newbie - feel like I'm going under!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by toffee, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. toffee

    toffee New Member

    My son is 9 and he has been diagnosed with ADHD with ODD traits. I've been struggling with him since he was 2 and he's just so awful.

    My marriage is on the rocks and my youngest son (3) is just tormented by him all the time. We can't go on holiday or even have days out. I wish I was dead sometimes. I dread him coming home from school and he just causes chaos in the house. He pits me against my husband and loves it when he causes a row. We have no childcare and we're just so isolated in our lives.

    His bio father lives at the other end of the country and sometimes I feel like just sending him there to live because I'm just so sick of the chaos and arguing. He doesn't commit any crimes or anything like that - I know I'm lucky because of this, but I just can't cope with the endless arguing. I feel like I live in a battle zone. When he goes away to his fathers I just sleep due to the exhaustion. I'm living on my nerves and my husband is irritable, angry and stressed.

    This child is going to kill us.

    I dunno what to do. I've read 123 Magic by Tom Phelan, but we're too tired to implement the strategies. Should we start over again?
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator


    Sorry for all the questions, but your answers will help us help you:
    What kind of doctor diagnosed your son with ADHD?
    Is he taking any medications? If so, what?
    How does your son do in school, both academically and with peers?
    Any sensory issues (for example, sensitivity to clothing tags or food textures)?
    Any speech or developmental delays?
    Any mental health issues or substance abuse in the family tree?

    For understanding and working with your child, we recommend The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It has helped many of us on the board parent our extra-challenging children.

    When you get a chance, please create a signature similar to mine below. Here's a link on how to do it:

    Again, welcome.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Who diagnosed him. Do you think that maybe more is going on than ADHD/ODD? How was his early development? Any mental health issues or substance abuse on either side of the family tree, another he could have inherited?
    Is your husband loving toward him?
    Do you live in the US? Has he ever seen a neuropsychologist?
  4. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hey toffee,

    Welcome to the family. I can feel the frustration in your post and would offer my first suggestion to THROW as far as you can 1-2-3 magic. It is perhaps the worst book I ever wasted my time on. It sets kids up to fail in telling them they get 3 chances before they HAVE to comply with a parents wishes.

    I would like to suggest a better read. Most here will tell you to read The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. This will help you understand. I would tell you that in 17 years the best book I have read regarding solutions to helping me help myself with regards to my son has been How to talk so your kids will Listen and how to Listen so your kids will Talk. it's an amazing self-help book about something we believe we are born with and are NOT......effective communication skills.

    You're marriage doesn't need to be on the rocks, your 3 year old doesn't need to be tormented daily and you don't need to feel like you want to die. Although there have been days when i could have joined you. A few things I think every parent with a child who has behavior disorders should hear is You are not alone, if you were we wouldn't be here to help, and this is a lifetime disability. It's not going to go away with pills or therapy, but they help manage the symptoms. Knowing now that this is going to take YEARS to help while brutal to hear - allows your brain to start preparing for long term dealings and doesn't set you up to think - OH wow with pills and treatment of 3 months this will be over or behind us.

    A lot depends on his diagnosis. A lot depends on how much you and your husband will put into your own therapy in dealing with your son. If you find and work with a good psychologist6 you can formulate "battle" plans so that you and your hubby ARE united - and in turn that helps your marriage. parenting these kids aren't for the weak of heart - but it IS for the special. You can get to a place where you'll not dread his (difficult child) presence every day and occasionally you'll find your mind set understanding what it's like to be inside HIS head and you gotta figure if he feels THAT bad on the inside that this behavior manifests itself like it does on the outside - WHAT must he feel every day of his life? No one WANTS to be like he is - they just are. It's possibly genetic, chemical - no one knows for sure.

    What we do know is that with help and services in place and arming yourself with an education regarding your son and his diagnosis - you can have better days - and occasionally you are blessed with a fantastic day.

    Welcome to the board! You've found a great place to vent and a wonderful community that understands.

