Intro and my 6 yr old that is making our lives difficult

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by dreamwallaby, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. dreamwallaby

    dreamwallaby New Member

    I am new to the group and I have a 6yr old that is ADHD/ODD. I have just spent yet another night battling with him, followed by the usual pity party of crying in my bed after he falls asleep, wondering where I've gone wrong.:sigh: He has allways been independant, defiant and willing to say things that are hurtful. I have bought several books on dealing with his increasingly hostile, difficult behaviors but I always feel at such a loss and often wish someone would just take him for a while. He was suspended from school twice during his kindergarten yr and was home on friday for his first suspension from 1st grade for punching another student. He has punched, kicked and spit at other kids. I have two other boys and the 2 yr old is starting to mimic everything he does. Tonight difficult child yelled at me that I was stupid and the "F" word because I had turned off his video game to do homework (which I had warned him several times was going to happen and had given clear time limits for) As he was yelling, my 2 yr old turned to me and said "Mommy stupid". My 2 yr old will also throw things, hit and yell in copy cat form of the 6 yr old. I am so scared of what it is doing to my younger two to see me and Cay yelling and me having to often physically restrain Cay or have to physically put him in timeouts. I had to call the county youth behavior center on Thursday and they sent a mobile response unit to talk to him and me about what our options for therapy are now that I have lost my job and health care. I applied for state health care, still waiting though.

    So right now I want to know what you do when the child is in a fit of rage and yelling profanity/hurtful words, throwing things and refusing to comply with any instructions? What if you have 2 other children watching? I am so tired and lost and hurt. I feel like a horrible mom and every night I think over what happened, wonder what I should/could have done differently, tell myself "tomorrow is a new day" and yet I know tomorrow will be the same.
  2. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    wow, can i ever relate to what you are saying here. mine is also the same age and siblings are involved. i go through the same thing everyday and it seems like nothing i can do helps. i actually just signed up here today hoping to get some help, so i wish you luck and i will check back on this thread, as i'm interested in reading what others have to add. wish i could be of more help. the only advice i can give is to definitely explain in the simplest way you can to the younger kids that what their brother is doing isn't right. i have told the younger kids that their brother doesn't know how to think the same as us so they can start to grasp that it's still not okay even though he won't stop doing it, and i make sure to tell them that they specifically are not to act like that. it seems to help somewhat although it doesn't completely eliminate the copying.
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    My heart goes out to you - I understand how stressful and distressing your situation is and you sound as if you are at the end of your tether (British expression?)
    The only things I can say are based on my experience with my 4 year old, who does not have any formal diagnosis yet (I do not want this at the moment) but whom most psychiatrists/psychologists in a hurry would very happily diagnose as ADHD/ODD I am sure... Anyway, what we call it doesn't really matter - what I recognise are the yelling matches, the rages from the child, the aggression (though not, perhaps, to quite the extent you describe), the longing for someone to take the child (shameful but true) and so on... My son does not take any medication and personally I am opposed to this unless as a last resort or because the child cannot function in school.
    My relationship with my son has improved over the past few weeks. His tantrums have lessened (not disappeared, that would be too much to hope for) and generally speaking he is more compliant, co-operative and peacable. How has this happened? The first thing was that I realised that we were in a completely negative cycle, which sounds like what is happening with your boy - ie I was generally furious and deeply irritated with him for his behaviour and made this clear to him, his behaviour then worsened, I got even more cross and on and on. What I am quite sure of with these kids is that getting angry with them fuels all their anger and pain and makes them much, much worse... Calmness is the key - which is far easier said than done, it goes without saying...
    So I kind of took a deep breath and started really turning my way of communicating with my son round. I started speaking to him lovingly whenever I could, praising him for everything I could, showing him my affection, preventing myself from talking to him with an irritated, frustrated, cold tone of voice. I also stopped battling with him, stopped issuing him commands when I wanted him to do something, started negotiating with him, talking to him as though we were partners in an enterprise rather than boss and employee... I read something called "The Explosive Child" which people on this forum recommend.
    Managing my son is a full-time operation. How you do this with two other little ones to look after I really cannot well imagine. It cannot be easy. I have to be constantly mindful of how I am approaching issues of boundaries and "rules". It works but it is a constant effort... For example. This morning he could have had two tantrums but didn't, each was averted... The first was because when I wanted him to get dressed for school he was playing with his cars and said he wanted to play for "one minute". I just said, in a firm and friendly tone of voice, "Okay, we'll just get you dressed and then you play for one minute" - he accepted this, no tantrum, and by the time he was dressed had forgotten and wanted to go straight to school. He then wanted to take a bag of toys to school even though he knows it's forbidden. Old-style communication: I insist, get angry at his stubborness, pitched battle, tantrum, shrieking, clinging on to the furniture, refusing to go anywhere (him, not me, though I have often felt like doing those things!!), etc, etc. New-style communication: I say, okay, J, put the toys in your bag and we'll take them but if the teacher says you can't take them to school,you have to give them to me, ok? He says ok, we leave happily, we get to school where of course the teacher explains to him it's not allowed, he happily accepts, pleasant goodbye...
    You know your son. You know how you can find strategies to work round all the horror stuff and how your relationship can be improved. This is my own take on it - I hope it's of some help.
  4. dreamwallaby

