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Oppositional Defiant Disorder: The War at Home

by James Lehman, MSW
Oppositional Defiant Disorder: The War at Home

When Hunter was a baby, Pat never imagined parenting him would mean becoming trapped in an argument that would last 15 years. From the time he was old enough to express himself, it seemed that he was looking for a fight with her.

“He’s a very strong-willed person,” says Pat, her polite demeanor belying an obvious understatement. “He’s manipulative, and he learned at a very young age how to make that work for him to get what he wanted.”

"The simplest things always seem to turn into huge problems because Hunter simply refuses to do what he is asked to do, whether it was brushing his teeth at age five, or raking the yard at age 15. The word 'no' lights his fuse, especially when in response to something he wants to do. He’s always doing these irritating things,” Pat explains, “as if he enjoys bothering you.”

Getting out of bed in the morning is the issue around which Hunter and his parents argue the most. “We’ve had the worst time in the world getting him up in the morning and into the shower. I know this is unbelievable, but he gets in the shower, stretches out in the bottom of the tub with the water beating on him, and goes back to sleep. From that moment on, we have to micromanage his morning to get him to the bus stop.”

Recently, Hunter was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Pat finally has a name for the behavior that’s been exhausting her all these years. Now, she needs a solution. How does a parent stop the arguments with a child whose primary way of communicating is arguing?

James Lehman:
A day with a child who has Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a series of battles in an undeclared war. It starts when they wake up, continues at breakfast, intensifies when they have to get dressed, and doesn’t end until they fight with you over bedtime.

Kids with ODD lose their temper quickly and often. They’re easily annoyed and frustrated by other people, resentful and hostile with adults, bossy and pushy with other kids. They blame everyone else for their difficulties and make excuses for their inability to cope. They gravitate toward negative peers and tend to be sulking, angry adolescents.

Unrestricted free time is a breeding ground for aggressive behavior for these children. In an unstructured environment, they become annoying, threatening or destructive to kids around them and to adult authority figures. They will use this time to deliberately antagonize anyone they see as “in charge.”

As a parent, you can’t satisfy a child with ODD, since their thinking is irrational. They clamor for your attention and then tell you to leave them alone. The sad truth is, kids with ODD aren’t very likeable. Parents often feel guilty about the fact that they love their kids, but don’t like being around them.

Parents get blamed for their child’s oppositional behavior and tend to heap even more blame on themselves. The parent of a child with ODD often feels incompetent and isolated. They live with the self-imposed shame that other people think they’re bad parents, and that humiliation grows larger as their world gets smaller. Left untreated, Oppositional Defiant Disorder can lead to Conduct Disorder, a more serious pathology that is a precursor for anti-social behavior and criminality.

Of course, for many parents, ODD is not the primary issue. Rather, they are dealing with continuous, low-level defiance that is not incendiary and aggressive, but is aggravating, annoying and disruptive to the family. Whether the defiance has turned into a diagnosis of ODD or has not, the parent’s approach should be the same.

How to Stop the War and Restore Peace at Home

Most parents lack the tools to deal with oppositional defiance. So they generally respond to this behavior with a range of responses that includes negotiating, bargaining, giving in, threatening and screaming. The problem is when you scream, argue or negotiate, you are giving your child’s defiance even more power.

Everyone from the school psychologist to your mother-in-law will tell you what this child needs is “structure.” But no one really shows you what kind of structure and how to put it in place. It’s not as simple as giving the child a time out. A child with ODD won’t use the time out to change his thinking. He’ll use it to plot revenge. Parents need to change their parenting style and method of operation with the child.

  • Children with ODD need structure with an aggressive training component that is built around learning how solve the problems that trigger their defiant behaviors. Your child becomes oppositional when he is confronted with a problem and he can’t figure out how to fix it. The problem can be anything from not wanting to get up in the morning (as in Hunter’s case) to not wanting to do homework. Screaming at the child to get out of bed won’t work. You need to show the child that he has a problem that has to be solved and address it as such. Example: “Lying in bed after your alarm goes off won’t solve your problem. It makes you late and you miss the bus. What can you do to solve your problem?”
  • The focus of treatment should be on developing compliance and coping skills, not primarily on self-esteem or personality. ODD is not a self-esteem issue; it’s a problem solving issue. There’s no evidence that self-esteem leads to compliance, and emotions are not, in and of themselves, a way to kids to cope with their problems. Kids get self-esteem by doing things that are hard for them. Children with ODD need a lot of strong praise and support as well as realistic rewards. They don’t benefit from a pat on the back for doing something that’s easy for them to do. They should be praised for doing things that are challenging to them. Don’t create false situations for which to praise them to make them “feel better.” Parents need to learn several different parenting styles that meet the needs of this child. You need to be less of a “cheerleader” and more of a trainer and coach.
  • Avoid senseless power struggles. Pick your battles with your child carefully and win the ones you pick. Many times you can win fights with this child by not arguing back. When you argue, his resistance gets stronger. Instead of arguing, set limits in a businesslike way and expect compliance.
  • Have a plan for managing your child’s behavior. When you’re going to the mall, know what you’ll do when he acts out in the car. It’s important to lay out the rules ahead of time, when things are calm. For instance, before you go to the mall, tell the child, “When you lose it in the car, it becomes dangerous for me and for everyone because it’s distracting. So if you lose it in the car, I’m going to pull over for five minutes, and I’m not going to talk to you. You’ll have five minutes to get your act together. If, after five minutes, you have not regained control of yourself, then we’re not going to the mall. We’re going to turn around and go home. " Have a plan you’ll use if he throws a tantrum in the store or if he acts out at a family gathering. And be willing to follow through on the plan until the child learns defiance doesn’t get him what he wants.

Parents dealing with ODD need a powerful mix of determination and strength. You can have a child with ODD and a peaceful home. The key is to decide: Are you going to change the world for your child or teach him to cope with it? It’s not practical or effective to try to change the world for your kid. But by setting limits consistently, concisely and clearly, you will teach your child to cope with the world and succeed in it.


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James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James' foremost goal was to help kids and to "empower parents."

READER'S COMMENTS

Finally someone who understands, and can relate the frustrations parents are going through

Comment By : Anonymous

This sounds like my daughter. Everything I ask her to do is met with either a "No" or negotiation about doing it. If I try to impose consequences she says she can do anything since she has "free will" which creates more tension. I'm hoping I can get some answers from the Total Transformation Program to help calm our home. I often say, "Why can't they just do what they are supposed to do!"

Comment By : Tired Mom in Michigan

I have a 16 yr old son who was diagnosed with ODD last year by a psychiatrist at UC Davis. Up to this point I just figured he was a out of control brat who needed constant supervision and control. The diagnosis met with rolled eyes, and "what that boy needs is a good spanking". In the last year I have found myself jumping through a lot of his hoops to keep the peace. My husband is wanting our son out of the house so we can have peace. I felt I had so many issues to deal with; staying out past curfew two nights in a row(it wasn't his fault) cutting class ("thats wrong I was there","the teacher is a jerk"), chores not getting done (he'll do them later)TV not off at designated time (the show wasn't over)cleaning his room (why? it just gets messy again, and its his brother's stuff), being home for dinner, no calls after 9pm, smoking, on and on. Everything is a fight. Yesterday I listened to The One Minute Transformation and the first audio CD, Then I called the parent hot line. When my son got home I sat him down in my room and calmly laid out the consequences for the curfew violation; four days grounded to be visited again on Friday. He ranted and raved, I walked away. He followed and threatened to leave anyway, calmly I told him I would call the PD and report him as a runaway as many times as it took for him to stay home. He badgered and cajoled and I walked away. In the end he stayed home~ mad & in his room but home. Additionally, I called his school and asked what the cutting policy consequences were and asked that they institute them~ he will have yard cleanup on Sat. morning. I count this as a successful resolution and feel empowered to move on with the program.

Comment By : Kathleen

My youngest will be six at the end of the month and this describes him completely. I am a good parent and feel like I parent my older(ADHD child) appropriately. I am a trained social worker and for the past four years I have repeated the same phrase, "I just don't feel equipped to deal with this one(my younger child)" I constantly feel inadequate and ineffective as a parent. My older child describes his brother in this way, "he ruins everything". Rarely do the same techniques work with my younger child, its completely frustrating. But then when he has a good day and we have not fought continuously it is so sweet.

Comment By : smplgrl

Our path to ODD began with a move in which my 7th grade daughter, now a junior in the same school system, changed from the perfect child with a mild history of social anxiety and shyness into a withdrawn and depressed young girl with times of unpredictible ODD behavior. Our move to a highly competitive, mega-school system sent her anxiety into overdrive. We did not have the parenting skills nor did she have the communication skills to effectively handle the situation. She became sad and withdrawn, grades feel, and over 8th and 9th grade we began to see a change in the type of friends she choose to hang around with. We struggled to maintain our traditional, christian family values and expectations while parenting a teen that began to disassociate herself from our family. Through grounding and taking away the phone, encouraging her to participate in anything of interest, we continued to stuggle to get her to conform to our expectations. Attend school, make good grades, be pleasant at home, choose nice freinds, make good behavior choices, set goals... be happy. Unfortunately, we didn't recognize the warning signs and only after discovering in 10th grade she tried over the counter pills (coriceden), tried alcohol (vodka), got caught sneaking out, caught but not arrested for shop-lifting did we seek help from professionals. I feel that if we had sought help earlier after seeing signs of situational depression and anxiety, we could have prevented the escalating path to ODD. In 10th grade we spent a good 6 month period with several professionals. Medication did not work since she didn't participate, however, the contract for behavior with consequenses and rewards seemed to stabalize her behavior. Now, in 11th grade, she is still depressed but is managing to attend school, pass courses, work part-time, drive, has not taken medication (legal or other), consumed alchohol, or shop-lifted. However, she still identifies with and hangs out with underachieving friends, still sees herself as the trouble maker of our family and feels like an outsider. She is still challenged every day to attend school and keep up grades. We have simply maintained a stable 9 month period. We still have not effectively addressed her situational depression with the resources available in our area. It's frankly frightning to seek help knowing it will be trial and error in finding the right fit for her needs. Since we had such a horrible experience with the medication (Lexipro - she did not participate and did not regularly take the medication). We feel we are sort of stuck between this minimum level of stablized behavior and another episode of ODD should she encounter any more stress. She was rewarded with a sleepover for the first time in 11 months and they snuck out at 3am to meet other friends at a fast food restaurant. They were caught by us parents and we handled it very calmly. She has once again lost sleepover privilidges for an undertimined time and can only drive to and from school and work for the next week. She is saying that she wants to try another depression medication that she is willing to take the medication properly. I will once again start down the path to treat the source of her ODD, depression, starting with her primary doctor, a referral to a new psy doctor and try another medication for depression. A note to other parents, if possible, recognize the behavior that lead to ODD and treat as soon as possible. Be flexible, parent the child you have - not the one you wish you had, show your love and acceptance of your child even during the crises and just keep trying... they are so worth it!

