new with questions

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by musiclady, May 18, 2012.

  1. musiclady

    musiclady New Member

    I am thankful to find this site and support. bth way of an intro, I have 3 kids, and one the 8 yo has possible odd, which we are seeking help with. my main question is this: my psychiatric is thinking of a rewards system. One daily reward for the completed routine during the day. If the rur les of the house are followed (there are only 4 right now) then Difficult Child would get a star; after 5 stars, she would get a reward. the trouble is, my child just won't follow the rules. she has earned 3 stars, then that was it. never 5. also, I'd noticed a sort of cycle; when she gets a star, it's like she starts to go downhill again. i'm thinking a different appoach might be needed. i see the psychiatric tuesday. it has been 4 weeks since the last appoint. Any ideas on all this? what do you think?
  2. Hello and welcome to the boards. I don't really have a response for you but I know that others coming along will have some good advice.

    The thing that would be very helpful is a little more background on your child. Pregnancy - was it full-term, any complications?, medical issues in infancy, early childhood information as well.

    Has any testing been done? That sort of information will help everyone here get a better feel for what is happening.
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome--

    Many of us here believe that "ODD" is a useless diagnosis because all it says is "Your child is being difficult" (yeah, no kidding!) but it doesn't give you any ideas as to WHY.

    And many of us have tried the "Behavior Chart" method ad nauseum, to no avail. (After all, if you could get your child to follow the rules - you wouldn't have taken them to see the professional in the first place - right? So when the professional says "Here - you just need to make him follow some rules." it is pretty UN-helpful.)

    We usually recommend a book written by Ross Greene titled "The Explosive Child" - it helps to give you a little insight on your child's behavior.
  4. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome!

    I'm also quite new here and my kids are already older, but here are few thoughts.

    Rewarding really is the most efficient way to teach and change behaviour. It doesn't always work and with not everything, but it can be really efficient. But it is often hard work. You have to be timing it right, it has to be for small enough things and you have to be constant. I have done quite a lot of animal training and used also shaping method for them. At times it felt that there really was nothing in my difficult child's behaviour worth rewarding, but I was stubborn with it. If a dog or even a chicken can learn all those things with using shaping techniques, so the darn well could my son. And he did, at times. And it was most often more efficient than punishing him.

    How does your reward model work? Are you asking five consequent star-worthy days for the bigger reward? Or is it so, that she will get a big reward whenever she gets those five stars collected, however long that may take? If you are asking five days in row, it may be too hard for her. Rewarding only works, if the task is not too easy or too difficult. If it is too easy, rewards can become meaningless and if it is too hard, kid will just stop working, because they feel they will never get it. If kid is never getting it right, the task asked is too difficult and should be divided to smaller pieces. If she can not behave whole day, you should probably try dividing a day to smaller pieces and giving her a star, if she manages to follow rules certain part of the day. And certainly you shouldn't require five star-worthy days in row to give a reward, if she is never accomplishing having that. And when getting it right starts to become a habit it is time to move on and start to work with the next behaviour on your list.

    Rewarding and giving stickers don't always work with everything or with every children and there are behaviours you shouldn't even try them with (really dangerous ones and other absolute no-not otherwise specified) but when it works, it is an awesome method. So you shouldn't give up too easily even if it feels silly to reward for something you feel should be a self-evident. But unfortunately it doesn't help to say that something should be self-evident and every other kid knows how to master certain skill. If your kid is not mastering the skill, it is not self-evident for them notwithstanding how self-evident it may be to your other kid or neighbour's kid. My younger kid is the perfect child in a true sense of the word. I know many of his friends' parents are asking their kids why can't they be like my easy child (not the best parenting tactic but I think most of us have fallen for that at times.) Lucky for me, but it doesn't mean that my difficult child could master the same skills as his little brother just because easy child could even though he is three years younger. That was something I used to have a lot of trouble with. Somehow I easily ended up thinking that difficult child could do something because easy child could do it and if he didn't, it was a choice. Sometimes it was, but many times it wasn't. He just didn't know how to do certain things that came easily to his brothers. And I had to teach him. And sometimes he did learn and sometimes he didn't. But me being frustrated and thinking that he just should get it and it wasn't my job to teach him, didn't help a bit.
  5. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hello and welcome. I agree with the others here posting before me because many of us have followed the same journey. It is good to try that IF you haven't and haven't already figured out that it doesn't work very well for your child. Many of us do find some incentives work SOME of the time.

