ODD or normal 4 yr old? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 08-06-2014, 10:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ODD or normal 4 yr old?

DS turned 4 yesterday. Probably too young to diagnose, but is that what we are headed towards?

This is a perfect example of current (for awhile now) behavior. He was having an EPIC tantrum (as he sometimes does multiple times a day). I don't remember about what, but it's usually being denied something or being told to do something. He screams, kicks, hits me. Really epic. I took him to his room & shut the door. Continue screaming /crying /hitting. Then he starts crying that he needs to go potty. So I stand up, open the door, and say, ok go.

And I get back major attitude "NO!". Throws himself on the floor as if I'm trying to drag him or something. So, ok, I close the door & sit down. And he had a complete breakdown about needing to go potty!

This isn't about if he actually need to go. He probably did. But I'm not kidding when I say this scenario went back & forth a bunch before I told him I didn't care anymore & he could go in his pants. These scenarios bring out the worst in me

This exact (not about potty) thing happens at least once a day. He's so predictable that my step daughter tells him to make the meanest face he can at her in order to get him to stop.

He ALWAYS does the opposite. Giving choices doesn't matter. He won't make one. He just gives attitude "HMPH!" and/or turns his back. Making a choice for him, he immediately FREAKS OUT and wants whatever the other choice is. If you then say ok do that, back to the attitude & refusal. Taking toys/privileges away didn't matter. Trying to emphasize or talk doesn't matter. Trying to teach words to help him tell us what's going on doesn't matter. Accountable Kids board (letting him be responsible & rewarding for it) doesn't work.

I've read the explosive child twice. To follow the advice there I would quite literally have to let him do ANYTHING he wanted at ANYTIME.

We are seriously at wits end. Help.

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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#2 of 12 Old 08-07-2014, 08:12 AM
 
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Does he go to preschool or daycare? How is he there? If he is ALWAYS defiant then it might be something to diagnose but if it's confined to your relationship or home then it's probably more to do with just a personality type and your parenting style and the relationship between you two. My kid is regularly defiant (also regularly cooperative too) but the style of defiance he demonstrates at home doesn't happen at school. At home he screams and destroys things but he rarely behaves in such outlandish ways at school. I'm told this means he has enough self control to keep it together at school and so this isn't a true diagnose-able issue. So I'm trying to improve my parenting style and our relationship.

These tantrums are really very frustrating. Punishment does not work. I learned that myself. It just makes everything worse. A simple timeout you'd think might work. Nope - he literally destroys his room - holes in the wall destruction. It used to be so bad that I worried about his safety during timeout. However, when he gets like this I often withdraw. I reach my wits end and just leave him or ignore him so as to prevent myself from doing something worse. It's a terrible cycle and requires intervention from my husband. I have learned that the better our bond the less frequent the outbursts and the happier we both are.

I'm listening to the audio version of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham. I think it's very good and could be helpful. The main concept is that my relationship with my son is the foundation for his cooperation and well-being. So I have to figure it out and make sure I have a good relationship with him. That means forcing myself to be positive, forcing myself to resist my temptation towards negative thought, and/or calling in the reserves (my husband). We'll see how it goes.
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#3 of 12 Old 08-07-2014, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much MM. That's a good point - he isn't like this at school (Montessori 3 - 6 class). His behavior did worsen towards the end of the school year. He started saying he didn't want to go. When I asked why, turns out he wasn't listening so he had to "hold Mrs. X's pocket". But even when asked they say his behavior is fine. So not ODD. I'm relieved.

I often withdraw also. I found myself starting to spank. Something I'm so against that I was horrified. I've actually locked him out of my room to give myself space to not react. When I sit in his room with him I kinda withdraw internally until he shows any sign of calming. Then I hold out my arms and he runs into them and we cuddle for a long while.

Maybe I should get the audio so I can listen to it in the car. I own & have read the book. I even get her emails. DH & I sometimes trade off. He's going through a rough spot himself right now though. Probably we are both adding to the problem rather than helping it.

