newbie learning to deal with!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gateship, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. gateship

    gateship New Member

    I don't know all the slang yet so forgive me. I will figure it out promise!
    I know this is a place for parents but there are not that many places for adult sibs so i figured what the hay maybe this could be a soft place for me to land too!
    My family is fostering a 12 yr old girl with ODD. She was an emergency placement that was only supposed to last a week or two if that...we are going into week six now (or is it more? I don't know anymore!) At first we didn't think she had ODD just regular preteen angst amped up a ton. In the past few weeks she has started to show us some of her harder to deal with traits. She has all the classic symptoms of ODD without the violence. When doing research about ODD one site said "argues with adults once or twice a week" I started laughing. Once or twice a week?! how about at least once or twice an hour or maybe every 30 minutes? If she isn't arguing with you she is glaring at you. I feel as though every thing I say is wrong and maybe i am being super critical. Is it really wrong for me to say "No i will not drive you to the gas station to get you ice cream but you can go get one of the popsicles we just bought out of the fridge"? or how about "I'm sorry but I really don't want to read to you tonight I am enjoying my book right now, why don't you ask dad to read to you?" Am I a horrible evil person for wanting a little alone time? I do spend time with her and read to her and do crafts and play games just not every waking moment of everyday. My mom and I trade off entertaining her when dad is at work and then he gets to spend time with her when he gets home.
    She does have some attachment issues but not Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as far as we (and the social workers) can tell. My family has had to deal with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in the past and she isn't anywhere close to acting like those kids on the attachment front. I think her issue- and its totally fair that she has this issue- is one of lack of trust and that plays into not truly bonding with adults.
    OK so enough of the rant. Do you lovely ladies and gents have any advice on how to help me and/or my family deal? Any experience with ODD will be helpful! Thank you!!!!
  2. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome! I understand that laughter at 2 or 3 times a week - it was hourly for my difficult child, too.

    Twelve is really a very difficult age for the easy child, but add in any emotional problems and it can get nasty.
    Has she begun her period yet?
    Has she ever shown anxiety or depression?
    Is she ever happy?
    Is it over the top happy?
  3. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Gateship! Welcome to the crowd! I really admire you for wanting to help this young lady out. Dollars to donuts she's had a really tough time with it.

    I have to say, I also crack up at the 2-3 days a week!

    You and your family really seem to be into the fostering thing (which again, I admire soooo much! There aren't enough caring people out there in this world).

    For the record, it could be that she just doesn't trust you guys. She's also probably looking to you to be that "big sister" that would be a pal (pals "spring" for ice cream - lol!).

    First, I'd get Ross Greene's book "The Explosive Child". It's an easy read, not a lot of technical talk, and lots of examples to work from.

    Second, you might want to try carving out say, 1/2 a night to "hang-out" with her. It's a terrifying place for her right now, not knowing where she's going to end up, probably headed down the "becoming a woman path" (that cracks me up as well! Just the terminology - I know, it's very immature of me!), and just trying to carve out what niche she belongs in.
    During that 1/2 hour or so, try doing each other's nails (trust me, she'll make a mess of your nails), playing with hair, looking at Girl Stuff type of magazines and ads, etc. She's probably a nervous wreck about starting school, where she'll be enrolled (if she's not still with you guys, she could end up in a different school), what kind of clothes a popular, etc.

    I don't blame you for wanting time to yourself, but if you set a time that's just "girl time", she'll have something to look forward to, and you'll be better able to plan accordingly.

    Let us know if there's any other questions, etc. that you have OR if you just need listeners! This is a great place to visit!

  4. Christy

    Christy New Member


    It is hard to know exactly what is causing your foster sister' s behaviors as I'm sure she has had a difficult life to this point. Is she coming from another foster placement or from her birth family? Just the stess of this transition alone, especially at a difficult age, could be the source of her ODD behaviors.

    Beth beat me to it by suggesting the Explosive Child, it would be a great help to your family in this situation as well as with other foster placements.