    First, if you can, read "what your explosive child is trying to tell you" by Doug Riley and "the explosive child" (my keyboard is funky adding spaces and refusing caps sorry) ross Greene.

    These books are a couple that help give ideas and explanations for why consequence reward programs often do not work for kids who are wired differently. For a child to have a ODD diagnosis....regardless of many of our impression that it is not a very helpful diagnosis (for the reasons stated, it just describes behavior and of course if it gets you help ...great, but if you can find out why it i s much m ore helpful for obvious reasons)... anyway, for a child to have this at a young age it usually means something is going on, either chemically, neurologically, situation-ally, or a combination. It can really help to look beyond one area of specialty (mental health or neuro ONLY) and go to a broader evaluation like a neuropsychology (psychologists who have additional training in neurology so they test very indepth...far more than a typical psychiatrist or psychologist or dr. visit and they help connect how our brains work, process, experience with the behavioral challenges either in learning or socially etc.) A developmental pediatrician can also work, they often have a team of evaluators that work together. (psychiatric, speech/lang, Occupational Therapist (OT), PT, vision, etc.....)

    Many of us also have complete speech/lang. pathology and occupational therapy evaluations done to look at obvious and subtle issues that may be interfering with understanding/processing as well as motor (fine motor, non integrated reflexes, etc.) and sensory integration issues. These may not be obvious and some of us like to do this testing while waiting for the neuropsychologist testing because then you can bring these results to the neuropsychologist to help them see the bigger picture. neuropsychologist will touch on these areas but will not be able to do the indepth testing in those areas that you will get from these people.

    We often share this on this board, and many of us do this in different orders or slightly different ways, but we share it because getting a more comprehensive evaluation has lead to answers and much more significant help in many cases. For some, it even dismisses incorrect diagnoses and helps to get on the right track. We like to suggest to people to d o t his before going through years of ineffective, nor not fully effective treatments only to find out later....(and the professionals are doing their best often, not that they are insincere, but they are limited in focus and will naturally have a bias for how they view your child's behavior and not look for ALL of the underlying causes. A member who is not around as much lately just found out her son has a serious digestive issue which affects his ability to absorb nutrients which has contributed to all kinds of behaviors, has been years of searching for answers, sigh). We have to be the ones to search down all o f the possibilities.

    OK now on to the reward chart. Here are things that have gone wrong for us (my son and me) and what does work sometimes...
    1. rewards work best if immediately given. This is actually a behavioral principle for teaching new behaviors. IF you are going to use a behavioral (reward/consequence) method....generally you give rewards for each step taught until the behavior is solidly learned THEN you can spread it out to when you get this job done you get X...eventually working up to being able to have delayed rewards like a sticker chart. For US we NEVER are able to use a delayed reward system at home and rarely at school (just for s mall not as important things). To maintain a behavior (In behavior programs) what is used is intermittent rewards, just randomly giving a compliment, treat, etc.....this is after the behavior is established to KEEP it. (remember this is the traditional way and it can work well for many, especially more typical kids who are just having an issue here and there, doesn't hurt to try because it is a nice system, but if it is not working do not kill yourself over it, or kill them...LOL it results in huge power struggles and it may be missing the real issue anyway if there is something underneath the whole problem)

    2. NEVER NEVER works to do a cost program where we take away a sticker.

    3. It does sometimes work to just set a limit and (if we are at that step) if I say well, if it takes a week, or three weeks to get the five stars, that is fine.....then it is not so devastating to not make it in a day, the pressure is off a little. But by this time in his life, charts end up ripped up even if he is close to the end, s o not worth it.

    4. Since we rarely do this at all anymore, what we DO do is give a mint for a nice ride on the bus, a tatoo for following a direction etc.

    My son's teacher put it really nicely the other day. They are specialists in neurobehavioral approaches which look outside of traditional behavioral methods for kids who simply do not respond well to those approaches (frankly, if these approaches were used more frequently we may have less kids in such specialized programs because they work for many kids, typical and kids with challenges).

