New and need some advice! (long!)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by allie80, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. allie80

    allie80 New Member

    Hi! My name is Allie and I am pretty much strung out...LOL.

    My son TJ is 3 and I would like to share our story and get some feedback if I could.

    I just recently heard about O.D.D. and it struck a chord with me because TJ is so so so so very defiant. I started taking notice this week of his behavior and then I decided to do my own research.

    On the AACAP website, these are the following symptoms of a child with O.D.D.:

    In children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), there is an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster's day to day functioning. Symptoms of ODD may include:

    frequent temper tantrums
    excessive arguing with adults
    active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
    deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
    blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
    often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
    frequent anger and resentment
    mean and hateful talking when upset
    seeking revenge

    Before I read the list, I thought, nah...just a boy, right (because that is what they always seem to say!)? HE HAS ALL OF THESE SYMPTOMS. And because I took notice and really watched him this week, I realized just how defiant he is and where we both (all) get frustrated.

    Side note: The harder part is that Emma, my 2 year old, copies him.

    He does all of these to the maximum. He does not listen, disregards rules, directions, constant running, high energy - (which is fine but when I need him to do something or eat or just LISTEN, he will not do it. He is constantly being crazy.)
    He would not stay in his classroom Sunday at church! They had to call me to come get him. He was physically running out of the room. He doesn't follow the rules at gym class even when the teacher is one on one with him as well. He has been jumping our back fence and taking off out the front door. No amount of getting on his level is working. Timeouts, spankings, taking away gym class, nothing works. Its like he has no concept of discipline even though I try to be on him. Its embarassing for one thing but mostly frustrating.

    The blatant disregard of following rules just astounds me. I will go through something with him, down on his level, calm, cool....and not ONE second later, he will be up and running and doing what I just explained to him not to do. Its like he doesn't hear me at all. And my husband Travis - well he acts like Travis isn't talking to him at all as well.

    I would LOVE to say it is normal but after coming home after being away for a few days (I visited friends by myself! muuucchhh needed!!) and actively observing him and to know that he carries all the symptoms of it makes me want to CRY!!!!!!!!

    I honestly do not know what to do. He is such a love when he wants to be but I am losing it half the time because the boy just won't listen.

    So, I would love to hear some advice. I am going to be contacting a specialist that my dr had recommended at his last appointment. I had asked if it was normal for his behavior for some of the things he was doing and that was back in January. The dr didn't seem concerned because TJ communicates well and didn't seem to be shy or have speech problems, etc. *I didn't pursue it because the dr was not at all concerned.

    Please let me know if you can help me in any way. I am willing to do whatever (I am not a fan of medication at the age of 3) but I do know there is some therapy offered and so on.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I truly appreciate it. You all seem like such a great group from some of the posts I had read.
  2. jal

    jal Member

    Welcome Allie.

    Your son sounds like mine when he was 3. He was very defiant, would run out of his daycare building would turn his nose up at authority. My son also did not have any speech issues (actually had quite a vocabulary for 3), or learning disabilities. We started with an evaluation from a program called Birth to 3 which is run by the state (CT). They found that he did not qualify for services because there was no learning diability. We struggled on only to have him kicked out of daycare. He went to a home daycare after that but his behavior did not change. We had him allergy tested, observed by another organization but nobody could really see what we were seeing on a constant basis and what he was doing daily at the daycare. It go to the point where you would not want to pick him up so you did not have to hear how awful he was that day and what he did to whom.

    Around the age of 4 we moved him to preschool/daycare. We started with a psychologist who diagnosis as ADHD. We did try medications because we had to do something and we had been having a behaviorist coming into our home every other week for months and nothing was working. Well he cannot tolerate any sort of stimulant and he goes off the deep end with it. So that was out and he was kicked out of that preschool. He went on to another and limped through for a while. Towards the end of last summer he was back to being a flight risk and was out of there for a while. I lost my job in the fall due to a lot of this (missing work, working half days so I could care for him after he started kindergarten).

