Everyday is an Adventure. Embrace it

Posts tagged ‘teenagers’

Should he stay or should he go?

In May of this year, one of my dreams was realized. My oldest son graduated High School with Honors. It was a fabulous feat and I was so proud of him.

Nicky's crooked cap

Nicky’s crooked cap

Being a successful graduate may seem like nothing today, but I came from a family where I was the only person in the household that actually graduated High School. So, hopefully you can see where this was a proud moment for me 🙂  Nicky, true to himself all the way, was near the front of the line as the soon to be graduates walked down the path to the commencement ceremony. In true Nicky fashion, his cap sat ever so precariously atop his head…tilted. Now, just to make a point, you should know that many of the seniors decorated the top of their cap so they would stand out, make a statement, or be easily recognized by family. Some kids were wearing sunglasses, loud shoes or boots, neon clothing on their legs, rainbow-colored hair, etc. Nicky, bless his heart, stood out without trying (just as he always has). He couldn’t really be blamed for the crooked cap. We paid the ridiculous fee of $50 for the tissue thin cap and gown that he would “own” after the event. The gown survived the ceremony with only 1 rip in it, but the cap didn’t even make it 5 minutes before the lining unravelled and lost its shape.

My Boy :)

My Boy 🙂

My youngest son had a performance at the commencement ceremony with his choral ensemble group. His group was projected on the large screen that hung over the stadium. I dare say he was the most handsome boy in a tux present, but then again, I am a bit bias.

My beautiful boy with long hair)

My beautiful boy with long hair)

Our middle child was present to support his friends. He was somewhere in the massive audience of attendance. A couple of the boy’s sisters showed up to support him and we snapped a few memorable group pictures.

Family Shot

Family Shot

So, he did it! He graduated and I had all these grandeur ideas about life for him …and selfishly for myself.  Personally, I had already turned his bedroom into an office and was hoping he would seek the independence that most kids his age so desire. That freedom that comes when you live on your own and supper consist of ramen noodles, peanut butter sandwiches and bringing laundry home to mom on the weekends. I could so live with that!! You know, those days when you first discovered coffee & that the magic stay awake power it possesses to help you write that paper due at the last-minute? I was willing to help him out as he helped himself too! These were my expectations.

I had dreams of him getting a job (or at least helping around the house), going to college (which he is doing now), moving out (after accomplishing goal #1 – getting a job), and beginning his wonderful new life. Reality sat in after several weeks had passed and the only goal he had accomplished was beating several new missions in his video games with his friends on-line. The prodding began gently: “Nicky honey, have you been putting in applications for employment?” He would say, “Yeah, but no one will hire me until I’m 18 mom! Hey, what’s for supper?”  I would allow a week to pass. I asked nicely for several weeks and then frustration sat in. My husband began to bring him paper applications from every place he saw a “now hiring” sign. No progress. Soon, my gentle prodding turned into motherly nagging…daily. I reminded him school would start soon and that he was not going to get through life living for free. He said “Mom, I’m not 18. I’m not even legally able to give blood without your consent. Don’t worry. I’ll get a job after school starts.” I waited….and waited…and am still waiting. School did start. He had that life changing 18th birthday and now, he still resides at home…currently unemployed. He is doing well in school as far as I can tell though and I pray daily that he will seek employment soon. Some work experience is better than none, even if he only works 4 hours a week!

On a positive note, he has mowed part of the lawn a few times since school ended and did the dishes for about a week. Occasionally he’ll offer to help fold laundry. He is doing well in school as far as I can tell and I’m very proud of that! I pray daily that he will seek employment soon.

Don’t think me cruel, I want the best for him and obviously my nagging has gotten nowhere. I think he will be a very accomplished young man at some point in his life and hope I am alive to see it. I love him dearly and hope to post an update soon with something very uplifting and encouraging about his progress!

If anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it!! Please, please, oh PLEASE leave advice in the comments section. I promise to try all reasonable advice given and report back!

