New with an operational defiant teen

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by dawnmyst, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. dawnmyst

    dawnmyst New Member

    Hello everyone,

    I discovered this board a little over a week ago and have been reading a lot of the threads. I feel so connected to many of you even those who have younger children. My youngest son is 15 and in 10th grade and I just got home from a parent teacher's conferences since my son is failing three subjects. He has never had a report card so poor. I also spoke to the basketball coach because my son was not allowed on the team because he was so defiant and disrespectful to him during pre-season training and during try-outs. The coach basically said that I should be verrrrryyyy concerned about my difficult child. My difficult child is also on probation for breaking and entering. He is so defiant that I can't even stand to be in the same room as him and if I say anything at all he snaps at me or glares at me. He is definitely depressed and although he is mandated to go to therapy as part of his probation he is uncooperative.

    When my son was in 2nd grade I had to quit my job for awhile and take him to a therapist because he would rage and barracade my room when I was inside the room. The therapist told me he was a good kid but just controlling and that I should use positive reinforcement. Things got tolerable and I coasted along for awhile. He then got in a lot of trouble at school in 6th grade. The school put him on PINS, which is (Person In Need of Supervision) where he met with a probation officer and he got better for awhile. Now things are worse than ever and I really am trying to reach out to anyone I can find. I am seeing a therapist for myself next week and I am here on this board. I have several friends I can talk to but I do my best to not talk to them more than once a week because I can get co-dependent. I can control that now since I was previously in therapy for many years when my marriage ended over 10 years ago. My ex husband was very controlling and I see a lot of that in my son.

    I basically broke down and cried when I spoke to my son's teachers and his past coach. I feel so lost and heart-broken. I have an older son (18) who is a freshman in college who has been healthy and normal. I really am at my wit's end. The worst thing about my difficult child who has never been diagnosed with anything ( although I thought he was bipolar when he was 8) is that this "illness" of his or operational defiance disorder is consuming me. I can hardly think of anything else.

    I have PTSD because the police have been at my house so many times that everytime the dog barks I think the police are in my driveway. I jump when the phone rings thinking it is the school again because my son has cut classes or gotten into trouble. I am afraid to talk to my son because he is often verbally abusive. I left my difficult child's dad because he was abusive and I wanted to get away from the abuse, however I continue to live with it ongoing. I take yoga when I can or try to meditate or exercise but I just can't crawl out of my own depression. I've been on anti-depressant's before and I don't want to go on them again. I have been off them for over three years and I don't think that is the answer.

    Anyway I just wanted to fill you in a little. Luckily I have a good boyfriend but even he will ask me not to talk about the situation sometimes. I get so obsessive about it.

    Thanks everyone for reading this.
  2. Jena

    Jena New Member

    hi and welcome :)

    You have found a great place, with alot of really good ppl and you are soo not alone!!!

    So, I was wondering did you ever have a neuropysch evaluation done on him? I had one done, the information was invaluable, truly. It was so informative not only addresssing the mental state of mind, and possible diagnosis's yet also if there are any learning disabilities or issues.

    It sounds like you know exactly what you need to stay ok, between the therapy and integrating the yoga in your life and finding us here :)

    You can also add in a signature at the bottom like i Have this way when you post new threads your info will be at the bottom and we can get to know you better.

    So, he isn't attending the imposed therapy at this point either????

    (((hugs))) and welcome again
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Hi and welcome!! You need some help- and your son needs some help. It's ok- we all have issues like that in our families, at least here on this board. Was you son ever evaluated or tested by a neuropsychologist when he was younger? There are many pshychologist who do this up to 17 or 18 yo, if you can afford it and your son will cooperate. It can be expensive but insurance should pay for part of it. That might help. I would also reccomend a child & adolescent psychiatrist. I realize that your son is an older teen, but since there was some indication that he was struggling before he reached this age, it's my opinion that this would be the best route. Finding a good therapist- or at least the right fit- is very difficult, especially when the person who needs it most doesn't want to acknowledge that they need any help.

    I'm sorry you are struggling through this- it sounds like you have spent years struggling through a lot. There is a lot of support and wisdom and experience here- I hope you stick around and get some much-needed acceptance!