Comment By : Devoted Mom

Well my step-son is 12 and has escalated his behavior levels since he began middle school. He was diagnosed at 7, but we were already using tactics like these before that. Our greatest challenge is to get the teachers onboard. Until last year we had the best Special Ed teacher anyone could have. Since he hasn't had her, his behaviors have worsened and now middle school is hopeless. We need the school and the home to be structured the same way for him to stay stable. I'm tired of the schools not doing their job with the IEP's. They are ultimately responsible for failing him because I believe he is as good as the adults around him. I'm worn out now because he has become more hostile and more defiant and I'm afraid of this setting in. When all his environments are in control he produces 95% behaviors and more. I'm tired.

Comment By : Stepmom

I'm really scared that society today have to have a "Name" for "disorders" for children behaving negativey or not behaving at all. Why don't we call it behaving badly and tend to it. I think these articles are wonderful, until I read this one. "ODD"? Come on, let's stop the labeling and testing and "treating" these behaviors and learn to be parents. Granted, there is no"parenting 101" but we need to learn how to be the parent and train our kids in a way that let's them know we are the parents and are in control in a loving way.

Comment By : Teacher/author

* Dear Teacher/Author: Thanks for your comments. I agree wholeheartedly that diagnostic labels can be distracting, and it's very frustrating for some parents to have to deal with them. I too have concerns with labels. I personally don't believe labels have any practical function for parents except that they serve as a shorthand for describing "behavioral clusters" which a wide variety of kids can have in common, allthough they may come from very different backgrounds and cultures. Unfortunately, some parents get caught up in the "label chase" as they desperately try to figure out what's going on with their child. I always try to remember that many parents of behaviorally disordered kids are hurting: angry, frustrated and disappointed by educational and mental health systems that can label kids but can't seem to help them or their families deal with the attendant behaviors. Labels are shorthand to describe certain behaviors. Nothing more, nothing less. Don't let them offend you. As long as we can remember we're dealing with an individual person and not a label, we'll be able to stay on target. By the way, if your child is labeled, make the person making the diagnosis explain to you in plain language what the label means and what specific interventions and resources are needed to address the child, not the label. I cannot say enough about the people who are reading these articles to become better parents. Your children are lucky to have you, and I hope my thoughts and comments help you in some small way. You know, I was adopted and had a very hard time with behavior. I try to write articles in a way that my parents would have found helpful. Don't let the use of labels distract you. Thank you, James

Comment By : James Lehman, MSW

To James Lehman: Thank you for helping us in so many ways. Right now, I am referring to the points you made about the acronyms that are used to label our physical and mental health conditions. I have been bothered by the way it seems that modern medicine uses these terms as a cheap copout for a real diagnosis with an explanation to the causes. Even more troubling is when these letters (ADHD, ODD, etc.) are used as an excuse by parents or teachers to dismiss inapproprite behaviors. Your comments shed light on the purpose of these labels to quickly communicate amongst care providers what behaviors they are dealing with. How to deal with them is becoming more clear through learning all the described techniques.

Comment By : April

I have a grandson who fits the Oppositional Defiance Disorder who is 13. We realize that he is getting close to being too old for the willingness to get some help. We have been to several local professionals but we live in a rural area and do not have the most qualified resources. We have been searching for a someone who is highly qualified to give him the teaching his need. We live in La Grande, Oregon which is close to the Washington and Idaho border. We don't know where to go for help.

Comment By : D. Williams

* Dear D. Williams: The best recommendation for anyone is the old fashioned way: by asking for referrals from professionals you trust. The best place to start is your pediatrician or family physician. These professionals in your local area are in the field and should know who does a good job in the area.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

My son is 13years old he was also label as EB- emotional and behavioral problem. he wants to sneak out of the house at 1am and he attracted to negative music and violence. Has no respect for authority none what so ever. He is in tribunal for hitting a teacher. He really feels he can do anything he wants and nothing will happen to him. They label him but never tell me how to handle the problem. Right now I am a frustrated mother and I'm tired. I have been to a lot of professionals but it seems to not do any good. And I think it's because they have not been where I have been with a child and they have not been where my son have been.

Comment By : valencia frustrated and tired mom

I also have a very bright student, this student tells me all he wants from his Teachers is to be respected as a person, to listen to his ideas, comments, If a Teacher will respect him as a Person with Ideas about a different way of doing things then he gets along quite well with the Teacher and the subject to him is secondary. But, this will only happen a "perfect school". Some Teachers view his IEP as "extra work and effort" when all he needs is to sit down do what he is told and be quiet. He has told me (the Parent) that he will give the Current Teacher a Learning Period in class about him how he wants to treated in class, the way in which he will respond to the Teaching of the Subject Matter. If the Current Teacher will responds to (as he calls simple rules) then all is well for the School Term and he will proform beautifully. If these terms are not followed he will make the Current Teacher Life unbearable. Grades are a by product, consequenses and rewards have no effect. I tried to show him the consequenses and rewards from each side of each issues. He himself has to learn how to handle each issues postive or otherwise. Yes, this student will make you work each day on what ever subject you teach, but in the end the Teacher just might be a better Teacher next School Term b/c the Teacher has learned how to work with not against students with ADHD/ODD. Yes. it is very tiring to have a student with these items in their personality. But we as Parents, Teachers etc. can either choose to work with these Students so they can become productive members of society and show them proper ways to handle themselves or "just let them lose and become a drain on society". I try to work with them to see just how can they can become a postive person. A concerned person, LA

Comment By : A Parent trying to show a better way

How do we know if it is ODD or ADHD? My son has been on medicine for ADHD but when he the medicine has worn off or in the morning before the medicine, he is mean, nasty, and doesn't stop and nothing bothers him when we yell or punish. He does cry sometimes when we tell him to go to his room, but he is just defiant, mean and horrible most of the time.

Comment By : ilovemysonhelp

I do not know if my 16 year old son has this type of behavior problem but "we" have a problem. I am a single mom, dad walked out. I was having problems with my son before that as his dad was a absentee parent with his job. So, his leaving wasn't the total cause of our problems. To show you what I am dealing with, If I stopped along the road and said we were just going to be quiet for 5 minutes and if he argued with me we would not go to the mall?....He would be quiet for the 5 minutes, we would go to the mall, he would disappear. My son, is now using drugs, alcohol, doesn't come home till he feels like it, has dodged the PD numerous times when I have sent them looking for him. I am within moments of putting him into the military becasue he is going to get to a phase where I can no longer cope. He is the last of 5 children I have pretty much raised on my own. I have not had this trouble with any of my other children. He is defiant, verbally abusive, just down right ugly behavior. As far as his education goes, he had a very poor introduction into education with poor teachers in a poor system and he will forever be making up that beginning. He resents their labels and rebels. Teachers read papers from the former school and set the course for how they treat him. He has ONE teacher out of 10 that understands him. Oh, and yes my son has a high IQ. We know he has the ability. I am up this a.m. reading this, he is on spring break and did not come home until well after midnight last night, I have to go to work, he is left alone. I have pushed for him to get a job and there is always some reason why that won't work with his school schedule. He received MIP, Exhibition driving tickets so I sold his pickup his dad gave him after the 4th ticket. He knew that was the consequence. We live in a very rural area. I went to the local Dr. and was referred to a wonderful Dr. for my son. Got my son 3 appointments that he either didn't show up at or walked out on. So, where am I going to go next and what can I do to help get my son to see he is only hurting himself?

Comment By : So sad

Our 14 year old son has been ODD since the moment he was born. He is extremely difficult to deal with much of the time, but can be such a great kid when he wants. He is very intelligent and has a high IQ. I have told him that he would make a great lawyer because he loves to argue! His 17 year old brother has a completely different personality and we've never had problems with him. He too gets frustrated with his sibling's behavior. About 5 weeks ago I purchased your "Total Transformation" CD's and can already see changes in my son's behavior, as well as mine and my husband's! We still have a long way to go but I feel we are on a much better track than we were. Thank you for practical advice!

Comment By : Hopeful for a happy ending

What was the response to "ilovemysonhelp"? I too wonder whether it is ADHD or ODD or maybe it's a combination of both. My son can be very nasty before school & I've been tracking his behaviors when I think the meds are wearing off. The behavior usually begins approx. 7 or 7 1/2 hrs. after it was given which is prime homework time.

Comment By : Mother of 4 in Georgia

* Dear "ilovemysonhelp" and Mother of 4 in Georgia: It is not uncommon for ADHD and ODD to coexist. It is what the medical community refers to as “co-morbid conditions.” That’s why medication should not be used alone. All the guidelines call for a combination of medication and behavioral interventions for kids with more severe symptoms and especially in the presence of co-morbidity. Programs that provide a combination of parent education, behavior modification and cognitive behavioral therapy, including anger management, are the tools necessary to turn around the situation you described.

Comment By : Dr. Bob

Thank you for the enlightening article. Finally, someone knows what my life is like. My 14 year old has argued ever since I can remember. (He would actually refuse to sit in the time out chair and sit on the couch, or vice versa at age 2!) The shower story with Hunter is priceless. Do you have a hidden camera in my house? It is good to know that I am not alone, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there are viable solutions for success! Blessings to you for the encouragement!

Comment By : WalkingbyFaith

Our 16 yr old son has been diagnosed with ADHD and some say ODD as well. I struggle with him to take his medication (Concerta) sometimes, but he's realizing that he speaks/acts out at school and gets in trouble if he doesn't so he's learning to take it daily. I have been doing pretty much everything your program suggests and its working. His dad supports me and tries to do them as well but I am the one who almost always follows through. His dad is away training in another state for the AirForce so he is now an abscent Dad, which in a way is working well because there's no guessing game as to whether I am going to follow through with any punishment. The best was when I found out his grades had fallen below a B and his consequences were that he could not go out that night. He insisted he was going to and I laid down the rule for that as well and quit talking. He continued to inform me he was going anyways...he didn't! I win! Game set match! It was so hard to ignore his rant and rave...but I did! To all you parents trying to do it...just remember you are not their best friend...you are their parent! I also try very hard to pick my battles, so cleaning his room is not that big a deal...he lives in it and I remember when I was his age. I do make him clean it up once in a while, but its not the end of the world if he doesn't. His tombstone is not going to say, "He kept a clean room." I keep the rest of the house picked up...I just close their doors. Good luck and keep parenting!! If you're reading this website then you are doing the best thing as a parent...caring! Oh yea, and keeping him involved with his small group and small group leader is amazing!!! God is awesome!

Comment By : Parenting 101

I have a 16 year old son that suffers from ADHD/ODD/Bi-Polar. It has been a challenge and we have been seeking professional help for about 12 years. His behavior has deteriorated over the past year and we have had to seek a Rehabilitation Treatment Center to work on retraining his problem solving, anger management, and cognitive behavior skills. It has been so frustrating trying to find the right help! We are praying that this works as he was headed straight for jail! Don't give up on your children, keep fighting the battle for them seeking all avenues for help!