Yours truly,

Chrissy

When “Good Enough” Just Has To Do

When the kids were in school, I thought keeping the house in order and clean was pretty easy since we’ve moved back home. Then summer vacation rolled around and each of the three boys were seemingly always running in three different directions. They were not home much, thus the house keeping part of life remained pretty simple. I missed them. I wished they’d hang out at home at least a little so I could see them. The cat even missed them…until they came home & fashioned him a skirt!
image

In the last couple of weeks the boys have not been running as much though, so they have been home a lot. Although I’ve been happy to share time with them, the house is a terrible mess. I continue my regimen though, trying to clean each room once a day. Not every room actually gets touched though due to the driving around errands that they, my husband, or my parents send me on.

A few days ago, I took an observatory look around to assess the status of the house and determined that something had to give.

  • The laundry room was surprisingly “good enough” but the cleaned clothes had not been folded and put away, still hanging out in club Fold Me (a basket) and the un-mated socks were laying on the folding table mocking me.
  • The living room had become the Music Den.
    image

Two electric guitars were propped against the big picture window, an acoustic guitar was propped by the couch (as though it was watching TV), and an amplifier had become a new type of coffee table holding a drink, book, and several picks. Head phones were strung out on the couch and the TV and DVR remotes were missing. The wah-wah pedal was strategically placed so that any unsuspecting visitor would break their neck.

  • My bathrooms shower/tub needed a super good scrubbing 😦 The toilet paper roll was missing and in its place a card board roller stared back at me as if to say “the boys have been here…drip dry lady!”
  • The boys’ bathroom had a rather large yellow puddle in the floor near the toilet and their sink was covered in toothpaste. (At least they are brushing their teeth…sigh*)
  • The kitchen…was a casualty of war. It being the most consistently frequented room had suffered the most damage. The trash can was over flowing, the floor had tea, sugar, and other unidentifiable droplets of liquid on the floor. Bread crumbs and jelly covered the table, the toaster was plugged in sitting on the table, and a phone charger dangled from the wall. The counter and both sides of the sink were full of dirty dishes and several cooking pots had a strange crusted substance clinging to them. Upon opening the microwave, I discovered splattered dry goo. Every coffee cup was dirty and the 2 loaves of bread I had bought the evening before were reduced to simply 2 end pieces that only starving people eat.
  • The front porch had become the new home of the long forgotten dirty shoes that no one wanted to clean off and the dog was strangely clinging to the door step rug.

I took a deep breath, got wound up, fussed some, yelled a bit, and scattered the kids to their room. (Their rooms are another story all together. I won’t even describe those.)

I’ve decided summer is officially canceled at this point.

Let the cleaning begin!

1 year check-in O.D.D

This is the final article (part 12) of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3,  part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9 , part 10 , and part 11– I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the 1 year mark of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

The last article I wrote about Oppositional Defiance Disorder brought us up to the end of week 34 (7 months) after working with Knight on his O.D.D issues. I would like to skip ahead to the 1 year mark and share with you the things that we tried that were successful and the things that failed.

Things Not To Do (Ineffective):

