New Here- but not new at this struggle

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TweedHouse, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. TweedHouse

    TweedHouse New Member

    Hello, Its very late and I'm exhausted, but I wanted to introduce myself tonight because I'm so excited to have found this active forum! (7 years late, but better late than never).

    My son is 7. He's exhausting! I have struggled with his baffling (but luckily getting a little more sporadic) set of behaviors since he was an infant. About 40% of his days are good, and 60% very difficult. (understatement)

    As an infant it was impossible to soothe him. He would not stand for cuddling, or holding when we were sitting still, or co-bedding. The closeness seemed to irritate him. It was so sad, because I wanted to cuddle my infant so desperately. When he would get fussy and cry, he wouldn't be soothed. Only after falling asleep would we get a fresh start at a not-crying baby. He had to sleep in a dark, silent, closed bedroom in his crib.

    Around 11 mos. he began the extreme "violent" behavior with me. I put quotes on "violent" because even after all these years of being around such strange behavior, it still feels odd to say an 11 mos. old could be violent.

    His pinching, pulling, slapping etc. was always directed at me. Occasionally his dad would be targeted. His strength was almost super human. Once in a swimming pool, he once had a hold of my cheek so hard that my mom had to pry his fingers off of me with all her might. When I said, NO! Do not pinch. It Hurts! He giggled. I can't do any of these stories justice because often people say, oh that's normal, babies do that. But, I'm his mom and I know that a. the severity and strength of his efforts weren't normal, b. the frequency was not normal. c. the context of the situation wouldn't normally be triggers for most kids bad behavior (having fun in a swimming pool) d. His reactions during and after were abnormal and disturbing. At two he threw a toy at me from the back seat of the car and it hit my head and caused me to bleed. He was not allowed to have toys in the car from 2-4 years old and we had to take his shoes off because he'd use anything not bolted down as a projectile. He ruined three of those roller sun shades by bending them in half (1-2 years old) until I got smart and stopped putting them up.

    Preschool was a nightmare. I tried two of them and voluntarily pulled him about when it wasn't going well. The first one was too large and he was getting really overlooked and was not engaging in play with other children. I once parked secretly by their playground and found that he just kept to himself the entire play period. The second pre-school was a little more rigid and structured and much smaller. But, he would get in the car after in one of his bad "spells." He would scream, kick and cry the whole way home. The screaming was unbearable. I'd have to pull over because it was almost impossible to drive.

    Kindergarten (last year) had good points and bad. Around five he stopped trying to hurt me. (However he still will to this day if in one of his raging tantrums) But, that remains the only disturbing behavior he's almost stopped. He gained new ones. He spent lots of kdg. in the principal's office and the counselor's too. He was still biting at this age. His desk had to be moved next to the teachers out of the group arrangement. The last week of school he had three separate incidents and was in the principal's office. That was the last straw. He did not attend school this year. We are hoping to get some years of homeschooling in to work on behavior/attitude/empathy etc. before the older years that I am very fearful of.

    His behaviors: Raging tantrums including screaming, crying, on the floor rolling around, kicking etc. (several a day) Does not handle frustrations/let-downs well. These trigger the tantrums. Triviality doesn't seem to matter. Just not having the right snack options in the house will do it. Extreme negativity. He enjoys little and complains freely. He lies often. He's impulsive with unsafe behaviors. He seeks revenge physically on his playmates. He is basically unfriendly to those family and new acquaintances who don't seem to offer him a perk for interacting with them. (one set of grandparents has a pantry full of the junkiest junk you ever did see, the other set has only healthy whole foods around, Guess who he likes better?) He does not like to try new things. He's skeptical. Recently started hitting his head a few times day. There just isn't joy in him.
    He's not: He's not destructive of property. He does not hurt animals, he's gentle with them. He has not stolen that I know of. He has no history of abuse or trauma, he's our birth child, and I was a hyper-vigilant pregnant mom about substances etc. He's also right on track academically.