  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome. I am so glad to have you here with us, but so very sorry you need to be here.

    I totally AGREE with Star about THROWING 123 magic as far from you as you can!! It completely increases arguing by any child!!

    We usually recommend the Explosive Child, by Ross Greene. It is very helpful. I also recommend Parenting with Love and Logic. It was a book that helped my husband and I get on the same page and it helped STOP our son from manipulating us against each other. I really think it helped save my marriage and my sanity. You can check it out at . Even though some of the advice is aimed at teachers, we found it all helpful.

    We do recommend putting together a Parent Report to help you when taking difficult child to any kind of doctor. It just is a way to organize things so you can get to the info you need when you need it. It can be found here:


  6. 4sumrzn

    4sumrzn New Member

    You have for sure found a great place here. I don't have anything to add, but wanted to welcome you!!!

    The Explosive Child is wonderful book....check it out ;)
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, Toffee. For an advance peek at "Explosive Child" check out the Early Childhood forum, there is a really good thread there (locked to the top, it is so good) which explains it very well.
    The really good thing about that book - it really helps with the oppositional behaviour, in a way that makes it easier for you, not harder.
    A part of me just cringes when people say, "You should read such-and-such a book, it will give you the tools you need to work with your child more effectively," because too often it means trying to make sense out of the incomprehensible, at a time when I'm just too tired to draw up charts, tables, rules etc.

    It's not like that at all. That's why I love it.

    Instead, I found that difficult child 3's behaviour began to improve while I was reading the book, well before I had a chance (I thought) to begin to use any of the stuff in it. I think what was happening - as I was beginning to get a different point of view on difficult child 3 and why he behaved the way he did, he seemed to sense there was a different way of interacting and that I was not being oppositional TO HIM. Instinctively, I was already beginning to use the techniques.

    Then it snowballed, in a good way. As his behaviour improved, my attitude to him improved, which led to improved behaviour form him, and so on.

    It also involves taking a step back and not fussing about all the problems all at once. it's letting go of most of it, so you can deal with just a little. Then as that is dealt with, you pick up a little more, and so on. It makes it much more manageable and much easier to succeed - you and the child.

    I also highly recommend, if you can - get husband to read the posts here as well. Not only will it help him to understand the problems, it will also help your communication. I didn't think anything could improve communication between me and husband, because we talked to each other as much as we could anyway, but the more he lurks here, the more he learns about the little things we never think to tell each other. And what a difference it has made to us! it has also made an unexpected difference to husband's relationship with difficult child 3, because he picks up a great deal 'by osmosis' and it all snowballs (again, in a good way).

    I do understand the tiredness you feel. It is sheer purgatory sometimes, trying to cope with a difficult child.

    Like MWM, I also am querying whether the diagnosis isn't hiding something more. it's always worth considering - difficult child 1 turned out, ten years after originally diagnosed as ADHD, to in fact be Aspergers (plus ADHD). It explained things a lot better and also meant we had a better idea how to get him the help he REALLY needed.

    Stick around, let us know how you get on.

  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I agree with the others about throwing the book and getting help for your son.

    Are you getting any help for yourself? Many of our moms have gone through times when they've benefitted from counseling and/or medications for depression, anxiety, etc. Taking care of yourself is critical because if you're exhausted you won't be able to keep up with addressing your son's issues.

    Hang in there.
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome! How many people tell you to 'just stop arguing with him?' - Ugh! I hated that one. But, there was some validity to it. Just not in the way they meant for it to happen.

    Well, the first thing I learned here that helped to decrease the battles in my home is that traditional parenting just does not work with these kids. You have to change if you want different results. What you are doing now isn't working, right? So, time to change it up. It is hard. Believe me.

    Try to get creative. You know it might not be the best parenting method, but if it stops battles in your home - it is OK. Afterall, what you were doing was accomplishing nothing. So, why not accomplish less battles? See where I am going here?

    Trust me, it will go against your very being to have to change up some of your parenting methods - especially since you will keep using your current ones with your younger child in the hopes that it will be effective for him.
    That is right. You will parent them both differently. Talk about being uncomfortable!