    Also- have you checked for any indications of illegal drug use? I'm sure you are aware that this could be contributing to the problem. Maybe do a drug test on him??
  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'm glad that you found us. You have found a valuable resource. Your son's progression sounds very similar to mine, almost to a T. Have you had him drug and/or alcohol tested? M was smoking dope at least some, I'm sure, and he drank but I didn't see it at the time. MySpace tells you a lot about your kids... :(

    I hope that you will find some help for you and for your son. Do you think that the school will be able to offer some solutions? It's so hard watching your kid slip away like this. Do you think that he might benefit from a hospitalization for intense observation and treatment? Is he on any medication?

    (Heads up so that you can be sure to give the right diagnosis to his teachers or anyone else who can help, it's "oppositional" defiance, rather than "operational".)
  5. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm glad you felt comfortable coming out of the woodwork and posting an introduction! I think Witz asks a good question - are you sure he's clean? Did the teachers or the coach offer you any suggestions?

    It appears that your son is dealing with more than typical teen defiance. When was the last time you took your son in for testing?

    You will find a lot of support from our great members. Glad you've joined.

  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hi Dawn, welcome to the site.

    It's late for me right now, I really need to get to bed (late Friday night, heading for Saturday morning). But I really want to share something with you, so please forgive me if I 'cheat' a little to save time.

    First, you will have noticed that a lot of us recommend "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. There is some discussion of this book in Early Childhood forum but the book is equally applicable to older kids (and adults, end even entire departments). So read up on that, maybe do asearch on it on this site to get some discussion on it that might be more applicable to you.

    And now the cheat - I posted in detail on Ropefree's thread about "slogging through with family therapy" (or similar title). It should be on the same page as this thread. It's an angle I have used myself and highly recommend for argumentative, difficult, wilful teens. You need a lot more help than this will provide on its own, but it might be a point where you could start. Even a tiny start somewhere can be a help.

    I agree with you, he really does sound very depressed. He also sounds uncommunicative and this is a bad combination. I have had similar problems with difficult child 1 and easy child 2/difficult child 2 (especially her) and it drove me crazy. I felt very PTSD with her because she could get so unpleasant, so shrill, so very quickly. Leaving home for her has been a time of forced growing up. She still gets rudely sarcastic especially when I suggest something she could do. "I'll just pencil it in to do in my copious spare time, shall I?" she says with extreme sarcasm; to which I reply, "I've always said, 'if you want a job done well then ask a busy woman.' You being too busy is absolutely no excuse. You can always find time - if I can do it at my age, you should certainly be able to do it with your youth and enthusiasm."

    I think as I said in my post to Ropefree, the first HUGE step is to learn to ignore the apparent disrespect (at least for now). You need to listen to him way beyond the rudeness, to what he is really trying to communicate, such as "I am hurting."

    I've posted on this and similar things a fair bit in the last week, to a number of people. See what you can track down while I sleep...

    And again, welcome. Help is here.

  7. compassion

    compassion Member

    Welcme!!! I am ata similar place iwth 15 daughter difficult child. She was similar with rages from age 3. She was diagnsed bipolar in early Aug. She is also substance abuser. She is on medications, and currently going to AA daily and therapy one time a week. Through a miracle, persrverance ,etc. she is still plalying competitice volleyball. We homeschool so the msising tw months isn't as big a deal. We wwill start up agian in Jnauary and she will have nearly 2 months sober.
    For her, the substance abuse was huge, bigger than I thought. Now that she has stopped, the medications, esp, the mood stabilixer can do their thing. Compassion
  8. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Hello and welcome! I'm sorry you had to find us, but you'll find lots of support and good information here. You've been going through a very tough time. A few things occur to me .... for one, it would be important to drug test your difficult child or otherwise find out if he's clean. Kids with problems like his are at very high risk for substance abuse. If he admits to doing 'a little', he's almost certainly doing much more. Secondly, it's important for you to take care of yourself. His problems are taking over your life and you're getting lost in the whirlwind. Therapy for you is a great idea; also a parental group (similar to Al-Anon, something like Tough Love) if there is one near you; and Al-Anon or Nar-Anon to get help in taking a step back and leaving responsibility where it should lie.