    Just from reading, ODD seems very close to his behaviors. He's never seen a professional for it, because a. we lack many resources b. I've had a hard time putting into words what he does. c. he has those good days as I mentioned before and I must have short term memory loss and think he's all better.

    Remember that old saying about the little girl ? When she was good she was very good, when she was bad she was very very bad? That's my difficult child DS. And I'm so tired. Reading here, I can relate and I feel at home already.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    ODD is not usually a "stand alone" diagnosis. To me it sounds like more than just ODD anyways.
    Did he have any speech delays or, on the other end, is he very precocious, maybe even already learning to read? Does he make good eye contact with strangers? Does he play normally with his toys or does he maybe line them up or have no interest in them? Does he seem "out of it?" I have no idea what is wrong, and think he needs to see a neuropsychologist (they are by far the most intensive evaluators), but he has some big BIG red flags for sensory issues and possible high functioning autistic spectrum disorder/Aspergers. Often these kids do NOT like being touched and do NOT cuddle. They are very frustrated and can rage up a storm. They desperately need interventions.
    Also, are there any mood disorders or substance abuse on the family tree?
    Nobody here can tell you how to manage your son. It depends on what is wrong with him, but something is going on. I suggest you get a referral to a neuropsychologist and, until you can get in, buy "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. But don't delay an evaluation. The earlier your child gets help, regardless of what is wrong, the better he will do in the longterm. Good luck.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I can hear Midwest Mom thinking. I'm sure she can hear me thinking the same things. We've had similar experiences with some delays (in some cases) in getting the answers that now seem the most accurate.

    She's given you exactly the right advice for now -

    1) Read the book (for an advance peek there is some discussion on the book and how to apply it to younger children, in the Early Childhood forum)

    2) Get your son thoroughly evaluated. Something is badly wrong, it's not bad parenting and it's not anything you've done wrong. But until you have the answers you need you will find that the current problems will continue. They don't have to.

    I agree that calling this ODD is both simplistic and premature. Not that you haven't got big problems - but we've seen a lot of underlying disorders which can, under certain circumstances, lead to ODD-like behaviour which is a RESULT of the underlying disorder plus the way we try to manage it. Sadly, the better the skills we try to use (in other words, the better the parent we try to be) the worse this behaviour can become.
    It seems bizarre, but when a good parent is faced with a kid like this, the natural thing to do is tighten the reins and clamp down, becoming a super-controller in an attempt to get the problem behaviours dealt with and the child back on the rails.

    If this were a fairly normal child, this would be the correct approach. But you are dealing with a child who not only does not respond to this, but it can make him worse. By trying to discipline this, you can be actually aggravating the behaviour problems.

    The underlying disorder - you can't aggravate that. All that is happening, is that some of these behaviours are emerging in response to your attempts to clamp down.

    Think of a game of tug 'o war. Two teams, each pulling on the rope in opposite directions. The game can go on forever when each team matches its strength of pull to the other team's. But if you don't care about winning, and you let go the rope - the game is over almost instantly as the other team falls over backwards. OK, you lost the game, but at least you didn't get dragged into the mud pool!

    With a problem difficult child, you need to pick your battles. Some are not worth the fight. You let go the rope. Or better, don't even pick it up.

    You managed a lot of the problems by reducing the risks - removing the hazards. That was good. But the major cause - whatever is causing his extreme frustration and anger - THAT still exists. Until you can get a handle on it, the problems will continue.

    The book will help. It really does.

    A have a question for you - you said he lies. What sort of lie? Is it the "I didn't do it" kind of lie (even when it's obvious he did) or is it more complex? How complex can his lies be? Is he obvious when he lies? Or convincing? Because there are many kinds of lies, and many different reasons for lying.

    There are many more questions I could ask, but we will get to them as we dig. I don't want to overload you.

    But - we're here. We can help. We've been there done that.

  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    First, I welcome you here.

