new here. starting the journey...


New Member
hi everyone.
im jaime, mom of 3. aidan, step son 8 years old, kaleb 6 years old and scarlett 3.
my interest in this forum is to seek help with my son kaleb, 6, who has been having anger, aggression and possible ODD symptoms for quite some time.
here is our history:
kaleb is the result of accidental pregnancy. his bio dad and i only stayed together until kaleb was 14 months old where we split up, something that should have occured much sooner but we were "trying". he was controlling, somewhat anti-social, manipulative...i could go on.
we had a equally split custody arrangement at the time of splitting up. josh and i got together and married by the time kaleb was 20 months old. it was fast and quick, but so far..its been the right decision. kaleb has known josh in his life since before he could talk.
josh states that when we first started dating, he noticed there was something different about kaleb. i didnt really think anything of it because his only child, aidan, was much quieter and didnt really challenge the rules at all. kaleb was always more active.
Kaleb was a wonderful baby. he was easily entertained, slept well, ate well (still is the least picky eater of the family) and was very intelligent. he was always a bit aggressive and pushy when playing with other kids.
when he got into preschool, problems started. he had a very difficult time when his bio dad and i would have transitions. i was talked to once by his preschool teachers that he started slamming his head down on the desk when he got frustrated with something. i talked to his pediatrician. he said its not abnormal behavior for his age (2 1/2) and to just keep an eye on it.
Fast forward to kaleb being 4 years old: josh and i have been married for 2 years, we now have a daughter, scarlett who is 3 years younger than kaleb. we are trying our best to blend the family but we struggle sometimes because it literally is the hardest thing and to be honest, im not a very good stepmom...never thought id ever have to take on another child and treat him as if he was my own. because in fact,..he is not.
anyways, during this time we have moved a few times, approx 1x per year. kaleb has now started montessori preschool and most of his life has remained the same;same 50/50 schedule. then, suddenly, kaleb came home from his dads house with bruises,...and more bruises. increasing bruises 3 weeks in a row. long story short, these were from the hands of his bio dad who was inappropriately disciplining him for simple things like not brushing his teeth right and so on. CPS was involved and kaleb was kept in my protective custody for approx 2 years. During this time, he only saw his dad on saturdays for 6 hours. i dont know much about his life at his dads because we dont talk, but i do know that he continues to expose him to inappropriate media such as mortal kombat and other violence while he is there. he also thinks that the only effective way to teach kaleb a lesson is to spank or hit him.
at the time, we noticed some troubling behaviors in kaleb:self manipulation/self harm when he would get frustrated or in trouble including punching, scraping his hands down his face, strangling himself, biting himself. he has torn clothes, busted light sockets and has hit/kicked/poked/pushed/slapped/tacked his little sister many times. His tantrums have not only increased in frequency, but also in intensity. he screams so loud, it must sound like we are murdering him to the neighbors. i would say at this time, at age 6, his tantrums are on average 3x per day.
he cries when he gets in trouble, but when you ask him why he is crying, he says its cuz we got him in trouble. he has no remorse for hurting his sister, ever.
at this time, he has resumed visitations with his bio dad every other weekend. his bio dad offers nothing positive in my opinion. he continues to let him watch inappropriate things (last weekend let him watch jack ass movies ).
last year, kaleb started kindergarden. we finally bought a house and are in a stable place. he is in an excellent school system and acedemicaly has thrived in school, reading at a 4th grade level, winning the spelling bee and excelling in other subjects. but his low tolerance for frustration and his behavior were still a challenge and his teacher and i were in constant communication with each other about his behavior. a few occasions, he has lied to teachers and staff and said that we wouldnt feed him breakfast so that they would give him lunch money. when in reality, he refused to eat what we were serving for breakfast. He lies constantly, even for simple things.
I cant do much about the time he spends with his dad. i have already gone thru the court systems and had his time reduced as much as possible. he had to take anger management classes, which im certain did nothing.
josh and i have worked very hard at having consistent punishments wiht kaleb, but what we have experienced is that no matter what the punishment, nothing seems to affect change in his behavior.
this past sunday was the limit: he slapped his sister, hit the dog repeatedly and we sent him to time out...for the day. we had had it! when we went up to talk to him, he freaked out so much that at one point he was literally manic. he was punching himself in the face so hard that he was getting swollen. he then started yelling for me and saying that his head hurt and that he wanted me to take him to the hospital. when josh explained that HE would take him if it was necessary, he freaked out even more. he was literally willing to hurt himself in order to get my undivided attention.
this prompted us to call the crisis line and now we are waiting for a referral to a child psychologist who specializes in ODD.
I would love advice, opinions, thoughts, support. i need to know im not the only one.
he is not your average 6 year old. he manipulates like ive never seen and even the other therapists he has seen havent been able to help him.
at this point, instead of taking things away all the time that he seems to just slough off as no big deal, we are starting over each day with nothing and only good behavior will get him rewards, if he makes bad choices, he gets nothing. im not sure if this will far, nothing really has. please help!


