. He is just so exhausting when it comes to interacting with people. He's angry, impatient, aggressive, etc.

    Through a lot of reading on the internet, I have come to the conclusion that he might have ODD. We recently just started having him see a child psychologist to see if we could get some help.

    My problem is this: In all of the reading I've done on ODD, it says a major contributing factor for children having this disorder is ineffective parenting. I am soooo frustrated because I feel like my parenting style is more consistent with how you should parent a child with this problem, but I can't seem to get my husband to try to do the same for any length of time. He can be patient and consistent for only so long before HE blows up. I think it just contributes to the vicious cycle we can't seem to get out of.

    We have 5 children and all of them exhibit different levels of this same behavior, and that is what makes me think our parenting methods definitely could be contributing. Our teenage son, who we really have never had a lot of trouble with has really been difficult this past year. He's emulating so many of his father's behaviors, but my husband can just not see it, nor does he see a need for his own behavior to change. Either that, or he just can't. We have lots of talks about how we need to change our behavior to change our children's, but then it never lasts.

    I am definitely not a perfect parent by any means, but I wish my husband and I could be on the same page. I know modeling appropriate behavior is very important in dealing with difficult kids, but what if only one parent is trying to do it? It just seems like a losing battle. Has anyone had this experience? What do you do? HELP!
  2. Jungleland

    Jungleland Welcome to my jungle!

    Hi, welcome to this wonderful site. I am sure others will be by soon or tomorrow with their welcome's as well.

    When I first started knowing my difficult child (problem child, aka gift from God) had issues, I totally blamed myself and husband. But...we had previously raised 2 older children and other than the usual little kid "stuff" they were and are angels on earth. So, the more time went by, we realized she was a very difficult child.

    ODD rarely stands alone, it is usually a diagnosis that goes along with ADHD, mood disorders, Autism, etc.

    I highly suggest you seek a full evaluation at a Children's Hospital or at least a Neuropsychologist.

    It really helps us to keep our members straight in our minds if you do a signature, like mine below. Here is the link in how to do that:


    Have you read The Explosive Child? It is a sort of "bible" around here that helps so much!!

    Please read alot of the threads here and in the archives, there are many topics that can help you feel you are not alone! You are not!!!

    Hugs of welcome,
  3. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Becklit. I hope you'll find good help and encouragement here.

    At what age did your son start reading? Did he have a very early interest in the alphabet or words?
  4. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi Becklit and welcome! So glad you found us!

    Phew, parenting on the same page. That's a minefield sometimes because if you make suggestions, it can be viewed as criticism (in our house anyway ;) ).

    I think possibly the best place to start would be to have the therapist (psychologist) work with your son for a while and then have a session with you and husband to hammer out some concrete behavior management/parenting strategies. That way, the information is coming from therapist and not you.

    I'm a big fan of tag team parenting. I would deal with thank you until I met my max and was starting to unravel, then husband would step in while I gathered my wits, and vice versa. With so many kids, it can get tricky and doesn't always work but it is a start and for us anyway, it also I think created a sense of how we were team (on bad days, we say it's us against them - the kids, LOL). If your husband is able to do it for short periods of time right now, start building on that. When you see the signs of him getting frustrated, can you step in before it escalates and carry on, while shooing him off somewhere to take a breather? I know, it's hard because you're basically having to manage *his* behavior too in a way, but maybe if he sees that consistency and calm work and you build him up to longer periods...????

    It's been my experience that many times the "blame" is laid at the feet of the parents because of poor parenting skills. Heaven knows, I heard that a *lot* in the early years. And to a certain degree, that was correct in my case. I wasn't the picture of consistency and calm. But as my parenting skills got honed and we were still dealing with the same kinds of behaviors, professionals were able to look past us and move on to what was going on with thank you. Throw in a family history of mood disorders and his dysfunction in school, home, and community along with some pretty serious thought disorders, and it became clear even to professionals by age 6 that thank you had something else going on besides inept parents. ;)

    Anyway - again, welcome and so glad you found us!!
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    G'day, Becklit. You have my son. I suspect you have my other kids as well.