    dreamwallaby New Member

    Thank you Malika
    I actually am in the process of reading the explosive child. I hope i am able to put his plan b into action. It can be so hard in the moment and Often Cayleb's outbursts don't seem to be precipitated. Something that has never been a problem will suddenly cause a massive meltdown. From 3-bedtime it's just me alone with the 3. No matter what I ask from him, even trying to stay calm, he always says no first. I am sorry you are going through this, but I do feel better knowing I'm not alone
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome to the board, although I'm sorry you have to be here. I have a few questions for you that can us help you.

    1/What sort of professional diagnosed him? Has he ever seen a neuropsychologist? I would not, from long experience, trust any behavioral diagnoses from a pediatrician or talk therapist/social workers. They are not trained to evaluate what disorders could be making children act out.

    2/Are there any psychiatric disorders OR substance abuse on either side of his GENETIC family tree? Behaviors/mental illness/neurological problems, unfortunately, can be inherited and a look at the family tree often tells you a lot about what is really going on with your child.

    3/How was his early development, regarding speech, good eye contact with strangers, strange quirks, any obsessions, does he play well and appropriately with toys, and how did he before and does he now relate to his same age peers? Does he know how to hold a conversation or does he monologue at other people (maybe get too close to their space) and/or just answer "yes" "no" "I don't know." A lack of ability to communicate can cause huge frustration.

    Some disorders/problems can be worked with without medication. When I was a child, unfortunately I struggled with such bad depression that I often lashed out/raged and could not concentrate at all. but back then nobody knew how to help. Fortunately, we have come far (although perhaps not far enough). I lost a lot of my childhood to depression (I remember having suicidal thoughts as young as six) and I could not perform well or motivate myself and I cried a lot. I have struggled with a strong clinical depression all of my life and I know what it can do to you, and kids CAN get depressed. I know because I was one of them. All the therapy on earth did not help as much as medication (but it had to be the right combination...took a long time to find it). I hated having to take medications at first, but I was so miserable I tried them. In a sense, for me, they saved my life. Literally. Now I have had twenty or more great years, and I think of my medications as a diabetic thinks of insulin. They are just part of my daily routine and I have no choice but to take them if I am to survive and be functional. NOT all children NEED medications, but I would not rule it out.

    Others will come along :)
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    There are multiple steps you need to follow. While you are tired, it is more difficult. First thing - I find ODD as a label seems to set parents up for feeling angry and resentful towards their child, which in turn sets you up for conflict. What I find is better to keep in mind - these kids do not understand the disparity in rank between themselves and others. Everyone is equal in their eyes, they view everyone from their own perspective. For example, difficult child 1 would read a book to a baby and expect the baby to respond as an equal. He would talk to a baby and wonder why the baby did not converse back. Then he would talk to me (or another adult) the same way they spoke to him, which is NOT a good idea. Think about how you speak to your kids. "Come on! Go have your bath now!" and think how you feel when your child speaks to you the same way. "Mum! I told you not to turn off my game! That is very rude of you!"