    Second, I have a couple questions/suggestions. First and foremost, your son needs to see a doctor. Not a pediatrican who treats the body. He needs to see a psychiatrist that specializes in children. In my opinion ASAP.

    Neither you, his teachers, or any of us, can diagnose your son.

    I don't see in your signature the mention of a husband or your child's father. Is he in the picture? Do you have health insurance? Do you have outpatient mental services coverage? That would be what the psychiatrist or therapist would be considered.

    If not, what about social services through the federal gov't or your local city/town? Have you checked into that? What about calling a local (or at least fairly close by) children's hospital to see if they have a low/reduced or free program based on ability to pay?

    Your son needs to see a doctor. He will not make progress forward unless he is diagnosed and begins treatement which could be medications, behavior mod, therapy, or a combo of those.

    I am suprised, since you say that he spend a lot of time in the principal's office, that his teacher or the administrator's did not refer your son for testing. It had to be clear to everyone that they were not dealing witha typical five or six year old.

    I would suggest that you investigate every possible alternative to getting your son in for a full evaluation.

    I'm glad you found us here. One of the greatest things about finding this board is knowing that you are not alone.

  5. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Wow. I could have written parts of your post. School experiences are very similar with our difficult children. We did the homeschool thing as well, probably should have done it sooner. My son, who does have learning problems, did very well with the home instruction but it made a whole new set of power struggles between difficult child and I. We have decided to send him back to school next year but hope to get some more support in place for him at the iep meeting prior to school starting in the fall.

    It sounds like you are making many efforts to help you son be successful. Be cautious not to put too much pressure on yourself to change your son's behaviors. If he has a neurological disorder that causes him to behave this way, you will not be able to change this with strict parenting. This is a mistake we made for too long with our son. I urge you to seek an evaluation for your child. Contact the local mental health department if testing is not covered by your insurance. They may be able to suggest ways to go about getting the help you need. As for explaining the behaviors to a doctor, I'd suggest a short behavior log or calendar where you note problem behaviors. Simply a smile jotted down on a good day and on a not so good day, a short description of the behavior. (Example: Not allowed a third cookie so he knocked over his chair, upset about going to bed so he threw a toy at the wall, Hit Suzy because she would not share her gameboy) .

    Good luck finding the help you need and I am so glad you have found this forum as well because it offers a ton of suggestions and support from others facing the same situation as you.

  6. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member

    Hi and welcome!

    Like many say, glad you found us,sorry you had too;)

    This sounds very very much like my difficult child. I agree with others to get the Neuro Physc (sp) as soon as possible. I wish I had known about it when my son was seven.

    I will tell you that my son is now 12 and a lot of the behaviors are gone, or greatly diminshed.

    Parenting these children takes super human strength.....

    Please keep reading and posting is a great place and has been my life line.

    I also suggest getting the book, The Explosive Child. It has helped us a lot.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi! Welcome to our little "soft place" for parents. I totally understand how what other people as "normal" behaviors can be taken to such an extreme by a child that they are violent and abusive.been there done that. Didn't really want a tshirt to remember it by.

    I would encourage you to seek out testing by a qualified Occupational Therapist for treatment and evaluation of sensory issues. He clearly has some. (at least in my opinion - the whole no cuddling, etc...). To learn more about it you can read the book The Out Of Sync Child by Kranowitz. As you move along you may want The Out of Sync child Has Fun.

    I also strongly recommend evaluation by a neuropsychologist or developmental pediatrician. This is not normal development, so that may be a way to get some better clues as to what is going on. Neuropsychs do very intensive testing, if you get a good one. It is often broken up into several chunks.

    You can put together you own report about what is going on. It is to share with professionals, etc... and keep yourself organized. The format some parents here developed is at

    I found it incredibly helpful as I could have all the different reports on hand when I saw any of the docs. I put small photos of my child on each section, so that the docs or whomever could see him as a child, not a number or a faceless file. Be aware that it is sometimes best to let the docs evaluation your child with-o telling them what other docs say. It is also sometimes less than helpful to let school have all the info. Some of us have had real trouble with schools and confidentiality, as well as other issues.