    It is OK. We give permission here. You do not have to worry about every little thing he is arguing about. If he can not/will not finish his homework - it is OK to send him to bed without having it done.
    This is what The Explosive Child really says. Put things in 3 categories or baskets. Basket A is the stuff you will absolutely never give in on - like looking both ways when you cross the street, wearing a seat belt, not playing with matches, etc.
    Pick 2 or 3 things to put in Basket B - the things you want to work on first. Say taking a shower every other day, picking up toys before bed and saying one thing nice to someone in the house each day.
    Then the rest of the argument topics go into Basket C. They do not get worked on right now. Nobody is going to die if he mouths off and gets away with it.

    My list is examples, and you may have completely different prioritites for what you will work on in Basket B. Perhaps the morning routine is horrendous - start there. Pick 3 things about the morning that you really want to work on. Explain exactly what you expect and what the consequences are. Let him give input, too. He may have something to say about it that is valid. Be specific.
    At night, do not engage in the battle. If he mouths off, just ignore him. If he keeps it up send him to his room without raising your voice. Be like a robot.

    I have rambled, sorry!!
  10. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    Good MOrning

    One of the biggest things we argued about was homework. My difficult child could not possibly sit and do homework after sitting and doing school work all day. I finally approached the school and had it written into his IEP that he has NO homework, or very, very little. This whole school year {which ends today....(great, he'll be under my nose ugh)} he's had NO written homework of any kind. All he had was to practice his trumpet and to read. My difficult child was so combative that our home life was a war zone to put it mildly. Our children MUST have a safe place to go to....and it needed to be our home. I won't begin to tell you it solved the problems...NOT. But now he has to argue about something other than homework. Every word that comes out of our difficult child's mouth is an argument. If I even say can go to the pool.....he'll argue about how long. It's never-ending. As others have told you, YOU are not alone. It really does help to get on here and let 'er rip! I'm sorry, it's not a fun life sometimes.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Actually, you don't have to parent them differently if you don't want to. Explosive Child methods work well for PCs too. But you do need different baskets for different children. That's OK - we all have different rules for kids of different ages/capabilities.

    For example, difficult child 1 had a later bedtime than his younger sister, because she needed more sleep to function and he's always got by on much less.

    Keep Basket A as simple as possible - immediate safety only. For example, you would be prepared to provoke a meltdown if necessary, to save your kid from running out into the road and being run over by a truck. But if you have more time to anticipate, you can put a lot of stuff in Basket B.
    "The ball just went out into the road? I'll help you. Hang on, don't run out - there's a truck further down the road so stand here with me. Now the truck's gone, and your ball has rolled slowly to the other side and has now stopped. Let's walk across the road safely together, and we'll get your ball."

    It's close, but because there was enough time then you were able to put a safety issue into Basket B instead of A.

    Also with evening behaviour - try to head it off at the pass. Avoid it where possible by anticipating. Not easy when you're mentally exhausted. But kids, difficult children especially, are much more difficult in the evenings when they are mentally tired. I've found the best option is to get them fed, get them to bed as soon as possible. A good night's sleep is good for them and for you. Feed them early, before they are too tired to eat. I would feed difficult child 3 as soon as he got home from school. If he wasn't too tired later on, I'd give him something more, like a smaller second dinner. If he was too tired he was still fed enough to sleep through. otherwise, he'd go to bed and wake up before dawn, ravenous.

    Another 'trick' - I strongly suspect your difficult child has trouble task-changing. It's not uncommon in ADHD, among other conditions. Instead of enforcing rules by, "I said I want it done NOW!" it works better to give him space and say, "I need X done, fairly quickly, but if you're watching Simpsons it can wait until the ad break." Then when the ad comes on, remind gently. "Hey - it's the ad. Can you rush out and do that job now? I'll call you back if you're not finished by the time the ad break is over. I'll make sure you don't miss your show."
    It sounds like you're catering to him, but in fact you are working together - he gets to watch his show, but you get the job done also. You both win. Plus, you are happier because the job got done, and he will sense this and feel good about himself for having pleased you, and still not missed his cartoon.
    Similarly, computer games. Our kids love them. And I think they actually can help, although the obsession can be scary.