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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#4 of 12 Old 08-07-2014, 01:01 PM
 
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I don't think there is anything wrong with withdrawing from a child who is having a tantrum. (I'm not saying that all parents should always respond by withdrawing, just that it is one option that may be helpful in some situations).

Withdrawing gives you a chance to stay in emotional control of yourself, which is very important. It also avoids inadvertently reinforcing the behavior with attention. I don't think that he is doing this for attention, but I also think that he is getting attention for it, and that can reinforce it.

While I absolutely believe that a crying baby should be responded to, I don't believe that carries onto to later stages of development, not in the least. Part of the reason it is so important to respond to a baby is because they don't have any other way to communicate to us, but a 4 year does. Rather than trying to stop the tantrum, I suggest letting it happen, and then gently help him transition back (when my DD with autism used to meltdown, I would give her a damp wash cloth to wipe her face afterward, and it seemed to help).

I would also look for patterns for the behavior -- could it be linked to diet? Some kids have behavior related to food intolerances. Is it more likely to occur when he is over tired? Over stimulated? Does he have allergies that could be better controlled?

I would also work in helping him verbalize how he feels, and teaching him appropriate ways act when he is angry, frustrated, etc. He has these very strong feelings, what is he supposed to do with them? Hit is pillow? Punch a punching bag? What would you be OK with?
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but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 12 Old 08-07-2014, 04:49 PM
 
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I don't know that it's "normal" 4 yo behavior, but I wrote a very similar post on here a few months back about my DD, who's almost 4 and a half now. She was having major tantrums over and over each day, hitting me when angry, reacting strongly every.single.time things didn't go her way, refusing to do everything asked of her, putting up gigantic fusses over transitions...it was awful. Has this behavior been building up and worsening for your son, or is it kind of a new thing for his age? I know for us, my DD has always been challenging, but her 4yo antics were like a redoubling of any defiance efforts she's ever put forth before.

I am knocking on wood like crazy here, but happy to report that she's doing a lot better than she was a few months ago. I also read The Explosive Child, and found that it did work, but it took a TON of energy, patience, and foresight. I felt like I was basically choosing whether I wanted her to have a tantrum or not based on whether or not I was going to use the method. I DID find that it led to some surprising insights sometimes, and really simple answers to problems that I wouldn't have thought of without DD's input. For instance, she told me that she didn't like leaving fun places when she didn't know if/when she would get to go back. If we scheduled a time to go back before we left - no problem, no tantrum. So, I still try to use that method for repeated issues that I feel I might just be understanding her side of.

What's been more useful for us is the Kazdin method. In fact, I've browsed through the book, but only implemented the very first little bits of the method which involves heavy and frequent use of praise whenever you catch your child doing what you want - even a little bit. Now, having read a bunch on this forum about Kohn and not praising and whatnot this constant praise thing made me cringe a bit at first - but sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do. The miracle is that it started working almost immediately. So, either the Kazdin thing is a miracle, or she's just passing through that developmental angst, or maybe a bit of both, but I definitely recommend giving it a read if you haven't yet.

And hugs - I haven't been a perfect parent under the stress of defiant behavior either.
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#6 of 12 Old 08-08-2014, 10:04 PM
 
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Sounds like my son at 4, he's 6 now. He still has tantrums that are I think more and more intense than average for his age, but they are MUCH less frequent and much shorter than before.

We've done a combination of Explosive Child and also being very consistent with how we handle the tantrums. Honestly, it has worked really well for me to disengage from him and "withdraw" until he begins to calm. I get him physically to a place where there is no other audience (at home it's a bedroom) and I don't talk much to him. Often I've had to restrain him to keep him from hurting me or breaking things. I'll say what he needs to do to be able to leave the room or have me let him go. I don't repeat it over and over, and I don't explain anything. I try really, really hard not to be angry during these times and I withdraw myself from an emotional interaction with him. It's hard to do that in public, but I've gotten to where I can. It's been huge for me to let go of engaging in a battle. When he's calm, which is much more quickly now than when he was 4, we almost always have a good talk about what happened. It's not a lecture, it's talking and I think we both feel heard.