    Take some time, read the archives, and keep coming back! It can take a LONG time to get the right diagnosis, and MOST of us ended up with ADHD as the first diagnosis, and then found that it was totally NOT the right thing, or the right course of treatment.


  8. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    Welcome to the board. glad you found us.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Tweedhouse. Glad you found us. I was SO excited when I found this bb, I couldn't believe it. :)

    I know what you mean about superhuman strength. When he was an infant, my difficult child would grab my hair when I went to pick him up and I could not get him to let go. It was WAAAAYYY beyond the developmental grab and hold reflex of newborns. When he crawled, he'd tip over his summer seat, which was strapped to him, and crawl around with-it attached so he looked like a turtle. He tried it with-his car seat but I caught him b4 he flipped it. When he was 2, he'd p/u the DR chairs and carry them around. When he was about 3, he reached from the back seat of the car and grabbed my hair right when I was in the middle of an intersection and pinned my head to the headrest. (Yes, he was in his car seat.)
    All kids go through these stages but with-a difficult child, everything is exaggerated and magnifed.
    You know how The Nanny would just stand in a rm and gape, wide-eyed, at the kids' behavior? I did that a lot with-my difficult child!

    The avoidance of touch is a big red flag, in my humble opinion, as is his unwillingness or inability to play with-other children.
    I'd get a good diagnosis.
    And I agree with-others, don't be too hard on yourself.
    This whole thing is exhausting.
  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just popping in to add my welcome-glad you found us. As you can tell you are not alone!
  11. TweedHouse

    TweedHouse New Member

    Thanks for all the warm replies! I find the internet and its specialty forums/social networking kind of bittersweet actually. Its so awesome that people with problems or unique situations don't have to feel so lonely and can find solutions and new friends. However that being said, there is a huge disadvantage to only being able to use type-written text to express the huge array of nuances and subtleties of life.

    For example, Marguerite's reply mentioned "clamping-down" but this is not part of our parenting style. We ascribe more to the gentle-discipline/attachment style. I find people/resources like Scott Noelle and Mothering Magazine, and The Natural Child Project to be in line with our parenting beliefs. However, there are limitations to this style when you truly believe you are dealing with a child who is dealing with a lot himself. Many of those outspoken with these philosophies seem to say they are a panacea for whatever ails the family or child. In our experience these techniques have simply softened the blow of having an explosive child. I think this approach has made our good days possible and given me the ability to parent by instinct and not be too hard on myself. But at the end of the day, he still is an explosive child. Mostly demanding, unhappy and impulsive. And that's tiring.

    difficult child's dad and I are married and happy. We don't have any histories of our own or that we know of family wise other than alcoholism by both our bio-dads and my grandma deals with an untreated hoarding disorder. We don't have insurance right now, but can use a payment plan if I find a good professional for a diagnosis. As far as ODD, my intent with that sentence was just that with my own reading it matches up with many of the behaviors. I know I am not a doctor. He's had no speech or language or development issues that have been noticeable. Just the intense negative behavior and early aversion to cuddling and closeness.

    As far as school, it was a parochial school and they don't refer to the same types of resources or use the same approach as a public school. If it had gotten any worse they could have just expelled him I imagine. For homeschooling we use an unschooling/ relaxed approach so that takes external stress off of all of us also. I am so happy to have him home now, we get such a better ratio of good days to bad days then we did when he was at school. (almost every day was bad then)

    I am checking those recommended books at the library. I can't wait. Thanks for the info. You all are brave and strong parents! Your children are fortunate to have such caring and kind people looking out for them. I often think about what a horrible battle this kind of life would be for parents who just don't get it and deal with it poorly or do drugs etc. Kids like these need parents who are using their best judgment and trying as hard as superheroes.