So worried about my 5-year old son (long) need help

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Lana, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. Lana

    Lana New Member

    My son has been difficult - aggressive, negative, purposefully bothering, since I can remember. He is a twin and his twin sister has some medical issues. I had postpartum depression pretty bad after they were born and I often feel horribly guilty about what I may have missed giving the kids in those important first years due to this depression. I do know that we gave a lot of attention to our daughter when she was first diagnosed with her medical issues and I've always wondered if this is what started things for my son. From the age of 10 months old, I can remember him hitting his sister constantly. He seemed to be wanting attention, even if it was bad attention, and I guess hitting was the quickest way to get us to focus on him. At the same time, I know that I never neglected my son, I've always loved and shown him affection and have always given him positive feedback about himself. But what has us so stumped is his behavior, which has stayed consistent over time. It is so negative! He purposefully bothers people. He is defensive and hostile quite often. When we put him in any kind of recreational class, the first day he's there, he will almost always pick a boy from the class and be hitting/punching him by the end of the first class. He is still not potty trained on poop. We have been trying to take care of this issue for 2 years now, have tried every book and suggestion, have even taken him to a gastroenterologist, but he still poops his pants numerous times a day. It seems to be all about control for him -- he tries to hold it in and does NOT want to be told to go and sit on the toilet (he hits us and throws things at us when we just ask him to go and sit to poop). He does many bothering things and seems to enjoy seeing a negative reaction (my hsband and I try desperately not to give a big explosive negative reaction so as not to reinforce this negative attention, but boy, he will do almost anything to see us get upset, it seems...too many examples to list. I know I have lost my temper with him despite my best efforts (always verbal, never physical). He has pooped in his room before as well as peed in it on purpose (sort of like telling us off, I think). He got consequences for this and thankfully hasn't done it again, but we've heard him try to get playmate to "pee in our side yard" things like that. He has trouble having any friends -- is easily angered and will tell children off, gets too aggressive. He still pushes and pinches and knocks over his twin sister each day although flat out hitting her has mostly stopped. But she says almost daily how much she dislikes him. My husband has lost his temper with his behavior so often and has gripped him by the arm roughly, glared at him -- things like this (never has done any hitting, however). This upsets me to have my son treated this way, and I talk to my husband every day about trying to remain calm, but I can't control him. I know my son feels bad about himself and this breaks my heart. The other day after he had been reprimanded again for purposefully doing thigns he was asked not to, he said "I wish I was dead!" My heart fell. A 5-year old wishes he was dead! It was awful. He's also said "no one likes me" and the truth is, he does not really have friends I think because of how aggressive and negative he is. I know we have told him over and over that we love him, we have shown him so much love, we have invested so much time trying to do the right things and his behaviors just continue. With me, if I am holding him to give him a hug, he might head butt me in the nose or pinch me or do something to hurt me physically. If asked to stop doing something he's not supposed to do, he does it twice as much. We held him back from kindergarten this year hoping that we could help him with behavior this year, but I don't see things getting better. I should add, however, that he does have wonderful qualities too. He is very sweet with young children and can show genuine compassion to someone who might have a problem. He seems very bright in certain ways -- likes to build things with his imagination, always wants to make things. But his overall negative behavior and outlook have me so worried. I'm so concerned he will continue to have no friends, that he will continue on this path of constant negative and oppositional behavior and I am at my wits end on what to do. I haven't even included even half of the examples of his upsetting behavior, even in this lengthy message, I've just scratched the surface. After reading the description, I think he could be considered to have ODD, but unbelievably, I can't find a pediatric psychiatrist who specializes in ODD and I live in the Bay Area (near San Jose, CA). I have spent hours trying to find someone locally that we could take him to (I don't want to just take him to a random psychiatrist or psychologist, I want someone who really knows ODD behavior and cares about kids like this). I am desperate to help him. I feel like the path he's on is such a bad one and is so filled with unhappiness and I am heartbroken over it. He's a beautiful, lovely boy in so many ways. We just need help, I have spent so many sleepless nights worrying about him and what we can do to help him.
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Lana, welcome to our forum. You're among understanding friends here.

    Given the description of your child that I'm reading here and his age, I'd suggest looking for either a developmental pediatrician or a pediatric neuropsychologist or even better, both if you have insurance coverage. Just from what we're hearing from other parents, you're more apt to get a more thorough evaluation with these specialty areas. Child psychiatrists certainly have a place in treatment plans for some children, but I'd really like to see you get a more thorough assessment done first, especially since the child psychs are fairly quick to jump to medications. That may be a route you'd consider, but it sure would be better to have a bigger grasp on his issues first instead of starting there.

