Need advice - FamilyEducation
Need advice
12/12/2008 at 10:13 AM

Hi.  I need some advice.  My 8 year old stepson has adhd and odd.  We have had him in counseling since he was 4.  BM is bipolar and doesn't help our situation.  He doesn't listen, is disrespectful, throws huge tantrums over small things, and has gotten physically aggressive with me and his 3 year old half brother.  My husband is at the end of his rope.  He said something the other day about sending him to live somewhere else, although I don't know where since his mom has an even harder time than we do.  Last year, he had problems in school although that isn't the case this year.  He is on medication that helps a little, but our house is total chaos.  We have tried every parenting technique the counselors have suggested.  Nothing is working.  My 3 year old is starting to act out.  I am assuming it is due to the stress in the house as he is normally very well behaved and sweet.  I am on the verge of leaving my husband because I am so stressed.  We've tried positive reinforcement and praise, rewards, taking things away, time outs, but his behavior is only getting worse.  I am afaid he is going to hurt the 3  year old during one of his fits, as he already hits him.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

You are already keeping a close eye on him, I'm sure. One thing to remember is that almost always just before the behavior modification techniques finally work, the behavior gets much worse. It seems like on the way to changing the pathways in the brain, there is some need for overload. Being as consistent as humanly possible for at bare minimum 2 months in the techniques you try is really important. It must be very stressful for you. But both the boys need all their parents. Hold on.

Try contacting the department of Child Mental Health or Family services in your area. I work with children with the issues you describe in a mentoring program that has good results. Consistancy is the key. Most if not all punishments WILL NOT work. With his help in a calm moment, make a chart of expected behaviors. Then when he understands what is expected, add in a system of rewards. This, along with medication and therapy, should have a good result in time. He has had 8 years to learn the negative behavior and it will take months to unlearn. Good luck and let me know if you need any specific help or advice.

Hi, I feel for you. I work with children like this and families. I can tell you that it's critical to find the right medications if the ones you are using are not working well. Seeing a very good child psychiatrist in your area or for a second opinion is my recommendation. I also agree with some of the other responses I have seen; your homelife needs to be consistent and structured. visual charts may help him; they help some children with expected behavior. If you feel resentful you should get individual counseling otherwise the techniques you use will not work well. Also spend special time with him alone just playing or both you and your husband can find 5 minutes a day to connect with him on his level, then with a stronger bond the behavior management techniques may work better. If not look for a child center who specializes in children with these difficulties to try a therapist that works for you and your family. Hitting should be addressed first along with the important part of praises and special time. If he has not had a psychological evaluation to determine if he has any cognitive deficits or learning problems is also critical in my opinion. Good luck, ODD and ADHD is a tough combo, but you can get the hang of with the right medical help. In addition, you and your husband have to be a very strong team. Good luck and hang in if you can!

I am also dealing with difficult boys.(ADHD/NLD diagnoses) When reading your post and the other people who responded I wondered what kind of evaluation has been done on this child. If an evaluation at a good hospital for children hasn't been done, I would suggest it. That will help you know what you are dealing with and also help to get medications that are needed. Maybe your son's ADHD medication isn't adjusted correctly. I do know from working with some ODD kids, that they are usually "mad at the world." They take alot of good counseling and sometimes medications.... and the behavior you are describing can also be called "rage" behavior which can be seen in someone who is bipolar. Also children in the Autism Spectrum can have some difficult rigidity and mood disorders tend to go along with it as well, so maybe he needs checked out for that. I really would suggest having a good evaluation done on him and maybe switching psychologists or psychiatrists if you don't see that your son is getting the help he needs. Do you go as a family for counseling? Maybe that would help you as well. Good luck and try to hang in there. only2boys