Practial Advice for ODD

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Stella, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Hi everyone. My ten year old daughter has been recently been diagnosed with ODD. I obviously knew for a long time before she was diangosed that there was something very, very wrong. Her tantrums having become increasingly worse, espcially over the last year and she has started to become violent towards me and other caregivers, being physically/verbally abusive, throwing/ breaking things, name calling. Her rages can last up to two hours and can start over the most trivial things. I am a single mother and am just about at my wits end. I honestly feel I cannot cope with her any longer but there is no alternative. Giving up just isn't an option as there is nowhere else for her to go. What i really need now is some practical advice on what I am meant to do when she gets into one of her tantrums and she is hurling abuse at me and smashing up the house. I have been told to "ignore negative behaviour" but how can i ignore her when she is terrorising me!! hellllllp!! I feel like I am in a living nightmare that i can't wake up from.:sad-very:
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, there.
    First of all many of us, especially those of us who have been around the block a few times and are NOT new to t his sort of behavior, believe that ODD does NOT stand by itself. Many professionals also believe this. ODD is more a symptom of behavior more than an explanation for behavior--usually the trigger is some bigger disorder that needs treatment before the ODD will go away. Often it is a childhood mood disorder or high functioning autism that triggers the defiance and rages, and if they aren't treated, the ODD remains or gets worse. I have a few questions:
    1/Who diagnosed him? Has he seen a neuropsychologist?

    2/Do you have any substance abuse issues or psychiatric disorders on either side of the family tree? Suicide attempts?

    3/Was his early development good? Did he speak on time and with comprehension? Did he cuddle and make solid eye contact? How is his fine motor and gross motor skills? Can he relate well and interact appropriately with his same age peers? Can he make transitions without throwing a fit? How does he do in school? Is he sensitive to loud noise, different fabrics, certain foods or bright lights? Any obsessive behaviors or interests? Did he have any early extreme interest in numbers or letters or reciting things from rote memory? Is he a concrete, black and white only, thinker?

    You may want to do a signature like I did on the bottom. The more we know, the better direction we can send you in. Really, ODD alone is not very helpful to us. Most kids here have ODD behavior, but it is triggered by something more.

    Welcome to the board and I'm sure you will get helpful suggestions if you answer the questions.
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Stella, welcome.
    Here's your morning coffee spiked with-valium. :)

    been there done that. I am so sorry.
    My son had only done that at home ... not at school.

    You daughter has triggers that are setting her off. You need to find out (partly by observing and partly by getting a diagnosis) what sets her off--bright lights? Sounds? Lack of sleep?
    The word "no" is definitely one of my son's triggers, although at age 12, he has come a long way.
    One day I tortured him in the car by making up a one-word song that was just "No." (aka-- lalalalaala) I figured I could outlast him. In fact, we were pretty even by the time I pulled up in the driveway, but considering he's a kid, he's always got more energy than I have. ;)

    Have you tried to do an elimination diet to test for allergies? (Red dyes, wheat/gluten, dairy and preservatives are some of the first to go!)

    Are you working FT? I'm wondering if you can make some appts and take her to a neuropsychologist for more testing.
  4. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I'm another one who thinks that ODD is usually caused by an underlying problem and the ODD is the symptom.

    My daughter's ODD is caused by food allergies to gluten and dairy. Although Terry also mentions food allergies, we are a minority here, so there are many other possibilities. In the food allergy world, however, behaviour problems are a common symptom, so it might be worth checking out.

    If my daughter sticks to her diet, there are no problems with her, period. I don't need special techniques to parent her. If she cheats on her diet, she is back into her old ODD ways and I have to wait for it to blow over to manage the situation. We try not to provoke her (by asking her to help with the dishes, for example) when we can tell and then make her face natural consequences when she is back to being herself (reducing allowance for lack of chores). It works for us because most of the time, she is ok.