    SO, he said what works for Q is to stay in charge (not in an obvious way, just not based on charts, points, etc) of the rewards. To have them ready to go and to catch the behaviors that they are working on because this way you avoid the potential power struggles, anxieties, whatever is interfering with the system.

    Much of what we are doing (and it depends on each child but to give you an example of how digging to the issues has helped) is to avoid triggers, to use what works to calm him (often counter intuitive...NO gentle voice, reasoning etc...just QUIET until his brain settles because seizures and obsessive thoughts can be interfering with compliance)....switching out who says what (I am single and still do it, for example will have a secretary at the therapy clinic go into Occupational Therapist (OT) and hand a cup with his medications to him so a power struggle with me is out of the equation, so far this ALWAYS works, knock wood!)

    He is in therapies to help the issues which cause impulse control problems, irritability, misunderstanding or missing of information, ability to remember things in a better way, etc. (we will also be doing bio feedback, relaxing sessions for the summer).... He is in Occupational Therapist (OT), PT, speech/lang/communication, and a social skills group. (and of course has Special Education.)

    In terms of right now?

    Do you need to cue her on what to do, and/or how to do the chores? Maybe try a list that she checks off, just an organizer list (pictures if needed but words are fine). You can laminate a task sheet if it is always the same and it can be checked off like a white board. For now, maybe see what happens if she can earn a small reward ( a dime, a sticker, a tatoo, a lifesaver, a few m and m's etc.) for the check....or just for doing the chore if you dont use a task board...right away.

    If what she needs to do changes or just if you prefer, you can buy a small wipe off board to write chores on and then when done erase it.

    If she is unorganized, you might schedule the chore time, but it may take a while to get used to the schedule, so be prepared to teach and help until it is comfortable and routine. My son hates new routines but even if they are not fun things, once established if he says...can I do X now, I can say...well what does the schedule say (then it is the schedules fault not mine to say no). By the way, it does not have to b e a timed can just be the order.... if the schedule says this or that has to be done first, then what can be done second etc.... you dont get stuck with panic and fits if a time limit hits. (can you tell I have been thru this , uggg)

    If she does not need a schedule but likes to have power/choices then you might list several things will be doing that day... and she can pick the order of the chores (some kids like to do the worst first, some like to ease into things) but allow for a certain break and of course the small reinforcers for each task in between....can't pick from the activity list though until whatever limit number of chores are done.

    If she can be a part of setting up the plan it can be far more motivating and give her a sense of control. Really listen to what she says about how to set it up, it may give you clues to how she thinks...

    These are all just ideas and yes, they can take a while to set up and to remember to do but in the end wow does it pay off. For us usually one to two weeks and many behaviors settle down. It can get worse when they are getting used to it but once the routine is settled, for some kids just the predictability of it is reassuring.

    OK I will stop, I had to get Q ready and send him off while writing this...hope it makes sense. Feel free to correct me or ask if it makes no sense.

    This darn keyboard is making me crazy!

    Welcome to the group, even if nothing I say is helpful for you, please know I understand how hard this can be and what you a re going through is actually pretty common in this neck of the woods~!! you are not alone!!!!
  6. HopeRemains

    HopeRemains New Member


    I, too, have tried rewards charts (many, many times). They help behavior for maybe a week, or at least I don't get a meltdown when I ask him to go brush his teeth, but then, it's as if he realizes that he is behaving himself. I'm new here, too, so when I say that I've always noticed that difficult child is much more comfortable being upset/angry/mean- it may just be an unelightened observation that I just don't understand the reasoning for yet.

    I've always thought that he felt "tricked" into behaving for a bit and when he realized it all heck broke loose. But some days, any port in a storm. I'm guessing I will resort back to trying a rewards chart this summer if I find no other alternative just because I will be desperate to do something to alleviate the behaviors for however long it will work!
  7. HopeRemains

    HopeRemains New Member

    These are great ideas! We have a schedule but it's always meltdown time if I'm not spot on timewise. I think I'm going to get rid of some of the times on there.
  8. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Buddy's reply is really good. What works and what not, really depends from the kid. My difficult child is borderline in many ways. He was always too high functioning to get any diagnosis. He is not your typical kid and he has lot of difficulties, but he is very good at compensating. And his troubles are not that severe. Which of course doesn't mean they are not contributing his issues with gambling, which could end up being an life destroying addiction (he is doing well now, but it is an addiction there relapses are common and suicide risk can be high.) But he has a capacity to understand delayed gratification and work towards bigger rewards and he has always had some capacity to that. Not as good as my easy child's but some of it. And that has certainly helped with reward systems.