  • Reasoning: A child with oppositional traits will not deal well with reasoning. Although this has become a very popular parenting tool for the latest generation, this does not work well with a child with defiance issues. If a child has produced unacceptable behaviors and actions, reasoning with them to stop those actions and behaviors can back-fire. They certainly back-fired on us. Even when you are exhausted and totally worn out, you can’t give in to the idea of reasoning. (Example: “Why are you doing this? Would you please just not argue anymore if you get to go to your friend’s house? I can’t take it anymore!”  Bad idea. The child will sense vulnerability and will go in for the win. I’d rather not give examples of this. Instead, I’d prefer to advise against falling into this common trap. I fell into it once…and only once!)
  • Relinquishing decision-making to the child: Again, this is easy to fall into if you are very tired or physically worn down. When a parent or authority figure gives the decision-making over to the child, at first the child is happy and excited. Shortly afterwards, they become bewildered and insecure. A large part of their desire to be oppositional and defiant is due to a personal feeling of abandonment in their minds. Whether this be true (and often times is not), it is how most of these children feel. This feeling accompanies feelings of insecurities, low self-worth or value, and a feeling of being invisible in the world. In their minds, if they are making decisions, who loves them enough to make their decisions for them? (Example: After a particularly difficult event, the child could ask, “Do you want me to just leave for a while so I’m not bothering you?” Giving decision-making to the child, parent may answer, “Would you like to spend the night with a friend or stay home tonight? It’s your decision.”)
  • Waffling: Setting your foot down on a negative behavior is one thing, but then going back on the punishing result is another. This is waffling indecisiveness. If you are serious about your goal to change these behaviors, there is no room for waffling – even when you feel like you’re punishing yourself by the decision you made during the moment of heat. (Example: Very upset about some undesirable behavior at school, I “ground” Knight for 1 week. This made travel difficult, cut off the TV for me, I had to watch him while he mowed the lawn and did other work, and I had to hear him wonder aimlessly through the house making random noises to entertain himself. I was tempted to lift his grounding so I could maintain sanity…but I knew that would be my undoing, so I did not.)
  • Never reward a child with money: Where the thought of paying our children to be good came from… I will never know! It doesn’t work and Thank God that thought only lasted about 15 minutes! I think it was out of desperation maybe, but anyway, it did not work.

Things To Do (Effective):

  • Maintain consistency at all times: If the result of good behavior is a specific reward, be ready to give that reward often during the good behavior. The same is true for the negative behavior.
  • Stand your ground: If you’ve decided that a particular behavior will not be tolerated, don’t allow minor events of that behavior to slip past you in the presence of others. No one likes to correct their children in front of others. We are afraid we will be judged as a failing parent or people will see that things are not a bed of roses in our homes. Regardless of this, all non-tolerable behavior must be stopped at the moment it occurs. It should be brought to the attention of the child and immediately remind the child what the recourse is for that negative event or behavior. (Example: Cursing was an issue for a bit and Knight thought he could get away with it in front of other people. He tested me. His correction was the same however. I would quickly say, “That is inappropriate.” and remind him what the consequences were. “You just lost your phone for 2 days when we get home.”
  • Be firm not only in correction, but in love also: The same as you need to catch the negative behaviors immediately, the same is true for catching the positive behaviors also. It’s very important in the O.D.D. child’s mind to hear when they’ve done something good. This doesn’t mean constant praise and pats on the back though. A verbal acknowledgement like, “I’m so happy today. You haven’t had an outburst. You’re doing so well. I love you.” Or “I’m proud of you this week. You’re doing great!” “I am looking forward to your progress next week! You really impressed me this week!”  Hearing things like this go a long way in changing defiant behavior. The otherwise invisible child begins to realize that he is not actually invisible at all.
  • Create and support an open dialog: If a child feels like everything they tell you will get you all riled up, they will stop telling you things. Maintaining a reliable open dialog will allow the child to feel as though they can safely share things with you without judgment. If you’ve maintained consistency, they will already know what type of correction you may use, but they will be more willing to share with you what is going on in their universe.  Children like to share how they feel and what is going on in their daily lives. If they are not sharing with you, they will share with someone else.
  • Evaluate your home’s structure: Do you really have routines? Are those routines healthy? Do most of your family habits emphasis togetherness or individuality? A unique balance of both contribute to a successful family life. Sometimes it helps to have someone from the outside of the family to take a peek at your home life to get an honest observatory opinion if you need help evaluating.
  • Don’t let the small stuff go: By allowing the lesser bad behaviors to be overlooked, the defiance in a child with O.D.D will grow into a large outburst. Handle each issue as it arises (while at the same time, picking your battles wisely).
  • Don’t overwhelm: In the beginning, it’s easy to want all negative behaviors corrected at the same time, but this can overwhelm the child and cause further defiance. Pick your battles wisely. As you triumph over each hurdle, celebrate and then move on to the next as you continue to re-enforce the previous.

Knight now bears no resemblance to the child he use to be. I am proud of him. The behavior modification plan we put it in place – worked! 🙂 I wish you all luck if you are tackling this problem with your child too. It’s an ongoing process. May God give us continued strength!