    If your son hasn't seen a doctor in a long time, an evaluation would be a good idea - rule some things in or out. I hope your therapist will help you look at ways to set rules in your house, decide what you will and won't tolerate (verbal abuse, for example), and what the consequences will be. I have found that allowing verbal disrespect/abuse results in a quick escalation to worse verbal abuse and then physical acting out/violence. I don't tolerate verbal disrespect any more. Clear rules, consistent consequences, and action rather than too many words will improve any situation, no matter what else may be going on. And remember, you have a right to be safe. Don't tolerate physical intimidation or abuse.
  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome dawnmyst and I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this. I say that because I understand better than I can describe to you what it feels like to live with that fear and anxiety. I have a 17 yo difficult child and while we go through short spurts of calm, most of the time things are very rocky at home. We have 6 more months and than I can honestly say I believe she will be living on the street. We have been successful so far in keeping her off drugs and alcohol (although she has experimented with both and gotten into legal trouble). She is getting good grades in school this year finally but the toll it has taken on our lives is immeasurable. Her defiance is never far from the surface and just last night she was out all afternoon/evening, came home at 9:15 and left again until 1am because we had turned off her texting due to her lying about her whereabouts. Today she announced that she will not be coming home after work unless we turn the texting back on. I won't be bullied so therefore she will sleep elsewhere I guess. She has no money and her gas tank will be empty soon so I suspect she will come home to harass us when that happens.

    I too have an older daughter who is in college and doing super. We have no issues with her, but she has anxiety due to all the tumoil in our home.

    I wish I had some advice but I don't think your son will agree to go to therapy. I would get a home drug test but then you will have to have a plan for what you will do if it comes up positive. I know the dark place you are in. You want him to finish high school and yet you can't live with the defiance. My difficult child was about your son's age when I counted the days til her 18th birthday and posted in on my calendar to give me hope. I love my difficult child very much but I just simply won't let her terrorize us any more than I have to.

  10. dawnmyst

    dawnmyst New Member

    Thank-you so much to all of you who replied. I was so humbled and grateful that you took the time to show your support. I can tell that this is a wonderful place for those of us who are dealing with difficult children. I called a neurophysch and he basically told me he usually just deals with those who have brain trauma and that it would be best if my son goes to the therapist for a few sessions and then see if he should go to a psychologist for an evaluation.

    MY difficult child is going through drug testing when he goes to the probation officer on Mondays. I am very suspicious though. difficult child doesn't have a MY Space account but uses Face Book which has a password. I know that he has been in contact with my older son at college so I may ask my older son if he has seen anything unusual or suspicious about difficult child.

    I am relaxing a bit tonight since difficult child is at his Dad's for the weekend but a couple of weeks ago the police knocked on my door around this time on a Friday night to ask me questions on a incident that happened in the village. My difficult child has been flagged by the local police so it doesn't take much for them to be suspicious. I live in a very small village and I can't wait to move after I get through these years.

    I always wanted to live in this town and dreamed about it since I was 18 yrs. old. I bought this tiny cottage a few years after my marriage ended. Now I just want to get out of here and start fresh somewhere else where no one knows me. I work on the other side of the river and I may move there someday. I often will look on as an escape, but I digress..

    I went to the book store today and couldn't find "The Explosive Child" but I found a book called "Yes, Your Teen is Crazy! How to love your kid without losing your mind. It covers drug use, mental illnesses, trouble with the law, etc. and was written by Michael Bradley a PHD in psychology. It seems quite thorough and has a bit of humor which I need right now.

    I feel for all of you and your individual stories and I hope that I can offer some support someday when I can get a handle on this. I just feel so helpless and down and cry daily.

  11. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I'm not sure what neuropsychologist you contacted, yet there are those of which you can schedule an neuropsychologist evaluation with without a referral from a pyshcdoc. I did it, with no referral at all. I'd maybe try another one if you have access to some in surrounding towns. Just a thought. its an insightful evaluation, i had one done for my daughter and boy was it enlightening.

    I've never read those books you spoke of locating. What about the library instead of the book store??

    So, he is drug tested every Monday, that's a good thing. I'm glad you are getting some rest this weekend while he's at his dad's. The cottage sounds nice, is it because of all the incidences with your son that you want out now??
  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    It sounds to me like you might have spoken with a neurologist- which isn't exactly the same. Anyway, a psychologist (with a PhD) should be able to help you with testing.