Comment By : Encouraging Texas Mom

I have a 16 year old with ODD/ADHD. I have been working the transformation program for the last year. The arguments have stopped but not the behaviors. He stays out to whenever he wants. He goes to school whenever he wants. He is about to be kicked out. He is drinking hard liquor and all his friends are drop outs. He has a very high I.Q but is failing almost all of his classes. We have offered him everything if he would follow the law. (includes curfew, and no drinking) and doing well in school. Nothing works. We have taken away his membership to the J.C.C and he now pays it. We took away his phone. We don't drive him anywhere. There is nothing else to take but kicking him out if doesn't comply. My husband would like to do that so the rest of the family can have peace. I'm not ready to do that. I don't think even that would make him comply. I am at a total loss. He has gone to a theapist for 2 years, he will not go to a rehab center or do anything else. Any help would be appriciated

Comment By : bhorowitz

You have no clue how good it feels to know I'm not alone in this boat. I have for ever felt guilty and sorry for my 15 year old who has pushed since she was three years old. My heart aches to know she has deprived herself of so much. All her life has been a life of being grounded and had this or that taken away due to her defiant and oppositional behavior combined with ADHD. I am trying this program but I have to admit I still lose it, I've struggled so much with her all her life, I'm pretty much burned out now, but I'm trying.

Comment By : Still trying in Texas

Response for "A Parent Trying to Show a Better Way" I think I see where your son is trying to go with his learning period for new teachers, but the language being used may be setting up a confrontational situation. From your post, it sounds like your child is telling the teacher the rules of engagement and the consequences for not playing by his rules. As a parent of a child with ODD, I understand the need to educate the teachers about common triggers to a child's outbursts, but as an educator, I won't respond well to a student who tells me how to conduct my class. I think your son might find more cooperation if he can present his needs without being condescending or threatening. Perhaps he can try something along the lines of "My favorite instructors are the one's who can _____ or who take the time to _______" as opposed to the "I need you to do ____ or I will be a difficult student." I hope your son finds he can have more than a 10% succcess rate working with teachers as oppossed to dictating to them.

Comment By : Mom of 2 ADHD kids

This comment is to Dr.Bob, My son is 7yrs old and has been diagnosed with ADHA and ODD. He is currently taking medication for ADHD, but as far as what to do about the ODD I've been told there is no medication. All I've ever wanted was to have my son seen by a good behavioral theripist. We've been to 2 different Psychiatrist and all they do is ask alot of questions and do nothing with the child. I've had enough, I need some real help. He's also had alot of problems in school, The school has started an IEP,but they look at me as if they've never delt with a child like him before. It does feel good to read these comment and know not all hope is lost.

Comment By : A Mom n Need

This has actually been a very helpful article. I also hate the fact that we seem to need a diagnosis for everything, but I also wonder if there is any help out there. My daughter was abused by her father when she was younger, but we don't talk about it in our home because we are not sure how much she actually remembers and we don't want to bring up something that she may not be ready or able to deal with. I have had problems with her for the past few years as far as anger is concerned. She would yell at me for waking her up at the time she wanted me to wake her up so I would let her sleep a little longer and then she would yell at me for not waking her up when she wanted to get up. It has been a nightmare! She wants me to spend time with her, but when I do, she reads a book or watches television and pretends I am not even there. If I have a friend over she gets mad and tells me I never spend any time with her. It can be really annoying. The last time she did this, I spoke very calmly to her and she started screaming at the top of her lungs. She told me how much she hated me and how she wished her father had killed me last year when he made and attempt to kidnap her. This went on for an hour before she finally calmed down, looked at me and told me she had to go pee. It was so bad that I called Child Protective Services myself and asked them what to do with an out of control child. Of course, they have been at my house several times for people saying that I was abusing my daughter, but when i called to find out what to do with her, nobody would return my calls. It gives me hope to think that there may be an anser to this. Thank you.

Comment By : at wits end

To "ilovemysonhelp": You do know that a lot of the ADHD medications will make any ODD behaviors worse, right? Any of the stimulants can and do make children combatative, mean, defiant, etc. My son was labeled as ADHD a few years ago. He was treated with many stimulants, all of which turned him, well, evil. He was then on a different one (non-stimulant) for about 8 months, and while the side effects were minimal, it didn't help much with his impulsivity and attention. He was later diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder and ODD. He also developed Tourette's-like symptoms. He has been in Occupational Therapy for about 7 months and it is helping. He also was put on a new medication that is actually a blood pressure medicine that has been shown to decrease symptoms of ADD, impulsivity, and tics. It has helped in a miraculous way. However, I suffer on a daily basis with his behavior. I do not attribute his, I will call them ODD behaviors, to any thing he has been labeled with. Instead, I have to find a way to get through to him. Every day I want to cry because he doesn't listen. He talks to me so rudely that I would be appalled to have anyone hear it. My other children (I have 4, he's the second in line) always complain that he ruins everything, and they're right. Anyway, the point to my post is that the ADHD/ADD medication can be exacerbating the defiance and meanness; sometimes you have to weigh that with any benefits it may be giving him. Good luck to you.

Comment By : Indianamomof4

I have ready the articles of all the mothers that have written in. I can see my 18-year old in most of the letters. My son has been diagnosed with ADHD since age 7. He has been on medication. As the years pass, he is getting much worse. I am a nurse and realize he has ADD, but he has not been diagnosed with this. From the time he gets up in the morning to whenever-if ever he comes home at night it is a constant battle. We have tried various types of punishment and nothing works. We have tried praise and rewards (although we had to search to find anything to praise him on) this did not work either. He has been to a child psychologist that we quit going to because he just wanted us to whip him. He went to a child psychiatrist who wanted us to wrap him in a blanket and take him down when he acted out. I do not and did not think physical abuse is the answer. My son is the type that would fight until he died if this type of thing was done to him. He is on concerta. We have missed much of his childhood-he will not share papers from class or anything. He is to graduate in May (I hope). His favorite retort now is that "I am 18 and I can do what I like." And he does. He has had numerous speeding tickets and wrecked a truck. He had a part-time job that he did keep for 2 years and lately walked off the job because he lied. He is a pathological liar also. One cannot believe anything he says,especially his parents and grandmother. He has defied every rule we have ever made. School has been a battle the whole time. It seems that praise is the focus of your program. This has not worked. Are there any other suggestions? And is it too late? Is he too old? Our stress level is "out the roof" most of the time any more. He is our only child and we love him more than anything. Yet, it is a relief when he stays with his girlfriend although we have taught against this. Any help please (I mean something that will really work. We have tried everything else).

Comment By : At wit's end

I am so thankful that my mom saw a television ad for you about 2yrs. ago and bought the complete program for my husband and I. We have four children and #2 abused our #3&4. He is now out of the home and finally after 3yrs. away with "treatment", he is becoming healthy. Our #3&4 are coming along with counseling and your program. It has set realistic goals for us to implement not only at home, but also with other expectations of the counselors. Our #1 got lost in the sauce for a while, but now that he is away at college, he has actually begun to see us as parents-imperfect people doing the best that we can. We have worked harder these past two years on our home relationships and learned a whole lot from your program. I believe this is a lifelong process and changes with every child. We feel so much more confident and I am not yelling half as much as I used to. I am able to actually walk away and not be upset-amazing to me. My husband and I talk about the best ways to handle situations and I have found that he is incredibly creative!Thanks for helping us be the parents we need to be-not the understanding friends who aren't the true reality our children will face in the world.

Comment By : breathing again in NC

I've been a teacher for almost 25 years, and I purchased the Total Transformation CD program a short time ago. I'm on CD #3 right now. I listen to one CD for a week before moving on. I agree whole-heartedly with James re: 'accountability'. I also agree with the concept of having a plan - "What am I going to do when such-and-such happens?" I have seen more parents this year than ever before who need this program. Too much of the time, the kids are running the homes instead of the parents!

Comment By : Kevin

I never knew there were parents out there going through the EXACT same thing with their kids and I am with mine. These articles have been such a help to me!

Comment By : cant giveupmom

I am a grandmother/mother of a wonderful 13 year old boy. He has had some of the same problems everyone else is talking about. Argueing, telling me he hates me when he doesn't get his way, trouble in school. I have been taking him to a concelor for 1 year now and we have made some progress but i want to tell you that it is US the parents that have to make the change. We have to be firm and consisitant, not to give in. They know we already love them, that is why they keep acting the way they do, because we let them. In a fact I think we love our kids too much these days. We fill sorry for them, we want the best of this world for them at any expense. I have also noted that we have been attending church on wednesday nights and he enjoys going there. We haven't made it to church on a regular basic for sunday morning but I think we should start, it only helps us as parents stay strong.

Comment By : robin42305

My 17 year old son has been in counseling for the past year and nothing has helped. After reading this I know he has opd, probably closer to the anti-social/criminality behaviors at this point. In the past year he has been on probation and the outreach program for the past 8 months, yet he continues to break the law, ignor probation rules and acts as if the court and me are in the wrong for making him "suffer". Nothing is his fault, his behavior at home is violent and he is verbally abuse. He has punched holes in walls and windows, broken furniture, etc. His current doctor continues to tell me my son just has a severe case of adolescence, and this is insanity. Now that I have read this and the comments, I am armed with the needed information to screen for better doctors. I don't want to lose my son, to foster care or to juvneile detention, I love him with all my heart, but he is destroying himself and me. Thank you for this information, I now have a sense of what's been going on with himw.

Comment By : kathleen

MY heart goes out to each one of you in your situations with your children,teens,adult children it is a tough row to hoe. I have a son that was diagnosed at age 15 with ODD after he kept saying he was going to committ suicide. His saving grace has been AA twelve steps.He is a leader in it now and it has really helped him see what he has done to his life as well as others. He is a kinder person at 30 now.