    We can't diagnose on this site. Even if we could, I can't see your kids, I can only go by your one post. But all that aside, there are a few things screaming at me -

    1) ODD rarely turns up without some underlying condition. I am also very firmly of the opinion that there is something out there which LOOKS like ODD, probably gets diagnosed as ODD a lot, but which is primarily the result of TRADITIONAL parenting styles (note: NOT bad parenting) which simply are incompatible with that particular child and especially that child's underlying disorder. You can rapidly bring about change and reduction in this semblance to ODD, by doing an almost 180 degree change form that position. The alternative methods which for the majority of us bring that improvement can be found in the book already recommended, "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. If you look on the Early Childhood forum you will see dome discussion on this book and how to apply it to younger children.

    2) The early/good reading is definitely screaming at me. I think SRL is thinking along similar lines - possible hyperlexia. Again, this is a label with varying viewpoints connected to it. At the very least, there is a group of children observed who read at a high capability level at an extraordinarily young age, but generally do not have the same degree of understanding of the content of what they read. That's not to say that they don't understand at all, just that they don't understand AS WELL as someone of a more appropriate age. For example, you say he is reading at a Grade 3 level - but is he also able to discuss it at a Grade 3 level? difficult child 3 could pick up a Gideon's Bible and read it aloud when he was 2, but he was not able to understand what it was all about. However, he had an extreme and very early fascination for numbers and letters, to the extent that they distracted him from just about anything else in his environment.

    3) Some people believe hyperlexia is a subset of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) (Pervasive Developmental Disorder). Certainly this seems so in the case of our family. But this is not the disastrous news some people would have considered it, in years gone by. High-functioning autism and similar are really much more hopeful in outcomes than many people realise. The understanding of autism and the diagnostic parameters have changed a great deal in recent years. People are being diagnosed these days who, in years past, would simply have been considered eccentric or difficult, or quirky geniuses. We're talking about high-functioning here.

    All of these are reasons for getting your children assessed, preferably by a neuropsychologist. The earlier you get answers, the sooner you can begin to get the correct support in place for your kids. A big part of that support is changing your mind-set towards the kids and their motivation, and in changing your discipline methods.

    Think about discipline - what is its purpose? Now think about how it works in your household - do you achieve that purpose? What is the outcome, for you?

    We discipline our children to teach them the right way to behave. The way we discipline will vary because we each have our own methods, but traditional parenting (what many of us grew up with) is generally punishment-based. "Do that again and I will smack!"
    (Some kids would interpret that last statement as just that - a statement announcing what is about to happen, almost an instruction to do it again.)

    We have found with our kids that we need to turn it around to positive motivation - reward-based. Part of that also avoids "don't" and "no" and replaces it with directed alternatives. Example - Johnny is tapping his pencil on the desk repeatedly. Instead of saying, "Johnny, stop it," the teacher instead says, "Johnny, will you come over here please? Bring your worksheet with you, I want to talk to you about what answers you think you should write."
    There are other options, but the teacher has just removed Johnny from the problem. She could also have said, "Johnny, please put your pencil down and pick up the eraser." But whatever she said, it involved helping Johnny change tasks and removed the pencil from his hands and/or proximity to the desk. The underlying problem - Johnny unable to write down his answers - also needs to be addressed.

    Some things to remember -
    1) Kids generally are not bad by nature. Kids like to please you. Their first choice generally is NOT to upset you. However, long-term problems in their ability to comply with a number of things difficult for them, can change this. But given half a chance, kids will quickly revert back to wanting to please you again, as soon as they realise it's back on the table AND within their grasp.

    2) Some kids find life tougher than you think. Especially the really bright kids - if they have a hidden learning difficulty, they are very good at hiding it. It's almost subconscious, this is not deliberate deception.

    3) It is not only possible, it's unfortunately too common, for kids to be both gifted and learning disabled. It's also very hard for schools to diagnose because it's easier to assume that the giftedness can compensate for the learning problems. Unfortunately, the opposite is more likely.

    4) When identified and appropriate help made available, a kid who is both gifted and learning disabled CAN improve.

    5) It has been said (NSW Association for Gifted & Talented Children) that members of a family are generally within 10 IQ points of one another. So if you know that one of your kids is definitely in the superior range for IQ, assume the others are in the same ballpark, no matter what you are told the tests show. Unless there have been other external factors, such as acquired brain injury, for example. And even then...
    If you treat a child as intelligent, you often can improve their performance. If you treat a child as unintelligent, that can have a corresponding effect.

    YOu and your husband need to be on the same page with discipline. YOu also each need to be consistent in yourselves.