    With these kids, they will give back exactly what you give to them. In order to manage them better, you have to model for them, the behaviour and responses you want from them. Say goodbye to "Because I said so and I'm the parent," because for these kids, that does not make sense. A lot of the "disrespect" is not necessarily true disrespect and if you react as if it is, you are guaranteeing conflict.

    Your aim needs to be to avoid conflict. That is your starting point. So begin by observing him. What sets him off? What calms him down? How can you get what you want from him, without conflict?

    An important point to always bear in mind - as a rule, kids want to be good. They do not try to be difficult or naughty. Their responses are in reaction to a combination of factors. Of course they will want to keep doing what they want to do, but there are natural consequences for failing to comply. ALso, a kid with ADHD or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) often routine and especially something they enjoy (computer games are common) as a coping strategy. Pulling them away from their gaming is challenging.

    But you MUST show them respect, if you want them to learn that they must respect others. First, you model it for them. And part of that, is respecting the child's gaming. We also have fought the same wars and trust me, once you begin to battle over this stuff, you will lose. It is bette to not engage in such a battle, than to engage and lose.

    So how do you not engage in battle, but still get what you want?

    You compromise. You recognise that gaming is a coping strategy for them, and also recognise that just as you don't like being asked to stop what you are doing unfinished. Imagine your child comes to you and says, "I need you to come play with me NOW!" and you are in the middle of cutting up some meat for dinner, hands all messy and stuff everywhere. Of course you say, "I am not ready yet, please wait."
    In the same way, a kid playing a computer game can be right in the middle of something and not able to stop right then. So the compromise is - ask how long before he can either pause the game, or get to a save point. Work with him. We use Post-It notes, I would write the time on the note as well as the required task and stick it to the corner of the screen (where it won't be too badly in the way). For example, bath time. "Son, your bath is ready. How much longer do you expect to be?"
    If he will be too long, I send another kid first. Or if he is too long, his bath will be cold. Natural consequences.

    I give timed warnings, ahead of time. For example currently, difficult child 3 likes to play computer games before he starts his schoolwork for the day. He should begin his schoolwork at 9 am and we are working toward this goal, but I am working with him to help, not seeming to work against him to block is gaming. Instead, I get him up at 8 am. "Son, if you want to get some game time in before school, get up now and take your medications. Get up, take your medications, feed the birds then you can play."
    Currently he is still playing at 9 am but I give him timed warnings and after 9 am I keep reminding him, "Time to stop." I get him to sign on with the time and date, when he starts his work. We take the sign sheet to his SpEd and his therapist, so others know this is a work in progress.

    But the important thing - HE is in charge of this, HE is the one responsible. And most important - when he does eventually start his work it is in good spirit and with motivation. he's had his game session and finished it when he was ready. So what I want from him - schoolwork done - is what I get.
    Incidentally, at 10 am he gets to watch education programs on TV, which he watches while he eats his breakfast and gets dressed.

    By making him responsible for organising himself, the buck is passed from me back to him.

    As for your younger son copying elder brother - stamp on that one. Stamp directly on baby bro, do not blame older bro. Say to younger son, "That is not acceptable. Go to your room." Take him to his room. Remember, time outs for kids are age-dependent. I would allow one minute per year of age, max. Where possible, coach him to say to you, "I'm sorry for being rude."
    If he says, "older bro says it," tell him that you will deal with older bro, but it is not right no matter who says it.

    And to deal with this sort of thing - to talk about it - when you and the child are both calm, is the best time. If either of you begins to get angry, drop the subject until you are calm. Keep this up - discuss as far as you can, without anger. Back off whenever anger rises. Over time you will get to deal with it.