Comment By : knggrc@aol.com

My heart truly goes out to each and every one of you that is dealing with a child with any of these "labels". I am certainly not a fan of the labels but have found that they do help in some ways to get access to the professionals and services they need. We do work very hard to NEVER have them used as a crutch or an excuse for behaviours. There have been issues with my 14 year old stepson (I use that word for clarity purposes only as I truly think of him as my SON not a stepchild) for as long as I have known him which is over 10 years now. We tried repeatedly to get some help from the "system" and have met so many roadblocks in services and people along the way. We tried to have him assessed for ODD/CD when he was 10 but were told his behaviours were not severe enough then to fit the criteria. I have worked very hard to get over my anger regarding this as I wonder how much we could have avoided by earlier intervention. He had to be removed from our home in January 2006 due to safety issues for our other children (we have 5 in total... 2 of his, 2 of mine, and 1 of ours). It was a very difficult thing even though he had been removed for short periods (5-10 days) twice before. We had a custody agreement, then a temporary guardianship agreement with Social Services (we live in Canada so that is how the system works here). We then were at a point of having to give over to permanent guardianship which would essentially mean he becomes a ward of the court being raised by the system. We just did'nt have the heart to do this as it is a system we have very little faith in with our experience of it over the past few years. All this while our son was being defiant in the group home, running away, being abusive to property and other people, missing school and a whole host of other behaviours. Still we laid it on the line at a counselling appointment... the first he had shown up at in over 3 months and said we wanted to go to bat to have him home. He stepped up his part and we went to court and refused to sign the guardianship papers. He is now at home and things are certainly not a bed of roses but I can tell he is trying so I work very hard to notice the positive points whenever possible. He was kept under temporary guardianship by the judge and it will be reviewed in 3 months and then we will see if we have him back permanently. He knows this and I think it is a good motivator for him. We have had issues with other kids as well and I sometimes wonder if it wasn't precipitated by all the stess and chaos in our home and most of our energies being devoted to our "problem child". Our 17 year old daughter has moved out and in and out... so we have now closed the revolving door. Our other 14 year old (my biological son) has had some issues this last year as well and since my stepson has been home we have had 2 instances of the 2 of them ganging up on the parents. We have informed them that if this escalates it will end with a call to 911 and are fully prepared to do that. There are positives though and we do deeply love all of our kids so will keep working on this. My advice to anyone would be you still need to look after yourself or you are no good to anyone. Seek out a parent support group in your area... I have been attending one for almost 2 years and it has sure helped me keep my sanity knowing we are not alone and having that support. Keep learning and contacting agencies... you never know when you will find the right person or "fit" for your situation. Keep notes so you have something to go back on if you ever need it... with mine I may write a book one day!!! Don't give up and don't excuse unacceptable behaviour. YOU have the right to set the limits as to what you will tolerate in your own home! Reach out to crisis lines they can be very useful in stressful times. Only give consequences you know you can follow through on or these kids will believe that you will follow through on nothing and the escalation continues. If you live in Canada, or Calgary in particular ask for more specifics from me... believe me I have talked to hundreds of people I'm sure since all of this has begun and am so willing to pass on anything that may help another. I wish you all the best. Don't give up ... these kids can make positive changes.

Comment By : Shawn in Calgary

My 13 year old son was diagnosed ADHD 6 years ago, he has been on meds since then. Within the last year his defiant behavior had worsened.From getting him to do his homework to getting him out of bed in the morning. Every thing is a battle! I have been implementing the total transformation plan and we have small successes. I am very hopeful. I know it is also up to me to continue to follow through with the program. Thank you so much for the helpful information.

Comment By : hopefulin fresno

I have an 8 year old son who was diagnosed with ADHD last year. He has been on several stimulant medications and it has drastically improved his ability to concentrate and stay on task at school. His defiance is over the top, although he hasn't been officially diagnosed with ODD. Everything is a battle with him and nothing is easy. He hits and kicks (us and the wall) in his rages. I wouldn't know what to do if I asked him to do something and actually did it without a fight. I was wondering if any other parents of these difficult children have noticed that the behavior is 10 times worse at home. For the most part, my son acts like an angel in front of other people. At home anything goes.

Comment By : Worn Out Mom

This has been very helpful! I'm a single mother & I've been dealing with my daughter's ODD for the past 6 years. I put her in counseling at the age of 3. When she was very, very young, I knew there was something different about her. She would get mean, nasty, irate, argumentative, etc. at the drop of a hat. At age 3, they diagnosed her with an extreme case of ODD. I'm having a hard time moving past blaming myself for this. I went through a very bad divorce when she was about about 1-1/2 to 2 years old & have blamed myself for causing these problems with her. They told me back then that there is no medication to control her ODD problem. We've gone through behavior management with a 2nd counselor, but things have gradually gotten worse. Luckily, my parents are very helpful to me -- especially when I'm at my wit's end. Mornings are especially horrible. My daughter is now 9 & I've got to have her in the bed by about 8:30 pm at the very latest or you can't even stand to be in the same room with her the next day. I know she's slept, but she acts like she's still very tired when she gets up. Does anyone know -- can ODD be tied back to sleep issues? I saw that others are having issues in the mornings also & was just curious.

Comment By : Chris -- OHIO

My children are grown now, and I wish that I had the parenting skills expressed by this article. I intend to learn all I can now to help with grandchildren, and break the legacy of parental mistakes. billhalle@bresnan.net

Comment By : Bill Halle

My husband and I have been wondering what was going on with our so since the time of birth. He has always been "difficult". All I can say is that parents of these children know in their heart that something is wrong, but can't put their finger on it. I won't even go into all the things he has done, but anyone of these parents probably already know. He has not been diagnosed with ODD, but when I have been researchong the internet, and he sounds so typical. My son is very social however, and his behavior at school is pretty good. His biggest problem is at home. It is a constant battleground and very disruptive to our family and his siblings. I know some parents may think this is just normal teen behavior, but if you actually have a child like this, you know this goes way beyond the norm. He is 13 by the way.

Comment By : Mother looking for answers

To those parents, G-parents, any authority figures, ODD kids are MESS at best. They are the one's who make you want to carry out the response of "You are driving me to drink!!!", of course my kids reply with, "So drink, Already!!!". They show us we can't win for loosing. All 3 of my kids have varying degrees of ODD,(in addition #1 (13G) &3(9B) are ADHD, #2(11G) is HD). I swear #1 has been “PMSing” since she was 2, and #3 has always had to be tough, being the littlest with 2 older strong willed sisters. And #2 with her HD(non-diagnosed) acted out, just to get the attention she felt she wasn't getting. Having grown up an only kid, I was clueless about sibling rivalry, and add ADHD & HD to boot; I was NOT prepared to deal with this type of family life and I have been drowning for years. I found that the Meds and counseling have had only limited success, and other parenting programs didn’t fully meet my needs, or teach me the how and why this was happening to my family. 2 years ago, my mother-in-law sent me an ad she saw in the paper. Boy did it ever sound like my kids. I ordered it & loved it right off the bat. But stupid me didn't follow thru like I should have. Recently I've been re-listening to the series, one CD at a time. child #2 is already doing better. (and she's my most ODD kid, talk about a will of steel, hers is tougher than Superman's)last night (Wed) she started to talk to me without hurting my eardrums, and using polite language. This is after I consequenced her (on Monday) with taking away items very special to her, (she accused me of stealing, I got up to 3) and told her once she demonstrates [for a week] respectful behavior to me she'll earn her items back. And when she starts to falter I remind her I can add more items to the confiscation list. (Because she is the one missing them, NOT ME!) I'm trying REAL HARD, to focus on the big picture. Teach my kids problem solving skills that have a better chance of helping them make it in the real world. I know all of you feel alone; I often do. WE ALL have this picture that no one else in our neighborhoods or kids’ school has kids as defiant as ours. Not true! Share your CDs with them and the teachers. Someone will GET IT. And can be your ally. Use the effective parenting techniques Jim teaches. And the consequence DVD is helpful, too. I'm starting to GET that I'll never be the perfect mother, and my kids will never be my dreamed up version of ideal kids. But, I CAN change how I respond to them, and induce responses which are appropriate and not disrespectful or obnoxious. I can’t wait to get back some of what we’ve lost, get togethers with friends and family members, vacations and family trips.

Comment By : ADDMomOf3in Tx

I read the post by Still Trying in Texas and thought how it could have been written by me. I have a 15 year old daughter where everything is a battle and I find myself thinking how I have never found enjoyment in being her parent. I try to focus on the positives - she isn't doing drugs, isn't having sex (or at least I don't think so), isn't shoplifting or stealing, is going to school everyday - and sometimes that is enough to get me through the day. But most days it isn't, I second guess myself, my husband and I fight often on how to deal with her and her 12 year old sister is now threatening to kill herself because as our therapist says she is jealous of the time I spend with my 15 year old, even though most of that is arguing. Parenting her is exhausting. I try to do fun things with her such as go to the nail salon or clothes shopping but she always does or says something to ruin the experience such as complaining that I am cheap. Most of our problems now are because she has gotten in with a crowd of kids whose parents let them do whatever they want. They see no problem with the kids partying in the woods around a campfire all night long and when I tell her she can't hang out with these kids WE turn out to be the mean parents. I have listened to all the tapes and listen to them constantly as reinforcement. They have proven to be a tremendous help but we still have a long way to go. People tell me it gets better but most people aren't dealing with the issues we are dealing with. Reading these articles and peoples' comments prove to me there ARE other parents dealing with the same issues and knowing you are not alone is a great help. Sometimes I am so tired I just want to give up but then I realize she is our daughter and we can't give up on her.

Comment By : bischmd

It's nice to here I'm not alone .I've received my cd's and have listened to the first one and have started to apply the methods.I am starting to see some results,and I feel so blessed. There is hope for better days. Thank You

Comment By : Page

Parenting a child with ODD is exhausting. Trying to get my son up in the morning, I am on defense. He will usually hit, kick and throw things at me. How do I get that to stop? One day he punched me in the face. He will be 13 in Aug. He is getting bigger and we need peace. I did order the total transf. program, I am hoping there will be something I can work with in there.

Comment By : Tra

I'm a single parent of two teenagers my daughter 18 and my son 14. My son was diagnosed with both ADHD and ODD. He has been on medications for this since the first grade and counseling. He is very smart,very funny,athletic,loves to play the guitar. I love him very much.He is also very angry,verbally abusive to myself and sometimes teachers,does not bring homework home.has had Saturday school for fighting,cursing at the teacher or another student,being disruptive in class,it's always something! He is very manipulative. Example:I have changed my work schedule around so that I'm home when he is and I can keep him out of trouble. However, since this change he has had several excuses why he has missed the bus and walked to a friends,which means since we live in a rural area ,I need to go get him. If I have something planned after work especially because he knows I wouldn't be able to pick him up til later. and of course the friends parents are still at work most of the time. He struggles with grades,we will have to re-take most of his classes next year. I don't think passing grades is a lot to ask for.I don't ask for straight A's or B's. He is rewarded when grades are good,he does okay at school but will not do home work at home.I have him in a 504 program, he is suppose to use a planner but I never see it and of course being in high school they will not enforce it either.This has all increased since puberty and the sudden passing of his father in 2006. We were attending counseling but he refuses to go! Short of physically trying to get him to go...I don't know what else to do.He has he still will through tantrums on occasion puts his hands to his head and will breath heavily sometimes kneeling to the floor. he has blocked me from leaving the house pushed my had from the door,picked me up and moved me away from he door. I have had to go looking for him because he has not come home from school or called til after dark.Then he is angry because I wouldn't let him stay the night. He has punched holes in our walls, dented our vehicles from hitting them.I had to take my truck in because he was hitting the dash and broke off the cover to the airbag and was lucky it didn't deploy! at this point I drove him to the police station in town, as I pulled in he jumped out of the truck still moving the officer came out seeing this and talked to me about it.and tried the scared straight thing. He was good for a while but I feel it slipping away more. he is very opinionated and also desprate to do anything for friendships which worries me. It's exhausting! My daughter also has her problems with this,a he of course because of all the turmoil gets pushed in the corner at times.She is graduating which means a lot of attention is on her,and I think this is why he is in more trouble everyday it seems. He keeps saying you learn all you need to know in school by 8th grade so whats the point in going after that?He's changed his style of clothes,music. I do keep in touch with the parents of his friends,I'm sure at times for them annoying.