    He is now 3 weeks shy of the end of his first year at school and he has services and plans in place to assist him and he has made so much progress, it is amazing. He goes to kindergarten 1/2 day and daycare the rest. I haven't had a call from either. Not to say that everything is perfect, there are still issues, but it has improved.

    Stay strong and know you are not alone and there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
  3. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi allie, welcome to our forum.

    If your son has grown up in a stable home environment, the fact that he just isn't "getting" the basics of discipline at age 3 is enough to warrant looking for answers. Certainly follow up with the specialist that your pediatrician is referring you. What kind of specialist is that? We do advise a thorough assessment when you reach this point--developmental pediatrician, Occupational therapy, and if indicated speech.

    Since preschool/daycare is likely to be a challenge I'd also advise you to call the local school district to request an evaluation on him. Follow that up with a written letter. Even children who are very bright can benefit from a specialized preschool setting which is in tune to their needs and tweaked to helping them learn the skills they will need. He may or may not qualify, but you'll get a free evaluation on him and will have established a relationship with the school district either way.

    I'd suggest starting to keep a journal on him--sleep patterns, behaviors, triggers, diet, cycles of behavioral patterns, etc. This may help you to see patterns that might not be obvious now. It may also help alert you to changes--ie my difficult child didn't have any speech delays at age 3 but they onset later (around 4.5) and helped alert us that we may need to look into Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

    While you are waiting for the assessments I would advise you to sit tight on the discipline--just keep him and sibs safe, up the level of babyproofing if needed instead of knocking yourself out to teach what he's not catching onto, install alarms on the doors so you'll know if he escapes, don't sweat the small stuff like his picking up toys and eating when the family eats, etc.

    Finally, most of us here feel that ODD doesn't stand alone but it more like a symptom to something else that's going on neurologically so you'll want to do some more digging.

    What's the family mental health history look like? Any anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, bipolar, substance abuse, schizophrenia, etc?

    He communicates well but is his speech different in any ways ie is he latching onto words or phrases that are more typical of older kids? How about echoing back questions to you instead of answering?

    Is he lining up toys or other household items?

    What are his sleep patterns like?

    Does he seem overly sensitive to things like food textures, clothes, tags, socks, loud sounds, lights, etc?

    Hang in there-hopefully we'll be able to get you some help.
  4. allie80

    allie80 New Member

    Well I do believe it is a result of our inconsistent parenting. husband works second shift and I work in the morning. We see each other in passing.
    We are VERY different in our parenting styles and I'm pretty sure TJ doesn't know which end is up at this point. We have been working through feeling like failures for the past few days. Almost like a wake up call to say - LOOK at what you are doing to your children.
    I have dealt (not so well at times) with depression for the past 14 years. I was diagnosis as having bipolar back in 2000 but I have been off medications for years sans when my kids were born and then I had PPD. It makes me wonder if I actually had bipolar since I needed the medications for anxiety mostly which Lexapro helped with after Emma was born.
    So, yes, there is a history. But, that whole realm scares me and I am praying that we did it with our crappy parenting and it isn't anything neurological. I know what it is like to not feel right and I can't imagine a life like that for my chidlren.
    Sorry to sidetrack...
    husband is tired. He works 12 - 14 hours a day and then he has them at 7:00am and they are ready to go. He isn't. He wants to sleep and not be who they need him to be. They are off the walls in the morning. We constantly argue about that which isn't helping obviously.
    I come home at noon, they get up from their nap and then off we go. I might nap (a bad habit I acquired during a bad spell of depression) and no one is holding the kids accountable for what they are doing.
    I have been trying to do better with that and give them activities or let them play outside since it is warm out now but TJ still needs 110% attention. He has not been getting that and I readily and ashamedly admit that.
    I know it needs to begin with us.
    Am I in denial that it might be something more serious? I don't know. I want to cry and hate on myself for letting it get away like this.
    Everyone says, well you are taking the first step and that is important and people are proud we are doing something. I'm just disappointed that he is a product of our inconsistency and craziness.
    by the way, husband has depression, he just hasn't been diagnosis. More job/stress related though. Not anxiety so much as feeling helpless in situations, etc.

