New - parent of ODD child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by batmans, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. batmans

    batmans Guest

    Hey...Im mother of 6yr old boy who's been diagnosed as ODD, it all started about last year when we really noticed something wasn't quite right and this was way more than general naughtiness. He has always been very defiant from the time he learnt to talk, Im very lucky that when I met my husband he wasn't put off by my son's behaviour and wanted to be in our family. Since then we have had another little boy who is now 4 months. DS1 adores baby brother and thinks the world of him although he has admitted he's very jealous.

    (by the way my name is Batmans because I wanted batmans mom but it wouldn't let me)

    DS1 thinks he is untouchable, that he is way smarter/faster/stronger than anyone else on the planet, he has stolen in the past from us and the store, he is very very violent towards myself and is now starting to be with others. If a child doesn't 'agree' with him he is spiteful, vindictive and mean to them. I've been called to his school a few times now to talk him down when he has had a major tantrum at school. He is not like other 6yr olds it is like dealing with a very big toddler most of the time, he freaks out over the tiniest disagreement and will literally throw himself around and scream.
    Its the lying I cant take anymore too, when I know for sure that he is lying to me. He is still wetting the bed, and refuses to go to the toilet in the daytime unless I walk him to the bathroom and make him go, he will dance around on the spot and avoid it til he wets himself.
    Out in public it becomes a battle of wills which often results in him running off and I have to cut our trip short and go home.

    Im really really tired now, things are getting bad, my husband is currently deployed and DS1 has really been acting out since he had to go. We are finally seeking help from doctors but so far we've only had 2 trips to see a pyschiartrist but they want to refer him to a child specialist.
    I've come on here to get tips and just let off steam to those who know what its like.
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome--

    By all means, let the docs refer you to a specialist! Get help (and a diagnosis) now, while your child is still young.

    In the opinion of many parents here on the board, "ODD" is not a diagnosis as much as it is a description. (When you heard it, didn't you feel like saying "Yes, I know my child is oppositional and defiant...I want to know WHY ?!?" ) Usually, there is something going on that is causing your child to act out in all these extreme ways. The only way to find out what is to get a thorough evaluation...

    Meanwhile, hang in there...and make sure you are protecting yourself and your younger child. Do not leave the baby in a situation where the older son could hurt him during on of his outbursts.
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome to our little corner of the world. You will find much support here.

    Your son sounds a lot like mine at that age.

    I'm glad you are seeking help. I definitely agree with DF to let them refer your son to a specialist. Many of us here think having a neuropsychologist evaluate our kids is a good way to start. I also think having a child psychiatrist is good as well (which you already are doing).

    I've dealt (still do deal) with the violence. It is a hard spot to be in when it is your child committing the violence that you wouldn't put up with from anyone else. Do stay safe and keep trying to get help for your son.
  4. flutterby96

    flutterby96 New Member

    I echo what the others have said... my Tuna is now 7 1/2 & she was diagnosis with-ODD at 5. Same thought... "yes, I know that's how she acts, could you please tell me WHY and what to do about it?" Good for you for getting help - listen to your mommy instincts, the ones that say, this is not typical behavior. I'm still struggling to find stability and treatment for Tuna, but I am so thankful that I've been able to come to this board for help/advice/comfort during the tough times. Best of luck to you & your family, especially during this difficult time when your husband is away.
  5. joneshockey

    joneshockey Guest

    Batmans ~
    Welcome! I can totally sympathize with you right now... I am also currently dealing with many of the same issues as you are with my youngest B1. I too have been TOTALLY exhaused with little help from my husband (whom is working 2 jobs). Many of my friends and family have walked away from us because of the behavior displayed by my son so I have had verylimited support other than my son's doctors. I was sooo happy to find this website. I never realized just how many people who are out there that are dealing with many of the same issues as I am! I have found over the last week that all the people who come to this website have really been a support and comfort to me! I hope that you also will benefit from the people here.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, Batman's Mom.

