Here is a very short description of ODD behaviors. This behavior usually lasts longer than 6 months.
- Frequent temper tantrums
- Argumentativeness with adults
- Refusal to comply with adult requests or rules
- Deliberate annoyance of other people
- Blaming others for mistakes or misbehavior
- Acting touchy and easily annoyed
- Anger and resentment
- Spiteful or vindictive behavior
- Aggressiveness toward peers
I have an 18dd that was diagnosed at 5 with ADHD/ODD. She's been homeschooled for all but 6 weeks in 4th grade. She went for the first 6 weeks of 4th grade, made 7 A's and a B. I then pulled her out again. (Long story why she was there in the first place. Not a legal problem, but a gossip's problem) Anyway, this is our saga and some of my ideas for dealing with these kids.
When my daughter was 5, I was concerned about her behavior and took her to see a psychiatrist that her father was seeing. The MD's office had made a mistake and double booked everybody that day, so I ended up hanging around his office (with not only the 5dd, but a 2ds and a 3month dd) for about 6 hours. I was determined to see him. Finally at about 6pm, he saw us. Needless to say that by then, her behavior was off the Richter scale. He observed her for 2 hours, all the while asking me questions about her behavior and scoring it on a questionnaire he had. She was into everything in his office. Being mom and trying to get her to behave, I was correcting her a lot. He said to just leave her be , he wanted to observed her. After it was all said and done, he discussed his findings and put her on Ritalin for the ADHD. Two weeks later we moved to North GA. Six weeks later I went to a shelter for battered women, taking the kids with me.
It took about two and a half months to figure out that the MD's reasoning for the Ritalin didn't work for me. Plus, she hated taking it. (She still remembers how it made her feel.) So I discontinued giving it to her. It took about a year after leaving her dad - 4 months after the divorce was finalized, for her behavior to settle down, some.
Part of her problem was the abuse in the house. We were always walking on egg shells with dad. Dad would do stuff to the kids and mom would run interference. So I was always on her case to "behave", so she wouldn't set him off. When that problem was no longer there, things settled down, some. As time passed and I could discipline her without his interference we made great strides.(poor baby girl-Mommy's picking on you or screaming at her/me for not making her "behave" or him slapping/teasing her)
Part of the problem was that this was a child that from 11 months to 3 1/2 years old was constantly down on the floor in a tantrum. One day I lost count at about noon. She had already been on the floor THIRTY-SIX times! I did what the books suggested and just walked away, but it didn't stop them. (sometimes she'll STILL tantrum)
What helped her a lot with the tantrums was getting her in an isolated spot. Be it her nose in a corner or in her room until she could get herself calmed down. When she was calm, she could come out. Scolding/yelling at her only made it worse. Loud noise made her worse. So we have to keep the music/voice levels down. I'm not talking about yelling AT her, I'm talking about the general volume of the house. Some of these kids are very noise-sensitive. She still plugs her ears to do the vacuuming! She's also very sensitive to activity levels. If there's too much going on, she can't settle down to eat, sleep or study. Too much going on can be physical (herself/people/things moving around) or emotional (worry, anger, joy, excitement, etc.)
Truth is, at 18 she is STILL ODD, but she has greatly improved with age. On occasion, she can still get on her high horse and ride. She can still be terribly mouthy/rude to us, but each year, she's doing it less and less. And she's really trying hard not to act that way with her boyfriend. I hear her using good communication skills with him. So I've called her on that one. If she can use it with him, why doesn't she use it with us? It got her to stop and think. Again, she's working on it.
Kids with ADHD and ODD are: fire, ready, aim. As they get older, it becomes ready, fire, aim. Only in their late teens to early 20's do they finally get to: ready, aim, fire. In other words, they do stuff, then they think about what they were doing, and only when it's too late, do they think about whether or not they SHOULD they have done it. As they mature, they will will think about what they are doing, still do things, but then they will think about whether or not it was a good idea. It takes adulthood, coupled with some good parenting to teach them to think about what they want to do, consider whether or not it's right and THEN decide to do it (or not to do it.)