School Trouble – Oppositional Defiance Disorder

This article is part 10 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3, and part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 , part 8 , and part 9 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the next weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

As I mentioned in the previous article, Knight just started a new public school and had been warned about the zero tolerance policies related to defiance and discipline. Unfortunately, in week 22 he began to have issues. He came home complaining about some of his teachers. They were the bad guys because they fussed at him for distracting others in the classroom, talking, or being loud while the teacher attempted to teach the day’s lesson. Here’s how things went.

In week 16, Knight was continuing to make friends and had plans to spend the night over at some friend’s houses. He behaved well in other’s homes we were told.

In week 17, Knight developed interest in a church where his friends were members and begged us to go there. I had not been to this church in many years, but I knew what they believed, so we allowed him to go. He was in teenager heaven 🙂

In week 18, Knight began to share his total excitement with us and tell us how happy he was to live with us and happy about his “new” life. We continued to encourage Knight and reminded him daily (and our other boys) to complete their homework!

In week 19, I had noticed a significant difference in our overall family life and noticing the difference in each boy individually also.

In week 20, Knight was still attending church and visiting with his friends pretty regularly. Most of his behavior issues had disappeared and our only real problem was his occasional back-talk.

Ups and Downs

We experienced a slight set back in week 21 when Knight had a slight blow up. He blamed his behavior on being tired. He found himself grounded for a few days. His behavior changed and his punishment was lifted a day early.

Early in week 22 Knight called me from school and told me he was in trouble. I asked him what was going on. He told me he had been suspended for 4 days out of school. He also mentioned that, “He didn’t do anything” and that it “was not his fault, it was someone else“.  Sound familiar? We were literally about to ride this same coaster again! It seemed as though only a few short weeks had passed since we had begun to work on taking ownership and responsibility for actions with him. He had done great – until this.

This left me puzzled. 😦 He seemed to do better with authority figures that he got to know personally. Life cannot be lived this way though. It would be impossible for Knight to get to know every single authority figure in his life personally.

I spoke with him about the importance of doing as the teachers ask while in their classes. We talked about respect and if he was to receive respect he had to give it first.  He said everyone hated him and that all his teachers were out to get him. Everyone else was causing disturbances in class too according to him. He simply was the loudest and the one called out for it. He neglected to tell us he was the leader of the disturbances though. (This we discovered through speaking with his teachers that “hated him”.)

Knight’s father was very upset that he’d been suspended. I haven’t told you all the details of the suspension, but let’s just say that the things coming out of his mouth were directed toward a female and were totally not tolerable (again – here is that zero tolerance policy). Knight and his father were told that there could not be a next time in this offense category. A next time would take him completely out of all public schools.

Knight went back to school in week 23. Knight was warned again about the zero tolerance policies (both at home and at school). Knight said he understood. Weeks 23 & 24 seemed to be getting back on track, until week 25. Knight came home from school with an in-school suspension slip. He had made noises in class (distractions) and when called down, he back-talked the teacher. He served out his sentence at school and was grounded at home from all electronics. (I took all power cords and chargers instead of the actual devices. He got to slowly watch the batteries drain knowing he could not reconnect or charge anything.)

Week 26 produced more issues. After that first horrendous event that resulted in out of school suspension, the school had agreed to evaluate him for an IEP. Knight was placed through a series of tests. He spoke with a psychologist and so did his father. All of Knight’s teachers were interviewed and all of his previous school records were being reviewed. The 2 previous schools he attended had him in *special* classes for learning disabled children because of his inability to control his anger and outbursts. Knight was not learning challenged or disabled though. That was obvious to this new school, but not his father and mother. Outsiders looking in can see things differently because they are disconnected from emotions surrounding circumstances. Basically, Knight had been given a free ride for many school years and this school was simply not into free rides.

