new member, crabby day

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mammatwo, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. mammatwo

    mammatwo New Member

    I'm auntie/2nd mom to two great of whom has ODD. He's 10. I've been reading here all day long, and it's been really helpful.

    I'm wondering if there are any other books anyone can reccomend besides "Explosive Child", he has been diagnosis'd with ODD but acts often as if he had Borderline (BPD). He's seeing a therapist right now, has been for several months.

    His mom and I are partners but do not live together. I stay here a few days a week. She also had up until recently a male partner as well and they recently broke up, (about 6 months ago) he was fairly abusive emotionally to the kids and her, and ODDS is having a really hard time with him being gone, even so. The kids call him "dad" and their biomom and me "mom". She and I have been best friends for many years so I have known the kids their whole lives as "auntie" and in the last few years as "mom2"

    Their biodad took off and does not contact them. He was pretty unkind and I would say abusive as well when they were little. Luckily he hasn't been around for a long while.

    Their mom is pretty good at finding abusive guys to play "dad", last six months she has been partnering with me to help both her and the kids get some stability. She's been in counseling for her own issues (she is very codependent and has some Borderline (BPD) traits herself, as well as having an issue with hoarding) and since things have become more stable in their lives ODDS has been acting out more and more violently (hitting the cat, laying in his room screaming for extended periods, refusing to eat or do chores, playing with matches. acting out in general.)

    I have known her for eleven years or so, she's been my best friend through some very difficult times in my life, and I really want to help her and the kids out. I'm working here three days a week and staying here four.

    Just to give you some background!!!

    So my question, besides looking for more books for the shelf, is if anyone knows any good ways to stop sibling conflicts that are about to escalate. This morning ODDS was crabby (refused to eat his breakfast until he'd gotten in a bad mood from being hungry-because he was not permitted to eat ice cream instead of oatmeal or a bagel) and began standing in his older brother's way, then shoving him when he tried to walk by. I ended up standing between them and walking toward him until he backed up...then saying "I know you are angry, it's ok. Just don't shove your brother."

    It did in fact stop the shoving match but turned into him running to his room, throwing his gameboy thing, slamming the door, and screaming and crying, top volume, for about half an hour.

    He is outside right now, running around (blowing off steam) and seems better. But he has these explosions so constantly and at any small denial of a treat or request for compliance. I'm worried as much about his brother as I am about him. His brother is a fairly calm kid, 12 years old, but still has moments of tearyness and obvious anxiety from these tantrums

    I want to try to find a way to step in BEFORE it escalates to shoving, screaming, all the rest. I can tell when he is about to snap, and would like to know if there's any tools anyone else has used that work to help him calm down? or at least redirect his emotions.

    Sorry, jeez I just wrote a novel. I guess it's just a relief to know I'm not the only one dealing with this.:alien:
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome. Sorry you have to be there.

    First off, in my opinion this is way over-the-top for just being ODD.

    We adopted an eleven year old boy who ended up having antisocial personality disorder and we were told flat out that he had the three red flags for this serious problem. They are: firestarting, cruelty to animals and pottying inappropriately. This child has two out of three. He really needs professional help. It's beyond what you and his mother can do in my opinion. It could escalate as he gets older. I'd want him to be under the care of a good psychiatrist AND psycologist after a neuropsychologist assessment. Yes, I know it's a lot, but he sounds very troubled.

    It sounds as if his life has been very unstable and that family has serious mental health problems (on both biological sides? Where is birthfather?) and that a lot of people have come and gone in his life, which is going to make things even worse. ODD rarely stands alone, and we parents are often not that objective about diagnosing our kids. Than, again, some of us guess better than the professionals!

    Can you please give us some background on where you live? Has any of mom's partners abused her or the boy and did he see it, if she was the one abused? I really think that on top of scheduling a neuropsychologist assessment, you need to get him into therapy too. In fact, it sounds like the entire family could use it. Is bio. mom getting help for Borderline (BPD)? Borderline (BPD) is very hard to live with and to deal with.

    Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the best. Others will come along. It can be slow on the weekends.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2009
  3. mammatwo

    mammatwo New Member

    Since he is under 18, the psychiatric will not daignose ASPD. They only diagnose that in post-teens. ODD and conduct disorder are the "kid" versions of ASPD. He was diagnosed at the start of all of their therapy as ODD, with possible Borderline (BPD).