    So, thats a lil more background.
    I still have not heard from anyone at the Child and Youth Services program we have here in central PA and I am going to call them today. They have a great program so I at least want to get him evaulated and then we'll go from there.
    In the meantime, we have behavior charts, incentive charts, concrete actions/consequences and now its just putting it all into effect.

    Thank you very much for your responses.
    I love him with all my might. I wish that was enough to fix this.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    This sounds like it could be a lot more than 'inconsistent parenting'. WHen you get parents who each have different styles, what often happens is the kid behaves one way for one parent, and another way for the other parent. The same thing happens with a kid who regularly gets minded by Grandma. The kid might jump all over the furniture at home and not get chided, but knows to stay off the furniture at Grandma's.

    What is happening here is wild behaviour regardless.

    ODD on it's own - I doubt it. Something else - well, we can't diagnose here but my money would be on ADHD at least needing to be considered.

    As for medications - there are other things you can try/should try, at least to begin with. I saw a news story on Aussie TV a day or two ago, on a computer software package being researched (I think it was Sydney University) which hooked ADHD & dyslexic kids up to a biofeedback sensor (like those 'pegs' they put on your finger in hospital to measure your oxygen levels, only they had one on each finger) and the kids had to use biofeedback (relaxing) to move the cursor around. The program was gentle and relaxing, it looked similar to "Myst" to me. The kids loved it and the kid they interviewed reckoned it helped him. Looking at him though, easy child 2/difficult child 2 & I both felt he was still very ADHD. The thing is, the kid was functioning better, and without medications.

    It's still experimental, though. But keep an eye open.

    With difficult child 3, he was started on stims when he was 3. This horrified a lot of people but the result was pure magic. Not only did it make a huge impact on his ADHD, but it also helped aspects of his autism - the ADHD was interfering with his ability to use his intellect to begin to learn and adapt in his own way to his autism. The medications' most obvious immediate benefit was the improvement in difficult child 3's language. He went from single words to full sentences, in under a week.

    With anything, be it medications or discipline, if it doesn't work you dump it. If it does work, you use it.

    If your discipline methods aren't working, dump them. Some things aren't worth the battle. If Sunday School isn't working, pull him out, at least for now. If anyone tells you you're a bad parent for not sending him to Sunday School, point out that sending him and having a bad experience would make his views on the whole religion thing worse, not better.

    Read up on "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. At the top of tis forum there is some good discussion on this book. It should help a lot. Get husband to read it too. If he hangs around with us, he will find it helps him - helps you, too. Besides, not only can we help - we also have a lot of fun! And there are other blokes here too, including my husband.


  6. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I like the comment about Sunday School. It made me chuckle because as Sunday School Superindent, my own child did not attend unless I was teaching. The time he needed me to help him settle into the classroom, I was usually busy helping a teacher get photo copies or supplies so I just let him hang out with me. He has become my Sunday morning right hand man and I think that is also important for our relationship. You can try sitting in the class with him but if Sunday mornings just don't work in the Sunday School area and you do want him to have a lesson, you can ask the teacher for a student's leaflet for you to go over at home or just find children's books in your religion and include those in your reading times.

    If you are finding it difficult to supervise your very young children because you are always tired, I would look at your work schedules. When does husband go into work? Would it be possible for you to stay home in the morning so husband can get the sleep he needs and he will be in a better mood to watch the kids while you work late morning to early evening just before he goes to work?

    What you are experiencing is that your kids just don't know what to do with themselves. Even with a countless activities available, kids do need a "start" - an idea of what to do now?

    Another post stated getting a large (refridgerator size) cardboard box with crayons (I would add markers and stickers) and let the kids make a fort. I know that one would last a long time. They each get their own wall to decorate (inside and out).