I asked Knight if he remembered me telling him that this school would not treat him any differently than any other student. He said he remembered. I explained to Knight that he had no choice now but to begin accepting responsibilities for his actions and needed to put self-restraint he was learning into practice at school. I don’t think he liked the idea, but knew what I was telling him was true. He spoke of how much he loved the friends he’d made here and how much he wanted to stay. I told him only he was in control of the outcome. He understood he had to change his defiant personality and learn how to be compliant at school just as he had done at home.

It was tough for him. It was in the nature that he had developed over time to be defiant of everyone and everything in every situation. Showing him examples of how he had been able to do it at home allowed him to see how it was possible to do it at school too. I asked him if he was defiant at church. He said he was not. I asked him if he defied his football coach. He said he did not. So, he’d mastered 3 settings and saw that it really was up to him to master the 4th one – school!

Brief Visit – Visible Improvement (O.D.D)

This article is part 7 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3, and part 4 , part 5 , and part 6 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the next few weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

Week 10 & 11 were awesome weeks for us. They were awesome (challenging) because we had set-backs & problems from Knight, but we also received some much-needed encouragement. He was doing well with the re-enforced structure we had put in place and with gentle reminders, was doing better. He’d only had a few outburst of massive anger, sever aggression, and extremely argumentative behavior. Each of these had been very trying of our patience and required much love and prayer to work through. But, in the end, we seemed to be on the right track. We constantly reminded him that he was loved, was receiving a lot of attention (that he desperately thought he wanted), and we were not going to give up on him.

During week 10 or 11 (I can’t remember which), Knight had a visit from his out-of-state mother and another relative. They remarked about how he’d grown and seemed like a totally different child to them. They were not excited about him aspiring to play football in the up-coming fall, but were happy he was involving himself in activities to use his excess energy. Their visit lasted a few hours.

Hearing from someone else who knew him well before, that they could see a noticeable difference in him was a happy moment for me. I knew his father was still frustrated with him a lot of the time, but he was improving and I could see improvements daily too.

Exchanging one behavior for another

Knight’s explosive outbursts were becoming less severe and were occurring far less often. As what I understand as an outlet for his tendencies, Knight began to be defiant in passive ways. Some of his passive behaviors including:

  • Chewing on plastic and spitting the chewed up mess in the floor – When asked not to chew on the plastic, he would remove it from his mouth and throw it in a sneaky way behind furniture instead of in the trash can.
  • Spitting sunflower seeds in the floor – I can’t remember who bought them for him, but somehow Knight ended up with what appeared to be an endless supply of sun flower seeds in the shell. As a passive form of defiance, he began spitting them in the floor in every room. When asked to clean up his mess and reminded to spit them in a trash receptacle, he would just walk away and leave the shells. I made a new rule: NO MORE sun flower seeds in the house! After we moved back home, it took me 2 hours to remove all the sun flower seeds from the rental we were staying in. They were under furniture, stuck between the base boards and the walls, inside the tank of the toilet, stuck in the garbage disposal, in the kitchen drawers, and even behind the refrigerator and stove! I still have a no sun flower seeds rule in the house now!
  • Leaving his shoes & clothing in the living room (stuffed under the couch) – again, it’s a more passive way of being defiant that he was aiming at mentally. When asked about why he did these things, he would answer, “I don’t know.”

His passive defiance was more tolerable than his earlier behaviors, so I had to pick my battles wisely and not overwhelm him. This meant that I had to live with the lid always off the toothpaste, a cereal bowl with milk in the bottom of it in the sink several times a day, sunflower shells, etc. These things were really just normal teenage boys type behaviors anyway, and that is what we were striving for – normal or average teenager behaviors – not perfect!

Every single day, we were continuing to work on our main plan:

  • Maintaining open dialog
  • Pointing out annoying behaviors
  • Bringing lies to Knight’s attention (Taking Ownership of his Words & Actions)
  • Structure in his daily life
  • Consistency in discipline

…and

it was working!

Structure & O.D.D.

This article is part 6 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3, and part 4 , and part 5 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the next few weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

One of the most important parts of our plan to battle this Oppositional Defiance Disorder was giving Knight some much-needed structure without smothering him.