Comment By : momatwar

I am in the same circumstances as all the another parents i have a 17 year old son that's in the 11th grade that has no drive to be sucessful. He currently still attends school be he always miss the first period class. I recently learn he has been missing all class i have used disciplinary techniques sucht taking his phone away, cannot have company over, no internet, no cable tv, ect the list goes on i asked him what is going on with him why does he feel this way, he states he doesnot care and he does not know he feels like this. He feels this is the way he is and nothing going to change it. He knowns the consequeses of not graduating. I have ask him at least do the minium of at least getting c's he doesn't even try to keep up his homework to follow through with completing some of the easiest homework he wants to be secretive about his life when as a question he does not want to give a complete answer. I have to fight constantly to the simpliest chores around the house sometime one task aday like empty the trash, vacum the living room floor, can you do aload of towels clean his bathroom once a week, he looks at this a beening a slave around the house. Usual it's trash he has create and he does want to pick-up after himself, states why clean the room it's only get back dirty, why make the bed?,I'm going to be get back in it. Ican identify with all the parents that have posted here, we fears when we take our child to psychologist are the going to get to the battom to find out why are children are acting like this even with supervision, displinary actions give all are to no vail, even my son says it's just label they want to give you, and it's not allowing them to be who they are really are.I must say schools are changing enough with learning ablilties,and different styles of teaching,i think more schools need to be built with that process in mind, because not everybody learns in the traditional schools the have in place now. If such schools were built more kids would stay in school. I did happen to stumple on a web site call Amen.com it's not religous site but it a place that can test your brain to see what is going on with kids and adults with psychological problems,with this the can better prescribe the proper medication, or the right medication that will work better with that part of the brain that might be showing some abnormalities, that be causing the behaviors that are beening exhibited.So if you go to this web site i hope this can be helpful rather than going from dr to dr .

Comment By : we are all in this together

wow, it's really so nice to see all the moms here who know what i'm talking about! this article has given me a new perspective on something i saw coming for months. he gets it from me, i was the exact same child. after reading the article i now feel relieved because i will be able to practice an approach to parenting my 3-year old, defiant, free-thinking, non-pushover, hardcore Obama supporting, lovable, huggable, adorable toddler who will come to realize the negative aspect of this behavior much sooner than his own mother realized and understood her own mind. Thank you Dr. Lehman. you have changed my life, and made a life that i could never have given my children without the wisdom you have so graciously shared with us all. ;)

Comment By : twintuitive

Well, my daughter is 7. She's extremely intelligent, and very defiant. A very normal evening consists of me asking her to get ready for bed, or pick up her toys, or come to the dinner table, or anything, and her response is "Ok, I'm just going to (fill in the blank) first." This doesn't sound so bad, but it's with everything I ask. Then she ignores me if I tell her to do it again. She will even get a nasty attitude and scream and yell if I tell her it needs to be done now. She's a perfect child at school. Never been in any trouble. I can't seem to get her to do anything, even the things that she knows she should, if I mention it, she refuses. Her father and I split up when she was 18 months old, but have remained friends and have a wonderful relationship. We have both since remarried and each have a second child. She loves her little sister on her father's side, but the one she lives with, she treats horribly. She's only 16 months old and the my daughter will push her and pull her and pick her up despite all of our explaining that she will hurt her sister. I don't think this is ODD, but could her high IQ have something to do with her behavior? She's 7 emotionally, but mentally, she's much older and capable of understanding things normal 7 year olds don't even notice. What can I do to get my sweet little princess back?

Comment By : Missing My Princess

I am a step father to 3 girls and natural father to another. My wife's girls come from a father of questionable pedigree and thankfully he is not involved in their lives. Our (I call them "our" because we don't differentiate between yours and mine) oldest was diagnosed with ADD at age 10 (she is now 11) and is now doing much better in school. Our 7 year old (her middle child) is the most challenging, defiant, disrespectful and immature child I have ever known. She was diagnosed with ODD earlier in the year however my wife is not too keen on medicating kids based on behavior issues alone. This child does well academically but when it comes to the rest of life it's one of those things where you want to look at her, cock your head and say "really?!?". Tantrums are the order of the day - and over incredibly insignificant things. You'd think she just witnessed a murder or something based on the severity of her reaction to something so innocuous as someone touching her lunch bag. She cannot be trusted to be truthful - this has been proven through her actions. She cannot be trusted to follow instructions at all. She always has to put her personal touch on things. It's like she's in her own little dream world - completely physically unaware of what's around her and has no concept of what other people expect of her. Walking into people on a sidewalk is not at all uncommon - she doesn't pay attention (or isn't caring). It's really all very unclear. As I said we did try her on medication - an anti-psychotic I believe - for a week or so with no results. We were told it would take time but as I said my wife as much as I love her won't medicate unless it affects school and learning. We say immediate results with the Adderal our oldest takes - within an hour of the first instance of medication. I know we were both hoping for a magic pill for this instance and I understand that's not always going to be the case. What are peoples' experiences been with medication? Did it meet your hopes and expectations? We can't continue to live our lives as we are and having one child who focuses so much attention away from the rest of the family. She will not survive in the world as a whole if this continues.

Comment By : odd daughter

My 14 year old son has shown defiance and frustrated/angry behavior for awhile,I was told just a couple months ago that he had reading problems in his old school when he lived with his dad(he has been living with me for 1 1/2 years now, my son has been rude to his teachers, acted out in anger(verbally) etc and has been suspended a couple times because of it,I requested my son be tested for learning disabilities, behavior disorders etc and the school is almost done with the testing, I will have a meeting with them in less than two weeks to find out what the testing has discovered. it seems that my son's behavior is worse in school and around his dad, and not that bad around me, my ex thinks I'm having our son tested as a cop-out and that I can't handle or raise him right, I feel I had every right to have my son tested to see if he has any weaknesses in his academics and learning . I honestly have seen some signs in his understanding with his homework and how he cooperates in school. I feel he should have been tested years ago when he lived with his dad, but his dad thinks he is smart and doesn't have a problem. I struggle every day 100% helping my son get his homework done, to listen, to concentrate etc and I honestly feel that I'm getting kicked in the face because my son shows this behavior.Why is a parent treated like dirt because their child is acting out?, especially a single mom treated like she is dirt from the school because her child is acting like this?

Comment By : spiritualmom

It is nice to know that I am not an island unto myself. I have a 15 year old son who has been diagnosed with ADD and ODD. I have had issues since he was able to talk and walk. He chronically lies (about what he does and about himself to us and his peers), steals, is verbally abusive, disrespectful to all authority figures, argumentative, impulsive, and disruptive. I was a single parent with little to no involvement from his father until 4 years ago. 2 years ago my son decided to live with his father due to his impending transfer to an alternative school, from his behavior at school. After 2 months at his fathers he was transfered to an alternative school but has been able to remain at his H.S. with 2 week long suspensions at the alternative school. Things have been stable with litle increase in intesity with his behavior until lately (last 6-9 months). He will now run away when he does not get his way, skipped school and refused to do his detentions, started smoking cigarettes and marijuana, drinks alcohol, and today decided he would not attend his last day of school and thus effectively failing the 9th grade. His father has now filed a case with the juvenile court to make him a "child that is not disciplinable" and a judge will determine the limits of behavior with punishment in juvenile detention. He has decided that he is not going to contact me this time even though he desperately wanted to live with me again. I guess he is just having too much fun. I purchased the program in hopes of helping my son succeed. My definition of success has changed from college graduate and successful career person to graduate high school and stay out of prison. If we get to a diploma with no arrests I will be a happy mom. Wow....that sounds horrible but it is so very true. I pray that each and every parent that is experiencing a child such as mine will have success! I know I have everyone praying for my son and our family!

Comment By : Deb

I'm so grateful to have read all these comments! My 13 yr. old grandson lives with us and has ODD. He does better with us than when he is home with his mom, step-dad and siblings. We have a wonderful councellor who has helped us deal with all of the "melt downs" defiant behavior etc. I truly thought I was alone in dealing with this kind of child..until I got on this website that my sister in-law sent to me! I am tired and just wanted to be the "grandma" but now feel like I CAN do this program! My grandson IS worth it!!!And with God's help and the encouragement of others going through this same ordeal I have a renewed sense of direction and purpose.

Comment By : grateful grandma

My husband and I have 3 boys (9, 11, and 14). Our middle child was diagnosed with ADHD when he was about 5 and with ODD about2 years ago. I was so relieved there was a name for how he was acting! Our ADHD/ODD son can be the most helpful, sweetest kid when he wants to, but if he hasn't taken his med, we're all in for a long day or at least until his meds kick in. My other 2 boys are constantly saying their brother ruins everything and also gets away with everything. This is not true because our ADHD/ODD son is in time out, or grounded, or dealing with other repercussions of his behavior all the time when his brothers are not. It is exhausting and I'll admit my husband and I ignore some of the bad behavior because sometimes it's easier to just let him get away with something even when we know this is only confirming his behavior. This child is also a habitual liar. About EVERYTHING regardless of how big or small or even being caught red-handed in a lie! I'm very worried about the upcoming years. He lies about tiny, unimportant things and I can't get through to him that he won't be in trouble for telling the truth, especially when it's a lie about very trivial things. I'm also concerned about his social status at school. I volunteer once a week and I see him talk out in class and try to be "the boss" at gametime or group activities. He has very few friends and doesn't believe that his behavior has anything to do with it. I am more concerned about his behavior (the lying) than my husband is and I try to express my concerns for getting to the truth about something and making the guilty party accountable for his actions/words, but I just end up getting frustrated and feeling like my husband thinks I'm trying to find ways to punish our son. I am somewhat controlling, but I also feel he should be accountable for even small things to help him understand that it is not acceptable. We've taken our son to counseling several times, but on the car ride over he ays "You're just wasting your money. I know what to tell the doctor". He has it all figured out. There are days when I put myself in time out! I love all 3 of our boys and try to make things equal between everyone, but sometimes the oldest and youngest get the "raw end of the deal" when we are trying to deal with their brother's actions and feel like we are favoring him. Each day seems to get harder and scarier and he'll be in Junior high next year (2009) and I'm scared to death that if we don't get ahold on him that he'll be out of control and always in trouble at school. I know how it feels to love your children, but not want to be around them sometimes and it breaks my heart. I don't have the teaching skills I need to help him and we ordered your program and everything made perfect sense, but I can't make MYSELF follow the program due to my anxiety issues. Is there hope for us?