    So I give them time to save, or pause a game.
    Example of an exchange:

    Mum: difficult child 3, it's now after 6 pm. You know that's when games have to be paused if needed, to get the evening routine done. Will you go have your bath please?

    difficult child 3: Muum! I'm almost at Level 15 when the bad guy attacks with everything he's got. I've never got tis far before. Can't it wait?

    Mum: You know we need to keep things moving through our tasks or everyone gets inconvenienced. How long do you think you need?

    difficult child 3: I will be another five minutes to the next save point, then the final level - I think that will be about half an hour.

    Mum: Half an hour is really too long. It's not fair on the others who have to wait for you. I'll give you five minutes to save the game. If you're not ready by then, you'll have to pause it and get to your save point after your bath.

    Get the idea? The thing is, it works. I now get much more compliance from difficult child 3, because he's no longer anxious that I'm going to walk up and shut off his game (guaranteed to produce a meltdown).

    This is showing him respect. The positive side to this - he learns to show respect to others, especially those that respect him. That's because this models it for him.

    To begin with, I used to have to put a post-it note on the computer screen (unobtrusively, of course) stating what the task was (ie bath) and what time he was told to go. That wya when he complained that I hadn't told him to go have his bath (because he really hadn't heard me; he had tuned me out) there was the proof on the screen.

    Giving a time warning is the best way to get compliance to change task when they show any obsessiveness about what they do. And it's not just compliance - it's compliance with a minimum of tantrum. Because once they start to rage, you have lost the battle.

    This works. I now get respect, more than I ever thought possible.

  12. toffee

    toffee New Member

    My son was diagnosed by a private consultant paediatrician who specialises in childhood behavioural disorders. The NHS CAMHS service weren't interested in him because they said that, because his behaviour had improved at school then he didn't have ADHD. I've struggled for years with him so I went private

    The paed gave him a thorough assessment and said that he's coping well at school due to: his high IQ, the quality of teaching, the level of work, they have lots of fun and stimulation there, his friendships. She said that he's taking stuff out on us at home because he's tired after concentrating hard all day at school. When he comes home he's just 'letting it all hang out' which is what most kids do, but because of his ADHD it's worse. She said that he was also Oppositional. She recommended 123 Magic and Understanding ADHD books.

    She doesn't want to medicate him because he's coping well at school at the moment - he's not falling behind at all and his learning isn't badly affected - apart from his music lessons a bit.

    She recommended joining an ADHD support group, but when I contacted them they didn't get back to me.

    I just feel so lonely and despondant. If only the arguments would stop I could cope. I can cope with the ADHD behaviour, but the oppositional stuff is just crazy. If I sat him in front of a brick wall he'd argue with it! My husband is also going crazy!
  13. toffee

    toffee New Member

    Thanks for all the replies also.

    I'm from the UK and there's going to be no chance of counselling at all for any of us. We can't afford to go private and the health service provision is only there for people who have been diagnosed through the 'system'. Because we've had a private assessment they won't help us. I had a major fight with CAMHS last time I encountered them and they weren't sympathetic. Provision in the UK is extremely poor when it comes to childhood behavioural disorders.

    This is why we're struggling so much. There's nobody out there for us to talk to. Nobody realises the life that we're leading. ADHD kids and their parents are looked down on over here - we're seen as being incompetent and ineffective and basically just losers. People raise their eyebrows if you say you've got an ADHD kid as if to say "yeah, that's right, blame some made-up disorder for your bad parenting"!!!!!!!

    The paed said that there was no Aspergers, but he does have mild dypraxia which affects his ability to play football and ride his bike.

    Does the Explosive Child book have some strategies in to help?

    What do I do when he's tormenting his brother and I'm out of the room and can hear everything?