    When unsupervised, kids really are put in danger as they do things such as climbing on furniture (and falling), exploring in cupboards (and getting into cleaning fluids or medicine that look like candy), trying to help mom start lunch or dinner (and burning themselves on the stove).

    So, for their safety and husband's and your health, look at your work schedule to see if something can be changed there to help.
  7. Joeman

    Joeman New Member

    Hi Allie & welcome,
    I tend to agree with the others that you are likely dealing with more than just a parenting issue. I know of many PCs that survive (and thrive) on less consistent and more hectic schedules. Your DS sounds very much like mine who is presently 3.5. I fought for and received a diagnosis of ADHD/ODD when he was just shy of turning 3. At 3.5 he was seen by the same dr. and we started a non-stimulant medication. It has made a moderate difference, especially in aggression and impulsivity. DS is in the inclusion preschool 5 days a week and receives Occupational Therapist (OT) and speech services. It has made a difference and DS does very well there. My advice would be in addition to seeking out school/early intervention services, to also pursue a diagnosis with your pediatrician. We are not heavy into behavioral mod here, just doing the following:
    1. Lots of positive praise for good behavior
    2. Timeouts for the real obnoxious stuff like hitting, biting following the book SOS for Parents.
    3. Ignoring or letting slide the small stuff like name calling, playing with food, etc.
    4. Lots of structure, including at least two periods a day of 30 minutes or more of outdoor active play
    The rest of the time, we just try to be as consistent as possible as to what the 'rules' are and do not put DS in situations where he is going to fail (like trips to the grocery store). We give warnings of transitions and if he is touching/doing something we don't want him to do, he gets one warning then we just take away the item or remove him from the situation, no discussion. Our house is completely locked down at all times...maximum security babyproofing! DS sits in his booster seat with a secondary belt latched at the back for all meals and snacks. It is tough, tough, tough, but we are managing and overall things are better now than they were six months or a year ago.

    Good luck, I hope you hear back from PA soon and you are able to get some services/help for your DS.
  8. becklit

    becklit Gimme 5

    Hi. I'm new here too. Just joined yesterday. Your story sounds sooo familiar. Only now my son is almost 6. Our dr. did not really have any concerns when he was age 3 either, but I instinctively knew something wasn't "normal". At age 4 we had him evaluated by through an early intervention program and they were not a lot of help. They basically said "keep an eye on it". Now we've experienced a really tough Kindergarten year (behaviorally--academically he's way ahead) and are no farther along on solving the problem than we were 3 years ago. My advice to you would be to be relentless until you get some help and some answers. I wish I hadn't been so passive when he was 3.

    Good luck. My heart goes out to you. I know how exhausting it can be. Let me know if you just need somewhere to vent. Sometimes it helps, especially when there's other parents in your everyday life that just have no idea what you're going through.

    Side note: We ALSO have a 2 year old that is mimicking his behavior.
  9. krs003

    krs003 New Member

    I am new also, I have been doing a lot research on the ODD and have come to the conclusion tht my daughter also has this disorder. She has not only 1 or 2 symptons but ALL of them. I am not sure how to deal with this. I have read The Defian Child and it is more geared toward pre-teens and teenagers, there are really not any books for children. Does anyone know of any good books or how to decipline them?
    Thank you,
    a very frustrated parent, Krista
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    ODD does not stand alone and I also am on board with it's more than inconsistent parenting. Most of us are inconsistent. I believe you should have him evaluated by a neuropsychologist because the earlier you catch a problem the better the longterm prognosis is. There is help for anything except for doing nothing. Your son sounds like he could have many things going on--a possible early form of bipolar, a high functioning form of autism, a whole host of things--all involve ODD behavior. Every child here has ODD behavior, but the behavior happens for differing reasons. It's your choice w hat to do, but the longer you wait, and try behavioral therapy, which does not address the underlying cause for the need, the longer the child is left without proper interventions. School will be a real challenge because this child is atypical. I personally would and DID get early help. And it paid off in spades. Then we continued to re-evaluate our son as he got older, which also helped. He did have issues, many now resolved or just better, and in my opinion it's better to know the truth than to wait and see. Whatever you do, I wish you luck.
  11. shamrock1269