    If, by some chance, any of your children are remotely Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and/or much brighter than average, they are likely to have a keenly developed sense of justice. This means they are likely to be REALLY resentful of any discipline which resembles (in their eyes) injustice. Some classic punishments, such as grounding, loss of TV priivileges, loss of computer game privileges (especially that one) seem really unfair to these kids especially if the punishment is for something totally unrelated, such as answering back. The punishments that work best (if you absolutely must punish - there are better ways) are the "natural consequences" ones. For example, your child steals money from your wallet: the natural consequences are - the money must be paid back, and it will be a long time before you trust that child again.
    Or your child is slow to come to the dinner table: the natural consequences is - his dinner is cold, plus he has to eat it alone because everyone else has finished.

    There is so much more, but I don't want to overload you. I strongly recommend you talk to your husband about us. Try to get him to read the posts, talk about them together and maybe even get him to lurk here too. My husband does this and finally joined in his own right. It has made a huge difference in how we parent the kids now. Much more cooperatively, much more consistent between us.
    Sometimes he will come home from work, having read stuff I've written during the day and he will say, "I never realised you felt like that; why didn't you tell me?" and I guess it was one of the many little things we had just never got around to sharing.
    Or maybe he will come home and continue a discussion I had earlier in one of my posts, perhaps raising a point I hadn't thought of.

    We thought we were good communicators before - so if WE have found improvement, then anybody will.

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, welcome to our little corner of the world.
    ODD is very rarely a stand alone diagnosis and is so devastating because the blame is placed on parenting. I personally don't believe ODD EVER stands alone nor does my psychiatrist. He thinks there is always something triggering the ODD behavior, such as a mood disorder or autistic spectrum disorder.
    Have you ever read about Aspergers Syndrome? I don't have a clue if he has it, but he does sound like he could, and it could mimic ODD. I ask because there is SO MUCH HOPE for these uber-bright kids with Aspergers...they tend to be literal thinkers and lack social skills, but are highly intelligent and can learn, with help, to understand people better.
    I would take him to see a neuropsychologist. They do more intensive evaluations than regular psycologists and know about both neurological and psychiatric disorders (two for one). My son was tested for ten hours, which greatly helped us.
    I wish both of you good luck. More advice will come along.
  7. becklit

    becklit Gimme 5

    difficult child stands for "Gift from God"? Really? And that's the term you use to describe a child with the kind of challenges that are discussed here?

    How highly ironic! When my 5 year year old "difficult" son was born, we struggled coming up with a middle name for him. With all of my children I have felt that it was important to come up with something that was really significant. After struggling for quite a long time (he was nameless for about the first 4 days of his life) a thought popped into my head that his middle name should be "Matthew". The meaning of the name Matthew, I'm sure you may know is . . . "Gift from God". We thought it was a nice idea, but never really considered it truly significant until now. Wow.

    I'm glad I happened upon this forum. That little "coincidence" has given me just the little boost I have needed. I'm not sure how much of a role religion and faith play on this discussion board, but I have to say that I feel God knew well in advance the challenges we would be having with this child, and helped us name him appropriately. . . as a reminder to us of how dear this little boy is, despite his problems. Thanks everybody. I'll post again I'm sure.
  8. becklit

    becklit Gimme 5

    You sound like me! I could use your signature as my own. "former teacher with- life under control . . . now can't control the legos . . ." !

    My son had a very early interest in letters and words. He could speak very well and very clearly well before he was two. (Knew the alphabet before 18 mos.) He is 5 and started reading a little bit at 4, but has taken off exponentially over the past 6 months. Now he reads everything in sight. He comprehends well too.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Becklit, I'm glad your son has good comprehension. My son has done well there too, as long as the comprehension was for fairly obvious stuff like "What colour was the man's coat?" when the information was clearly in the text. Trickier is he more subtle stuff such as "What do you think the girl was thinking when she told her friend, "I don't care about anything any more!"?