Comment By : my 3 sons

I thought I was the only parent with this problem. I did not know this was a disorder. At 6 months old we noticed our daughter was stuburn and defiant and later very disrespectful to us. She is now 11 and I was wondering where did I go wrong. She is the youngest of 4 children. None of the others were like this. Don't get me wrong, they all had their "moments" but I am worried this will affect her when she is older. How does this affect them in getting a job or with a family of their own. She is great in school. All the teachers love her and she is an A/B student. This makes me think it is me that has the problem and not her.

Comment By : broklyn27

I have a 16 y/o son. The behaviours sound so familiar. We have done the counselor and meds (concerta). I am tired and embarrassed. I get angry, yell, name call even at times. So we need help. I am new to this site and plan to purchase Total Tranformations. I am willing to learn and try to improve our lives. I want him to grow up and be happy, safe and successful. He is so self destructive.

Comment By : tired mom

"You need to be less of a “cheerleader” and more of a trainer and coach" That is one powerful sentence. You really have some incredible insight and advice. Thank You :)

Comment By : M C W

Remember the story of the Little Girl with the Curl right in the middle of her forehead? When she was good she was really really good but when she was bad she was "HORRID"? Well, that is my 5 yo granddaughter and probably most of these children with ODD. I do feel better knowing that we are not alone even though I wish there was no such thing. I love all my grandchildren dearly but sometimes I just don't like them very much. We haven't had our little one diagnosed but after all the reading and studying, I am sure she has ODD. She was different from the beginning. Not sure if it happened because her mother is severe bipolar or because mother had shock treatment when pregnant with her but our most beautiful child can be a Princess one second and an Evil Witch the next. We have learned how to control it at home with the Princess and the Witch. She knows her grandmother does not LIKE the Witch (she does love her but doesn't like her) and that the Witch's sugar is NOT sweet, it is sour. We play the game till the Princess comes back. Sometimes it takes only a few minutes and other times she goes to sleep the Witch and wakes the Princess. She used to always wake up the Witch but we are doing much better. Sometimes getting clothes picked out brings the Witch back really fast though. Unfortunately she isn't doing as well in school. The first month of school the teachers did not understand why we warned them about her, lol. Now they know! Of course the teachers do not have the time to deal with her one on one like I do. She comes from a single parent home, they live with their dad who is in the Navy and there have been a lot of changes (too much to go into here). Her sister makes remarks like everything was wonderful until her sister and brother came along, lol. All I want is for my Princess to stay with us most of the time. Would love to find a support group here in town to go to.

Comment By : mrshonesty

Your program helped me tremendously-I wish I had found it sooner. I have 5 children. The 2 who had a hard time in adolescence are growing up and learning what works for them to attain goals-slowly.

Comment By : MomD

Hunter sounds like my son (who's half his age) right down to the 'getting in the tub and falling asleep with the water running over him' bit. The comment above by a teacher that these are just kids behaving badly who need better parenting, is also a typical reaction to my boy. We have reached the point of virtual social isolation. Even he prefers to bury himself in one or two preferred solitary activities than having to deal with the constant scolding. He longs for friends but seems unwilling to learn the social skills we try to teach. One of his hobbies has become pretty much an obsession and is the source of most of our conflicts because he doesn't want to stop to do anything else. Homework and bedtime are the biggest battles. Mornings I've kind of mastered, because I just lead him around from one thing to the next; awake or asleep - it doesn't much matter to me! Many days we don't get to do anything fun because all the time is taken up fighting over basics such as meals, homework, showers etc. I have no idea how a schedule helps ODD parents because it has never helped mine other than to serve as a focus of conflict. Family meetings do help but the effect of the rewards/consequences we discuss is limited. That's simply because the most meaningful reward/consequence for this little boy is getting/not getting his own way. Nothing else even seems to come close to being meaningful and that makes parenting a nearly-impossible task. I could take away or grant every coveted possession or every beloved activity - all that would do is make him happier or angrier; it just doesn't seem to translate into actual positive behavior changes. Praise affects his mood, but also has little effect on actual behavior. It sometimes seems to me that when he achieves something positive, it must have taken some Herculean effort, because once he gets praised he seems to relax his guard and fall right back into the cycle of 'resist-fight-fight some more'. Strangely enough, some days he'll be an absolute angel. I still haven't figured out why or what other than God's grace is responsible for the occasional perfect day (usually either at school or at home, rarely both places on the same day). For those who think ODD is simply a label for kids who lack good parenting: all I can say is, I used to think that too until my son came along to teach me otherwise.

Comment By : nomama

What can be done with a 17 yr old with this situation? My son fits a lot of this description...it took us probably 4 years when he was little to get him to brush his teeth without an argument every night about it. That pattern remains. He isn't interested in anything but TV, computer games, and his cell phone. Well, he has a new girlfriend, but she's not a positive influence. He's become more secretive, more withdrawn from our family, and he's become a liar, which is something new...even when he was at his worst, he was honest with us. Now, not so much. I took away his cellphone last night. He won't follow the rules on bedtime, and texting (we just don't allow it because of cost, and he has no job, so he can't pay for it). We got hm a phone so we could keep in touch as a family...but for him, it's a right, I guess. He sits us down like he's the parent, and tells us what we need to think about...plays games with us. Wants us to tell him what we think we should do about the situation we have at home, so he can then figure out a "solution". Last night, I had enough, and took his phone, which in anger he threw on the floor. I just don't know how to address this whole thing. Adding structure? It's never worked in the past...and any structure we have added has always ended up being just TOO much to maintain. It lasts for a month, or maybe 2, but after that amount of daily arguing...and I mean daily, how can you keep on at that level? Every day...the same issues. If we were to ground him for every offence, he'd never leave the home. I am convinced that he'd just never have an opportunity to see anything but our 4 walls...because he just never stops. I'm at a loss. I don't see hope anywhere.

Comment By : nightowl

I have an 8 yr old son who has ADHD and severe ODD. Right now he is in residential treatment because he is trying to be the parent to me, the single mom and he refuses to do any school work. The school district has placed him in the highest level behaviour class besides a section 23 and I am wondering if anyone has any reccomendations to help me get him to do his school work. Besides that I am not allowed to have anyone in the home, not even his godmother whom he loves and plays at her home. Any suggestions will be helpful.

Comment By : Struggilin' MOM

I have a son who is now 7 years old. He has been acting out in school and I have talked to him. He had a half sister and I became friends with her mother so we could get the kids together and play when my son was staring pre-school. We got a call and his sister passed away and my son has been acting out since then. I didn't put the connection together but this year he is in 2nd grade and the behavior was worse. finally after trying to find the sorce of the problem he was crying to me that he missed being a big brother and missed his sister. he said he told kids in school that he had a sister and she died and the kids called him a lier and he doesn't have a sister. I thought he was too young to realize what had happened, now he is afraid I am going to die ( which I was told recently I could have cancer). He only sees his dad every other weekend and he is for some reason afraid that when he turns 10 his dad is going to get "jabbed." I don't know about his dad because of the crowd he is around. he has supervised visits with the grandmother. but I know I am doing everything possible to help my self and I know I am going to live a long life. but how do I help my son with his behavior problem. he gets along great with his soon to be step dad who has been around most of his life and we have a great home environment. but his recent event at school was running outside without an adult and almost getting hit by a bus. what can I do??

Comment By : how to get your child to cope with death

* Response to: How to get your child to cope with death: I’m so sorry to hear about the loss in your family. The grieving process can be different, long term, and cyclical, in that it will come up again with each new developmental stage for your child. Encourage his expressions and questions. Provide your time and attention for these discussions. Answer his questions, if you can. “I don’t know” is a reasonable answer sometimes. Be literal. Kids his age don’t do well with euphemisms, such as “She won’t wake up again.” Try not to overload him with explanations but answer only the questions he asks. He may ask the same question over and over again. This is normal. He could feel all sorts of emotions—-even anger at his sister for dying. Respect and accept all those feelings he expresses. All natural feelings are part of the healing process in grieving. Besides talking about his feelings, it is helpful for some children to have physical outlets, such as drawing, clay, ripping old magazines or phone books, or running, jumping or moving about while talking about their feelings. Don’t require that they sit quietly to discuss these things. A death can cause feelings of being out of control. Offer him lots of opportunities to make decisions and his own choices. Family routines help assure a feeling of control. Regular meal times, bedtimes, etc. Since your son is telling you about some problems with peers at school, be sure to let his teacher know about the family’s loss. Find out of there is a group for grieving children offered at his school or in your community and have him join it.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

OMG,I am so happy to have found this Webpage. My 9 yr. old son is a middle child (between 2 girls) and hearing impaired. For years I have been going to sleep wondering what I can do to "fix" our homelife. My ex would never talk to me about different approaches to helping our son and inevitably, our relationship deteriorated.I was always wrong,didn't know what I was talking about, accused of being in a bad mood (in front of the children),and my feelings being dismissed by other rude comments like, "maybe you need some medication!" when my oldest daugher was constantly getting yelled at by her father, for my son's behavior, i decided, I had enough. Year after year, I have asked the school if they've noticed behavior typical of ADD or ADHD and the results were always the same. no, his hearing impairment may be the cause at home. I do not want to blame all of this on his hearing and make those excuses all of the time. His behavior towards his siblings and peers are unacceptable and I need some answers. I love my son so very much and I cry when I think of what he could become if I don't help him now. Out of nowhere he'll come up with a rude remark or some other rude gesture to stir up trouble. He has no friends because when he horses around, he gets out of control and hurts them. I've told him, when another child asks you to stop, you need to respect their wishes and back off. This sounds simple enough but, he doesn't get it and the same things happen over and over to the point that now, other parents don't want their children around him. My girls have plenty of friends and are around them all of the time. When other children are over to play, I watch their responses to my son and I see the same things, discust and annoyance. I've said the same things for years now. "Oh, it's just a phase and he'll grow out of this". It's not happening and our lives are constantly in termoil.I'm going to pick out advice from all of these comments and begin to try and turn things around. Thank you all for your advice.

Comment By : Desperate in S.East Michigan

Where can I get more examples of how to deal with ODD? I feel better knowing there is a solution but I need more coaching on how to do this. Thank you.