    I'd never heard of the book you mentioned, but the title made me chuckle- I might have to check it out! "The Explosive Child" is pretty common these days in book stores- it might have been sold out. The concept it discusses is very helpful to most of us. The way to implement the strategies can be tweaked according to your kid's age, personality, etc., of course.
  13. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Some neuropsychologist's do only work with people who have had brain trauma. You'll have to keep digging to find one that works in other areas.

    Has he ever been evaluated by a psychiatrist (psychiatrist)?

    Welcome to the board.
  14. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Just popping in to offer you my welcome.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Dawn, I also live in a small town. Unless you have for other reasons decided that your rose-coloured glasses are now permanently off and you hate the place, do NOT move just to run away from any reputation your son has foisted on you. You have a long time for the rest of your life without kids, a lot of time in which people can get to know YOU without the baggage.

    Besides - this can be considered a friendship test. Anyone who is still prepared to be kind to you, to be friendly and understanding - they are real friends. Sometimes it takes work, but never let your kids (and fear of what others may think) influence you to be anything different/do anything different.

    In our town we have some very strange individuals, some problem kids (a lot of problem kids) and over time these kids leave home and move away. Nobody judges the parents unless the parents themselves put up barriers. One 'strange individual' is a target for local thugs, he had to call the police when he was bashed and the result was, an otherwise innocent difficult child got into trouble because he was concealing the weapon for his "mate", a local thug who really didn't care that this difficult child got a criminal record on his behalf. The difficult child's parents have been distraught, but they and the 'strange individual' are still on speaking terms, still talk about how to help the young people in the town. The difficult child still hangs around with the wrong crowd (I believe he's using drugs; I don't think his parents accept this) and sadly will be the one to suffer permanently for having the wrong friends.

    But even though this is a small town with some horrendously nosy gossips, I would never dream of leaving.

    I still have to justify my 'weird kids' to a lot of villagers, quite a few of them are afraid of difficult child 1 because he dresses like a biker on a vendetta and never smiles. I know there are a lot of false rumours about him in the town, mostly form people who don't know him so well.
    Similarly, easy child 2/difficult child 2 made a point of spreading rumours about herself, that she is a witch and will put curses on anyone who gets in her way or hassles her. The result was, she was at times lonely, but the flip side was that nobody messed with her either, the local bullies and thugs wouldn't go near her because she scared them.

    Mind you, I did get "pastoral visits" from various churchy types who were concerned at the occult influence in our household (there was none, I made sure that easy child 2/difficult child understood that witchcraft was NOT the way to go; ANY attitude that you can have special powers just for you is arrogant, self-deceptive, naive and a waste of time and energy). I told the churchy types that if they fear something, they give it power over themselves. My children are not worth fearing. There are too many other REAL issues in this world that are more deserving of expending anxious energy.

    I know there are people in our village who think I'm a bad parent. However, there are also people in our village who think I'm a GOOD parent (and my kids are among that group). As far as I am concerned, anyone who thinks badly of me because of my kids or because of rumours they have heard - I really don't care to deal with them. I will do business with them if I need to, I won't avoid people except in very rare circumstances; but I know where I stand with my friends.

    Even if I never spoke to anyone else in the village again, this is a beautiful place to live and I would never want to leave. This place has attractions for me that are in the environment, in the lifestyle and in the mild climate. Nobody is going to take that away from me, not without a fight.

    I've had to learn to not care about what other people think of me. If you let it worry you, it will enslave you wherever you go, because you can never get away from your own fears and anxieties. If you can learn to not be afraid, you will be free, even if your body is in prison.

  16. tbone

    tbone tough luv is tough

    Welcome to our family ;) There is no one who can take your pain and frustration away but you can atleast know you are not alone.My son is 16 with severe Conduct Disorder,has been in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for 9 months and has made little progress. Glad you found us and Welcome again.
  17. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    just wanted to add in my welcome too. The people here are fabulous!
  18. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Amen to that! You'll only add to his problems by uprooting him from a known environment. Plus, he'll find all kinds of troubled kids in a bigger new town to hang out with and you won't have a clue as to who they are and how to reach them.