    Also important - don't try to deal with too much. Pick two or three issues and make them your focus. No more than that.

    Praise your kids as much as you can, as appropriate. Catch them out being good and praise them.

    Homework - always a problem, especially with ADHD. You may have to negotiate with the school to say, "I refuse to fight homework battles at home. I will no longer be responsible for getting him to do homework."

    You need to be able to manage your life. School issues should stay at school. Ease back, learn to breathe and learn to let life dish out its own consequences, so you don't have to be the ogre. Instead, you become your child's champion and helper.

    This does not mean you become a doormat. Far from it. You should always be able to say to your child, "I am not shouting at you/being rude to you. Please show me the same respect I am showing you."

  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Marguerite, I think that's helpful advice. I particularly agree that the ODD label MAKES one feel angry towards the child - "oppositional?", "defiant?" - I'll show him! Partly explains to me my own definite reluctance to use the term or have others use it about my son (apart from wondering whether it's accurate, etc).
    My own child is an... Angel In Disguise.... Is anyone else's? :)
  8. dreamwallaby

    dreamwallaby New Member

    Thank you for the support :)
  9. dreamwallaby

    dreamwallaby New Member

    Thank you for the info. I feel like I am in a cycle with him now. I just expect a negative response at all times so, as my fiance' had pointed out, I demand instead of ask. I just assume he will say no, so I have stopped with the "please". Something I now have to work on with myself. I will give the example of last night's battle as an idea of how things go. Cayleb was playing his game and I gave the younger two their baths. Prior to heading for the bathroom I let cayleb know he had homework to do and would be allowed to play for about another 20min. I told him "this is your heads up, ok" Gave baths and while dressing the 2 yr old I called out to Cayleb that he needed to finish the game and be ready for homework, all very nice and calm and I am using "please". I waited until I heard the cheering from the game signaling the end of the round and again reminded him "Ok Cayleb, I hear you won that round, it's time to turn it off and get ready for homework. Of course he says No. I said You have the option of turning it off before I get out there or I will have to turn it off and take the game. The choice is yours. He replied with No again. I finished with the younger one about 5 min later and went into the living room. Told Cayleb it was his last chance to turn it off and he said No again, so I turned it off and removed the CD. He of course freaked and started to cry. (I want to point out that he actually only plays video games about 3x a week, his choice, he really isn't that interested in gaming and would much rather run around to play) He tried climbing on me to get the CD and of course my younger one is watching all this and starting to cry and trying to pull Cayleb off of me. Cayleb's toe is accidently stepped on by me trying to turn away from him and starts to cry more and then yells that I am stupid and the "F" word and charges down to his room yelling at me the whole way and causing destruction. He takes his room apart, pushes a large laundry hamper across the floor scraping the hardwood, gets a pen and writes all over his matress, bed, floor and school folders. He finally seems to recover after about an hr and comes out to do his homework. He gives me hugs, tells me he loves me, gets me an icepack for my migraine(gee I wonder why I get them so often) and is being all lovey. While he had been ripping his room apart I let him know, very calmly that I would not be putting his room back together, it would be his job. At bedtime there is another complete melt down that causes me to start screaming at him because he wants me to help him put his room back to order and I refuse to help because he made the mess and I had warned him. I finally help with the bed sheets but that's it. I go to my bathroom. When I exit he is on my bed begging to sleep in my bed. I tell him no, the baby sleeps in my room and still gets up several times during the night and he needs a good night sleep. I also have no sheets on my bed since they are still in the wash and I point this out to him, but he refuses to leave my room. I lost it at that point :( and turned into the horrible mom these situations turn me into and scream for him to get out. He then cries that I have hurt his ears and I am a mean person, leaves and goes to bed. :( I spend the next 2 hrs crying, because of course I feel like a mean person :( The book I am reading, the Explosive Child, says I should know what will set him off. tha's where I am stuck. I don't always know. He says no ALOT but it doesn't always cause a tantrum. Somedays he is fine about turning off the game but freaks on homework or about bedtime or taking a shower. t's almost like he rotates what will be the issue today. He does go out of his way to make things difficult. A few days ago I was putting toys away before bedtime. he tried to bring a box of cars out for his brother. I told him no, I was cleaning up and to put them back. He puts them back and walks out to where I am straightening up and says "You're cleaning up?" I said yes He says, "Oh, you are trying to clean up huh?" I said yes again. Then he takes an armful of his own toys and throws him all over the floor and says very spitefully" Well here you go, you can clean up that then. " and walks away. This was after a wonderful, very uneventful evening. There was nothing to precipitate him getting mad and he was perfectly calm afterwards, just happy to have given me more to do. I have asked him nicely not to mess with the dial on the fridge and explained why. He sneaked in last night and turned the temp all the way down and froze the milk. He sneaks behind us constantly to do those kinds of things.
    I could go on for hrs, sorry.
  10. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Funny isn't it... the different view one has from the outside. When I read your post, I felt sad for your little boy, for his obvious hurt and loneliness at times... Having said that, I can completely identify with your screaming frustration... These children really are so difficult to deal with. I don't know who came up with the term "Gift from God" to mean a difficult child, but it is very apt... they are amazing tools by which to learn patience, forbearance, true generosity of spirit... they set out the royal road to heaven!!