    Sometimes a kid can seem amazingly bright and we treat them that way until they hit an academic brick wall early in their teens. I've seen this happen to a few kids, including two of my own - difficult child 1 and easy child 2/difficult child 2. Especially easy child 2/difficult child 2 - we got her accelerated into school on the basis of a sky-high IQ and apparently extreme capability. She was about 10 when the problems became obvious - it turned out she has ADD and is borderline Asperger's. She's taking longer to properly mature but is getting there with help. In contrast, her older sister easy child has the same intellect but not the same problems. She has just continued to do well once she "got the knack" of self-motivation in her studies.

    easy child attended a school that was academically selective - entrance is by examination and only the most exceptional students were accepted. She had a very bright classmate who was Aspie. Somehow he had passed the tests with flying colours even though he had fairly high support needs. He was university level in maths (at US Middle School age) and had done brilliantly in English and Comprehension (part of the entrance exam) or he wouldn't have got in, but easy child told me that when it came to the more subtle aspects of English, he just wasn't up to it. For example, when they were studying "Hamlet" and the class were discussing Hamlet's indecision, his fixation on revenge and how this was hurting the people he loved, this Aspie boy was just not able to 'get' it. All he could see in the play was the blood & gore in the final swordfight scene which leads to so many dead bodies on the stage.

    At some stage you need to get your son assessed and generally checked out. Sooner is better, because he's so bright that the older he gets the more effectively he will be compensating (on the surface at least) for whatever the problem is. There is a difference between compensating for a problem, and being able to overcome it entirely. I describe it like a swan on the lake - a kid with a learning problem has a much harder job trying to keep up with the other kids, in whatever area he is having difficulty. But a bright kid who is good at compensating - all people see is the serenity of a swan gliding on the lake. They don't see the furious activity beneath the surface which is needed to maintain that semblance of tranquility.

    Specialists and educators over the years will give you this advice or that advice. In the meantime, you will work out some things for yourself, that work well for you and your family. I have learnt some things too.

    1) He's reading - so encourage him to read even more, from a range of different text types.

    2) You read the books too and discuss them with him. Try to go beyond the obvious as far as he can easily manage it.

    3) Make sure his environment is enriched. Our house is a mess but it is also a rich learning environment. For years we had Graeme Base's "Animalia" frieze on the wall where the kids could sit and work on the many puzzles hidden in each frame.
    Behind the toilet door we have a rotating range of learning aids. I would write them for any of the children who needed an extra hand in something, and younger kids would inadvertently learn it too. Times tables, French irregular verbs, tongue twisters, Escher prints, optical illusions.

    4) Watch TV & DVDs with subtitles on.

    5) Watch documentaries and other educational TV.

    And generally - make sure he is getting enough intellectual stimulation. I found my really bright kids would drive me crazy, and get really resentful, if there just wasn't enough to occupy their minds. easy child's teachers found this early, too - they had to keep shoving work at her or she would begin to fidget and misbehave. difficult child 3 would get very anxious but would often settle down if we gave him some maths schoolwork to do.

    Teach him chess. Teach him music (much easier, for a reader - I stuck the relevant letters to piano keys and then wrote out the sequence of notes needed to play difficult child 3's favourite tunes; it was a short step from there to reading music).

    Regardless of what your son may have in terms of any underlying issue - these techniques helped us keep our bright children occupied and productive. Along the way their interests and direction became more apparent and this helped us understand and support their interests. We let them work at the pace they set. If an electronics kit, for example, said that it was suitable for 10 year olds but our 6 year old was really interested, then we let him have a go (with supervision, at least until we were sure he could manage).

    All through this - observe, make notes, keep your own diary on what he says and does. Anything interesting, any problem, any concern - write it down. You may think it will be burned into your brain in letters of fire - but don't count on it. If you can, encourage your husband to also make notes (or at least to contribute to yours, or ask you to note down something).

    At some stage you will be very glad of this resource. What if one day your son becomes the next Bill Gates? You will need some good records to write his biography and make another fortune!

    And a quick housekeeping issue with the site - when you're responding to a person's post in particular, clicking "reply" at the end of each message you want to reply to doesn't always make it clear whose message you're replying to. You also don't need to make multiple posts to reply. You can get everybody's messages dealt with in just one post, by referring to each person by name in a separate paragraph.

    A PM is different, because that is a private message that only travels between you and the person you sent it to.

    Your son REALLY sounds like mine - and while there can be a lot of hard work at times, the joys are amazing.

  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    If his alphabet recognition was that young, you'll want to look into Hyperlexia. It often rides along with one of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Even if he made a later than the typical Hyperlexic does in jumping into reading it's probable you will find some help using those strategies.