    There is a book, "The Explosive Child" that many people here recommend. It will give you a new perspective about dealing with a child like this.
  5. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Hi I wanted to welcome you!
    You have got some great advice.
    Whatever is going on with your Daughter, most of us have all dealt with it or something similar.
    My daughter K's ODD diagnosis has been taken away. Because it truly was just a symptom, a symptom of her Mood-Disorder.
    Tell us more and welcome!
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I don't have any good advice because I obviously didn't do a good job since difficult child is still ODD. Looking back on it I wish I could have kept my mouth shut more because in the end it didn't do any good to argue with her or preach. But I couldn't just stand by and let her verbally and then physically abuse me.

    All I can suggest is that you try to keep the fights down to a bare minimum and try to survive for the next eight years.

  7. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    It is so hard not to take those attacks personally. You need to stay as calm and as positive as you can. She likes to throw things when she is raging? Get a bag full of lightweight things such as small pillows, stuffed animals, ect., even a bag of plastic bags. When she starts raging hand her the bag and say, "Do you feel like throwing things? Here are some things you can throw. Can I help? (you can also throw things to join her)" Some people like to tear things apart when they are angry, for them, I would have a box of papers that can be shredded and let them at it.

    You can not solve anything during the rage. I know, I tried for many many years. I have a tendency to try to find solutions ASAP and you just can not during a rage. The person is so stuck on their frustration that nothing will help and everything will add fuel.

    Your daughter will be caught off guard that you are trying to help her through this instead of just stopping it cold turkey. We all know that saying, "Stop this behavior!" does not even come close to helping with a kid in full rage. You have to try to find a positive way of getting their attention. You need to send the message that you know they are hurting and that they do not want to behave as such.

    Try to turn the focus on how she is feeling instead of what she is doing. "I know you are very frustrated. What do you feel like doing? Do you feel like screaming? Go ahead! How can I help you? Would it help if I joined you? Can I scream also?" It will not work right away because you are both in a habit of focusing on her actions. She is using those actions to get your attention and you are using her actions to try to stop her behavior at that moment.

    I find that sometimes taking a deep breath and showing a calmness seemed to help to a point. difficult child is looking to a strength and as you start creating a new habit of showing that calmness and strength, she may just start a habit of responding to that instead of attacking.

    Almost always when my non-easy child diva was 10 years old (she was/is a difficult child also), there was nothing I could do during the rage, however, we could talk that night, "I was confused as to what happened earlier today. Why were you soooo angry over that? What can we do to prevent that anger next time?"

    So, I guess my advise is to stay as calm and strong as you can. Do not show anger or hopelessness - This too shall pass! "I know you are angry right now but I can not talk to you when you are this angry. I am not going to make any decisions while you are ranting and raving. When you are able to calm down, than I can figure out what you would like me to do." Focus on her feelings instead of the subject of her anger or her behavior during it and talk about it later when everyone has calmed down. That is the super hard part - how do you say something without your child thinking you are judgemental?

    Set some house rules regarding anger. 1. If you are angry, ask mom to talk to you. 2. If you are too angry to talk, go to your room until you calm down. ect. ect.

    10 year old girls still like to be read to. When non-easy child diva was 10 and going through an extremely ugly period of anger, I purchased a set of short books and read to her every night at bed time. Make a special time of the day for the two of you. Ours was bed time. For some it is morning at breakfast. Just 10 - 15 minutes each day to do something fun together or just talk about the day may help?

    It is also hard to stay positive and always find positive ways of asking something to be done. I know many people think I am way to lenient with my difficult child who had an ODD diagnosis last year. What looks like letting our kids of the hook for some people is just another way of dealing with a situation. Our kids do not respond to the average discipline that society would dole out. We know our kids struggle even if they are let off the hook. That they are facing a bigger struggle than just that incident the public sees.

    Follow your heart and if you believe a hug is more beneficial than a punishment, go for it! We know punishments often back fire for our difficult child's. If you get any grief from teachers, family members, whomever, you come tell us. We will support you because we do know what you are going through. Most of us have lived through it and many still are.

    Welcome aboard. Oh yeah, we also know your child has her good days. Feel free to share those as they are everyone's hope as much as they are your sunshine.
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello Stella--

    Welcome to the Forum! That advice to "ignore bad behavior" and "catch them being good"--well, you can flush that right down the toilet when it comes to these kids. Especially since their "bad behaviors" are the results of their losing complete control of themselves.