    I agree with the others about the ODD label - I hate the label, I feel it can be so misleading, because it implies the child has control, the child is choosing to be a thorn in your side purely for his/her own amusement. And so often the problems are because the child WANTS control because he/she feels the world around is just too confusing.

    Some suggestions for you, quickly (because for me right now, time is a problem):

    1) Read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Get a copy from the library. While you wait for your trip to the library, go to Early Childhood forum and look for the sticky on how to adapt this book to younger children. This book changes your mindset away from the "I must not let my child win" to "How can I work with my child to help him learn how to behave more appropriately?"

    2) Avoid battles. It is better to head off a battle before it begins, than to allow one to escalate. Once this becomes a battle, you have already lost. So has he.

    3) Get referrals, use them, get him assessed but always keep an open mind re diagnosis. He is still young, the sooner you get started on a positive path, the better for all of you. But it still may not be the best path; you may need to course-correct later on.

    Welcome to the site, there is help here.

  7. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Hi Batmans, you have my utter and complete sympathy. I am coming to this with a lot of hindsight as my son is 18 but what you describe is very familiar to me...I kept trying to get concrete help when my son was that age but did not get much help then though I tried. So keep trying and even though many of you don't like the diagnosis of ODD it at least describes a set of behaviors. I know when my son was that age I felt so alone because he was so out there at times. I wish I had found this forum then.

    Anyway my concrete advice is have lots of structure. I am not a structured person at all but if we had a chance to do it over in would give as much structure as I could.
    One thing we did when my son was 5 was institute a reward system. This made a huge turn around, and given what I know now I wish I had found a way to keep it up Windefinitely...eventually we felt we had gotten all we could from it and my son had improved dramatically...and that lasted for a while.

    So we called it the penny system because we used pennies as tokens. So for every positive behavior hen would earn pennies, and every negative behavior he lost pennies. We started off rewarding liberally because you want them to get the taste of success. Then a certain number of pennies would earn him a privledge...such as 5 pennies got him a sweet of some kind (yes I know food is not a good thing to do but we were looking for things that motivated him) , I think 5 pennies earned him 30 min of tv, 20 pennies might earn him a toy...etc. I can't remember now what they all were but they were things he regularly got but now had to earn, and also some bigger type rewards for more pennies. We also got others involved so he would get pennies if we got q good report from the preschool or a babysitter.

    We did this for months. I literally walked around with my pockets full of pennies, one was his pennies and one was kind of the penny bank. So I could easily move pennies to or from his earned pennies.

    He also never started a day with negative pennies....he got a new start each day.

    This caused a real turn around in his behavior. At the time it felt like a miracle. It also showed us that he wasncapable of good behavior if he was motivated enough!

    Now like I said i wish we had found a way to keep up those same principals because in his teenage years things went downhill....

    Good luck.
    Lasted edited by : Jul 14, 2010
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I agree with the above reward system (or any, really) but be prepared for problems if you take pennies away. If he handles it OK, then well and good, but too often, rewards once earned should stay earned; they were for good behaviours which were generally not related t the now bad behaviours causing you to take away rewards. Usually, having a period of time and behaviours which do not incur a reward, is sufficient to get the message across.

    Rewards once earned need to be unconditional, in the same way our love is unconditional. We also need to distinguish between the child and the behaviour - we love the child, always, but we don't have to like the behaviour.

    I remember a wonderful line from "Go Tell it on the Mountain" by James Baldwin (it was a required text when I was at school). A woman who was dealing with a drinking, abusive husband said, "The Lord tells us to hate the sin, but love the sinner."

    In a lot of ways, that has to be the attitude to our kids when they are being difficult. Make it clear to the child that we love them even when they are bad; but they still have to work on trying to be good.

    There are other ways to reward. Also where possible, a reward needs to be immediate, small and if possible, non-material.

