So glad to know I'm not alone

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by restlesstoo, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. restlesstoo

    restlesstoo New Member

    I have a nine year old (well, he'll be ten in about a month) that is about to push me over the edge, and I'm just now finding out it may not be all my fault! His dad and I divorced four years ago, and although he's only ten miles away, it is sometimes a month or more between visits.

    My son has not been diagnosed with any disorder yet, although he fits the profile for ODD to a T! He's defiant, argumentative, and is starting to show signs of getting physical when he's angry. It's only with people he's around a lot and that are most interested in him; his father has never seen any of the behavior, and insists it's me that has a problem.

    His teachers have noticed this year he has a major problem with lying about turning work in and claims the teacher lost it or another student stole it. He's in a program for gifted children, and seems to have no problem with that class; it's his regular classes where he has a problem (the teacher is very "free form", letting the kids do "centers" and work at their own pace) Around the house, it's a battle anytime I ask him to clean his room, to take a bath, to do anything beyond what he wants to do. He screams at me, hits walls, slams doors, tells me I can;t take things form him . . . This morning he did not want to go to school; I was attempting to get his shoes on when he accidentally kicked me in the nose (he was flailing around and I lost my grip on his foot) No damage, but it has me scared.

    I look forward to getting to know you all, and hope you can help me get a grip on how to control him. He's ususally a great kid and a joy to be around, but it's getting to where I don't know what to believe that he says, and I don't like having to walk on eggshells with him!
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Welcome! I'm glad you found us.

    Sorry for all the questions, but your answers will help us point you in the right direction.
    How does he do in school, both academically and with peers?
    Any developmental or speech delays?
    Any sensory issues (sensitivity to clothing tags, loud noises, food textures, for example)?
    Any mental health issues or substance abuse in the family tree?

    In general, ODD is not a stand-alone diagnosis but rather a symptom of an underlying disorder. When the underlying disorder is identified and treated, the ODD behaviors typically subside.

    I strongly recommend getting your hands on a copy of The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It has helped many of us parent our extra-challenging children.

    Again, welcome. You will find a lot of support here.
  3. restlesstoo

    restlesstoo New Member

    How does he do in school, both academically and with peers?

    He's in a gifted program - up until this year, never had problems. This year he keeps not doing work, then blaming someone else, saying he did it and someone else destroyed it. He's tested on 7th grade levels (he's in 4th) for most things (math is his lowest subject - he's high 5th in that, and reads at college levels)

    Any developmental or speech delays?

    No - he's always been in the upper percentiles for everything (including size - he's 5' and 130 lbs, but physically very fit)

    Any sensory issues (sensitivity to clothing tags, loud noises, food textures, for example)?

    Not that I've noticed . . . he often claims he can;t hear things unless the volume is very loud, but I think that's more to annoy me.

    Any mental health issues or substance abuse in the family tree?

    My brother had problems with drugs in the 70s. I tried coke inthe 80s, but never often and gave up any hard drugs after a year, gave up smoking 20 years ago, and only drink and occasional glass of wine now (Tylenol knocks me out like Lortab does most people!). His father has smoked 2 packs a day since high school (he's 47 now), drinks an average of a six pack a night, and will indulge in pot if it's available.

    I'll pick up a copy of that book this weekend. Thanks for the recommendation!
  4. SaraT

    SaraT New Member


    Would you please do a profile, that way we can all get to know you and your family, and it helps jog our memories too.

    In the FAQ section it tells you how, and it will also explain the abbreviations we tend to use.

    It sounds like your son is very much like my daughter. She is better now, but took years, several medication changes and 3 different diagnosis's(diagnosis).

    I would, in my humble opinion, get a full neurophysc evaluation. That would give you a better picture of what he has, and what you are dealing with.

    Hope things get better, but in the mean time feel free to vent.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You said (when asked if he has hearing problems), "Not that I've noticed . . . he often claims he can;t hear things unless the volume is very loud, but I think that's more to annoy me."

    It's quite likely that when he's concentrating on something, he shuts down all other input until he's finished what he's doing. I know I used to do that. difficult child 1 did it BIG time. Also, interrupting can provoke a rage. So there you are, trying to let him know dinner is on the table, you have to actually go up to him and tap him on the shoulder because he's not responding when you call, and he finally responds angrily. I understand the frustration. But from experience - you need to NOT respond with anger, it only makes the problem worse.
    Get the book. It will help.

    Concerning his work - it sounds to me like his organisation skills are very poor. He needs your help with this, but if you said this to him he would deny it, try to say there is no problem. The sort of lies he is telling - they are natural, for a kid who is trying to stay out of trouble. Don't fret about the lies, it's far more important to work on what is causing them - his failure to do the work. Getting angry at the lies as well is only adding to his anxiety. And yes, I suspect he also has a lot of anxiety and maybe even some depression - inertia, difficulty in getting started on work, is another symptom of depression. And a really bright kid at school - it would be surprising if he was NOT depressed at some stage.

    It's stressful being a kid. it's even more stressful being a bright kid - you feel so powerless, you can see problems in the world that people seem to not care about, but you are a kid and nobody wants to pay any attention to you or even properly answer your questions.
    I admit I'm digging back into my own childhood memories for this, but I also saw similar things with my kids.

    I strongly urge you to get to a point with him (the book will help) where you can sit with him and talk about what he thinks the problem is, and how best to deal with it. Denial is not going to work - and he seems to be using procrastination and denial to cope at the moment (with an unhealthy dose of panic underlying it). Explain to him that you want to help him find a way to not have to feel that panic and anxiety. There are ways, even without medications. it just means letting you help him stay on task.