    We live in the northwest. Mom and both kids are all now in therapy. Mom has insurance for the three of them through school now that she's started classes. So they're pretty well covered, but even if they weren't we'd figure out a way. The doctor they see now is pretty good, and seems to have hope that therapy and counseling may help. I don't know if I agree that he can be ok without medications but I guess it's better to try first!

    His life has been INCREDIBLY unstable. I think his mom and I are the only people besides his maternal grandmother, that he has known for more than a year or two. His maternal GM is very manipulative, alternately spoiling and unkind, unpredictable, as well. And yes I agree I think it is in the family for sure. The biodad was abusive, both kids have witnessed abuse of their mom and likely been abused as well.

    Mom is very dramatic but keeps it pretty well in check with the kids- I really think that all of her stability is focused on them. She is in therapy for it and has just started medication. The psychiatrist for the kids has them both getting talk therapy but no medications yet. I can see ODDS heading that direction soon though as his temper and anxiety are pretty out of control.

    His mom and I are both agreed on how to go about things and her mental state has come leaps and bounds this year- it seems though that as she and his brother get healthier he just gets worse and worse. I really worry about him.

    I was a troublemaker as a kid. I was diagnosed with ODD/ASPD as a teen. With years of therapy and (continuing!) medication, going through a ton of psychiatrists over the years, I finaly was told that I was suffering from PTSD from a similarly unstable and abusive childhood. I've managed to have healthy relationships and steady work and stability in my life as an adult thanks to adults who helped me at his age...I guess for me seeing him go through all this triggers that, I recognize those feelings and just want to find ways to help. I know that he's got serious, serious troubles but I also know that there is always hope if not for things to be perfect (HA) then at least for things to be a little bit better for him, a little bit healthier.

    Family therapy is helping his mom a lot and his brother but it just seems harder and harder for him to cope, as we all get more peaceful he gets more anxious. As his mom gets more able to cope he seems to have more trouble interacting with her, as his brother gets more calm and happy he gets more angry. During the abusive situations he always seemed more in control than he does now, and I am hoping that as we learn skills to deal with him it will improve...

    Thanks again for the quick response, I was expecting no replies at first seeing as how it's a weekend...I had to go too and make some dinner, we had ODDS is at his friends' house for a sleepover. He was fine over dinner so I let him go, so his brother could have a night of calm I guess.

    Any advice, from anyone, is much much appreciated.
  4. mammatwo

    mammatwo New Member

    I can't deal with the abbreviations, it's difficult to keep those straight for me, so I am going to refer to younger brother (dODD) as "sarge" and older brother as "kiddo"...I usually call their mom "the wife" so I'll just stick with that :alien:

    Back to reading the archives for ideas!
  5. TPaul

    TPaul Idecor8

    Wanted to add a welcome to the board to you!! Great board with lots of help and experiences to share.

  6. mammatwo

    mammatwo New Member

    Thanks Tpaul, reading here has already given me tons to think about.
  7. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Hi and welcome.

    By Borderline (BPD) do you mean borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder (generally abbreviated here as BiPolar (BP))?

    If you mean bipolar, I would recommend the book The Bipolar Child. If you mean borderline, I would recommend the book Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents: A Complete Guide to Understanding and Coping when Your Adolescent has Borderline (BPD).
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, I'm glad you found us.

    A few concerns - you describe your partner as very co-dependent. That worries me on your behalf, because such people can inadverntently really hurt the people who love them. Go carefully, keep a part of yourself safe from harm. Don't take over her role too much but of course continue to support. It's a fine line. You're closer tan a step-parent but in some ways not so close, since you're not in the same home constantly.

    The poor kids have had a lot of pain and a great deal of instability. It makes it much more difficult to properly diangose a problem so all you can do is try to deal with the fallout day to day. Reactive, not proactive. Can't be helped.

    I know you said you want references other than Explosive Child, but there are ideas I've gleaned from that book which have heped me with sibling rivaly (aka "sible war" in our house).

    Sometimes the raging kid is acting out of insecurity and frustration. If you can find the trigger and get it dealt with, it can often help. For example, the kid wanting ice cream for breakfast - clearly that's not acceptable. But has it been possible in the past? In which case, it's understandable that it would be a viable option, at least in his mind. In an attempt to de-fuse in simiklar situaitons, I have sometimes said, "Are you worried you will miss out on the ice cream today if you doon't eat it now? Then how about we serve up your ice cream for today and put it aside in the freezer for you, already there for when you get hoome after school and you've eaten your dinner?"
    it sounds ludicrous but sometimes all they need, is the sense of security of, "It's OK, it's already set aside for me."