Comment By : Need more coaching in Napa

Hmm...all the descriptions are SO alike! My 15 yr old is just like the others described. Our first sign was when he couldn't stay still on my breast to nurse. It left me very lopsided! ha! He's ADHD/ODD, sweet as can be one day...nasty at other times (Dr Jekyl/Mr. Hyde), alternative school, two arrests for stupid stuff on his part, yelling, kicking, hitting, dominating conversations, name calling, disrespect, wanting to get back at people, obsessive...you name it, we have it, too. You would think all of the above mentioned kids were born of the same womb. I'm a teacher..see it all the time in school. Seems like there's more of it than from when I was growing up. My son is now on vyvanse, clonidine, and abilify. He's improved, but will never be "perfect". Our psych explains that some things are personality & will probably not be affected/changed. Oh! And I really can't get over how many of these kids are pathological liars. It's the one trait I hate the most. My son NEVER admits to anything. It's always someone else's fault (real or made up). There has to be something to all this besides just ADHD or ODD. It's just too unbeliveable how we all have an army of the same kid. And for those of you who don't like the labels, part of the reason we parents feel we've needed a name for what's going on is because of people like YOU who have told us that we are just lousy parents who haven't done the proper job of raising our kids. You don't like it?? You are more than welcome to come & try to "straighten out" my son! There's not a single thing you can try that I haven't already tried, if not more. I'm supposedly so experienced and good at this that my administrators give me the same kids to deal with at school because I'm the only one who can and will work with them. I'm sorry for those of you who've had bad experiences with teachers. I've found that most of the time it's either people who've never had kids, or are too old to remember. ha! But honestly, I know how some teachers feel. We are often tired from a long day with SEVERAL of these kids in our classroom. (Just think..then I go home to deal with another one!) Quite often we are not backed up by the administration in being consistant & strong with consequences with these kids. Things that have worked for me as a parent: consistancy, staying two steps ahead on what can happen (give 5 minute heads-ups before change) & being firm with the consequences, and keeping them physically active on a DAILY basis. It also helps to play to their positive strengths, such as hobbies & interests. This is a lifetime parenting job. It will not go away. Just know that you are not alone, and for every person who doesn't "understand" your child, there are two of us out there who ARE, caring for you & what you are going through! :-) And above all else, take care of yourself first or you can't care for someone else, AND keep your sense of humor! Hugs to all!

Comment By : mom/stepmom to ten & teacher to many

I guess I am not alone. Everything written here is like it’s been written about my son. My son is 9 years old and he is diagnosed as a bipolar. Since he was in Kindergarten he has trouble dealing with authority figures. It has been a war between us his family, the school and everything around him. He has seen so many psychiatrists and therapists so many different medication and nothing helped. I sometime blame myself for what he has. I think I have not done good enough to keep him normal. I am slowly dieing when I see him escalating and I know this is just a beginning. God help us all

Comment By : Mom in need for support.

We have a 15 yr old son. He is currently in a Christian boarding school because of the impact of him on our family life and his ODD. He has been there 1 1/2 school yrs and wants to come back home next yr for 10th grade. He scored a 21 on the ACT in the 9th grade this yr. It was his idea to take it. Needless to say he's bright. Several years ago, I read the book YOU CAN'T MAKE ME, BUT I CAN BE PERSUADED by Cynthia Tobias. Great book which describes behavior similar to ODD. The author is an admitted strong-willed adult and former strong-willed child. Anyway, I'm trying to decide what to do for next year. I miss my son. We will do another father-son road trip this summer. I've learned there is seldom trouble when we get out of the house..as long as I pre-define the destination and spending boundaries. He thinks money should be no object and becomes VERY verbally abusive when we don't buy him $50 shirts, etc. Back to my question.. on one hand, he's academically back on track. Only 1 of 2 boys on the Dean's List and the great ACT score. However, he recently told me on the phone that he hates being at the boarding school said he would feel betrayed if we sent him back to the boarding school next year since he has performed academically superior. My gut tells me he performed well to get out of the boarding school. The ODD still shows strong in the way he handles his responsibilities at boarding school. He has extra work almost every weekend over...not wearing a tie to church, did not pass room inspection, being disrespectful to his house parents (like he would be to us). I'm beginning to think James is right. We are not training a better behavior. If no one at the boarding school is training his behavior, then we are just using boarding schools to change his world instead of training him to change his behavior..which I'm not sure I've figured out how to do. I think I've mastered the art of deflecting and avoiding conflict. Getting both me and my wife on the same page with how to respond to him is no easy task. Right now, I'm leaning toward bringing him back home to a local school. I can't believe I just wrote that. Not sure what we will do. Anyway, I just wanted to share some of our multi-year ordeal with the rest of you. I'm a bit discouraged that this has been a 10 year battle and I'm starring at potentially several more tough years ahead. Of all the research we've done and all the material I've read, James' material is the most practical. Regardless of our decision this year, we will use this material to help.

Comment By : reddog

* Dear Reddog: Working with oppositional kids is very challenging. (Be sure to read all of James’ articles on that subject. You can find these by clicking on the ‘ODD’ category on the articles page of EP). You mention that you have "mastered the art of deflecting and avoiding conflict." Deflecting and avoiding conflict can make sense at times, if you’re "choosing your battles," and giving in to avoid conflict will not help your son develop the skills he needs to manage his feelings when he’s disappointed, frustrated, or angry. We all need to learn how to do that. The other challenge you are aware of is how important it is to agree as parents on the house rules so that your child knows the behavior that is expected of him and can also expect that he will be held accountable by both of you. Some of the work you can do before he returns home, even if you decide he is returning just for the summer, is work on that co-parenting issue -- deciding together on the house rules and a reasonable structure for your son’s study time, chore time and free time every day. Having that structure in place is the key to making sure his behavior is appropriate. Please keep in touch with us and let us know how it’s progressing.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

After reading all of the comments I realize that my 17 yr old daughter has some serious problems. She has been a handful ever since I can remember. My husband has worked out of state the majority of the time & I've had to deal with her attitude, not listening to me, arguing & just being totally defiant. I believe she has ODD because she has two MIP's & keyed two cars. She's almost done with her probation for keying the two cars & I've had to fight with her to pay for it.She is working & I feel that she was the one who did something so bad that she needs to pay for it, but she continues to not pay for it & I have to end up paying on her fines & restitution because if it's not paid on they will pick her dad & I up (arrest us). I don't know what to do with her anymore I'm tired of having the same arguement with her about paying for what she owes. She doesn't think that she should pay for it for some reason. We have always been strict on her & I made the mistake of letting her go with her one friend & she made one of the biggest mistakes of her life. On top of that she is being home schooled right now & I have to pay for it. She wouldn't get up & go to school. She's mouthy, rude & just plain not nice to be around. I also have a 13 yr old but my 13 yr old seems way easier thank god! I can't handle going through what I've been through with my 17 yr old. She's been so mean to me that I can't wait till she's 18 & hopefully on her own! She's made a mess of my life. I had her when I was 18 & her dad & I have been together since high school I just can't take her crap anymore. We have to fight to get her to clean her room & her bathroom. I have done everything for her & she just doesn't appreciate any of it. I'm going to have to order this total transformation & see if it's not to late to help her.

Comment By : Becky, a concerned paretn

To Teacher/Author: As a parent and a teacher of an ODD child, all I can say is unless you have lived with this type of child, be careful about giving advice. I have two very well behaved children, but one who came out angry and defiant from the womb. This is a disease with a heredity component, as well as chemical differences in the brain. Even the most consitent and educated parents get a run for their money when parenting an ODD child to the best of their abilities. We have so much to learn about the human brain. Let's keep helping each other with this type of forum in the meanwhile, and keep working on holding these kids accountable. Let's be careful not to just call it bad behavior, because although it is, it is so much more. Let's keep supporting one another on the tough days, and the days when we have given this child everything we've got. We Love them, and let's not let them fail, or be a burdon on society.

Comment By : Teacher/Parent

Dear worn out mom, I am in the same exact boat as you are!! We took my son for a counseling session at a psychiatrists office and the lady ended up looking at us like we were the ones with the problem after the appointment. He acted like a complete angel with her and he acts like a complete angel at school also. But at home he tells me to f--- off hits his sister, won't take a bath won't wear clean clothes. He won't even get a haircut and he looks dirty and unkempt. His dad is out of town working right now and His behavior drives me nuts. At least his grandpa watches him so I can get a break but there is only so much he can do. He has told me he wants to be an only child- his younger sister is 3- and I told him he's not and he should be nice to his sister. I have the cd's - I listened to the first 4- My husband and I need to listen to them all again. We went to lunch today and my son hit me in the parking lot, hit his sister over the head more than once, spits in my face, tells me to shut up, calls me a bitch and I end up getting mad and screaming at him to the top of my lungs and saying hateful things back to him. I feel alone and scared for my younger daughter. If I give a consequence to him like turning off TV he fights back by kicking hitting and swearing. What can I do??

Comment By : alonein SD

Finely-my sister and my neice live with me and we have been going through alot with my 6 yr old neice and went throught the testing to determine if adhd or what and came out with ODD- I read the syptoms and she hit every mark even though we had never heard of this -so hoepfully we will get a hold of this has you article hit on every thing we have been going through-keep our fingers crossed

Comment By : Vicki Lynn

What was the response to MissingMyPrincess and Odd Daughter? I have similar issues with my 9yr old girl.

Comment By : Mom of Five

Great article!!! James was so very insightful. I am the mother of a 12-year-old diagnosed with ODD and AD/HD. Understanding that his being oppositional is an acting out of his inability to solve a problem has helped me tremendously. It's been a tough road, but he is becoming more and more compliant at school and at home. I've taken James' advice, used the Total Transformation Program, and have helped his teachers understand how this works. This past school year (sixth grade) was the first time in four years my son stayed in school the entire year!!! For us, this is a real achievement. Thank you James, and you will be missed.

Comment By : Diane H.

These behaviors are very evident in my daughter who is no 6. When she was 18 mos she bit me and said "Evan bite you?" She always blames someone else for her aggression and is impossible to logically reason with often. My only question is at school she barely talks and always makes straight A's. Getting her to do her homework is a battle because everytime she makes a mistake she throws a fit. She can not except that she does anything wrong! She tramples over all of the rest of us to get her way and I thought she was just spoiled, but after reading this, I think she has ODD. It's only at home, though. She does it with any family member, grandparents or other, but not at school, she is very quiet at school...

Comment By : whatdowedo?

* Dear ‘whatdowedo?’: Anytime you are worried about your child’s behavior, be sure to let her pediatrician know. He may recommend the she work with a professional in your area. Don’t be concerned about her biting you at 18 months. At that age kids do not comprehend the effect biting has on others. And at this age, James Lehman, author of The Total Transformation, would not recommend trying to logically reason with her. She will be developing her abilities to reason like an adult for years to come. Instead of asking her “why” she behaves a certain way, simply tell her what behavior you expect from her. Coach her on a skill she can use to calm herself down when she’s becoming upset. Changing your breathing is a very successful coping skill. Have her take and expel her breath more slowly, deeply and evenly. You might also give her something to say to herself when she starts to get upset about mistakes. Tell her that “everyone makes mistakes.” Be very casual in your tone when you say this. You might share with her one of your mistakes. Something like you “tried to cook something for dinner but burned it.” We would be glad to give you more ideas on how to help your child change her behaviors and how to use effective parenting techniques from the Program. Call the Support Line so we can learn more about you and your family. We look forward to hearing from you.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

My daughter has been diagnosed w/ ODD. She does not like to be told NO and is very manipulative. She will argue w/ me forever but I try to walk away from her when she is not listening- but she will follow me around - how to I stop this behavior?