    My mother used to reward her grandchildren with pennies. She had a money box with their name on it at her house (next door) and when the child had been good she gave them a coin to put in the money box. But then she did something which I felt was unfair - at Christmas time when she gave the child the money box, she talked them in to handing the money box over to a church charity. She made sure a big fuss was made of the child for such a generous donation; but I felt she put undue pressure on the child who really was not in a position to refuse to donate, without seeming selfish. There were three boys, and all were pressured, sort of made to feel if one was donating, they all should. And I believe all were donating because they felt there was no option without making Grandma "disappointed" with them. And I well remembered, disappointing her was NOT something you would want to do!

    An alternative option would have been for Grandma to suggest maybe the child donating some of the money, and letting the child decide. But no emotional blackmail over it! A child should feel good about that sort of thing, not feel secretly selfish and resentful. Plus, there are many ways to donate, and these days those many ways are provided, at least in our society here in Australia. We have various charity drives such as the MS Read-A-Thon, where a child is sponsored by adults to read books, and then collects money to donate to the MS Association. It's a brilliant scheme, schools tend to help administer it.

    But I'm getting a bit off topic here.

    An alternative to pennies could be those cheap plastic tokens you get in really cheap kiddie roulette games. They come in different colours which could have different values, which then encourages your child to learn a bit about money exchange. The tokens can then be saved up and cashed in for non-material rewards, such as a weekend trip to the zoo or a picnic, or a fifteen minute game with Mum or Dad.

    If your child is really into coins, or even different-sized tokens, you can make a sorting 'bank' by using a number of stacking clear plastic containers with lids. You cut a large hole in the base of all bot one of the containers, then in the lids of each, you draw a circle around each different type of coin. Cut out the circle accurately (slightly larger than the coin mark), then glue each container base to the lid of the container below. Stack them so the holes all start from the largest to the smallest, the container with the intact base at the bottom. The top container needs to have an intact lid.
    To sort coins, pour them into the top container, put the intact lid on, then holding the entire stack carefully, shake. The coins should fall down the holes until they can fall no further, thereby arranging themselves into the different denominations.

    Some kids, especially the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) kids, love this and it's a great reward activity to spend time making this with your child.

  9. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I think there are two important reasons this system worked. One is that the response to behavior, both positive and negative was immediate. The other is it helped me a great deal to get my emotion and frustration out of the way. If he misbehaved I just took pennies away. I didn't negotiate it or say a lot about it. He didnt either.

    It is well and good to say the rewards should not be material....but the most important thing is they need to be motivating to the child. In our case most of them were privileges he had had previously and now had to earn.
  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Batman's Mom! I am glad you found us. Be glad for the ODD diagnosis as it means the doctor listened to your description and certainly figured out the behavior he has is ODD behavior. Most times, not all, that ODD behavior is due to some other issue. ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, Autism, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), etc.

    These are things that make our kids different than others and they know it. And life is just plain harder for them. So, they act out more. Makes sense to me, they are frustrated that they can not be like others around them.

    I am glad you are getting the referral. My suggestion is to not make many changes until you see the doctor. Also, keep a log of everything. It is hard to do. Log all foods, behaviors, bathroom times, etc. Everything. You never know when a connection can be made. Sometimes there is a food allergy causing the behavior. You just never know.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's an ideal to aim for, especially if the kid becomes focussed on material things. But hey, we do what works for us. If this worked for you, that is great. as you said, there are many levels on which these things work. And if it helped you too, by relieving your feelings of helplessness and frustration, it was a good system.

    ANyway, I can't preach too much. I use mini-chocolate bars as an immediate incentive for difficult child 3 - if he works solidly for a continuous half hour on his schoolwork, he gets a small chocolate. And I can't dive in and get it back from him, if he then slacks off!
    But my reasoning with the chocolate is - it has a strong flavour and smell, and smell is one of the most basic of the senses, it really helps if I can immediately connect the taste of something distinctive and pleasurable, with something really good that he has done.

    ANother really important thing about any reward system - it needs to be readily achievable and needs to be graded, so you can always have goals he can realistically work towards.