    shamrock1269 New Member

    I am 37, mother to 2 daughters. I have recently become engaged to a man with 5 children. His oldest is out of the house. He has custody of the next two, and their mother has custody of the youngest two. The two that he has custody of, 12 yo boy, 11 yo girl, have some behavioral issues. They have both been diagnosed with ADHD. The older one has also been diagnosed with depression. They are not actively involved in any sort of therapy, however, they have a prescribing doctor who seems content to diagnosis on a one hour session, and prescribe new medications. The girl has just been diagnosed with ODD. She had already been on Abilify, and the dr just upped the dosage. During the summer, the girl is supposed to be with her mother, and mothers s/o. My fiance got a call today that they are bringing her home tonight because they can't handle her, and her tantrums and behavior. So, they refuse to have her for the rest of the summer. Clearly, the Abilify is not helping. I have the name of a recommended therapist who specializes in Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), and has quite a bit of experience with ODD. Because my fiance has been dealing with a dr that has no desire to actively engage with the children, he doesn't seem eager to start with a new therapist. I've been doing quite a bit of reading on the subject. It would appear that ODD and bipolar symptoms mimic each other.

    My plan would be to start with the new therapist, and adjust the medications as needed. She's a beautiful bright child who can be downright destructive, manipulative and mean. As she and I will now be part of each other's family, I think that it's important that we all understand her diagnosis, and adjust the family life as needed.

    Any advice, comment, or criticism would be much appreciated.

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Shamrock, welcome. You sound like a caring stepmother. You also need to get some help for your own situation, but to get the best help possible from this site you need to start your own thread; you could get your call for help lost down here at the tail end of someone else's problem.

    Try going to General forum and beginning a thread there, because your prospective stepdaughter is probably too old for the Early Childhood thread to be of much help.

    ODD symptoms can be seen in children with a range of different conditions. Whether ODD exists independently is still a matter of debate, which I won't buy into here. However, if it's not actually ODD, something that looks very much like it can be caused by discipline techniques which work for 99% of the population, simply being 'wrong' for kids with various problems.

    We recommend, among other things, a read of "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. There is some discussion on this book as it can be applied to younger children, at the top of this early Childhood forum. The book gives you a different way of dealing with a kid for whom the usual discipline methods do not seem to be working. If a kid has high levels of frustration, a short fuse, a quick temper, any language issues (or other communication issues) or a tendency to be particularly obsessive, perseverative or similar, then they often need a different approach. It is also a discipline method that can be applied to easy child kids too, so you don't have to treat them too differently.

    If a discipline method is not working, you may as well not use it. There are better ways.

    Shamrock, I look forward to reading about your family over in General!

  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think you need to have her re-evaluated. I recommend a neuropsychologist and a Psychiatrist (with the MD). ODD rarely if ever stands alone. Bipolar and ODD sound the same because, in general, every child with BiPolar (BP) has ODD, which can either get better or go away completely with the right medications. I would not trust just a therapist or a pediatrician with these kids. I would go further. Be sure you are willing to take these kids on as if they were your own. Your fiance WILL choose his children over you, if you get disgusted and want out. We have had some posters with very challenging stepchildren who are sorry they got involved and are ready to walk. Is love of your fiance enough? Only if you truly love the kids too--they are a package deal and can not be separated from the "deal." Nor can you expect him to turn away from them, even if they are disrespectful to you (which they will likely be because they are difficult children.). Lots to think about.
    Good luck :)
  14. miche

    miche New Member

    I was reading some older threads and your's struck a chord. Sounded exactly like my daughter at age 3, and now at age 5 she has every ODD symptom. I am at my wits end as well. I can give you no advice yet, just support. I'm right there with you.

    And I used to live in Central PA too. Have you tried Geisinger Medical Center? I'd give their wonderful pediatric dept a call and see what you can find out.