    YOu did a good thing in focussing on the anger. A lot of what we ALL do (adults too) when we're upset, is deflection. We try to make a big issue out of something that actually is not the main problem. Kids will push and shove other siblings when really, they are frustrated about something different. It's just that brother or sister is there in the way just when their fists are balled up ready to lash out.

    INformation works. Communnication works. Especially in a family dealing with PTSD, denial is a big problem which needs to be combatted with honesty and communication. Encouraging the kids to identify the REAL problem and then dive right in to try to deal with it, is a very important lesson. I suspect they already have been given a lot of lessons in how to do exactly the opposite.

    It's something we should all do as adults but the harder life has been for us, the harder it is to face the nugget of the problem. But the more we do this, the better we will cope with life's stresses.

    Be good to yourself. And bless you for caring about these kids and their mother.

  9. mammatwo

    mammatwo New Member

    flutterby- Borderline, not Bipolar.

    Oh I know. I have known her for eleven years. It's a fine line for sure but I manage. The relationship she and I have is very stable for both of us, so even given all the mayhem and chaos she (and I) have been through it seems to work out ok.

    I've been working on myself pretty hard the last few years and especially the last few months. We're all working on ourselves together right now...these guys are my family <3

    Exactly the kind of stuff I need advice for...all I can really do is find ways to interact with him day-to-day that make it better for everyone.

    I've just started reading "Explosive Child" so I was looking for what to read next! :)

    Except for possibly time when visiting his MGM (who will give him anything he requests, seriously) he has NEVER had ice cream for breakfast. We had some last night, and I think he just wanted the sugar rush.

    I do think his anxiety is what triggers him, but I can't see anything external that starts it up. Like free-floating anxious feelings looking for a place to settle. Then if he doesn't get exactly what he's asked for immediately, the rages start.

    Thank you so much! Your words have helped a lot. I know how hard it can be to be anxious and raging as a kid that age and I really love these guys, they're the wife and kids and I'd do anything to help and make things better for us all.

    I wish their lives hadn't been so hard but I hope that with all the help they're getting medically and with therapy and just things being consistent for a while, it will get easier for us.

    Thanks everyone who responded so far!!!:D
  10. mammatwo

    mammatwo New Member

    The wife and I sat down when she got home and talked about maybe having the kids earn their computer games and phones- kiddo is home and sarge is out at a friend's, so we told kiddo the plan. He was upset for a minute but we explained that he could easily earn back his stuff since he usually was willing to do his chores and all, and that it was so that we could help his brother learn to help around the house a little.

    (a big argument has lately been that the few chores he has to do are not done and he has a rage when reminded)

    Kiddo said he was willing to give up his computer game and phone and earn it back, in order to help his brother. I asked him to be considerate that his brother has a rough time staying calm, and to walk away if he started to rage or yell instead of arguing. He said that was ok and that he wants to help.

    I also talked to the wife about being on here today and she was happy and might come in later (she is not a big computer person)
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That's a good way to think about it. What I've observed with difficult child 3 (and also in myself, in yers past) is that feelings of anxiety are there in your mind, and you try to find a reason. Your mind may sieze on this, or that, as the problem and in someone a bit more Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) than me, they then cling to the suspected cause as "THAT has to be it! Give it to me now!"

    The earning of things - I do something similar with difficult child 3. Generally it's based on his schoolwork output. He has things he wants, desperately. We've always had the "family shop" thing which easy child's anxiety brought in. She was collecting Sylvanian families toys and we would buy them for her when we saw them (and she wanted THAT cute one) but she had to buy them off us as she could afford it. We would limit what we would keep in store, but once she knew they had been bought, her anxiety level over perhaps not getting them, eased a lot.

    We've adapted this now for difficult child 3 - again, "family shop" may have only one item and he has to buy it off us. His schooling is home-based but with teachers available over the phone or online and schoolwork posted out to us. So the deal is, he earns half a credit for one subject's worth of work completed within one day (and he can always continue to work to complete it over a weekend or into the evening). Over time the credits mount up. I used to buy a pack of his favourite lollies for a credit, so I used that to put a dollar value on credits. At the moment in the family shop I have a new controller for a video game, that he asked me to buy. It will cost him 8 credits to earn it. he can earn credits or give me dollars, all depending on what he has available. He can offer to earn extra credits with chores.

