Newbie needs help

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by navineja, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. navineja

    navineja New Member

    Hello all. I will try to make this as short as possible. We have had my twin nieces for 3 years now- they are now 6. Their background includes neglect and abuse of various types. The initial attachment problems have been dealt with and basically "healed". However, N has now been diagnosed with ODD, which is becoming more pronounced lately. She has always made her desires known but used to be more willing or able to control her temper. Lately, though, she has been raging and/or strongly defiant almost daily. After about 4 weeks of this (and going through our entire bag of tricks- and it is a large bag :)) we decided to revoke privileges such as going to other's homes to play, staying up late, etc. ("If you are going to choose to have these fits, you will have to do it at home." "If you choose not to control yourself, you must be very tired.") She was told that if she chose to control herself for 3 days in a row, she would earn back a privilege. Lo and behold, 3 days- no problems- privilege earned. But then, right back to the rages and fits. When I asked her why there were no fits for those 3 days, she said that she wanted her privileges so she chose not to have a fit! So she does understand that her actions determine the consequences, but she still wants to have her fit and be able to do everything that she normally does. And when she can't then it is not her fault- it is ours.
    I have been able to handle the problems that go along with little ones with issues so far, but I need some new tricks for my bag. Over a month of constant battles is wearing on me and I need some help from those that have been there, done that, and had success. I know that this is minor compared to what a lot of you go through, but I would appreciate any advice. TIA.

  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hey, Naomi! Welcome to the crowd! Get yourself a copy of "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Most of the people on the board have really gotten something from it. What's neat is that he writes it like a human will read it (not a ton of "techno speak").

    There will be more along as the day progresses. I just thought I'd sent out the "welcome wagon" and say "hi!".

  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board Naomi :flower:

    You've landed in a wonderful place.

    The book recommended by Beth has helped many of the parents here.

    Don't worry about your posts being longish. We don't mind. If you look around a bit you'll see that often posts can wind up long.

    If you can provide a bit more background on your neice it helps us offer better advice suited to your situation. Who did her evaluation? Was it done by a psychiatrist or another type of doctor? Is she in treatment or on medications? Does she have interventions in place at school? These types of things can help us gain a better picture and get to know your child better.

  4. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member


    Just want to add my welcome. I'm sorry things are so rough right now. The constant raging is so wearing. It's important to be taking care of yourself through all of this! Hugs.
  5. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Wanted to add my welcome... one of the first things I learned with my now 6yo daughter... and this has helped all of us. most of these kids do not choose to be this way. Nor do they like it. I know sometimes it feels like it and you want to beat you head against the wall... but most 6 yo's don't choose to suffer and be punished or lose priveledges. They need help and can not help it, they need to aquire the tools/behavior modifications and learn to be "normal" or at least to be able to get by in the world... without the tools it is not possible, some of our kids just don't come with and we have to learn what they are and how to teach these kids... it is a long hard road.

  6. ShakinThingzUp

    ShakinThingzUp New Member

    Hi Naomi,

    I'm pretty new here myself, and wanted to join in with everyone's welcome.

    My step daughter has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and had a similar background to your daughters. We went through 2 years of helping her heal with the issues you are describing.

    The book "When Love is Not Enough" by Nancy Thomas is the book that helped me understand my daughter better, and find new ways to help her as a parent. I had to learn new ways to be "mom" and get creative!

    The main thing is that kids like ours do not understand responsibility & do not understand consequences at all..... they just don't have a conscience basically, because they were never taught to empathize with anyone else. I could go on and on.

    With Megan, I had to remove ALL - and I mean, ALL privileges (radios, cd players, tv, everything) and take her back to the basics. I had her earn each thing back, one by one... and to "earn it back" took a long time - proving she could maintain the good behavior, not just act it out for a few days.

    Megan threw rages in the store over what type of pen I would buy her, she would spit on her brother in the car, and literally blame him for her having to do it... She threw herself on the floor, kicked the walls and basically made my life a living hell. She stole from me, then denied it even when caught red-handed. She hid my things from me just to enjoy watching me search for them... She pretended to not know how to do school work, just so she could get me frustrated trying to help her and she could try to get out of doing it completely. It was a nightmare.

    I am happy to report that after 4 years, a good therapist and a lot of support, that Megan (my daughter) has come a very long way. She no longer throws fits at all (the worst I get now is teenager eye-rolling - YAY something "normal.") She is respectful and helpful and an A/B honor roll student.