    Setting aside a time to do things together is also a good idea and may help with the frequent pestering. I'm sure she is craving attention, attention she probably did not receive in her birth family. I found with our former foster daughters (then age 11 and 12) that the more you did for them, the more they wanted you to do for them. They did not have any expectations for their birthmom but were relentless with demands for me. They were always hurt when I said no, even to small things. This got better with time as they learned that I could be counted on consistantly but was not a pushover.

    I had to laugh when I read your post. My son was also an emergency 2 week placement. 2 1/2 years later, he was still living with us and we adopted him!

    Good luck to you and your family as you try to help this girl. She is lucky to have landed in a caring home.

  5. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    I don't know how old you are but i think it is very sweet of you to understand fostering is a family thing and not just your parents. I think it is almost to be expected that kids coming into fostercare don't have very good boundries so I can see her not understanding when enough is enough so you have to teach her. I think nvts said it well about setting a special time up for you and her to do somethings and then explain that you need alone time or other reasons and stick with it. once she sees the consistence of it I think she will settle down...or she could be like my little girl and be a bottomless pit, either way, you need the boundries so you can continue to do all you are doing without burning out or resenting it.
  6. gateship

    gateship New Member

    Thanks all for responding. I will go check out that book! Been reading "Adopting the hurt child"- which has been helpful to some degree.
    OK so here are a few answers to your questions:
    -yes she has started her period- apparently has had it for over 2 years now. Behaviors always get worst as she gets closer to her time of the month- it doesn't help that the 3 women in the house all get it at the same time now!
    -yes she is happy SOME of the time- not a lot but some.
    -Yes, she is usually over the top happy but to give her credit she does have times when you can tell she is truly enjoying herself and happy. Those happy times last half an hour at most but they are lovely while they last.
    -she came from a disrupted adoption before that TFC (treatment foster care)- so yes we do realize that she is in a world of hurt, confusion, anger, and scared. The ODD behaviors started several years ago though so while i am sure that they are amped up because of the situation they didn't suddenly appear because of it.
    -I'm 23 still living at home, because of finances and because my mom is my best friend and this adoption/fostering thing is just as important to me as it is my parents.
    -I have tried the 'special' time idea but unfortunately she cannot/will not entertain her self at all so 'special' time becomes all the time. Mom and I have to take turns or we go crazy. She has no concept of boundaries, we have been trying to teach her but it is SLOW going!
    Today she watched several episodes of a tv show without getting up more than 20 times (a little dance was done at this success!) However, I will continue to try it and see if maybe it will end up can only hope:)
    -Yes, I am sure she does not trust us and is dealing with all of the stress of this situation- new people, home, possibly school, possible adoptive families (the agency has been looking for her), the loss of her last adoptive family foster family and bio family. I am not saying that she has any reason to trust us because if i were in her shoes I would be totally screwed up too! It just does not make it easy for us dealing with the constant arguing, negativism, tantrums, mood swings, depression, anger, resentment (on our part as well as hers).
    So I guess my next question is to you ladies/gents who have had to deal with arguments several times an hour- what did/do you do to keep your sanity?
    Thanks again to everyone for your advice and support!!!
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    What a sweetheart you are!

    I don't deal well with-the negativity. My son was at camp for a mo. We picked him up yesterday. It was great, until about noon today, and he woke up in a monster mood and it went downhill from there. I have learned to walk away.
    You know how you said she needs company all the time? What if you tell her she will be alone for 5 min. while you wash your hair? That would give you 5 min. away from the negativity, and 5 min. for her to deal with-herself. Alone.
    Then, up it to 10 min. Then 15. Get my drift?
    Just because she's in foster care doesn't mean she doesn't get consequences. If the explanation is short and unemotional, she should eventually respond.
    What does she do if you leave her alone right now? Throw a fit? Slam things? If it's just loud complaining, I say, hey, walk around the house outside just to get away from it. Come back in and ignore her pestering questions.
    My son did that today and I realized I had no compelling reason to answer his snotty, snooty questions. So I just ignored him and he eventually shut up.

    I don't know if that's what you were looking for, but it's my 2 cents worth.
    Foster kids should not be ignored and just passed from home to home. It's hard work on everyone's parts.