    First things first, you really do have to prepare her bedroom as a "safe zone" by removing anything glass, fragile, sharp etc. Until her condition is under control, she will continue to smash things--you need to make sure that she is causing as little damage and INJURY as possible.

    If she is actually physically attacking you--you have permission to call 911. Police can remove her from your home if she is causing harm and may take her to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation and treatment if she is out of control.

    Next, it sounds like you need to get a more in-depth diagnosis. What sort of professional diagnosed ODD? What sort of neurological testing has been completed?

    Let us know...we are all here to offer comfort and advice.

  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    You've gotten some really good ideas here.

    One of the main things I wish I had learned earlier is not to argue back.
    You have to pretend there is a bulletproof piece of plexiglass between the two of you and all you can hear is background noise. Do not let her bait you.

    I agree with-taking away harmful things like glass. But you have to do it when she's not home. (Well, it makes things easier, at any rate.)
    Expect her to have a fit no matter what you do.
    If you expect her to smile and say, "Thank you," you are mistaken. :)
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  10. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    There's an ODD thread for teachers in the Special Education archives. It can be used at home.

    A 2 hour rage? That takes a whole lot of energy not typically associated with-ODD, but every individual is different. It depression, mood disorders or bipolar is in the family tree, you might want to get a copy of The Bipolar Child to see if anything else rings a bell.

    Welcome to the site!
  11. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Hi everyone – thanks so much for your replies. You're advice and suggestions are much appreciated. It’s so good to talk to other people who can empathize with my situation. First of all I should say that I stumbled across this site from researching ODD/ Conduct Disorder. I am all the way from Dublin, Ireland and there really doesn’t seem to be any type of similar support group or site at all for my area so sorry for gate-crashing and I do apologise for not understanding all the lingo as of yet (difficult child??). Nobody I have spoken to here (i.e. friends and family) have ever heard of ODD and when I do try to explain it, I feel like I am being judged, as if I am just putting fancy names on things to make excuses for being a bad mother! Sounds pretty backward but that's how things are here.

    My daughter started showing signs of being ‘difficult’ from the age of about 2. I presumed she was just going through the “terrible twos’ but obviously when her difficult behaviour continued I realised this wasn’t the case. When at age 3 she absolutely refused to wear clothes I tried to dress her in I just thought she was head strong and independent.

    As I worked full time up until last year (I now work part time), her paternal grandparents were especially involved in her upbringing. They would often offer unsolicited advice and I felt like I was constantly being judged by them. In retrospect I regret allowing them to have so much involvement with my child and dictate how I should do things. My daughter has developed a bond with them and does love them very much, now if she doesn’t get want she wants, she will manipulate us all against each other and try to get it from one of her grandparents instead. Despite my numerous requests they continue to spoil her. She has a full wardrobe of clothes and shoes that she doesn’t even wear. They may as well be burning their money. I have become very accustomed to hearing “I wish my granny was my mom, I love her more than you” and “Granny loves me more, she buys all my things”.

    Although over the years her difficult behaviour at home and with relatives has progressed, her behaviour in school has not been a problem. Academically she has learning difficulties and gets extra help with spelling and maths but behaviourally she has been fine. She has a good group of friends and apart from being a bit bossy and intense at times she seems to get on ok with them. Also over the years she seemed to go through phases of being ok and “acting up” but since last year her uncontrollable behaviour has been constant and has become a lot more aggressive and violent.