    About his facebook page. What computer is he using to access it? At age 15 he should not have free rein over a computer of his own if he is acting out. Computers are a window to the world, and our kid's roadmaps are pretty limited to "anything my mom doesn't want me to do" at that age. If you have already given him a computer, take it and at the very least put spyware on there so you will know what he is doing every second of the day on that thing. There should be no Facebooks or MySpace or e-mail accounts that you don't have the password to. Would you let him go hang out at a bar? No. Would you let him go spend the evening with prostitutes? No. Would you let him sleepover in a crack house? No. You need to get a handle on the computer - like yesterday. You'll get a big fight out of it, but if it were me, and he wanted to fight it, I'd stomp it into the ground and he would never have it again. His choice, either you monitor it, or he gives it up. It's that important.

    If he's using your computer, get the spyware on that, and limit access to everything that doesn't have anything to do with schoolwork. Your son is not earning the privilege of free access to the internet.
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi and welcome. You have found a really supportive place, and we are all glad to have you with us.

    The book you found sounds pretty good. But I still recommend reading The Explosive Child, simply because it can give you insight into HOW your child thinks. And it has great ideas to help manage his behavior.

    I would take him into the pediatrician or family doctor for a FULL checkup. I would ask for blood work, a drug test (as complete as they can do) AND a test for STDs. It isn't uncommon for a kid his age to be sexually active. What kids think of as "sex" is much different than what we think of it as. Many teens do not consider anything other than complete intercourse as sex, and so they may engage in activities short of that and think they are not going to get a disease. Also, many STDs have NO SYMPTOMS until they have already done damage to your body.

    If at ALL possible talk to the doctor privately, and ask that he run these tests with-o telling your son what they are for - have him say they are for infection but not what kind of infection. Hopefully he will be cooperative.

    Witzend is TOTALLY right about the computer. We have one member here who's daughter was lured by a man into a meeting and she was assaulted and hurt. It left long time scars. The computer is an open invitation to anyone and everyone to come and influence your child. If you are afraid of the confrontation of taking his computer, get a program to capture his activity and send it to you. Check on this daily. Same for his phone if he has a cell phone. Check the internet activity on that or turn it off.

    There will be a fight or several fights. Stand your ground. If he acts threatening or hurts you in ANY way, please tell his PO or call and have him transported to a psychiatric hospital.

    You do need to ahve a full psychiatric evaluation done. Many here feel that neuropsychologists (psychologists with special training in how teh brain works) do the best evaluations. Can you talk to the therapist the courts mandated he see and have them test him? Someone on the board here can tell you what tests to ask for.

    Has he been evaluated by a child and adolescent psychiatrist? This is the one with the MD. You don't want an adult psychiatrist - kids brains work differently. It is important to ahve a child and adolescent certified psychiatrist work with you. I don't think that just saying he is "controlling" is an adequate evaluation, nor does it give you any ways to help him. ODD, or oppositional defiant disorder, also isn't much help. It doesn't usually stand alone. Usually there is somehting else causing the ODD behaviors. ODD just describes teh behavior, not the WHY behind it. Without the WHY, the way to help is not apparent.

    anyway, this is a lot of info at one time.

    Sending gentle hugs,


    ps. With all the fighting and intimidation that you have ahd from him, you may be able to get help from a domestic violence shelter - often they have FREE therapy and other ways to help you.
  20. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    I am so sorry about your situation. in my humble opinion try to be an unconditional parent just focusing on connecting with him , getting him to speak , you listen - start with non emotive stuff , talk to him as if he were your friend. The explosive child - try to read the latest edition uses the CPS model - claborative problem solving . The brilliance of the model is that it focuses on ' concerns' and puts the solutions on the back shelf. Most of us express concerns in terms of solutions. Maybe a buddy-tutor could help with his studies , a mentor could reach him better than a therapist . Is he playing some basket ball , maybe he could join a club and play there , not at school. Maybe your older son can ' connect with him ' - maybe give them some cash to enjoy together, maybe he will confide in him

    Let the police , school , law take care of him - you just focus on relationship building , finding something to talk about , going out for a treat etc , also talk about yourself , what makes you happy , show that you care about yourself - diet , exercise, relaxation , leisure , reading etc

    it is not easy and it takes time for a kid to open up and trust that his interests are best served by working with people rather than fighting them.