How we homeschooled? We unschooled. I tried everything else with her and nothing worked. She fought me like a tiger, there were tears on both sides, threats of public school or a spanking. Nothing worked. You cannot stuff knowledge into a kid's head, you cannot beat knowledge into them, you cannot yell and scream knowledge into them. You cannot cry knowledge into them. You cannot doom and gloom it into them.
They have got to want it AND they have got to have the switches turned on in the brain to understand what you're trying to teach them.. When they want it, NEED it AND their brains are physically ready, then and only then will they learn it and not a second before then. My babies were all premies and I'm dealing with a variety of "dyses" and learning problems with 2 of the 3 but I had to learn the hard way about wanting to do something and having to be physically ready to do it. This is with kids who have IQ's in the 130-140 range, so we're not dealing with low mental abilities. (I know their IQ's because that was one of the things that they were tested for when they were tested for all the dyses - dyscalcula, dysgraphia, dyslexia, auditory processing issues, tracking issues, ADD, ADHD, ODD, etc... that they have.)
At 3 the oldest was very verbal. She could tell me the alphabet. She could tell me the sound the letters made. Ergo, she should be able to read, yes? NO! I tried to teach her, but she just didn't "get it". So after a few short sessions, I realized she wasn't ready and put the stuff away for a year. Tried a few short session. Still not ready. Put it away again. Now she's 5 and ready for "school". Nope, still not ready. She's 6, a little more pressure on me to get her reading. After all, she's got an IQ of 130 and the other "properly schooled" kids are reading. She's still not ready, so I put it away. Now she's 7. People are beginning give me a really bad time about it! I think perhaps if I teach her to spell she can read. NOPE. How do you spell "about"...a-b-o-u-t. Good, that's right. What sounds do these letters make? (a b ow t) What's this word? (aaa bbb owww ttt) She sound it very slowly out. Until she was over 8 years old, she never could just read this word. She'd sound it out as if she'd never seen it before, even though she could quickly spell it. And it wasn't just this word. It was every word!
From the time she was 5 until she was 8, every few months I would bring out the reading and try her. I tried using the same materials, I tried a variety of different materials, I tried an older set of basal readers I was given, I tried "how to teach you child to read" books. Poor as we were (on welfare at the time and living in public housing) I scrounged up $25 a month to pay the $285 for Hooked on Phonics. NOTHING worked.
But something happened 2 weeks after her 8th birthday. I was out on the porch with her and we were looking at a kindergarten basal reader. She was very laboriously sounding out words. Then she looked up at me with a shocked look on her face, her mouth dropped open, her eyes shot big and I could see the light bulb come on. Something clicked inside her head. Then she just started reading! By the time she was 9, she was reading on grade level. By the time she was 12 she was at college level. (I let her spend every minute reading. Children's classics, abridged adult classics, junk, whatever would keep her reading. She did nothing but read all day long. She could even read the scriptures.)
Then there was spelling. Or rather not spelling. At 13 I was sure I had ruined this kid by not putting her in school. was=wuz, please=plese, what=wut. And on it went. At 15, the light clicked on again, and now she spells very well.
That brings us to math. sigh. When she was 6 I tried to teach her to count to 100 by ones. She just couldn't get it. I tried manipulatives, I tried making a flash card with 3 places cut out that I then strung 3 pieces of paper through with the numbers 0-9 on them so she could see how when she changed one number, it went up and that when you got back to 0 you had to change the next place over. I talked about how there was a law that only 0-9 could live in one house. If there were more than 9, everybody went to the next address and the first house was empty until more people moved in. Nothing worked. So I put it away. A month later, she came into my room and said "mom, I can count to 100" and proceeded to do so. Go figure!
I guess her brain just needed time to process the information and for that particular switch to turn on. It's been the pulling hen's teeth to get her to do any math. So I put it away and would bring it out again later. She still doesn't "get it" and I still can't get her to do much by way of math. She has dyscalcula - a problem processing numbers. Until this past summer, when you said "quarter of/after" she would say "oh, 25 before/after".
Even though she had worked as a waitress, when she started at the customer service desk, she had problems counting the change up at the beginning and end of the day. She also couldn't add in her head. After two month working retail, all of a sudden she can add in her head and she can go from counting quarters to dimes without it messing with her head. (mom doing happy dance!) She is very slowly building math skills, but she's still has a ways to go. However, she just bought her own math curriculum, so perhaps she'll get down to it and finally DO it! (But why do it, if your brain neither understands it or retains it?)