    How did we get there?
    It was a long road.

    For us, starting at the beginning, with nothing, was the key.
    ALL PRIVILEGES were removed, and Megan earned each back over a long period of time by proving she could behave as she should... that she would CONSISTENTLY make good choices on her own.
    I'm not going to sugar coat this...
    In the beginning, it got worse. The first few weeks, she lashed out at me and didn't understand. (There was no longer any way to try and manipulate me and she didn't get it, she truly didn't understand why her tactics were not working. I was not getting upset, how on earth was she going to get what she wanted!!!)

    She felt that way because in the past, she had to do these kinds of behaviors to get food, to SURVIVE. She didn't know HOW to stop trying to control everything. It was instinctual.

    My advice to you would be to read the book I listed above as well as the Explosive Child book suggested by others.

    Nancy Thomas' book is a real eye opener for parents of children who have had attachment problems. It truly helped me understand how my daughters mind was working - helped me get inside her head so to speak. It gave me new perspective.

    I also read other books and learned to have love in my eyes, even when correcting her. I learned to be witty and quick with my responses and not to let her catch me off guard. I learned to be creative with discipline (pull the car over during a tantrum and have her get out and do a few laps around the car to get her energy out) so that I would catch HER off guard....

    Knowledge and support are key.
    Take it one day at a time.
    I'll be glad to help any way I can.

    God Bless!
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I want to add my welcome and ask you to remember that 3 years is a very very short period of time for a child to be able to handle and heal with the abuse that occurred in the first 3 years. I think that as she grows you will find issues popping up over and over. Please be kind to yourself, it is not an easy road.

  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome. I'd like to agree that a six year old can maybe control herself for three days, but kids don't wake up to make our lives miserable and I'm wondering who diagnosed her. I have a few questions:
    One is who diagnosed I redundant? LOL. What sort of professional? Was it a Child Psychiatrist (with the MD) or a neuropsychologist (a psycologist who tests extensively, and has extra training in the brain?) I wouldn't trust a diagnosis that came from anywhere else and I would probably want a second opinion.
    Were these kids exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero?
    Any mood problems or substance abuse on the family tree on either side? It could be an inherited psychiatric illness--that's common.
    Any speech delays or cognitive problems?
    How does she get along with peers her own age?
    ODD is more of an explanation of behavior (defiant behavior) than a useful diagnosis and it rarely travels alone. Has your child been on any medication? Is she now?
    Others will come along too.
  9. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I wanted to add my welcome. :flower:

    We are parents here with kids whose diagnosis's are all over the board, so please don't ever feel like what you are going through is minimal compared to others. We are here to support each other.

    The others have given great advice and a great place to start. Make sure you take time for yourself. We've been discussing that lately on the Watercooler. We have to take care of ourselves in order to be able to care for our kiddos.
  10. navineja

    navineja New Member

    Thanks so much to all who have replied so far. I will try to answer the questions as best I can (forgive me if I ramble). I am not sure if the therapist is a psychiatrist or psychologist- I can never keep the two straight. She specializes in childhood trauma, including sexual abuse & attachment problems. She has been very instrumental in helping the girls heal the attachment issues. We have not felt the need to put either one on any medications as of this time. As for the in utero, their bio mother (and I use that term simply to differentiate between myself as the "acting" mother and her) claims that there was no drug or alcohol use at that time, but I have a very hard time believing her. Problems do run in the family, as well as very messed up parenting skills by their bio mother and grandmother. Neither girl has any verbal problems- quite the contrary, they have excellent vocabularies and speech patterns. I am not quite sure what is meant by cognitive delays, so I will pass that by. As for peer relationships, both are outgoing and make friends easily (Jackie more quickly than Neesie though). Neesie however tends to want to control the situations (she is frequently referred to as bossy).
    In truth, in Amy's description of Megan I see a lot of characteristics of the twins, from the tantruming to the "playing dumb" and the lying. We too have made a lot of progress in eliminating or at least greatly lessening the worst of the behaviors. I guess what is really confusing to me is that this is not behavior that is typical for Neesie (raging like this and seeming completely unconcerned about the consequences). This is the type of thing that Jackie used to do regularly and adamantly (we have endured up to 5 straight hours of full blown screaming!). But Neesie was always quick to get upset but just as quick to get over it and get on with doing what she needed to do to be happy. She would have times of acting up but I could always trace it back to a change of schedule or a particular event that threw her off. And it would last a few days and then she would be back to herself.
    Someone also mentioned that the kids don't choose to be like this. I agree with that, but in this case, I can't help but feel that there is some control over this (and please help me if I am way out there). This is because I asked Neesie why she had those 3 days of control and she replied "Because I wanted my privileges". And when she knows that she has something special coming up, she will visibly control herself so she does not lose that privilege. But it seems if she feels that she has nothing special to lose, she will just let her anger take over. It just really confuses me as to why she doesn't care about the consequences that she knows will happen.
    Thanks to for the info on books to read. I have "When love is not enough", "99 ways to drive your kid sane", "Love and logic", and am currently reading "Taming the spirited child". I have also read "1-2-3 magic" and looked thru "The explosive child". I do need to get the explosive child again and thoroughly read that. At the time that I read it before, the issues were not daily and I felt that it didn't really fit. I do now!
    Thanks to all for bearing with me and reading this far. Just knowing that you all are there dealing with this too is a great encouragement.