  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I know some of you might have been thinking bipolar, but it sounds a lot like Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some form, too. It could be a number of things, including just the turmoil she's been through in her life. Sometimes it's just too difficult to pin down the "why", we just deal with the "because".

    As for what to do to cope - a strong suggestion is to postpone trying to read your book (or whatever it is) until you know you will have the uninterrupted time to do it. Ignore her age, but consider her, at least in this, to be the equivalent of a needy two year old. With them you can't make them wait or insist on equal time and personal space. You do best if you put down your thing, help them out with whatever is bugging them, and then when they are settled you might have more chance. if you keep trying to hang on to your own "rights" you will both lose. She will ramp it up and get worked up and you still won't get to read your book, probably for even longer.

    I do this almost automatically - for example, when getting lunch for the family, I get everybody else's first and then feel free to get mine. I'm not putting myself last to be a martyr - no, I'm doing it because if I feed myself FIRST, my meal is almost guaranteed to be interrupted and it will be cold and congealed before I get to it. So I've learned to feed the kids (when they were younger) and get them fed, bathed, settled etc AND THEN I know I have the time and space to enjoy my meal in peace.

    And that's something else - a hungry kid is always a bigger pain to deal with. I've learned to get their needs out of the way first and we all have a much more peaceful time.

    difficult child 3 said to me this afternoon, "Why was I such an easy baby?"
    And he was.
    My answer has to be, "Because I was able to easily work out what you wanted, and give it to you before it became a big issue."

    This doesn't mean you subjugate yourself completely to someone else; if I'm sitting down to finally have my lunch and one of the (already fed) kids comes to me nagging for something, I point out that they have had their lunch, I am just beginning mine and when I have caught up to them I will attend to their needs. The more they interrupt me, the longer it will take me.

    Similarly, if I've been shopping with the kids and they were getting more fractious - I'd stop what we were doing and feed them. Often a full tummy made a huge difference to their behaviour. They certainly were less inclined to nag me into buying every scrap of junk food we saw, if they had been just stuffed to the gills five minutes earlier.

    What MIGHT work, is if you say to her, "I have one thing to do, I will be ready to read/play in ten minutes, if you leave me alone for that time."
    Make it a very short time, not too long, and see if you can find a set number of minutes that she can wait. To make this work you have to follow through exactly, don't even delay by one minute. You MUST be true to your word. Also, some times she will be more patient than others.

    Something else that can work is physical activity. If she is being difficult and getting on everyone's nerves, take her for a walk. I wouldn't send her out alone until you think she can handle it, but the combination of exerting herself physically plus the fresh air plus someone with her to talk with, can sometimes help defuse her and destress others. Then maybe they will do the same for you, at a later stage.

  9. gateship

    gateship New Member

    Thank you Marg and Terry for your advice. Yes, like you Terry I do not do well with negativism. I shut down. I think that has been my biggest problem with dealing with this difficult child. She has an especially bad day or several especially bad days and by the end I have shut down so even if she has a good moment I resent her for her previous actions. Not very fair of me but it is what it is and I am going to try and work on it more.
    Yes, treating her like a needy two year old is probably a great answer. And that is what my mom has been doing. I was trying to do that but I think i got caught up in the fact that she is taller than me, stronger than me, and wears makeup like a hooker (that is one fight we are not approaching just yet). Still, I am an adult and I should recognize the fact that she is still a very scared little girl. I have been and will continue to work on that even harder now.
    I wish giving her food would help Marg, but in her case she already eats more than she should. Its not really a gorging thing- although it is pretty dang close! She has a major complex about her weight and not believing she is even pretty- thus she loads on the makeup to make herself feel better and eats like crazy to do that as well. We have been trying to boost her self esteem and get her to at least eat healthy snacks if she is going to eat all the time. We are very worried that she will become bulimic if we cannot get her to feel better about herself and start her on healthy eating habbits (ie not eating 24/7).
    Anyway, Thanks again!
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    You must be able to have a lot of restraint to be a foster mom or foster sister/brother, because I would end up blurting out something about the makeup or eating.
    remove some of her eyeliner. Of course, she was angry and in tears but she made the changes.
    After that, I would remind her not to bend forward over the dinner table, and also made her wear tank tops underneath her "evening dresses" to school. I threatened to sneak into her room and put three little stitches in every single one of her dresses and blouses at the top and I think she was really worried about it. (I'm the type to do it, too, LOL.)
    I told her she was much too pretty to trash herself like that.
    I also tell my son he stinks, and make him wash b4 we go out. I give them compliments, and tell them when they look nice, too, to balance it out.