Well-Known Member
Hi there and welcome to our little soft place to land, but so sorry that you have to come here. I am going to give you my opinion. That's all we can do. First of all, I recommend taking him to a neuropsychologist as it seems as if he has always been differently wired. Secondly, there is a hereditary factor in here. He is 50% his biological father's DNA so he did inherit some of his bio. dads personality and good/bad traits, even if he never sees him and if your house is stable. Plus sounds like he may have been abused. by the way, if he does see his father, there is nothing you can do to force him to be what you consider a "good"parent. Legally he will not lose custody because he doesn't make your son brush his teeth or because he lets him watch Mortal Kombat. You may get somewhere with the hitting him since he's already come to the attention of CPS and social workers tend to frown on spanking, as do many of us here.

My son is going through a custody battle now and I've learned that it is very hard to tell another parent what to do if it's the small stuff, like teeth brushing and what he thinks is ok for the child to watch (unless it is porn and then you have to prove it)...the system is very strange. I wouldn't think your son is that way over those issues. It can't HELP, but he has deeper issues than that. His behavior is "over the top" as we say. Does he not like his stepfather?

Personally, if this were me, I'd forget about treating ODD. More about that later.

Your son was probably born with some differences AND made worse by the chaos of hi s early years. He could have attachment disorder or a milder form of it. Child who have had chaotic years ages infancy-three often develop an inability to attach and/or insecure attachment. This causes them to think only of themselves because they do not trust other people to be there to meet their needs and their behavior is usually very, VERY defiant and violence is commong. So is, what is called "crazy lying." That is lying that is done EVEN when they are caught doing something. It's bizarre, really. I lived with a child who had attachment disorder. More later.

Your parenting style has nothing to do with it. These kids need a lot of help in order to change...usually specialists in attachment therapy. Am I sure he has this? No. He could have autistic spectrum, a mood disorder, anything else he bio. father is carrying around....something totally unrelated, but something is "off" and you need to find out what it is so that you can help him. ODD is a very unhelpful diagnosis because it doesn't tell why the child is defiant so most of us here on the board don't pay much attention to that label. It is sort of a garbage diagnosis meaning "Kid doesn't listen, don't know why." It isn't treatable on it's own and rarely stands alone. This is what I'd do:

I'd set up a total evaluation with a neuropsychologist first and foremost (this is if you live in the US...other countries have other ways of diagnosing). This will be a 6-10 hour comprehensive evaluation covering everything. You will have a lot more knowledge once it is done and you will get suggestions on which way to go by the neuropsychologist. A good neuropsychologist is able to spot things other diagnosticians normally miss or just call ODD or ADHD...beware of therapists and social workers trying to diagnose or trying to do it yourself. Hon, it's better to let an unbiased observer, who isn't so emotionally involved, diagnose and treat your child. School will probably get involved too, BUT don't let the school test him first. They usually have inadequate testing.

Normal parenting does not work with our differently wired kids. They tend not to respond to charts, rewards/punishments/ time outs, etc. We have to find out the cause of the problem and get creative in our parenting. You may want to read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. While it is not a cure-all it is a great way to find more peace in your house while you are trying to get to the root of the problem and treat it.

Ok. I'm n Occupational Therapist (OT) bashing ya here, hon. I like you. But it's not good that you are not bonded to your stepson. You may want to get into therapy so that you can bond with him more. He needs you to love him. That is more important if he doesn't have a good relationship with his own mother.

Keep your wild child away from both his sister and the dog and never leave him alone with them unsupervised. Kids who have attachment disorder are lethal to younger kids and animals. We adopted a child with attachment disorder and he killed two dogs and hurt our younger kids. I know you aren't sure what he has now, but he has proven to be dangerous to your daughter and your dog. Rehome the dog if you have to and never let him out of your sight when he is with your daughter.

There are three big signs to look for in antisocial behavior in little kids (yes, attachment disordered kids CAN show red flags for this): peeing and pooping inappropriately and/or in odd places, cruelty to animals, and a fascination with fire. If he has all three symptoms take him in ASAP. If he doesn't, please just watch him and get him scheduled to be evaluated. In such a young child, this tendency can be reversed, but you CAN'T ignore it or entrust it to just a talk therapist.

This isn't your fault. You could not control your entire environment or what your child may have inherited from Husband #2. Don't feel guilty. But help your son and, in the end, you will help your entire family. In the meantime, be sure to take care of yourself too and love yourself and be good to yourself. Have your husband give you breaks so you can go out with the girls or take a quiet walk.

Hugs and glad you found us. Others will check in.
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jaimelynn01, hugs. You all are going through a lot and I agree with MidwestMom. I hope you can get in asap, keep us informed. We are here for you