    Last July my partner at the time (we have since split) went on a week long holiday. It was my first holiday in about 7 years. On the fourth day I got a phone call to say that she had been taken into hospital. That she had had a tantrum while staying in my mother’s house that had began over something trivial but her tantrum became completely out of hand. She flew into a rage and started to destroy the house, she even went to the kitchen drawer and took out a knife and threatened my family. My sister dialled 999 and ambulance came. On receiving the phone call myself and my partner arranged an early flight home. Altogether she was hospitalised for 4 days She was in a terrible state when I arrived at the hospital. She was roaring and shouting and was very resentful that she had been taken into the hospital. While there she developed a tic –disorder. She started blinking constantly and clearing her throat every few minutes. We were discharged on the fourth day with a referral to a local Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinic where she has been attending ever since. The tics that she developed in the hospital subsided about a week after she was discharged. As part of her attendance at the clinic she was made attend the YPU (Young Persons Unit) twice a week where they partook in activities like drama therapy, cookery and the “Volcano in my Tummy” programme focusing on anger. After 10 weeks I was called in for a review and was told that her case was “complex” and that her problems were a mixture of “nature and nurture”, that there is not one label they could diagnose her with. Also because of her good behaviour in school I was told “this is not a neurotic child”, an appointment was made with a Neurologist for an EEG and the results came back normal. This is the only appointment she has had with a Neurologist.

    The clinic have decided to concentrate on family therapy between me and her father and eventually between me and her grandparents as they believe if she sees us getting on that it will affect her behaviour positively. Also she continues to see the Psychiatrist once weekly at the clinic but she refuses to talk to him so we have got nowhere with this as of yet. In fact it is an absolute nightmare trying to get her there. She has harmed me physically while I have been driving on the way there (full force thump on the back of my head, causing me to swerve off the road) and when she does get there she absolutely screams the place down. She is like a two year old having a huge tantrum. I no longer get embarrassed by the incredulous stares we get (well, maybe a little bit J). Her Psychiatrist did prescribe Risperdal but she refused point blank to take it so she has received no medication as of yet. The Psychiatrist could not seem to offer me any alternative when I said that she refused to take the medications. Also since this she has become paranoid that I am putting tablets in her food and even in her bed. She has an atrocious appetite and eats very little. All she will eat is plain white bread or plain boiled rice and sometimes cereal. She has undergone blood tests (but not allergy tests) that all came back normal and miraculously she is not underweight.

    Last week I arrived at the clinic in tears saying that it couldn’t cope any more. I explained how a friend has taken her child to another Psychiatrist had paid €400 and had got a diagnosis with an hour and that I had been attending since July and still no diagnosis. I said I find this so hard to believe as she is “definitely ODD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)” he said “yes your right she’s definitely ODD”. This was the first time anyone at that clinic has even acknowledged this. They seem so reluctant to put a label on any child there so I still being told “she’s very complex” which really doesn’t help me at all and I feel like I am in limbo. They have however acknowledged that she suffers from some sensory problems with touch, taste and smell and she has seen an Occupational Therapist on a few occasions but this has had no notable results as of yet.

    She also shows Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behaviours and has certain rituals she must perform. For example if I am going out of a door and close it, she gets up and closes it again after me. She must be the one to close the door. Also she reacts very badly to any type of positive comments . For instance if I say she is being “ a very good girl” she will shout back at me “NO! say no!” and I will have to say no to almost erase the comment from her mind. She will do this over a lot of things if I say something she doesn’t like. She spends half her days saying “NO! say no!”. She also roars and grunts and makes strange noises a lot (almost dog-like noises) and will even do this sometimes when she is in her room on her own or even while sitting watching television. It’s almost like her anger is seeping out of her and she has no control over it. Every morning is a battle getting her to school. She refuses to brush her hair, wash, brush her teeth, eat any breakfast. If I ask her do something she most certainly won’t do it and there is more of a chance of her doing it if she comes up with the idea herself. She despises the smell of my toothpaste so much that if she gets the smell “into her mouth” she starts spitting all over the floor and screaming at me. Every conversation must be on her terms and I have learned that sometimes it is better not to speak to her unless she speaks to me first as almost everything I say or do it the wrong thing. She seems to want to control everything and everyone around her. She will shout and scream at me to turn down the TV if I am watching it, yet when she is watching it she has it on a very high volume and will refuse turn it down. The other day I went to make some tea and she starting sceaming at me to “turn down the kettle”. I really don’t know if she has auditory sensory problems or if this is part of her control issues. I mean if she has auditory sensory problems would she be able to listen to the TV at such a loud volume? If I turn off the television due to her disobedience a two hour rage will ensue which I feel is just not worth it.. but then am I letting her win? I have been told not to get into a control battle with her as she will always win but then what do I do? Let her away with everything? And on the other hand I am being told she needs discipline and structure…but it really is not like disciplining any other child. No matter how much I learn from Supernanny, how many time outs or reward charts I try, it doesn’t work!! She just doesn’t care. She acts like she hates me with a vengeance and she seems to want to punish me all the time. I know I have made mistakes in how I have dealt with her behaviour in the past but now that I have a bit more of an understanding about things and want to change it and make it better, she won’t let me even get a look in. She won’t be helped. It’s soul destroying and heart breaking. She hasn’t let me hug her in years. If I touch off her accidentally she will push me away with hatred in her eyes. She will demand things a lot but as soon as she gets want she wants she will demand something else. Nothing seems to appease her.