This is supposed to be her last year of homeschool. I've been telling her for the last 2 years, that if she can pass any ACT/SAT/GED/State Exit test on line, I'll give her a diploma. If she can't she doesn't get one. She has been reading at post collage level for years, she can keep her checkbook, make good financial decisions (her PS friends get HER to look on line for THEM to tell them what is the best deal on cell phones, or other things they want to buy), she's the customer service manager at a local department store with several hundred dollars she is responsible for maintaining. But on paper or in her head, she can't divide, she can't multiply very well, she can do some fractions (but she still has to ask me where the 1 1/4 line is on our measuring cup) really, she can't do math worth squat on paper or in her head. She's fine with a calculator. She has a very high IQ, but if she were tested on "school stuff"- on paper, she would score a lot lower that what she can actually do. This is not a problem with testing per se, she's a good test-taker, but her inability to look at a problem and being able to work it out in her head.
She needs some work on English mechanics: how to write an essay. But even at 18 getting her to do "assignments" is just this side of futile. Oh, the reason for having her past any test of the afore mentioned tests is that to get into college, she's going to have to pass their tests. She has gaps in her knowledge that I'm trying to get her to fill. These are gaps that would keep her out of college and that her friends make comments to her about, so they really need to be addressed; if for no other reason than her own self-esteem. I'd like her to go to college, but that would have to be her choice.
In the end, we provide "school" opportunities. Whether or not they avail themselves of it is their choice. This is true whether they go to public school, private school or home school.
One trick with ODD kids is to not go toe-to-toe with them. Because no matter if you win or lose the argument, you've lost. These are kids that just have to zag when everyone else is zigging. I was like that when I was younger. Life beats some of it out of you, time takes care of the rest of it. The thing is now, I can remember being like that but I don't know WHY I felt like that. Literally, if "everyone" was doing "it", I had to do something different. I wish I could remember WHY I felt compelled to be that way. And compelled is the correct word.
ODD is a weakness, but I've had to look at ODD as her strength, too. This is a kid that no one can pressure into doing something she thinks is wrong. So I've learned to go in the back door with things. I've learned to give her lots of choices. Yes, there are times that NO has to be NO. These kids are especially tough to govern. You can't EVER let No = maybe. On a good day, they will argue you to the ends of the earth, but if no ever means maybe, you're sunk!
I did have to learn to say, "This is my decision and this is what we're going to do." But that's a HUGE gun that I save for only the most critical things. (say tatoos, piercings, having you teeth cleaned, etc.) Know that the more you try to "force" them to do what's right, the more they rebel. I'm not sure about other kids, but this kid was extremely verbal at a very young age. She knew what she wanted. She knew what she didn't want. And she was willing to tell you. So the trick was to get her to "want" what you wanted for her.
I'm not into "reverse psychology". I think it rewards bad behavior. If we want them to do x and tell them NOT to do x so they will do it, we are rewarding disobedience and they will not outgrow that. Instead, we need to reason with them. Yes, it causes a lot of "discussions", seemingly about everything. But if we will talk with them before we say no, we can oft times get them to come around to our point of view. Then they don't feel like they have to stand up to us. Over time, I've found out that if I reason with her, she is more willing to do what needs to be done. (And yes, these kids do LOVE to set things up to argue about.) It's hard to know just where the line is between letting them be a law unto themselves and giving them choices. I truly think it depends on the particular moment and that particular child. I don't think there's going to be any hard and fast rules with them. Prayer is the only thing that has gotten me through all this!
These kids are "time-intensive" kids. I'm up til 3 in the morning talking with dd. It seems that between 12am and 3am is when she's most calm. It's when I get the "real" person, not the defiant one. There's a lot of counseling going on at that hour. But then, since I'm a single mom, I've got to get back up at 7 to deal with the other kids. There's no one to split the late night hours with. (Ex is as bad as a child, so he's no help! He's more defiant than she is.) It's hard to deal with the other kids in the family, but there's a great need to see that they don't slip between the cracks. My youngest has and I didn't find that out until too late. She's now living at dad's and going wild. Short of hiring a lawyer, there's nothing I can do to get her back, except pray that they all get tired of each other and she gets sent back home. But since he thinks he's found the way to get out of paying child support, that probably won't happen. So again, all I can do is pray.