He was very verbal very early, so this has never been a simple frustration over communicating concrete needs thing. He's a very bright kid who would like to be in control of everything, and unfortunately he can't be because he's a kid and because he's a person in a certain society. I think the part of him that regulates emotions has been slower to grow up, and he has just been intolerant of feeling he is not in control. He has done the same kind of thing as you describe with the having to pee then saying he wouldn't example - just making choices solely because they appear to give him control. Sometimes I can head off a tantrum by stating what I think he is feeling, "You want to be the boss of toothbrushing" was my first - it was like a miracle, instead of spiraling into a tantrum he said "Yes!!" and was able to hear why I couldn't let him do that. But some of the time I have no idea what started it until he tells me after the fact, or I am slow on the uptake while it's starting and don't think of that intervention until it's too late. Or I am imperfect and don't have the patience or empathy to do it.

It has also really, really helped to work with my partner so that we are doing as close to the same thing as possible. I was diagnosed with cancer just after he turned 2 and was really not a parent for about 6 months, then was an emotional wreck for 6 more. He had all sorts of adults coming and going in the house and the lack of consistency was probably a very bad thing for him. He was tough in the same way before I got sick, but it's as if that was a year taken out of our being able to address it together. It's very, very important to have a unified plan.

I've read all the books I could find about oppositional kids. I feel like we've made huge steps in the right direction, and it was by taking bits from several sources.

And hugs about the spanking - I get that. We never planned to do that either, but for us there were other answers and it doesn't happen anymore.
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#7 of 12 Old 08-10-2014, 04:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neonalee View Post
I've read the explosive child twice. To follow the advice there I would quite literally have to let him do ANYTHING he wanted at ANYTIME.
OK so I got that book too. Wow. I had some aha moments there. My kiddo can be like this. What a great book!

So, let's see. Here's how I interpret it...

1. Kids want to behave well. They really do. If they could, they would.
2. Some kids ("Explosive Kids") don't have the skills to handle change, frustration, and challenges well.
3. It can't be fixed with more rigid rules and consequences.
4. They need empathy and they need to know they are heard. We need to understand their challenges as they perceive them.
5. As parents, our job is to help give them the skills they need to handle change, frustration, and challenges in ways that are socially acceptable and not destructive.
6. This will take time and requires our patience.

The Explosive Child says the traditional methods don't work; these methods actually sometimes make it worse (particularly punishment).
You said:
Quote:
He ALWAYS does the opposite. Giving choices doesn't matter. He won't make one. He just gives attitude "HMPH!" and/or turns his back. Making a choice for him, he immediately FREAKS OUT and wants whatever the other choice is. If you then say ok do that, back to the attitude & refusal. Taking toys/privileges away didn't matter. Trying to emphasize or talk doesn't matter. Trying to teach words to help him tell us what's going on doesn't matter. Accountable Kids board (letting him be responsible & rewarding for it) doesn't work.
So don't use those methods.

First it says you need to figure out what skills your child needs to learn. And then you need to determine his triggers (the situations when he tends to explode). You say
Quote:
He's so predictable that my step daughter tells him to make the meanest face he can at her in order to get him to stop.
So maybe you can pinpoint when these issues are likely to occur and then you can preplan to try to deal with it?

Then The Explosive Child suggests two plans:

First is to let go of all the small stuff. Let him have his way on all those little things that don't matter (or don't matter as much as the bigger issues right now). You can come back to those issues later after you've given your child more skills.

Second, collaborate with your child on the important issues. Discuss with them their feelings and figure out strategies together. Do this when they are calm, not when the issue arises. (This may be why you say "trying to empathize or talk doesn't matter" - because doing it in the moment and expecting an immediate change isn't the method - the method is to talk when the child is calm.) This is going to take time, multiple conversations, and it's probably going to frustrate you. But in the long run it's worth it.

