New and looking for support


New Member
I'm new here and just looking for a little support. My son is four (he'll be five in a couple of months). We started noticing problems when he was three. He would have frequent, really bad tantrums. At first we were just told it was because we didn't consistently discipline him, that he's was acting out to get what he wanted because he knew we would give in. So, we started to be much more consistent in our discipline and stood our ground (as best as possible). But, the tantrums continued and got worse. At school, he had difficulty keeping his hands to himself, disruptive, rough with other kids, and had a tantrum whenever he didn't get his way. It got to the point we were asked to find him a new school. We were at a private daycare/preschool and they were basically kicking us out. That was a year ago. I responded by doing three things: 1) I found him a new preschool, 2) got him an IEP, and 3) took him to a developmental pediatrician.

The developmental pediatrician diagnosed him with ODD and intermittent explosive disorder. At first we just tried therapy with a psychologist and speech therapist, but he was still struggling in his new school. At first the new school was very open and willing to work with us, but then they would keep sending him home for severe tantrums. So, this past summer we decided to try medication. We started on with Clonidine. At first it seemed like a miracle drug. He was doing so well. He moved up into the pre-k class and all of his teachers and case worker from the county noticed how well he was doing.

And then, a couple months later, it's like the medicine stopped working. He's back to having severe tantrums (meltdowns) multiple times a day. The doctor is now trying Trileptal. We've been on it for a little over two weeks and not noticing any improvement. In fact, it feels to me like things are getting worse. His tantrums are very violent. He will throw anything he can at people (and his aim is getting better), tip over furniture, and/or try to hurt others. He is also very impulsive. For instance, he'll walk up to his little sister (15 months) and just slap her in the face for no reason. I can't leave the two of them alone for even a moment. Sometimes when the tantrums are really bad, I have to take my daughter in another room with me and lock the door. We are moving forward with transitioning him into a special needs pre-k class through the county school system.

It's frustrating, because when he is not having a tantrum, he is such a sweet, loving, funny boy. He is very social and talkative, has a ton of energy, and is very smart. He'll be practicing writing or something and mess up and then it's like the end of the world. He'll throw his marker across the room, clear off the table, and start melting down. I'm not sure if the medicine is just not working (maybe not at a high enough dose yet) or if it's making things worse. My husband and I never know if we should discipline him after a meltdown bc I don't think he can control himself. When I ask him about it he tells me his brain gets all crazy.

I feel very lonely and isolated dealing with this, so I'm very glad I found this page. Support or suggestions welcome.


Well-Known Member
Hi sweetie. What you describe is what brought me to this forum. We had some luck with The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. Maturing and getting older helps, too. He's pretty young for any definitive diagnosis. Grandson was diagnosed ADHD at 5, added anxiety disorder at 8, and the latest Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. We tried many medications, too. We discovered that stimulants were worse for my grandson, but each kid is so different. My grandson still has the meltdowns, but is gaining understanding of them and can hold some of the violence in. Everyone around him has had to learn, too. Discipline is probably not the answer at this point. If he could do good, he would. More people will come along with some great advice. The Oppositional Defiant Disorder describes symptoms, but doesn't really tell you why. And until you get to that "WHY?" piece, it's just another diagnosis with no real treatment options.


Well-Known Member
Hello. I do second what HMBgal said - do get hold of a copy of "The Explosive Child" or, if you have the means and time to do it, try and go see Dr Greene (in Boston, I believe) in person. I also have a son who throws terrible fits of anger and/or distress and who is also as sweet, funny and loving as they come. He is now, at nearly 10, a lot older than your son... In my personal experience, the medications made the anger much WORSE and I am now wary of them. He has been off all medications since April of this year and while I can't say his concentration has not suffered, his mood is generally more equable - though we still have big upsets when he is hurt or sad. My son has never done things like go up to another child and slap them for no reason so I am wondering how much of this is due to the medications. I would just be SO wary of these for a four year old child!! Heaven knows what they are doing to his little system. Here in Europe medications are almost never prescribed for a child under six but I do understand that the situation was pretty desperate at school and that there is a lot of pressure and incentive to medicate. I probably should not stick my neck out but personally speaking I wish you could take him off them and just monitor the situation. Is he being assessed for ADHD? ODD as a diagnosis on its own is pretty meaningless, I think. He is very perceptive for saying that his brain gets all crazy and that is probably much how it is... it is hard to know whether discipline is appropriate or not. Probably some, yes, gently reinforcing the notion that there are other ways to deal with things, that hitting is not okay. Please keep posting and I hope others have some advice/support also.

Sister's Keeper

Active Member
How are his speech and motor skills? My youngest has global delays, but mostly in speech and fine motor skills. She isn't a tantrumer, per se, but a cryer and she would often cry when she became frustrated as she couldn't express herself verbally. She would also cry out of frustration in school because of her delay in fine motor skills she felt as if her work wasn't as good as others, or as good as she wanted it to be.

Medication is one of those things that is hit or miss, and it often takes time and patience to find the right medication/dosage/combination.