    Of course as I said, you can teach a chicken with these principles, you just have to be very good at timing your rewards. With kids it is more difficult because using clicker and food just... well... And if the kid really wants to irritate, rewarding or consequences are of course not working, because they just make it sure that kid does know, how to irritate the best. Anyhow the beauty of the reward system, and why I do think it is worth several tries, is that it takes away some power struggle. And those power struggles seldom end well. It also takes away some negativity. It doesn't usually make miracles happen, but it can be very useful especially with certain specific behaviours. And when it works, it is really cool thing.
  9. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Good, hope it helps.

    There are a ton of alternatives and tweaks so dont reinvent the wheel....throw the problem out here and many of us have tried different things which you then can morph to what works for you!

    A basic thing that helps many is to use a

    First ____________________ (can write it as 1st____________), THEN (or 2nd)___________________

    the first/then system can be done verbally holding up a finger too when you are out like at a restaurant etc. Mom, can I go to the prize machine??? First, eat Then, prize machine. Once this gets to be routine, esp if you have a non verbal signal paired with it, it can become another security phrase, comfortable etc. (and then again, it can also become an anger trigger so be careful to say it in a cheerful voice, smiling, and in a simple way, not using the MOM voice/tone....LOL)

    I think ktllc has been facing some similar issues more recently.....she probably has quite a few ideas too!
  10. musiclady

    musiclady New Member

    thank you all for your great replies! First, a little more background. My daughter had a perfect tex book pregnancy and a 2 hour labor. Breastfeeding didn't work out due to lack of support, and I was a little clueless because I'd never been around kids. but things started to go interesting when she started walking. She would touch every thing. Yes I know all teddlers do this, but she would do it constantly. she destroyed 3 computers by sticking things in to them. Also, i couldn't take her any where because of her touching stuff and she would try and break stuff. I thought maybe it was normal and every one was telling me she would grow out of it so I didn't worry too much. She also chews every thing and the pediatrician recently had her checked for medical conditions that might cause this. she is fine medical wise. Anyway she is just so defiant. Does the opisite to what I ask. She is sneaky and lies like hell. I feel more natural consiquences and ways to deal with not ingaging wouldbe more helpful than a reward chart.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Has she ever had an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation for sensory issues?
    What you just described - the always-touching, the chewing on stuff... could be sensory-seeking.
    OTs have ways to help - alternative ways for them to get the sensory environment they need in a more acceptable manner...

    Sensory issues are often part of or in parallel with other dxes, but... you can persue the evaluation stand-alone, you lose nothing. Results of Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation are used by other evaluators, such as developmental peds and neuropsychs.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Has she ever been assessed? I would take her to a neuropsychologist first, if possible. Sensory issues rarely exist alone, but can be helped...many kids outgrow some of those issues as they get older. My son was in Occupational Therapist (OT) and PT at a young age.

    Count me in as one who feels ODD is a pretty useless diagnosis. It means "defiant child" but it doesn't explain why the child may be so defiant. Are there any psychiatric issues on EITHER side of her GENETIC family tree, even if father doesn't see her? Any substance abuse?
  13. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Wanted to welcome you! You've gotten some great advice. The more information you give the better we can help. How does she transition? Have you noticed any other sensory issues like food pickiness or light sensitivity?

    Another test that would be good to get done is to have her hearing tested and to have her tested for Auditory Processing Disorders (APD).

    We tried behavior charts and they didn't work until after we figured out what was going on. Then we could tailor the chart to difficult child 1's needs.
  14. musiclady

    musiclady New Member

    Thanks for the great advice. we have had hearing tested as well as Auditory Processing Disorders (APD), and all was fine. I personally think it could be sentory seeking, even if others think it isn't. How to help that at home.
  15. buddy

    buddy New Member