The book make the analogies between learning the skills of dealing with frustration and learning the skill of reading. It likens learning to handle change (unexpected events) to learning to do simple math. And learning to solve life problems or challenges is similar to learning how to ride a bike or swim. These are real skills that take time to learn and practice. They cannot be learned alone in timeout. They cannot be learned when the brain is flooded with emotion. They cannot be learned through spankings or loss of privileges. They can't even be learned through empathy or being heard (those are important as first steps in making a connection and solving the problem but this part doesn't teach the skills the child needs).

He breaks it down into steps:
1. Empathize
2. Define the Problem
3. Invite the child to brainstorm solutions

I think some of the things discussed in the book are mainly for older children and so this may not really work for our age child. But I think it's worth a try to really give this method a go. It's not about just letting him do whatever he wants. It's about listening and trying to figure out the issues he's got and then help give him the skills to deal with them.

I don't know if this is going to help or not. I can't speak from experience. I'm just thinking that this book is pretty great.
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#8 of 12 Old 08-11-2014, 05:10 AM
 
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Read this book and use the methods in it:

http://alankazdin.com/the-kazdin-met...test-of-wills/

He will start improving in less than a week in the areas you choose to work on at first, and he will be behaving as well as he does at daycare within a month or so after you have addressed his major behavior problems.

As others have said, it is very good news that he does not act this way at daycare.

The Kazdin Mehthod is gentle, no spanking. It will help you avoid the urge to spank since it gives you alternatives that are actually effective.

Use collaborative methods when you can, but, as marsupial-mom says, not in the heat of the moment. My favorite book that covers collaborative methods is Incredible Years that can be purchased using the links in this blog:

http://epicurusgarden.blogspot.com/2...-of-adult.html

Last edited by tadamsmar; 08-11-2014 at 08:23 AM.
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#9 of 12 Old 08-12-2014, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Many thanks to all who replied. All of your words have all been helpful. I've been reading them sporadically & I'm going to re-read them & compile a summary that I can read regularly to make sure I don't let it go again.

We've started making changes - I'm learning to let go of most things & really prioritize what is important to endure a tantrum over. I'm spending as much time with DS as possible (though I failed at that yesterday). We're making a stronger effort to get him outside running around, even though it's so hot lol I do have the Kadzin book saved. I'm going to check my library for it first though. And after I finish re-reading Dr. Markham's book.

Here's the funny thing, that I didn't remember until it happened this second time. Last year in July & start of August my son was out of control. I don't remember it being the same "symptoms" as this time, but I really don't remember the details at all. All I remember is that he was CRAZY. And the reason I remember that it was the same time was because it ended literally about 2 days before friends & family came to visit. Which would have been August 7 or 8. It was like a switch was turned off.

And the same thing happened this time. Looking at the calendar it was the 7th or 8th. The day after I decided to make changes. Before anything had actually changed. I know it's just coincidence, but his birthday is the 5th. I'm going to mark my calendar with a reminder in late July next year and see if it happens again.

I've read the "your 2/3/etc year old" books. And they describe a roughly 6 month development cycle with highs & lows. And I wonder if that isn't what's going on here. It's not that he's suddenly become an angel or anything. He just seems more like a normal 4 year old suddenly. Still defiant, still stubborn & wanting his own way & having tantrums. But not ALL the time.

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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#10 of 12 Old 08-12-2014, 01:48 PM
 
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Does he have any signs of allergies?

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#11 of 12 Old 08-12-2014, 09:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Nope. He does react strongly to sugar for breakfast though. DH usually makes a paleo granola, but when he doesn't he'll buy something from the Whole Foods bulk aisle & that is more sugar than we usually eat. Plain oatmeal is fine so I don't think the granola carbs are a problem for him.

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#12 of 12 Old 08-15-2014, 07:16 PM
 
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I second the suggestion for Kazdin. For some reason copying and Pasting links isn't working for me today, but here is the title of the book:

THe Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child\

This has worked for so many people. It's easy to learn and has good outcomes. It is evidence based, which means it is not just someone's ideas but is tested through research.

 
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