Another thing is, we're all going to make mistakes. These kids just want to make every one in the book. Sometimes we have to let them. THEN, don't rub their noses in the mistake. They will kick themselves farther down the road than we would have the heart to do IF we don't say "I told you so". If we do, they they will be too busy justifying what they did and not learn from the experience.
To whit, several times I suggested to my daughter that she not get a cell phone plan just yet. She just started a new (part-time) job. She's been out of work for about 9 months, has expenses that need paying and since she's only been at the store for about 2 months now, she really needed to finish paying off some family debts before she contracted for a phone. Did she listen? NO! She did do a bunch of research on the phone and plan she wanted. Finally, this past week, she contracted with them for the phone. But, gasp, it cost more than it looked like it would. So she was short on money. (Just like mom said would happen.) Boy was she SORRY! She repeated it over and over again that she wished she had waited.
She, her boyfriend, dad and aunt were planning a road trip to go see a free "Ozfest" - Ozzie Osborne and a bunch of others of that ilk in concert. (yeah, I know, but she's 18. And dear dad was instigating this, grrrr. sigh) After buying the phone (which was more than she had thought it would be) she ran short of money. I could have "taught her a lesson". I could have said something about "telling her so". I also could have made it impossible for her to go to the concert. I did seriously considered making her pay me the gas money she owes me and missing the concert. But then I got to thinking. This young woman is usually very good about paying her debts. She's been very good about helping me out - especially since dad's not paying any support again. There have been times I've borrowed money from her. So I had a choice to make. Was it worth rubbing her nose in her mistake? Would she learn more by missing the concert because both she and the CSR for the phone company made a mistake on the bill and it cost more than she was told it would be? Or would she learn more by being treated kindly?
If this were a person who was careless about her finances and expected mom to bail her out, it wouldn't have happened. Instead, I chose to remember the times, as a mature adult, that I've made a misjudgment on my finances and someone has helped me out. Didn't I deserve to be "taught a lesson"? Yup, but, normally I'm a very responsible person. I made a mistake. And I was ever so grateful for a friend bailing me out. So I bailed my daughter out. She will pay me back with her next paycheck. She's always paid back her loans. I've always paid back my loans. It's called family. It's called love. On this particular issue, I thought that love was more important than the "financial" lesson. She already knows that one. And I never mentioned her mistake with the phone, nor will I mention it.
The best thing to do to cope with any child is love, love, love. Observe them, look deep into their eyes. Better yet, get a picture of them. The eyes are the mirror of the soul. Look and see if you see happiness their eyes. No one works well if he/she isn't happy.
Sometimes when we least deserve love is when we need it the most. Sometimes when we have least "earned" a break is when we need one the most. Sometimes when life is tough and all you're getting is an argument, stop what you're doing and go to the park, lake, wherever you can afford to go. Get away, have a picnic or light the grill and cookout on the porch. Do something different. Because the kids "deserve it"? No, because you need to break the negative cycle that's going on. Stop being "mom" and be "human". Have fun with them Do something crazy. Swim with your clothes on, lick the ice cream that's running down you hand, instead of wiping it off with a napkin. Hey, smear it on THEIR face. Just something to break the tension in you and them. Something to make each other laugh (that's not mean to or makes fun of someone else!). When you're done, EVERYONE will be in a better mood! Try to have a good belly-laugh with them every day. It makes life easier.