    And how do you do it? You need to know about any and all homework set, as soon as it has been set. You need the teacher's cooperation for this. If he tells you as well - great! But the task is to fix his poor organisation skills.
    So when you know what he has to do, you sit with him and brainstorm it. break the task up - use a computer diary if necessary, to set smaller sub-deadlines. "So you have to do a project poster on Japan - it is due next Wednesday. You have a week exactly. So from now until Friday, you will research, gather information and pictures. On Friday we will go to the library. I will buy the cardboard and glue so that over the weekend we can set up a work station and you and I can be in the same room each working on our own projects at the same time. I will be scrapbooking the family photo album, so if you want to use any of my paper offcuts or stamps, they will all be available. We can have fun working side by side."
    He might cut in with, "But I wanted to visit Josh on Saturday."
    You respond with, "We can work in the morning until lunchtime and if you feel you have done enough, you can go to Josh's house in the afternoon knowing your work is done - that will be a really good feeling for you."
    Your target - to get the poster finished by Sunday evening; sooner, if possible.
    "But it's not due until Wednesday!"
    "We aim for Sunday, because on the other nights you have your usual routine and doing a project breaks into that routine. It also buys you a bit more time so you won't feel so panicked. If you can't finish by Sunday because you haven't got the right pen to do the heading, then at least everything else is done and you can get the pen after school on Monday and do the heading then."

    You get the picture?

    My mother never had time or energy to help me this way. She thought, because I was bright, I would also be able to work independently. Not so. She also felt incapable of helping me, because she had left school at 12. But she was a smart woman who taught herself more than most people ever learn academically.

    God luck with him. He is getting into bad habits that need breaking.

  6. restlesstoo

    restlesstoo New Member

    Thanks for the advice. A lot of it has been started since school went back after the holidays. He has been moved to advanced classes for math and reading, and I have started meeting with his teachers on Fridays to see how things went (actually, I've started going in every other day to checkon thngs), what work has been missed or what he needs help on. The counselor has started a group meeting for kids with absent parents; it's helping him some to vent about his Dad (he can tell others he's angry at him, but can't talk to his father about it, and I feel that's one of his major stressors) The counselor and gifted teacher are forming a group to help perfectionists learn how to cope when they can't be, and the gifted teacher is also working to help him organize things. I've talked with his teachers from years before (older teachers that taught the old way); they feel a lot of his problem at school is the teacher is not structured enough, and I tend to agree. The work he can't get done in an hour at school he can do in five minutes here.

    His teacher is a firm beleiver in not giving homework, which I find frustrating. We have bought a few workbooks for subjects he's interested in to challenge him at home, but it's hard to get him not to do all the pages in one sitting!

    The lies worry me because his father has the same habit, and he honestly believes his lies to the point where eventually he can no longer remember the truth. when confronted with proof, he'll sceram and get very profane (even in front of difficult child) until I either drop it or hang up the phone (ad he'll call back repeatedly, screaming at my answering machine with difficult child right beside him hearing it) difficult child will lie about anything, whether it's to get him out of trouble or not. He'll insist you told him something, when it's the exact opposite of what you said, will deny doing things when he knows you stood there and watched them, then get defensive and scream and slam doors because "no one ever believes him"

    When he's in a good mood, we can have the most entertaining discussions about things most ten year olds never think of (if Adam and Eve were the first man and woman and we have scientific proof of cavemen, does that mean they were cavemen?) We went to the Space and Rocket center last summer and had a wonderful time, with him listening while I explained things, then he would be off and running on his own theories . . . His Dad insists he's no more intelligent than any other child, but then, most of their interaction revolves around video games.

    If I try to talk to him about his attitudes or his feelings, he gets defensive or shuts me out . . . the only thing I've found that works is to walk away from him and let him come to me, but it's hard sometimes. I'm going to find that book and read it this weekend . . . and I appreciate your input so much! I keep saying with all my training in sociology, psychology and teaching, I shouldn't have these problems, but I guess it's harder to see the problem when it's your own child!
  7. PersonalEnigma

    PersonalEnigma New Member

    For the hearing thing, has he been tested for central auditory processing problems? They can hear fine, but they can't always distinguish things from background noise. If more than one person is talking they may mix things from both conversations therefore not really "hearing" what is being said. Asking for things to be repeated a lot and wanting things louder is a sign of these problems. Kids need to be at least 6 before the testing can be done.
  8. restlesstoo

    restlesstoo New Member

    He doesn't have a hearing loss (well, he has what they call "selective" loss - when it's convenient) The only time he turns the stereo or TV loud is if I am trying to listen to something else. If we are in the car, he'll turn his DVD player up to where I can't hear the stereo; I bought him earphones, and he either "forgets" them (I try to keep them in the glove compartment)or says the padding hurts his ears. His father got him an Ipod for Christmas - he'll crank it so loud I can hear it plainly across the room. Requests to turn it down are met with extreme reactions - screaming or shutting it off completely, then screaming it's not fair I get to hear my music . . .

    By the way, I picked up that book this afternoon - the first chapters are my son, exactly!
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    Restlessroo, welcome!

    My difficult child did/does the same thing with the music and earphones. We once took a trip with Gma and Gpa - they could not believe how loud we could hear her earphones. With repeated requests to turn it down and her yelling she can not hear it then....well you can imagine the stress level in that car! LOL!

    Repeated requests to leave the room if she was going to try to share her music have worked. She now does not do this in front of me. It is still loud, but I do not have to hear it.
  10. restlesstoo

    restlesstoo New Member

    I try not to get too confrontational about it when he has the headphones on, but I worked with hearing imapired students for 13 years, so I can't help but think of the possible damage . . .

    His theory is that, since most of the music on his Ipod is classic rock that he got me to download from my collection, I shouldn't mind listening. Problem comes when I'm listneing to the Eagles and he rocks out to Billy Joel to where it intrudes on mine!