    Start with your pediatrician in asking for a referral. Also check the staff directories of children's hospitals and phone books in your area.

    A few questions:
    Besides your postpartum depression, is there any other mental health history in the family?

    I know that the ODD and potty training problems are on your front burner right now, but is there anything else unusual about your child's developmental patterns or behaviors?

    What's his speech like?

    Does he have unusual interests or obsessions?

    How are his sleep patterns?

    Is he unusually fussy about foods, clothes, tags in clothes, socks or bothered a lot by bright lights or sounds?

    Hang in there. Pick up a copy of the book The Explosive Child and read the thread at the top of this board until you can get through it. Lay low on the discipline stuff right now--just keep everyone safe until you know what's happening here.

    Hang in there.
  3. Lana

    Lana New Member

    Hi SRL, thanks for responding and for your recommendations.

    Believe it or not, we did take our son to a "board certified behavioral and developmental pediatrician" when he was 2.5 years old (problems were already bad even at that age). We paid $600 to this doctor and he met with us for about a half hour to discuss our problems and take notes. He then spent 15 minutes with our son "trying to instigate negative behavior" (we watched through a one way mirror). He did not elicit any negative behavior from my son, and this effectively was the end of the doctor's assessment! After 15 minutes with my son, because he didn't get any negative behavior from my son, he says he sees no problems?! Unbelievable! I still don't know how he could have made this decision based on so little and taking into account the behaviors we told him about. Next, at age 3 or 4, we took him to an MFT who specialized in children and we were told she was "great with this kind of kid." After 12 sessions and thousands of dollars wasted on "play therapy", she had not one thing to tell us about our son, not one thing. It was very upsetting to me. So, it is very difficult to know where to turn. We don't want to waste any more time or money with the wrong doctor, and yet we would pay whatever necessary to find the right person to help us, if they really could. We really want to take him to someone who specializes in ODD, someone who really knows what they're doing, and I can't seem to find any specific references to specific doctors who work with this in our area. Do you happen to know of any actual Dr's to refer to in the Bay Area (perhaps not something you do here -- just wondering). I can't believe how difficult it has been to find the right person to help us!! And, very unfortunately, my son's pediatrician has been of zero help in this area. He's a great pediatrician but does not seem to take our concerns about our son's behavior very seriously and only gave us one name of a general child psychiatrist to talk to. When I asked if he could refer us to anyone who actually works with ODD, he said "they all do." That's not enough for me to follow! We've also tried calling Stanford Hospital which we live close to for help through them, but they are completely booked for months in advance and are not taking additional child appointments. They gave me the name of some other child psychiatrists to try and I called them only to be told that they too were booked and not taking any new clients. I keep reading about programs that seem to exist out there to help train parents how to work with kids like ours, but the programs never seem to be being taught where we are...the programs sound great, but I can't find out how we can sign up for it because they're not in our area. Sorry to go on and on and sound so frustrated....we ARE frustrated. (thanks for listening).

    To answer your other questions:

    1. I think his speech is good, he's very verbal and can be very friendly sounding with adults (will often say hi to strangers).

    2. Does he have any unusual interests/obsessions: Not sure. For a while he was saying numbers a lot and I thought this was kind of odd, but that passed. For a couple of months now he talks about cars every day (same questions about cars: how fast does this one or that one go, does this car go faster than our car? how fast does our car go? what's the fasted car in the world, things like that. I think he's just interested in cars?).

    3. Sleep patterns: He has allergies and he does snore a bit. Oddly enough, he sometimes holds his breath while sleeping too. We asked our doctor about sleep apnea but we were told that he does not hold his breath long enough for sleep apnea. He does go to sleep pretty well at bedtime and stays asleep through the night but he is always the first one up and gets up pretty early. He's probably averaging 10 sometimes 11 hours of sleep each night and I would like to see him sleep more.

    4. When he was younger both he and his sister seemed to be a bit bothered by loud sounds (would put their hands over their ears), but this seems to have gone away. He doesn't have any other areas of fussiness.

    Thanks for the reference to The Explosive Child. I remember looking at that book when he was younger (unfortunately, I have a HUGE library of books on this kind of thing) and thinking it didn't really apply to my son. He doesn't have explosive temper tantrums (if I'm remembering the book correctly), it's more like daily, consistent, negative, bothering, oppositional behavior -- not outbursts.

    I would so appreciate any more tips on how to help our son!
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Warning: this is going to be a rambling post but I want to touch on what I can.

    Bummer about the developmental pediatrician. We usually get better reports from parents about that specialty area but there's always exceptions.

    I think it's true that everyone in the field of child psychs, psychologists, etc. is going to work with kids with ODD so I guess it could be hard to get far with that question. Frustrating, though.

    I see your needs as being twofold at this point: someone who will get to the bottom of what's going on with your little guy. That often will include referals out to other specialty areas like occuptional therapy. Given the washout on the developmental pediatrician front, I still think a pediatric neuropyschologist would be your best bet for this.

    The second thing that you need is someone who is good at working with difficult kids of this agegroup and who will work on the behavioral aspects on an ongoing basis.

    I know it's tempting to just look for someone to help with the ODD but if there are underlying causes you'll likely just be wasting time and money.

    This is just my opinion, but if your pediatrician isn't any help and isn't listening to you on issues like possible sleep apnea, it might be time to go shopping for a new doctor. Mine bent over backwards to find us help when we needed it. A good doctor will help you continue looking and will intervene to move up appointment dates if needed. Nearly all child psychiatric's have long waiting lists--sadly sometimes the only way to be seen in a timely fashion is to take them to ER.

    Some children who withhold do so due to something called Sensory Integration Dysfunction. It will look like control issues to you but there's more going on. Here's a general intro article on that:

    A few places where you may be able to hook up with parents in your area below. I'm not suggesting any of these as a diagnosis but mention them as you may be able to find parents info sources in your area.


    Autism Society of America (even though you aren't suspecting Autism, these parents are very tuned in to the good professionals in your area so you may be able to find some ideas through them. There's a high incidence of Autistic Spectrum Disorders in your area so there should be some active chapters there.)

    Bipolar Kids

    There used to be a message board on The Explosive Child, with links to training seminars, etc. I can't locate it just now but maybe someone else can.

    Do check out the book The Explosive Child. I wished it was titled The Inflexible Child because it does mislead people who might otherwise be helped by it. You also may want to check out Dr. Riley's book since you're really at a starting point in finding answers. More on his book here:

    Some hospitals have day programs or partial programs for kids of this age and hyou might want to look into those. It would help open up some doors.

    Also the special services staff at the public schools often know of the professionals in the area. Have you checked with them?
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2009
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'd want to see a neuropsychologist for a complete evaluation. It's hard to tell without the intensive testing, but he has many traits of kids who have Aspergers/high functioning autism. They are notorious for having no social skills, "not getting it", having sensory issues (which can make a child not even realize if he has to poop, and these kids usually have no friends until/unless they get interventions. I disagree that he is doing this to be bad or get negative attention. He said "I wish I were dead." He DOESN'T like negative attention. He doesn't know how to do better; he is likely wired differently than other kids and will not learn no matter how rough hub is with him. It's best to put him in the hands of professionals. He needs interventions and help that the people you have seen so far are unable to help him with. Good luck!
  6. Lana

    Lana New Member

    Thanks to both of you for your responses and suggestions! I appreciate it -
  7. legoo

    legoo New Member

    Just wanted to say I am brand new here and your post so describes my 5 year old and how I feel. They don't want to be the way they are-they just can't help it. It breaks my heart.

    We have a meeting set up for a psychologist who deals with kids with Aspergers, ODD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), ADHD. She seems nice and approachable so we will see if son will talk to her. Son has been seeing an Occupational Therapist (OT) for sensory processing disorder (SPD) but I am starting to think the ODD is the biggest problem.

    I have no advice to add but I hope we both get some good suggestions. I will be subbing...
  8. crtaylor

    crtaylor New Member

    I have a heck of a kid too. I totally know what you mean about wanting to show affection to your kid but afraid they will head butt you. It also started when he was just about 1 year old. Nobody believed me when I asked for help.
    I have found the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) consultancy helpful. Just google it. Pricey and wierd approach but more helpful than other advice I have received from other experts. Just my two cents....

    Also, I wanted to tell you how much my heart goes out to you. You are a good mother, keep trying.
  9. Auntie

    Auntie New Member

    I always knew that there was something different abut my youngest. He did not respond like he was SUPPOSED to, though what he was doing all looked PERFECTLY logical!

    For instance, he loved hugs but did not like to be hugged without warning. "Give a hug" became a very common phrase! And, praise went almost unnoticed: this kid wanted APPLAUSE!

    He did not respond well to the usual toilet training techniques. Nope. I finally did what all the books said to NOT do! I offered him m&m's for performing. That DID work! And then he started preferring to be dry.........

    As it turns out, he has aspergers syndrome. That is probably why he preffered applause to praise: it was dramatic enough so that he understood it while he was NOT undertanding "Good boy"! And, he thought it was a fun game. Poop and watch Mama clap!!!

    I am not saying that YOUR child has aspergers: I am saying that there is a reason for what our kids do, even if we do not understand it yet. And, I am also saying that your child might respond VERY well to what most kids would not even notice! And he might not notice what other kids value highly!

    All of our kids march to a different drummer: that is why we all ended up here. We are all trying to "hear" the rhythem that our kids are marching to!

    Is there any way that you can take each child out for ice cream or whatever once a week, for a one-on-one? Encourage him to talk about what he likes, even if it is about power rangers or whatever. It builds good will that help to carry you over the hard times. And, it really was astonishing what insight my son came up with between talking about sword fighting and cartoon characters.

    We started the ice cream cone and the Mcdonalds play place-on the advice of my sons counselor- as a reward for doing his work for 5 times without fussing (NOT 5 times in a row: 5 times!). And, he really did work to earn the ice crem trips: not just because of the ice cream but because the trip was a bit special.
  10. midwestdad

    midwestdad Lost

    This sounds like my boys as well. You mentioned that the M&Ms work as reinforcers, I think that's great. I don't know what books tell you not to use that, but if you can modify his behavior using anything, I'd say go with it. You can also do that with the yelling/hitting/whatever: If you can go until whatever time without a negative behavior, then you earn....

    I hope that works for you. Believe me, we feel your pain.
  11. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    To me the potty problems could be a sign of a food allergy problem. What happens when he does sit on the potty and try to go? Personally, I think that a lot of problems with pooping accidents are related to celiac disease/gluten intolerance and not just willful behaviour.

    Both of my children have food intolerances to gluten and milk. One of them has stomach problems when she has them. My older one has behaviour and mood problems.

    Before we discovered this, my older daughter was diagnosis'ed with ODD. She was irritable, defiant, and explosive. No discipline worked with her because she just didn't care about consequences. Lexapro helped for a while but needed to be increased to the maximum allowed. She was violent and at the end, we were looking at adding an anti-psychotic to help control the violence. It was then that we discovered her sister's gluten intolerance and put the whole family on the gluten free diet.

    That was 3 years ago. Now that she is on the gluten free and dairy free diet, she is a different kid. She doesn't need any medications. She is 13 and sometimes cheats on her diet and we are reminded of what our life used to be like. Most of the time, though, she is pretty easy to be around, especially for a teenager.

    Just my very different view on things.
  12. aallwine

    aallwine New Member

    Hello I am new here,

    I have been dealing with almost exactly this same issue for quite some time. My boys are twins also. One has been diagnosed with Autism (and other medical problems) and is doing amazingly well. The other is a complete terror. They are now 8 yers old and we have been dealing with constant violence, bullying, aggression, mind games, manipulation, lying, and so much more for about 5 years. It has been impossible to get any help for this child. He continually gets worse every day and I seem to be the only one who can see through him. He plays some amazing mind games with people. We finally got a preliminary diagnosis today! They are saying he has Conduct Disorder. Yipee, I am not crazy!

    I have not found anyhting that helps so far. I do know that giving into a child like this is a very bad idea. You absolutely have to be stronger than they are. We learned long ago that any kind of discipline could be turned around by our son to gain control over us. For instance, the more we put him in the corner for his bad behavior, the more he misbehaved so that he had control over every second of our day.

    How we have decided to deal with it is to try to arm our other two children with tactics to keep them from feeling bullied by him. Doing anything we can think of to take control of any kind away form him. And just plain having more willpower than he does. I am a fairly creative person. My son was complaining the other day that everyone was controlling his life and we had no right because he was the adult. Alrighty then, young man. So, we set up a new plan. Now, he has to check out his clothes form us every single day since he likes to walk around in filthy clothes and tell people we won't get him any clothes. All privileges have been taken away. No television, no playing outside, no nothing until he can earn them. The no televison is indefinate at this point. And until he can stop throwing rocks at people, he just can not play with them. We are sick of it. So, he is really bummin' now. He is quite angry at the moment and I remind him every day of why he is still on this plan every single time he shows that he can not act the way he is supposed to.

    We dealt with the same potty training issues. I was mean and would not let him wear diapers or anything. Eventually he got potty trained through a very long horrendous fight. He used to hold it so he could have "accidents" in his pants in the stores. That was his way of making us leave the store for him. We figured thast out quickly and made him wear his wet pants as they were instead of quickly changing him. He no long has his "accidents" in the stores. Now, he pulls other stuff. He likes to scream that he is being beaten in the store if we hold his hand. He is such a lovely child. :confused: I now say things like "I am really enjoying your bad behavior in this store. I love it when you try to embarrass me." I get a lot of strange looks but it settles him down until we leave. He pouts because he lost his game.

    I didn't ever have time to be depressed. I had three kids to take care of. All three with heart conditions. One with seizure and who screamed 24 hours a day. And one who was constantly sick from acid reflux. So, I know it is not caused by anything that I did. This child has been a bit strange from the very start, we just didn't realize it since he brother was constantly screaming and keeping us on our toes. You can not blame yourself for something that your child was born with.

    We have tried every book we could get our hands on, ever approach we could find. Apparently our son is quite different from other children. He truely enjoys negative attention. He likes to come home with stories about how many kids he beat up that day. For awhile I thought they were true and got on the teacher for not dealing with the issues. Come to find out, he is making up the stories. According to him, it is because he hates me and wants me to die. These are not things you would normally hear form an 8 year old. We have come to the conclusion that he is the "Evil Genius" of the family. ha ha. Gotta have some humor. Anywho, he says that if he irritates me enough, I will either die or run away. I told him "Good luck with that. I'm tougher than you and you can not make me go anywhere." Apparently, I am gonna have a run for my money with this one. Two great kids out of three, isn't bad though. My other two are excellent. I worry about how his terrible behavior affects them. This IS a kid who knows right from wrong, and this IS a kid who chooses how he behaves. When he meets new people he can be a perfect angel for them. We have seen him play this "good boy" game for up to three months.

    So, I know how you feel. I also know that I will be dealing with this for the rest of his life. I have accepted that there is very little that I can do. Hopefully I got lucky this time and the new doctor will help us find ways to either deal with it or help him. I am beyond the thought that he can actually get help at this point. Once upon a time, I truely thought he could be helped. Now, I need to focus on not allowing him to hurt the other children physically or emotionally. And not allowing him to hurt us. We have a strong family and we need to keep it that way, whether he likes it or not. I am truely sorry for all of you that are dealing with the same issues. I am glad that we finally have some kind of diagnosis. That makes me feel better. I think I am that one percent who has let go and said "The rest of my family is more important. If he wants to make these choices, then so be it. But I will protect the rest of my family." Our new doctor believes that he is quite brilliant and has the perception of a child 3-5 years older. Based on the things he says and does, I am sure that is very true. That is my story, sorry if it wasn't helpful. Just wanted you to know you were not alone. Good luck with your son. I hope things get better and you are able to find a solution.
  13. barbie

    barbie MOM of 3

    My Eric was different from the moment I got pregnant, everything about it was different. He was preemie at 33 weeks. I started noticing things were different at about 5 months after he was born, initially he was breastfed, then I started going to school, we went from formula to formula, and the exorcist type vomitting never got better at 9 months he was inpatient due to severe dehydration and malabsorption from food. Although in the month prior to his admission I had about 5 visits to the pediatrician, two to childrens hospital and one to south miami hospital, telling me he had a virus. Guess what my mommy gut told me that wasnt the answer, he was admitted because I screamed and shouted until the doctor in the ER listened to me. What started as his "virus" ate the natural floura of his intestines, causing the malabsorption. My boy will be 5 next month, he is 38 1/2 inches tall and 34 lbs. We found out in 11/07, he was born 5/04 that he was allergic to milk protein, eggs, wheat, soy, corn, codfish, peanuts, walnuts, pork, beef and gluten although his bloodwork was negative for celiac. His behavior was all wrong he was a VERY irritable baby, at the young age of 4, in a period of 9 months he was kicked out of 8 daycares for behavior issues, and his pediatrician again refused to tell me anything, I got her notes and later learned she suspected Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and ADHD. Guess what he has both plus Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), and asthma, eczema, and reflux still. All of our stories are similar, we all KNEW something was off, but could not or didnt want to say the words out loud. My son is a high functioning autistic boy, we have issues daily. The only thing we know to do is keep moving forward, one day will be bad one will be better. Yes we definitely have to be stronger than them. We already are.