    We have to remember that they are children in adult bodies, and it takes yrs for them to get used to it.

    I know you have to be careful of her feelings, but gosh, it must be hard.

    by the way, do you do the grocery shopping? Where is she getting the unhealthy snacks? Does she have an allowance of some sortMy easy child daughter loves to wear low cleavage and a ton of mascara, and once on her way out the door to school, I blurted, "OMG, I can see all the way to China!"
    And if that wasn't enough, I told her she looked like a streetwalker and needed to ?
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You may have to set some funds aside to go buy her other clothing, then go through ALL of her clothing and get rid of whatever is inappropriate for someone her age. Then go to the thrift stores adn get some cute outfits. Thrift stores often have a wide range of items at inexpensive prices.

    For the not leaving you alone, Marg and terry have great suggestions. For teh negativism and arguing, I suggest you read Love and Logic Parenting. The website ( has great tips, outlines of all the books (there are books for parenting teens, special needs kids, younger kids, etc...) and resources for parents and teachers. Even the stuff for teachers has been helpful here. I think if you look for the "broken record" technique it might be helpful, esp with the arguing.

    The explosive child book is also invaluable for helping with this stuff.

    Hugs, you are a good big sis to want to help. And to give your mom breaks!
  12. gateship

    gateship New Member

    :D Thanks once again for the support and complements! they help a lot.
    As to her clothes- they come from her previous homes as does all of her makeup. We are given almost no stipend for her so we cannot afford to go get her new clothes as well as all the other things she needs. I think I must have mistyped before because though she wears makeup like a hooker she does not dress like one. She does dress in clothes that are not exactly age appropriate but sadly the fashions for kids these days do not help matters. The clothes issue as with the makeup issue we are mainly leaving for her new adoptive parents to deal with. Don't get me wrong we are working on the makeup especially but it is not our main focus. As I said earlier this was supposed to be a emergence placement that was only supposed to last two weeks at the most.... HA HA HA( am I saying "supposed to" a lot? I guess that is a rather useless saying). She is supposed to (there i said it again!) be in her new home in about two weeks. If that does not happen and she does end up going to school while in our house then we will work on tackling the clothes and makeup issue more head on!
    The snacks come from the money she earns from doing extra chores (washing/cleaning the car, that kind of thing) and helping watch the neighbors kids. It is so funny because as bad as she is with adults that is how good she is with kids. Its to bad we do not have any little ones in the house because I think it would ease things considerably. Anyway, we try to limit her junk food intake as much as we can but it has been an addiction we have had to work on breaking. I guess she was mainly used to fast food so introducing her to home cooked meals almost all the time wasn't an easy battle either.
    Thanks for the "love and logic" book suggestion! My mom actually has that one. I will have to borrow it and read it. I plan on looking up the Explosive child book tomorrow. Dad has bedtime duty so Mom and I get to have an evening alone and we plan on going to the bookstore ::D
    Thanks again ladies! I hope all is going well with all of your difficult children!
  13. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Hi there.

    I don't have much to add to the others - who have given great advice - but I did want to point out that young girls just starting to wear make up (and even after a little while longer) often start out looking like hookers. They don't know how to apply it and want to look older - not a great combination. I shudder when I think about how I used to wear makeup. Literally. And it was the 80's. Purple eyeshadow. :faint: My daughter doesn't apply it often, generally when a certain friend is over, but when she does I have to bite my tongue. Since she doesn't wear it often I haven't really addressed it yet. When we go to buy makeup, I'll bring it up in a non-threatening way - conversational-like in this is what this is for and how it's applied. However, she found some black eyeshadow at Hot Topic that she wants. :surprise: I did tell her - after I swallowed hard - that I didn't think it was going to turn out the way she was thinking.

    Anyway, welcome to the board and good luck. :flowers: