Reluctant Newbie - ODD??


New Member
My son just turned five and is still going through what I thought was just a "phase" at 18 months. I have acknowledged my son does not behave "normal" compared to other kids, but my husband has been in complete denial and I couldn't even mention any perceived problem of his 'perfect' son. It got so bad this weekend, he finally broke down and said there was a problem! I've ordered the book Explosive Child and am anxiously waiting its arrival, hoping it can help our family. I'm hoping from all of you that you can tell me if you think my son has ODD or if it's something else.

His main problem is his ability to handle any sort of frustration he feels. While his outbursts have changed somewhat (at 2 he would hit and now it's more throwing things), the reaction is pretty much the same. The littlest things will set him off (green cup instead of the blue one, opened the door instead of letting him do it, looked at him funny). I can visually see him starting to lose it. Even if I can ward it off for one thing, it's inevitable that he will blow. Once he blows, there's no talking logically to him and he will pout and cry and throw things for up to an hour. Time outs are only somewhat effective. He is so moody and short tempered, I feel I am walking on eggshells all the time.

I do not want our family "caving" to him just to keep the peace and I don't want my husband and I agitated at each other just because we're really frustrated with our son. I feel sorry for all of us (son included) and just want to figure out a solution.

My husband is adamently against medications so that will not be an option. I'm getting the book hoping that works, but if not, my husband might be more open to getting professional help given I've tried the least "invasive" option first.

I talk to my son when he's not in a mood and try to give him pointers on how to handle anxiety and frustration. He even repeats what I say to his little sister, so I know it's sinking in. But, in the moment, when I see the flip switch in his mind, there's no going back, there's no talking him down and there's no reasonable consequences. He is perfect at preschool, so it build and build and every night is filled with dealing with his emotions. He is very apologetic after he comes down and goes on his merry way... that is, until the next trigger sends him over the edge.

I'm at my wits end. I just don't want him to end up a sad, lonely teenager and want him to be happy -- which, most of the time, he doesn't appear to be.

Thanks for any insight.


Warrior Mom since 2007
Welcome to the board. So sorry about what you are going thru. I too have a son, age 5, who sounds a lot like your's - with the exception of being apologetic afterward (mine is not, or at least he doesn't show it). My husband sounds like yours as well. He is against medications and isn't really thrilled about counseling. I read the Explosive Child but husband has not, nor do I really think he will. I don't have any advice to give you - just wanted to welcome you and let you know you are not alone. Hang in there.


New Member
Welcome to the group. My son is 7 and also has problems handling frustration. If he is in the middle of a task and asked to switch, he can't change focus. If he is interupted, he gets frustrated and can become pretty out of control. He was diagnosed ADHD, ODD and (I'm still unclear of this diagnosis) organic mood disorder, along with reactive hypoglycemia. All of these DXs were from a psychiatrist a year ago. After a year of medications and just upping the doses and adding more, we'd had our fill. We took him off of medications over the summer and had him re-evaluated by a neuropsychologist. The newest diagnosis is ADHD, autistic traits that may point to aspergers and some learning disabilities. I'm still not sure these diagnosis's are accurate, so now we are trying a new psychiatrist. We've only been in for the "intake" session and have not been diagnosed yet. This is my youngest difficult child, I have two older ones as well. This hasn't been an easy road for us and it definately has taken a long time to get accurate diagnosis's. We're still not sure we have them. My son is currently off medications and having a very hard time in 2nd grade. I wasn't for medications before, but then it hit me one day. I didn't want my younger two difficult children on medications just because their older brother was on them. But what if they truly needed them? Thats what hit me. So now I want them on medications for the DXs that the Dr and I agree on, but on the absolute minimum medication they need. I do not want to raise zombies, I just want them to have the best day and life they can possibly have. Sometimes that means they need daily medications.

I absolutely AGREE with you that you want to try other routes first. Have you tried an all natural diet? All organic foods? You would be amazed at how many chemicals they put into our foods to preserve them or to add flavor. I put my youngest difficult child on a doctor ordered diet before school started last year and it made a huge difference. Check out the natural treatments forum on here and see if anyone can give you some good ideas to start with.

Again, welcome to the board. Please don't think I'm pushing medications on you. I just wanted to let ya know our experience with this roller coaster we're all on. More board members will be along shortly and offer up some great advice.


ODD does not usually stand alone; it's more of a basket of symptoms than a diagnosis. It can and does stand as an individual diagnosis, but other things need to be ruled out first as other disorders can cause behaviors that mimic ODD.

There could be many reasons for the behavior you're seeing besides ODD: a few that come to mind are anxiety, pervasive development disorder (autism spectrum), depression, bipolar...the list goes on. We can't diagnosis here, of course, but can point you in the right direction. And that would be that you need to have your son evaluated by a developmental pediatrician, neuropsychologist or a multi-evaluation team (consists of several specialties).

If my husband were against it, it wouldn't stop me. No one gets between me and my kids. Period. That probably sounds harsh and some will tell you to educate your husband and help him to understand...which you should do. But, I personally wouldn't wait for him to get on board before proceeding. Your son's been having these behaviors/symptoms since the age of 18 months. You've waited long enough. While you're waiting for you husband to make peace with it, you're son is suffering and struggling. And being against medications? Would he deny your child insulin if he were diabetic? medications are not called for in every case, but for some they are a necessity. It's always boggled me how some can be so arbitrarily against medications when they don't even know what's going on with their child. I can understand it to a point, but once you have a diagnosis it's different.

I was against medications for my daughter simply because no one could give us a definitive diagnosis and I wasn't going to simply medicate symptoms that might make it harder to see what was really going on with her. It was a fight, too. It seemed everyone wanted to medicate her and do the let's see what happens game. Once we had a definitive diagnosis (as definitive as you can get), I was completely comfortable going the medication route.


Well-Known Member
Hi and welcome. As others have said, ODD is usually the result of a bigger disorder. I strongly suggest having him checked out by a neuropsychologist. Now I have a few questions:
1/ Has he ever been evaluated?
2/ Does he have any developmental delays, like speech, pottying, fine or gross motor problems?
3/ Are there are psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of the family tree?
4/ How is his eye contact? Can he make friends and hold a conversation? Can he transition? Is he a fussy eater or picky about what he wears?
5/Does he sleep well?

Not everything requires medication. My son doesn't take medications. Frankly, I would also disregard hub and take child for evaluation and help. I'd be cautious about medications, but wouldn't rule them out, depending on whether or not the child seemed to be able to control himself--some kids can't and that makes everyone miserable, especially the child. Some men think discipline is all ya need, but our kids usually don't respond to traditional discipline. They need a different sort of handling.
Others will come along.


New Member
Welcome to the boards! It is a great place to not only come and vent but also to get some help problem solving too :smile:

You mentioned that your son was in preschool? If you live in the US, your local school district (or LEA as it's known) is required by law to have "Child Find" activities. These are school district sponsored days for parents to bring in children whom the parents suspect are not at a developmentally appropriate level for either social skills, adaptive/self help skills, language skills, or motor skills. General behavioral problems are also addressed. I would suggest you speak with your school district regarding who to contact to set up an appointment. Most educational teams who run the child find days will do screening of a child first before determining if a more complete evaluation is needed. This may be a good first step for you - if they decide to not do any testing at this time the child find team can often make recommendations for the issues you're observing.

If your SD states that he is too old for the child find process, he is entitled to screening and evaluation as a kindergarten aged student through the SD even though he may not be enrolled in a public school.

One thing to remember - many pediatricians and traditional preschool teachers make subjective judgements regarding a child's overall developmental progress. The APA did a study about 3-4 years ago which found that doctors who "eyeball" a child's level of development missed over 40% of children who had developmental delays. Unless your pediatrician uses a good developmental screening every office visit or your son's preschool teacher uses one in the classroom, I would strongly suggest that you get a developmental screening from a developmental specialist such as at the Child Find teams (that would be an Occupational Therapist (OT), an Early Childhood Education teacher, a school psychologist, or a speech language pathologist). Many times behavior occurs due to a language delays or sensory processing issues that were masked or hidden due to a child's ability to compensate through non-verbal learning or "holding it together" and then being exhausted by the effort at the end of the day.

My best wishes for you and your family.


New Member
Wow. Thanks for all the great information, support and advice. It is a relief really just to tell your story and know there are other people out there with less-than-perfect children (all nine of his cousins do not have any behaviorial issues). People who don't know what it's like really do believe it is a parenting issue.

After yet another meltdown last night (I counted as he rode his bike down the hill instead of as he rode up... how dare I!), it struck me that this really is enough. I have always suffered through his months of dealing with life changes to get to the relatively "better" months. I finally lost it last night and cried in front of my son, which I never do. I told him I wanted us to be happy, to not fight all night, for him to be able to use his words to tell me what he needs, etc. I think my crying did catch him off-guard. But, he ended up laughing. It was a nervous laughter, but still! I got up to leave and he was saying he was sorry and sounded more sincere than he ever has. It was nice just to hold him and feel him wanting to be a better for me. I can tell he is torn and it makes me feel horrible for him. For that reason, I'm going to read my book this weekend and put that into action as soon as possible. I'm also going to read up on organic foods as it sounds like a lot of people have had success with diet changes. If those do not work on their own in a month, I am going to take him in to talk with someone. (If I tell hubby it's a "doctor appointment" instead of psychologist I'll be fine!).


New Member
Forgot to answer the previous poster's questions.

1/ Has he ever been evaluated? NO
2/ Does he have any developmental delays, like speech, pottying, fine or gross motor problems? NO -- average academic intelligence
3/ Are there are psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of the family tree? (depression on my side, although I'm not)
4/ How is his eye contact? <Good> Can he make friends and hold a conversation? <Loner -- 1 Good friend at preschool> Can he transition? <bad with transitions> Is he a fussy eater or picky about what he wears? <Not picky at all... unless he's in a funk, in which I might get a cheeseburger thrown at me!>
5/Does he sleep well? <Sleeps well, but has pretty much quit napping which doesn't help>


New Member
I can totally relate to all of this as I am in constant battles with my 7yr old daughter over everything. She doesn't listen to a word I say, pretty much walks away as if I hadn't said anything, constantly interrupting and needing anyone's attention that she can get, rude and fresh to me and her Dad and other adults, sassy as can be (sounds like I did at 14), as of recently she has been having melt downs or tantrums (this is new), also new is trouble staying in her bed at night. For the first time ever she got in trouble at camp this summer numerous times for not listening or doing stuff she wasn't supposed to. In the past she has been perfectly behaved in school and camp. I feel like I am constantly correcting her behavior with no results at all.
I am not quite sure what this is, but I truly feel that there is no way this is a phase. Does anyone have any suggestions on where I go from here?

Background info: only child, I'm divorced from her Father, depression and alcoholism runs on both sides of the family, I have had the depression part of that about 10yrs ago and was successfully treated, I have not had the alcoholism. She just started a new school and we moved to a new house. She seems to be doing well socially so far, her academics are great (off the charts, she has been tested)

Anyway, I have to say that she is difficult to be around a lot of the time. Does anyone have any suggestions? Does this sound like ODD or am I being ridiculous? I welcome any comments/suggestions


New Member
Just wanted to say hello --

My son turned six in July and we are dealing with much the same... It came upon us fairly suddenly and 1st grade has been difficult.. I had an angel in kindergarten and now .. let's just say it's not the same.

We've been to see a psychologist who made an instant diagnosis of ODD and ADHD - and suggested we see a neurologist and our pediatrician for medical tests so we can rule out something medical since it's come upon us so suddenly...

We saw the neurologist today - who will run an EEG at some time in the future ... (they are backed up) but she also suggested there could be a processing disorder and thought we should do a round of neuropsychologist testing ... I'm in the process of finding out what insurance will pay for ...

We've read the explosive child and while it's good - it's hard to get it to work for my son as i'm not sure he can conceptualize the compromise ideas... What does work for us sometimes - is anticipating the explosions and avoiding the triggers -- not always easy to do ...

Good luck to you and everyone else on this board who have been given a tough hand to play.