In week 8 & 9 Knight was showing significant improvements. His outbursts, physical altercations, lying, theft, annoying behaviors, & and destructive inclinations were becoming less with more time between them. I was proud of his progress & reminded him daily that he was doing so much better!

Knight was growing closer to his brothers. Fights & arguments between them were less frequent & all the boys were much more tolerable of each other.

The structure we’d initiated in our home was helping. Before Knight moved in, I thought we had structure, but hadn’t really given it much thought. Turns out, we weren’t as structured as I thought we were. These are the things we changed:

1. We established regular meal times. (I thought we had regular meal times before, but really we were independently eating when each of us were hungry.) Dinner time/Supper was the most recognised meal time. We were all going in different directions during the day & had separate interests/hobbies/jobs. So, for supper, we all slowed down, came together and ate together. I credit Knight’s father for this suggestion. It wasn’t difficult at first, but after about a week into it, some of us had a hard time stopping what we were doing & coming to the table. Within 3 weeks, it was an expectation for most of us & if one of us couldn’t make it home, several of us would be bummed out. Now, a year later, everyone coming together for supper is still part of our daily routine and is a therapeutic part of our joint successful family unit.

2. We invited Knight to help develop a smoother morning routine. I’ve always had a hard time waking the boys up in the mornings. Knight was a huge help to the family with that! He woke up relatively easy & we put his “annoying” to good use. I told him I needed his help waking his new brothers up & that he was welcome to annoy them to wake them up & help me get them moving. He seemed happy & welcomed helping me. It worked!! He was & is the best alarm clock ever 🙂 At first, his brothers complained, but I explained that the annoying would stop once they complied, got up, & started moving. 🙂

3. A regular summer chore schedule was established. They already had chore expectations, but it worked better this way. Each of the boys jade specific chores on designated days.

4. Rewards and treats we regular as clockwork. Privileges such as mall trips, going to the movies, and other favorite things became rewards.

5. A decent bedtime was established.

6. Shower/bath rules were established so everyone wasn’t trying to jump in there all at once & arguing.

These things should have been in place already, right? The truth is they were, but we just needed to start all over again, make sure we had communicated them clearly, and place emphasis on this restructuring. Let’s face it, every family has rules, but after a few years, rules must be re-established as a reminder. Especially during the teenage years when not all of a family may be going in the same direction, with each other, or have separated interests.

By the end of week 9, we had all seen a significant change in Knight’s behavior & reactions to others. We were still working on every key step we had enlisted in previous weeks. I was proud of Knight & still am 😉

Theft & Drugs (O.D.D.)

This article is part 5 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3, and part 4 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the next weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

When O.D.D. strikes a child it seems as though their entire lives are going down the drain. Outsiders nonchalantly look on the child & their family as they whisper how pitiful it is that such a seemingly wonderful or normal child has gone so wrong.  Some will make open comments in public places, some will talk behind the child and family’s backs and smile to their faces.

The truth is simply that people on the outside looking in don’t have any idea what life is really like living with a child or teen affected by Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Whether people intend to or not, they judge the parents and certainly the children for the behavior. If you are a parent, you can’t let this get you down. If you want to change the oppositional behavior, you can’t give up, give in or let go. I know the tears you’ve shed. I know the impending doom you think you see & the failure you feel hover over you. There is hope & it’s layered in Love 🙂

When we left off in the last article, I was sharing with you our progress up to week 5.  Let’s move ahead into weeks 6 & 7 after Knight moved in with us.

Theft
Near the end of week 5, leading into week 6, odd items began to disappear. My pocket knife I kept on my hip always was suddenly missing. It was a treasured memory item for me & I had worn for many years when I started hiking. I asked everyone to help me find it. Supposedly no one had seen it. Everyone searched for it. It wasn’t until I broke down in tears that it reappeared – in plain site on the coffee table everyone had walked by for days. Coincidence?