    When I said my son is an Angel in Disguise, I wasn't just being facetious... he does have such sweetness and innocence, like all small children. Sometimes I find it very hard to reconcile the endearing little child with the defiant "monster"... Do you feel that? What I would like personally is greater detachment from the difficult behaviour, a greater sense that my son is not doing it deliberately, that in a sense he truly cannot "help" it... It is of course so hard to rememeber that in the heat of the moment, as you say.

    I have to say, while not being at all enamoured of the label, your son does sound absolutely like the classic description of someone who "has" ODD - the annoying, provocative behaviour that seems designed to rile people up... Maybe some people here have particular advice about that because I think it must be especially challenging to deal with...
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    From my observation, we teach our kids to be oppositional. However, it is only those kids who have some underlying problems already, and obviously we don't do this deliberately! Wo would? But when you have a child whose social skills are not up to par, they don't learn social skills the same way, and often this sort of behaviour is what results, when all we have tried to do is be the best parents we can be.

    Your son sounds like he has certain triggers. While they may not all set him off each time, you can be sure that he has a higher chance of being set off by them. If you think of it like a blood alcohol level, perhaps - you're at a party and have been asked to be designated driver, but you don't want to totally abstain. So you mentally calculate - I can have a glass of champagne now, a small glass of wine with dinner, possibly a sherry later if it's a small glass... but if someone brings out the Bailey's, that will be your undoing as far as blood alcohol levels are concerned.
    In the same way, our kids can take small doses of frustration or challenge (and by challenge, I mean the things that heighten their anxiety or level of arousal) and it can be something very small that is the last straw. It may not even be that big a deal, but to the observer, that was the cause.

    Something more to try - set things up ahead of time. Next time before he starts gaming, talk to him (if he can follow it - difficult child 1 couldn't because he couldn't metnally multi-task, we had to keep it very simple and generally put our conclusions in writing, in a notebook we left near him). Simply say to him, "Here is the list of tasks you need to do this evening. I've written down homework, dinner, bath, bed. You want to play games too - that's OK, as long as the other tuff can be planned into it. How long do you think you need for your game? What time will you turn it off to go do your homework?" Write down what you both agree on, write down the time he says he will stop and get him to sign it. Then continue as before, give him time warnings (you did that well) and see if it works. If it does not work, leave him. If the homework does not get done, it is not your fault, it is his. He has to live with the consequences.

    A second suggestion (add it in there) is to reward him for any day he did not melt down. The reward needs to be a gift of your time, doing something with him that he wants. Fifteen minutes of your time is a good guide, but keep the reward as immediate as possible, try to not let it bank up. And any reward once earned stays earned - if he doesn't melt down on Day 1, but does so early on Day 2 - well, he still has his reward from Day 1 but if only he had held it together on Day 2 he would have half an hour instead of 15 minutes. Such a pity...