    The really important thing in this - NEVER let him negotiate to devalue credits. You can give bonus credits for services above and beyond, but don't permanently devalue tem.

    Another important rule - credits earned stay earned. If he hits his brother or similar but had earlier earnedcredits, don't take away what he just earned. What happens is, he has to make reparation to his brother (a separate thing) and he obviously isn't earning credits when his behaviour is off the rails. That generally is enough.

    WHatever you work out, involve the kids (as you have alreayd begun to do).

    You sound like you're on good tracks. If your rules are firm and consistent, it won't matter so much if other households he's in sometimes are inconsistent. Kids can handle this better than we think - "dad" rules vs mum rules. The changeover is the problem, usually.

  12. mammatwo

    mammatwo New Member

    another rough day- this morning he had his friend over, they came back together...and snuck in an energy drink, which he got with money he'd stolen from his brother. When the wife asked sarge why he lied about where he got the money he said "I didn't want to get in trouble" now he is on time out in his room.

    Luckily he only had one sip of that stuff- he's already hyper whenever he eats sugar, I can't imagine the meltdown he'd be having if he drank that whole can!
  13. mammatwo

    mammatwo New Member

    He had a bit of a tantrum in his room but didn't come out or try to engage his brother in any kind of fight. We sat and talked a little about things that make him feel better when he's angry, and I told him that he was doing a good job by staying in his room and not trying to hurt his brother. He threw some things around in his room and we talked about how maybe he could pick that stuff up "angry style" and slam things back where they belong later on...doubt that will happen but at least it was a thing to talk about, planting a seed maybe.

    He calmed down some and had a glass of milk and some carrot sticks.

    All is quiet now, I think in a bit I may go see how he is doing.

    Part of the problem is the wife's mom- he likes to call her when he has been punished or when we say no to him. She will often tell him that she'll get him whatever it is we won't, and basically undermine any consistent discipline we set up. Today he has no phone, so he had the tantrum because he could not call her.

    When I sat and talked to him I asked him what things she did that made him feel better. First he said "buys me everything I want" and "I never get in trouble, she doesn't punish me or say no" but I kept asking. Eventually he said "she says things to me nicely and rocks me in a chair when I cry"

    So I told him to think about being rocked and try to breathe. That he could learn to feel better even when she wasn't there.

    HE's calm now, hope it lasts a while.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Double-check as to what causes the problem. Chances are, it's not sugar, it's caffeine. We often blame sugar when other factors are possible culprits. Food colourings, flavourings, preservatives... and, of course, caffeine.

    Our bodies need sugar to live. Plain sucrose gets metabolised to glucose. Kids often get loaded up with sugar at parties and often the party atmosphere will also send some kids a bit wild. But in our house - we found caffeine to be a huge problem with the boys, especially. They could have sugar in many forms, but not cola drinks and not energy bars.

    His response to why he lied - that is very normal. it also shows lack of foresight (impulse control issues). He needsto know that stealing form his brother was a bad thing, eating something banned is a bad thing, and lying about it, althoughnatural, is also a bad thing and soomething he is not skilled at. Lying when you're not skilled at it means you WILL get caught, so it is better to learn to not lie.

    I would also push the angle of, "How would you feel if your brother had stolen money belonging to you, to buy something that is not permitted?"

    Another angle to also try, when he's served his time, is to work with you to find a replacement snack that IS permitted and to help him understand WHY those energy bars are bad for him. There are low GI sugars now available, maybe he could use some of that to make a low GI energy bar (NOT containing caffeine, or guraana which is just caffeine with a different name) that he can proudly own. Maybe even sell to friends?

    We went through a serious elimination diet with difficult child 3 and he had to understand WHY so many foods he loved were not forbidden. It was a very restricted diet as well as an unhealthy one long-term, the only sweet things available to him were honeycomb (the stuff made with sugar syrup and bicarb soda) and peeled pears. As for main meals - none of his favourites. Very plain food, no herbs, no spices, no onion or garlic. No tomatoes. The only vegetables permitted were potatoes. Really, really strict. Poor kid. But he did his utmost to cooperate, because he knew that the more he cooperated, the sooner it would all be over. And I bought him lots of honeycomb as a treat and reward for being so good about it all. Of course he would whine, I just hugged him and said, "I know, life's not fair sometimes. It will be worth it when it's all over, do it right and we'll never have to do this again."