Have family council. Use a "talking stick". For those who don't know what I'm talking about, a talking stick is anything (use to be a carved wooden stick that the Native Americans used) that identifies who has "the floor". If you're not holding the stick, you can't talk. Everyone gets a turn with the stick, no one is allowed to hog it (including parents!). One issue at a time is talked about. (Use a pad and pen to write down other issues that they want to talk about. This way you can stay on the issue at hand, yet not forget the other issues they want to bring up.) We've used odd sticks from outside (make 'em small, no hitting with it allowed lol), a flashlight, a cardboard tube, a piece of paper, anything that the person talking can wave at those who try to interrupt. (If you have a family flag that's not too big, use that. Or make a smaller version of it.) When the person talking is done, the "stick" can be passed to the next person in the circle, the person who raises their hand first, or just put in the middle of the circle for the next person that wants it to pick up - decide ahead of time how you will do it or..... lol
We attack problems, not people. Teach the kids how to say "When this happens...., I feel....". With some of these kids, you're going to have to teach them about feelings before they can verbalize them. Yes, we all feel things, but describing how I felt was a learned task for me. I couldn't just tell someone how I felt. I still have a bit of a problem in that area. (How am I feeling now??? What do you mean, "how am I feeling now"? (puzzled face) I'm not feeling, I'm thinking!) Also telling how you feel without attacking someone else is, for many, a learned skill. All of your children may have learned these skills by watching you and your husband. But there are some kids that DON'T learn by watching. You have to instruct them, verbally. And they CAN'T tell you that they don't know how to do this. You will see it by how they act. They either come at you all claws and teeth or they bottle things until they don't care what happens and explode. In my family, I never remarried so I don't have a husband and they are too young to remember how I tried to defuse the situation before I left my ex. They have only seen how ex and his wife interact. NOT GOOD! And that I try to verbalize with them this way doesn't seem to count for much in learning how to verbalize to others. They have needed instructions from me on HOW to do this.
Raising kids is a tough job. Raising ODD/ADHD kids leaves you feeling like a complete failure - at least while your raising them. It's only now that my daughter is becoming an adult, that I can see any fruits of my labors - at all! And she still has a ways to go.
Many days I still feel like I've failed in raising my kids. I tell them NO. Dad, who lives near by, tells them yes. I try to discipline a negative behavior, he undisciplines, telling them I'm wrong. I take them to church and try to teach them to walk after the ways of Christ, he watches "the Osbornes" with them. (I called over to the other house and this vile show was on. All I could hear every few seconds was a beeping noise. I asked what the noise was and they tell me that it was the "f" word being bleeped out. They didn't bleep the rest of the nasty language out.) I tell them we aren't going to do that in this house, he says come live with him and do as you please.
I've just recently come to the conclusion that it's my job to teach them the best that I know how and to set an excellent example before them. Whether or not they learn the lessons the easy way or the hard way is up to them. ALL kids will make mistakes, ODD kids seem to make more than most. But they do seem to come out of it in the end. Just never give up on them. Love them through not doing their school work, love them through leaving your faith, love them through making bad choices, love them through being just plain rebellious. In the end, your love will be the thing that re-centers them and draws them back to their faith, helps them learn from their mistakes and brings them home to you.
Being a good mom (or dad!) is like being the man that the Lord asked to stand and push against a gigantic boulder. Day after day, the man pushed as hard as he could. Year after year he stayed on task, pushing this gigantic, immobile rock. One day, someone told him he was wasting his life and asked him why he bothered. He got nothing out of it and he was never going to be able to succeed at move that boulder.
His reply was that yes, he had gotten something out of it! The years of pushing had strengthened his muscles. His arms and legs were corded masses, he could lift anything that needed to be lifted. And as far as not succeeding, he replied that yes he was too a success. The Lord hadn't asked him to move the rock, only to push on it. He had successfully done that every day since the request was first made of him.
Sometimes our "success" isn't apparent to those looking on. They criticize our handling of our life and the lives of our children. They are just sure "if only....", then we wouldn't be having the problems we are having. But only God knows if we're doing what he put us here for, what he asked us to do. He gave each of us the children we have, knowing our weaknesses as well as theirs. Our strengths as well as theirs. He alone knows what hardships we've faced and challenges we've overcome. He alone knows what challenges and hardships our children have overcome. All we are required to do is to keep on task. Keep pushing on that immovable rock.
We are to ask for help, then listen with love to advice given us. Then with Him sort through the thoughts we have been given, seeking out what's best for our family. If we need to change something, then change it. If not, then just keep pushing! In the end we will have been a success - whether or not the world agrees.