    With the toys dumped on the floor, that WAS deliberate and spiteful. Were they his toys? If they were, calmly sweep them up and put them in the bin. Or just leave them there. They will get broken if stepped on. Or you could say, "Since you clearly don't want these toys and don't look after them, we will pack them up and give them to someone who will appreciate them more." You could even ask him to suggest a place to deliver them. Goodwill? The neighbour's kid? Or just pack them up and store them in the shed or at a friend's place.

    He sounds like he's trying to upset you - I wonder why? Do you have him in therapy at all? This is the sort of thing that I would be discussing with the therapist, asking if it is possible to explore why he is doing this, so you can work together to find a better way for him. Things like fiddling with the fridge - sometimes they just want to know what will happen, they experiment on things. "This has a dial - I wonder what the numbers relate to? What happens if I turn it all the way this way? Or that?" and they do it, then observe.

    I spoke before of natural consequences. You need to avoid the 'feel' of this being punishment. Now, natural consequences for him turning down the fridge should be, he gets to help you defrost the fridge. Not in any punishment sense, but in terms of "You're old enough to learn how to do this, one day you may be living in your own apartment and need to know how. Plus, we all live in this house together so we all help one another. Let's do this together - it can be fun, especially in summer."
    Try to involve him more in practical things. "You're older now, you can have more say but you also need to understand why we do things. Once you understand, you can have input."
    Shopping, for example - I have given my kids a portion of the shopping list and sent them off to collect this or that off the shelves. For example, it's a great Maths exercise to ask your child to go find the most economical baked beans. Although it is less challenging mathematically since we got unit pricing! Start with things he wants - "go choose a breakfast cereal for you. It must not contain more than X grams of sugar per 100 gm but other than that, you can choose what you want."

    You also need to get your own therapy - I can understand why you ended up screaming at him, but you know it does not help. All you are doing is teaching him that screaming at people is a valid coping strategy. For example, my husband shouts. For him, it is what he learned to do - as a coping strategy and also as a valid parenting method. But it is absolutely the worst way to manage difficult child 3. Loud noises hurt their ears (these kids are often very sensitive to sensory stimuli) and remember my analogy of blood alcohol levels? Too much sensory stimulation is like having one drink too many.

    Talk to him more, plan ahead more. Try to set in place some agreements, and get him to sign them. Follow through fast on your part and forgive overnight. "Never let the sun go down on your anger" is especially important with these kids, because every day needs to be a fresh start.

    Work with him to find solutions. But never forget - you have ultimate power at the moment. You control his food, his bedding, his clothing. His possessions. You can help him, or you can sit back and let him have to fend for himself.

  12. dreamwallaby

    dreamwallaby New Member

    Thank you all for the responses. I know there are things I have to change. Like I said, I've kinda gotten into a cycle with him. I have had so much resistance from him that I just automatically assume the worst and skip right to being demanding. I do feel aweful for Cayleb, this can't be fun for him either. I just hope this therapy that starts Monday with a psychologist will help us. I'm glad I found this site
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I hope your therapy is helpful for you both.
    I do feel, to pick up the point Marguerite made, that - without blaming myself - I have had a hand in creating my son's "oppositionality"... and obviously he contributed something of his own... It has taken me a while, as it does for most of us, to realise that I have to find other ways of dealing with my son than just doing what comes naturally... I have got very upset and angry with him in the past (because his behaviour just seemed to me like incomprehensible defiance) and this definitely made him worse and also showed him that getting angry is acceptable...
    I feel like we are in this together, learning together - learning self-control together, learning more skilful strategies together... It is a relationship dynamic, not just "his problem".
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That's exactly it, Malika. It is very important to get right away from blaming. Do not blame your child, do not blame yourself. You did the best you could as a parent, you did what you were taught to do. In most cases what you did would work. Just not with this child.

    other methods do work, and will also work with 'normal' kids too. Finding what works and putting it into practice is the next step.