Comment By : sick and tired

* To ‘sick and tired’: It’s definitely very helpful to walk away from arguments with your child. As James Lehman says, “You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.” The tricky part is that many kids will follow you when you walk away. What you say before you walk away can help. For example, you might say, “I’m not going to argue with you. It’s not helpful. I’m going to take a break and I’ll check back in with you in a little bit,” or “This isn’t working. Let’s both take some time alone to calm down and then we can talk again.” If your daughter still follows you, do not re-engage in the argument. Many parents find it helpful to go into a room with a locked door and “ride out the storm” in there. If your daughter is old enough, you might even leave the house to go for a walk or a drive. Later on you can have a conversation with your daughter to let her know it’s not okay to follow you and talk about what she will do differently instead. You might come up with a plan for her to go write down all the things she wants to say to you and then the next time an argument is starting, remind her to go to that. This is going to help your daughter to develop the coping skills she will need to change her behavior. Here is an article with some additional strategies and ideas: Why the Word “No” Sets off an Oppositional, Defiant Child. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.

Comment By : Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

I have many boys in my Scout Troop with many of these problems. If you can get a son or daughter to join Scouts (Venturers for older boys and girls) you can make a world of difference in their behavior. It problems challenges in their lives that take away the behavior . They learn how to be leaders; cope with the world and problems; skills that they know that most kids don't; proud of their accomplishments; and Moms have cried because they thought home life would never be a happy one. So, if you have a boy or girl, try the Scouting program. Find a leader that knows how to gain a boy or girls attention with few words and lots of action. Let your son go on a 30 miles backpacking trip, catch and cook his own fish, learn what food from the wild can be eaten, help someone less fortunate through service. 50% of the Eagles from the troop had major problems; now they are in college, working, productive and they still argue :) P.S. I ready lots of articles to learn more how I can help. It takes more than just mom and dad.

Comment By : SMTroop####

ODD continues on into adulthood. My now 27 y.o. daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at 5 and ODD at 9. Learning disabilities in math and writing were part of the mix. Some medications helped for awhile, then had to be changed. She was seen by her psychiatrist from age 5 on, got other therapy. Every few years, more symptoms would show up. Insurance doesn't pay for long term hospitalization so that a "real" diagnosis could be found. My husband (an M.D.) and I divorced when she was 15 and then more hell--her step-mother, (also an m.d.) decided we had been parenting all wrong and took my daugher off of all her meds--and of course, being ODD, she refused to go back on them. At 19, she left the state and went to live in Idaho. She couldn't keep a job, but luckily kept a relationship that provided a roof over her head. She came back into my town this January, hoping to find a job. None to be found. She has tried trucking school--and I have my fingers crossed that this will be something she can get done. She has a lot of determination, but still blames her problems on anyone else. She has huge rage problems, but is learning to back off and cool down--except with me. I left her standing in the rain at a bus station this past weekend because she was just screaming at me and there was nothing more I could do. She finally calmed down and called me, crying and scared. We tried many of the tricks that your treatment plan offers while raising her. But they have to continue--the ODD will always be a problem. I tried asking her this weekend--what can be done to help? She would scream: I DON'T KNOW!!! She has to calm down before she can think. Blessings to all parents raising these children--it's a tough, tough, road.

Comment By : TNAngel

I worked for many years with children such as described above, before my twins were born. It has been an eye-opening experience. My sons were born pre-mature and one of them had major problems linked to being born premature...From the time he was born, he had comprehensive services in place...By the time he was five, he was doing cognitively quite well, but displayed ADHD and ODD symptoms. He is unable to function without a major amount of structure in place...I am very blessed to live in an excellent school system and I was able to get all the services he needs in place. He has a wonderful team of special education teachers, after-school teachers, etc...in place, while everyone agrees that working with him his tough...It is hard not to love him, he has a big heart, is affectionate, loving, while at the same time, everything is a struggle with him ... Getting him to cooperate, coping with his frequent melt downs ... The experience is particularly striking since I have none of these issues with his twin...

Comment By : ODDTWIN

What should be done when a 4 yr. old child refuses to take his "time-out"? What should be done when he throws rocks or hits/hurts you or others? Does anybody know of a Christian ODD support group? Thanks... Thanks....

Comment By : GrandmatoODDchild

* To “GrandmatoODDchild”: You bring up a great question, how to respond to a child who refuses to do a timeout. It can be very frustrating when you are trying to hold a child accountable for his behavior and he refuses to follow through with the consequence. Timeouts are often recommended as a consequence for young children. It can become an issue when trying to get the child to do the timeout becomes another power struggle itself. What you might try is to put a toy or privilege into a “timeout” until he doesn’t hit or throw things for a short period of time, say 30 minutes or an hour. This type of consequence is what Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner call a “fail proof consequence”, meaning a consequence you have control over. When he gets older, you can start helping him deal with frustrating situations by problem solving with him different ways he could respond when he gets upset. For now, we would suggest continuing to set the limit with him around appropriate behavior towards others. There may be a Christian based ODD support group in your area. We would suggest contacting the 211 National Helpline to find out what types of resources and supports are available for you. You can reach the 211 National Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto 211.org. We hope this is helpful for you. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

Thanks for the suggestions. My grandson seems to love one-on-one attention (and he got a lot of it as a baby when he was an only child). But he started hitting us before he was a year old and seemed to get worse when we corrected him in any way. Yes, he did have lots of attention as a baby, and I wonder if he got TOO much? Now it is impossible to give him all the attention he seems to need. He thrives on torturing his little sister and destroying things. Sometimes things seem to be going just fine, and then, all of a sudden he's ripping the wallpaper or throwing rocks at someone or spitting on the mirrors. It is exhausting to hold him accountable, for sure. The article on "fail proof consequences" mentioned that these kids thrive on chaos, and I totally agree. So the question is will a "time-out" really help him to overcome these destructive behaviors? Will separating him from his sister and letting him play outside where he can't destroy the house and be by himself help at all? We are at our wit's end. I do have another question. His aunt CAN make him do his "time-outs" by holding him in the chair as he kicks and screams. He does eventually calm down and apologize, and we have seen that with her in charge, he will sometimes take his "time-outs" better as he knows that she will NEVER give up. She's a strong-willed person herself and would sit all day with him in the chair! This will not be psychologically damaging to him, will it? Perhaps it is the only thing that will help??? Thanks..

Comment By : GrandmatoODDchild

This article seems good, but the suggestions just don't work for us. My son (12) won't listen to my reasonable comments and refuses to accept that he needs any coping skills at all. Any attempt at explaining 'why' is just the start of another argument. He will tell me I'm wrong every single time. Period. He is totally impervious to reason and has built a wall around him 3 feet thick. When he wants something (all the time) and can't get it he will absolutely not accept that fact and will make the rest of the family miserable. If he doesn't want to do something (all the time) he will cause a full-family catastrophe to avoid it. Compliance is not even close to an option, and as I said, reasoned statements are useless. I can't leave the room when he's at home because he will torture his little brother or his mother with his pestering and his whining. I must stand guard over him 24/7 which means I no longer have any life at all. We are seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist (he refuses to go the the psychologist without a major battle/tantrum) and the best suggestion I've had yet is 'time out', which just creates another set of battles. The really insane thing is that he's an angel at school. His grades are top-notch, his friends love him and his teacher gush about how focused, diligent and compliant he is. Any suggestions?

Comment By : SadDad

* To “GrandmatoODDchild”: You ask a great question. Many parents use time outs as a consequence for a negative behavior. For some kids, this can be an effective way of holding the child accountable for the choice made. For others, trying to keep them in a time out can turn into an all-out power struggle. We would not suggest holding a child in a time out chair or using physical means to keep a child in a time out as it usually isn’t effective long term. From our perspective, time outs can be an effective way to help a child separate from a situation and calm down. A time out from a situation is going to look a little different than a time out as a consequence. Instead of telling your grandson he needs to sit in a time out place for a certain amount of time, we would suggest saying something like “it looks like you’re getting upset. Why don’t you take some time in your room or out in the yard to calm down”. It may be helpful to teach his sister to leave the area when she sees him getting upset. You might also consider contacting a counselor or therapist who specializes in children with this diagnosis. They would be able to suggest tools and techniques which could be effective for your particular situation. Your grandson’s pediatrician should be able to refer you to someone in your area. We wish you and your family luck as you continue to address your grandson’s behaviors. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

* To SadDad: It is very wearisome to have a child who refuses to listen to you, and uses tantrums and acting out to get his way. It can be even more frustrating to hear that he does not exhibit those behaviors at school. As frustrating as that is, it is actually a good sign as it shows that he does know proper ways of behaving in other environments. James Lehman reminds us that kids act out because they don’t know more effective ways of solving their problems. We recommend having a problem solving conversation with your son in which you talk about different ways he can comply with your requests, and how you plan to hold him accountable at home. With a child who wants to argue about everything, it is important to pick your battles. You may find it helpful to focus on one area to start. Once you have determined how you want to respond to his acting out behavior and how you can hold him accountable, it is important to consistently follow through on that consequence. I am including links to some articles you might find helpful:
Angel Child or Devil Child? When Kids Save Their Bad Behavior for You
The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: "I Can't Solve Problems"
"My Child's Behavior Is So Bad, Where Do I Begin?" How to Coach Your Child Forward
Take care-we wish you the best.

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

I have a 12 year old son. He nas been diagnosed with adhd and odd. He is very defiant most of the time. He enjoys turning every conversation into an argument, or so it seems. He has never had a full time father figure in his life. His biological father walked out before he was even born and his stepfather passed away 3 years ago very suddenly. On top of everything else he has abandonment issues. I have tried a number of psychiatrists and even a social peer group to help him with his social and coping skills. Nothing seems to stick. I lost about where to go from here. Please help!

Comment By : stressed out mom

* To “stressed out mom”: Thank you for writing in and sharing your story. It can be hard to know the best response for a child who seems to live to argue. Sometimes the best response is no response at all. As James Lehman explains, you don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to. He gives some tips on stepping away from arguments and avoiding power struggles in his article Avoiding Power Struggles with Defiant Children Declaring Victory is Easier than You Think. It’s great your son was in a social peer group. The reason for acting out can be not knowing how to read social cues or respond in social situations, as James describes in his article "Why Is Everyone Always Mad at Me?" Why Misreading Social Cues Leads to Acting Out Behavior. As for the other defiant behavior you mention in your comment, it’s going to be most effective to focus on one behavior at a time. You might consider making a list of the behaviors you would like to see changed. Maybe he’s not doing chores or homework or he’s talking disrespectfully to you or other family members. Trying to address and change all of the behaviors you may be dealing with currently isn’t going to be effective or even possible. Instead, tackle one behavior on the list at a time. When that behavior starts to get under control, you can move onto the next. Here are a couple other articles you may find helpful: Scared of Your Defiant Child? Learn How to Get Back Your Parental Control & How to Get Your Child to Listen: 9 Secrets to Giving Effective Consequences. Good luck to you and your family as you continue to work through these issues. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

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Defiant behavior, family rules, behavior problems, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Temper Tantrums, Aggressive behavior, Effective Parenting, Establishing Structure, James Lehman, The Total Transformation

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