    So this is where I am at the moment, trying to survive by taking each day at a time, with no formal diagnosis, just a Psychiatrist who casually agreed that “yes, she does have ODD but she’s very complex”. I have nothing on paper.. I don’t know where to go or what to next.

    Wow, I wasn’t expecting to write this much. I apologise for the rant! Even typing it out is a release…
  12. jannie

    jannie trying to survive....

    Hi good morning--I'm sorry I have not had the time to read through all the posts...I'm actually on my way out the door, but I would suggest that you read up on a disorder called tourette syndrome. The tics you describe while she was at the hospital and the barking type noises sound very much to me like tics associated with tourette syndrome, which is a neurological disorder. I'm sorry you are going through such a hard time. It is extemetly difficult when a child refuses medication. Taking medication is one thing that we have absolutely insisted on. Did they trial any medication when she was in the hospital?
  13. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Hi Jannie. No, they didn't trial any medication whilst she was at the hospital. They tried to give her a sedative at one stage but she went beserk and they didn't insist on it. I felt that the hospital staff really didn't know what to do so they did nothing. They just waited until I returned home and then discharged us with a referral. I thought that it may be Tourettes but the tics (excessive blinking and throat clearning) stopped shortly after she was discharged. They seemed to be brought on my her anxiety. The impression I am getting is that they do not think its Tourette's as she only displays these behaviours at home and not in school. Is there such a thing as selective tourettes?? Would it be possible for her to keep these behaviours under control when she knows she has to then just let them out when she feels safe maybe? ...
  14. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Welcome again. You are not "gate-crashing". We have members all over the world here.

    As I read your latest post, my first thought was, "I think this child needs an inpatient stay." The staff at a hospital will be able to further observe her behaviors as well as make her take her medications. If she can take the medications long enough to feel better that may help.

    I also think you should ask to be assigned to a different psychiatrist. She may have a "personality clash" with this one. She needs to find someone she is comfortable with. I am also a firm believer that boys like men doctors and girls are more comfortable with women doctors. Maybe the one she is seeing now seems too authorative for her? She needs someone she feels is a friend and understands and does not judge.

    difficult child is Gift from God. We refer to our difficult children as a Gift from God. Within this challenging gift, we also acknowledge the special person our children are. We know these kids are struggling to survive and we also know they have unique talents just like every other kid.

    We all also get the judgmental feelings from those around us. We understand how the "Just discipline your child correctly and you will not have this problem" statements feel. People without difficult children do not understand that our children just don't "get" it. The form of discipline used on easy child (perfect children, though we all know there is not a perfect child out there) will not work on difficult children. We need to figure out how our child works and go from there.

    I feel that your daughter is noticing how she has struggles that other kids do not have. How she feels different and that scares her. Her rages are her screams for help. While you search for the answer, you need to somehow reach her to let her know that you are there to help her. That she must try to work with you because you are a team.