  11. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think what MWM was trying to say, is that a kid maybe CAN control herself if she can tell herself it's only for three days, but to have to think, "I must try to exert this really tight self-control ALWAYS," is sometimes too much.
    I think it's like going on a diet - let's say the doctor tells you that you need to give up all sweet things including chocolate for three days prior to a medical test - you could manage that. But to be told you must give it all up permanently - some people, especially youngsters, would say, "No deal!"
    Or you're a heavy smoker needing surgery, the doctor refuses to operate unless you stop smoking for a week before the surgery. If you desperately need the surgery, you might be able to do it but it would be so very hard. But if the doctor says, "Quit smoking NOW!" and there seems insufficient incentive, you would have a much harder time quitting.

    I like Sara's quote, I think I'll print it out and stick it up on the wall.

    Also "cognitive delays" - "cognitive" refers to intellectual function. Did she at any time seem 'slow' in her intellectual development? For example, was she ever struggling at school with the curriculum? Or maybe just one subject? it can all be relevant.

    I also, like someone else, wonder who diagnosed the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and ODD, and who also said the girls were "healed". I'm very wary of "healed" - it tends to only get used in a religious context, health professionals would say "cured". From my experience, too often the word "healed" is used inappropriately and often leads to a lot of distress when the condition is found to only be dormant, not gone.
    And from what you say - I would dispute "cured" or "recovered" too. It sounds a bit too optimistic and premature to me. So if the same person who pronounced "healed" is the same person making any diagnosis, I would get another opinion. Not that you WANT to find something wrong, just that if there IS something wrong you need to know soonest so you can get her help soonest. And also get help for yourself.

  13. navineja

    navineja New Member

    It does make sense about being able to control for a short period, but the long haul is a different matter. I also like Sara's insight. I will continue to work on replenishing her self-control.
    As for the term "healed", perhaps I used that incorrectly. It is my own term, not that of the doctor. She is of the opinion that the attachment issues are no longer of primary concern and are basically not a determining factor in the girls behavior anymore. (This is not to say that we don't acknowledge that the things that they suffered can continue to pop back up and cause issues thru their lives.)
    Thanks, Marguerite, for the clarification re: cognitive delays. No, Neesie has done well in school, despite having a psycho teacher in Kindergarten who wanted them to work way beyond Kindergarten level (like subtraction in the 2nd week of school!).
    There was some minor concern regarding Jackie's math ability at the start of this year, but she has been able to catch up quickly without any extra help.
    I also appreciate the illustration on how hard it can be for a child to look at the long term. Thinking that way, what is anyone's opinion regarding restoring privileges? Amy stated that she required a long period of proper behavior before restoring a privilege to Megan. With Neesie's personality, though, she needs relatively quick rewards to encourage her to continue working on the behavior. But obviously restoring one privilege after a few days did not accomplish that. Any ideas?
    And would you allow her to keep an earned privilege if the wrong behaviors returned and just have her keep working on earning more, or would it be best to start from square one again? It seems that starting over may just be more discouraging than motivating, but I am not sure.
    One other question, Marguerite: you mentioned help for myself. What kind and where can I get it? I am all for any help that I can get to help myself and thus help my family.

    Thanks again to all,