    It's not fair, being our kids. They can't walk all over other peope, though. They have to learn that despite their disability (which we will take into account) they still have to learn to consider others and also take personal responsiblity. Outside that - I try to find ways that I can help them around a hurdle. His hurdle - he wanted a sweet treat. So he should have come to you and asked for help with this, and not tried to sneak it.

    A favourite sweet treat for difficult child 3, is carrot peel. He loves raw carrot but there's something about thin strips of carrot that is a special treat. I have to buy carrots in quantity or we run out. He's learnt to raid the fridge for raw vegetables, even though we do have some sweet things available to raid. But generally we're a biscuit-free household.

    Sometimes changing the look of something or presenting it in a different way, can appeal. A salad presented to look like a face can be fun. Alfalfa sprouts for hair (or carrot shreds), cherry tomato eyes or cheeks, celery eyebrows and ears (sliced stems) - you can have fun as a family, doing this. Similarly, making pizza. I use slices of bread (toasted or not) and have plates of chopped ingredients available for kids to assemble their own. Let them sneak bits from these plates, since it's generally all healthy food. Ration the ham, that's all.

    Hang in there.

  15. mammatwo

    mammatwo New Member

    When he eats stuff like cereal or's mayhem. He's not allowed sodas or anything with caffeine in it.

    Other than that and obvious things like no ice cream for breakfast- his diet is not very restricted. It's just that sugar rush really makes him cranky/hectic and then when he crashes it's horrid for him.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    An aside on sugar - I used to study speech & drama when I was a kid (it was a common thing in the 60s for Aussie parents who coud afford it, to train their kids out of a broad Aussie accent - we call it the "cultural cringe").

    We used to have to stand up and recite poetry, large chunks of text (from various novels, etc) as well as bone up on theory ("what is a diphthong? Give examples.")
    We rehearsed thoroughly and even the points wherre we had to take a breath were marked on our scripts. These points were marked at places we partly determined ourselves and in consultation with our teacher. They were mainly to remind us to take a breath at a logical point and not risk running out of breath at a bad spot to interrupt the flow of speech. So the breath points were placed at easy intervals.

    Now, one day while I was waiting for my turn, I was sitting there stuffing myself with sugar. I'd bought a bag of lollies which included a large amount of sherbert (which is mostly sugar). The teacher said nothing to me, just let me go on gorging.

    Then it wass my turn to get up and practice my set piece. And I was shocked - I couldn't make it between my previously-set breath points! I was finding myself running out of air before I got to the next point! I didn'tfeel especially out of breath, more like the feelnig of having climbed half a flight of stairs maybe. Not puffed but definitely breathing deeper.

    My teacher then said, "I knew this would happen but I also knew you had to find out for yourself. Sugar makes you run out of breath faster."
    She wasn't able to explain why, she simply stated it as fact. And I wasn't going to argue, since she had demonstrated it beautifully. I had already known to avoid cold food/drink before a voice exam or performance, this sugar thing was a new one.

    I remember years alter, studying respiratory phsyiology at uni and asking my lecturer about this. he couldn't expalin it either. So I went trawling through the textbook and found it - it's all in the metabolism.

    When we metabolise food, our body produces carbon dioxide. Our breathing rate is determined at least partly by the carbon dioxide levels in our blood. That's why when you exercise (and your body produces a lot more carbon dioxide in a short time as your muscles burn energy) you breathe heavier, faster and deeper.

    But different foods produce different amounts of carboon dioxide. Fat, for example - for every gram of fat eaten, your body produces 0.7 g of carbon dioxide. But for carbohydrate, it's gram for gram.

    Now sugar is concentrated carbohydrate. Your body DOES convert it to glucose (whch your body uses to fuel muscles and stores the excess in various ways) but if you eat a lot of pure sugar, then it's high GI time and all that metabolised carbohydrate hits your bloodstream at the same time. In other words, you get an extra load of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream and your body naturally (and subtly) increases your breathing rate to get rid of the excess.

    So, something to consider - if you are convinced the child definitely reacts to sugar, then see if you can measure a few things:

    1) how much sugar before the bad behaviour spills over?

    2) Are there any other factors? For example, other additives, the environment (ie party).

    3) What about other high GI carb foods?

    Because I'm thinking - if a kid reacts to sugar (and it definitely is sugar that is the culprit) then it's likely that they will react to a large dose of high GI/high carb "comfort food". In fact, kids often crave the very foods they shouldn't have and it can be why kidscrave comfort foods.

    And part of the aside - my parents beggared themselves for my speech lessons but I did learn to talk proper. And eventually, I also learned some useful physiology!