    It adds extra pressures/stresses when family members involved in the parenting process do not get along. That is a great opportunity for a child to fall into manipulation. For this part of the issue, I would suggest you look up a book titled, "The Manipulative Child". It helped me a lot. Don't be afraid of the title. It does not have any negative references to any manipulative person. It simply states that manipulation is a way of life that some kids pick up on, not that that kid is bad, just that that kid has decided to use this as a survival skill. The kid doesn't even know that he or she is manipulating. They don't always think ahead or think it through, they just do it. Remember, they are the center of their world and will do anything they need to to meet their goals. This book gave me some skills to help manage and end much of it. Ask her grandparents to read it also.

    And for writing a long post to vent - Keep it coming! We also understand how writing out things help and that not many people have a friend or family member to discuss these things with.
  15. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Stella, You were typing the same time I was.

    If the tourettes come about when her anxiety rises, then the school would only see them when she is having them. She may be doing well in school because it is a structured environment.

    My son has the diagnosis of deep anxiety. He has figured out that when he is bored, then his anxiety rises. That doesn't happen very often in school because there is always something to focus on.

    The tics were prominent in the hospital setting because she was scared.

    Was this a psychiatric hospital? If so, they did not do their job well. If not, I would look at finding a psychiatric hospital to admit her to for evaluation. A psychiatric hospital (psychiatric hospital) should trial medications and teach her coping skills.
  16. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Hi Andy. No, it wasn't a Psychiatric Hospital that she went to hence the staff not really knowing how to approach it. I have considered an in-patient stay but I suppose I was trying to finding any other alternative to medications. Nothing else is working though so it may be the next port of call. The staff at the clinic have told me that they have not witnessed any Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) type behaviour from her therefore they don't think she has it. I wish someone would come out to my home and observe her for a day then tell me what she does and doesn't have!

    Like your son, my daughter gets very worked up when she is bored. She cannot stand having nothing to do and she has often gone into one of her tantrums as none of her friends happen to be around at that time to play. She will demand that I bring her somewhere but doesn't want to do anything I suggest and If we do go somewhere she just whinges the whole time. The tics not happening as she has something to focus on in school defintely makes sense! I think any of the mothers on this site make a lot more sense than any professional i have talked to!!!

    Also I will most defintely be purchasing "The Manipulative Child"!!
  17. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    The psychiatric hospital my difficult child went to had day programs also. You can contact the psychiatric hospital for an evaluation. They can evaluate your daughter and give you options that she meets the criterias of. They will not put her into a program that she does not fit the criteria of.

    The longer you wait, the more violent and set in her ways she will become and the harder it will be for her to accept help.

    You need to stay safe. If you reach the point that you are afraid for your safety and hers, then she may need in-patient help.

    Whatever you decide, hanging on a while longer or getting help NOW, you are facing a very long rough road. We will help you through this.
  18. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I hate it when professionals won't give me the straight story. They use "labeling" as an excuse to withhold the information, but the truth is our kids "label" themselves by their behavior.

    "Sensory issues" may be Sensory Integration Disorder (Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)). Individuals can have sensory issues without full-blown Sensory Integration Disorder (SID).

    A book entitled "The Out-of-Sync" child may be very helpful for you regarding sensory issues.

    difficult child's Occupational Therapist (OT) was a pediatric Occupational Therapist (OT) with-a subspecialty in Sensory Integration Disorder (SID). The therapy helped him greatly.

    Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) may account for some of your child's ODD type behaviors.
  19. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Thanks once again for all the helpful words and advice. I have ordered all of the books mentioned so far!! I shall eating books for the next few weeks!:D

    I really do think that sensory problems are a lot to do with her ODD so I am going to try get her weekly Occupational Therapist (OT) appointments. Her Occupational Therapist (OT) apts in the Clinic she is attending are just way too sporadic and have been of little benefit to her so far. I suppose weekly appointments would be ideal?

    Am I being naive in thinking that Play Therapy might be of benefit for such out of control behaviour? I'm thinking it's worth a try but maybe she's too old for this (11 yrs in April).

    Oh, and just to answer a previous question, there is no history of any substance abuse or mental health problems in either side of the family which has made it easier to blame myself for all of this but I have learned that playing the blame game really won't get any of us anywhere. It's time to accept it and deal with it now.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2009