I smoke cigarettes. I know it’s bad for my health & one day I’ll stop. Anyway, my lighter disappeared the same day the pocket knife reappeared. I asked everyone to look for it & no one could find it. Things had never disappeared before Knight came to live with us. It was an odd coincidence… 😦

By week 7 my oldest son complained about his batteries disappearing from his gaming wireless controller. My youngest son was missing some clothes. My husband’s lighter was missing. Everyone was missing socks. $20 disappeared from the change compartment in my car. The steak knives started disappearing from the kitchen! Finally, I confronted Knight about all these random item disappearances. He denied having anything to do with them.
One day we were inside a local service station getting drinks & snacks. Knight asked me to buy an energy drink for him. I said, “no”. Not happy with my answer, he decided he’d just help himself to what he wanted. He looked around & slid the small product into his pocket. I walked over to him & asked him if he’d had the pleasure of meeting any local law enforcement officers. “No”, he huffed. “Well dear, I love you enough to let you meet those 4 fine officers over there.” I said pointing to a group of local & state officers. Knight’s face turned red, “You wouldn’t!” I smiled as big as I could & told him I was serious as a heart attack. Plus, they’d already seen him do it & were just waiting for me to walk away so they could arrest him. “This is a point in your life where you make a decision Knight. Go to jail over something as stupid & petty as theft or come home with me. If you choose jail or juvenile, I will NOT come get you out. Choice is yours. When I step away, your decision should already be made.” Knight quickly took the item from his pocket & placed it back on the shelf. On the way back home we talked about that ever-so important respect he wanted from others & that theft was the lowest form of deceit. I emphasized that I have nor ever will have respect for a thief. A few weeks later all the missing items began to slowly resurface. The odd disappearances weren’t discussed any further. Things also stopped disappearing…

Drugs
Knight spoke often about drugs. Sometimes he said he missed them and sometimes he spoke regretfully about them. We had no available “drugs” in our home and no one around him that he could easily bum weed from. He’d told me stories of living around them, doing them, & selling them. There is no future in drugs. He is with me to build a future, therefore drugs are counter-productive. I told him where I stood on the issue of drugs – NO.  No drug talk. No Drug t-shirts. No weed jokes. No drug innuendos. No drugs period. I told that anything that can alter your mind causes you to be out of control and more than anything, he wanted to be in control.

By the end of week 7, our focuses were the same.

  • Maintaining open dialog
  • Pointing out annoying behaviors
  • Bringing lies to Knight’s attention (Taking Ownership of his Words & Actions)
  • Structure in his daily life
  • Consistency in discipline

Knight was almost ready to start working on his next step: Relearning how to communicate with people to earn respect.

Setting Boundaries & Establishing Consistency

Welcome to this Journey through O.D.D. (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). This article is part 4 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the fourth and fifth weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

In our fourth week together, we were continuing to work on our previous plan of action: maintaining open dialog, pointing out annoying behaviors, bringing lies to Knight’s attention and being open to accepting responsibility for his actions and words. Knight was giving us signs that he was feeling overwhelmed with just these three items, so during week 4 we gave him a rest from adding more to the plan. We continued to focus on just the first three maintaining consistency.

More Open Dialog

Week 5 rolled around and our open dialog was giving me more insight into Knight’s personality & reasoning behind some of his actions (defiance). He spoke to me about his earlier school experiences & earlier life living in a large city. When he moved in with us, his environment changed significantly. We lived in a mid-sized city rental home & would be moving soon back to the home we owned in the country – within the year. He spoke of the differences in people here & how people reacted to him there. He seemed to like it here. This led to him reviewing his earlier school experiences with me.

I had a good understanding already from his transcripts, but his opinions were valuable to help me help him. He said everyone at his old school disliked him (especially the teachers). He failed many of his subjects through the years & was involved in many physical fights. He proudly explained to me that his mother had always “taken care of that for him”. He said she would go to the school and have a fit with the teachers & principle so he would be moved to the next grade. He was proud of his mother for “taking up for him”. He said she always “got him out of trouble” and once even had his juvenile record cleared so that no one could hold it against him. He felt as though she had “connections” and he could do anything he wanted to really.

I did not rebuttal anything he said or offer any comments. I just let him talk. In my mind however, I wondered why she would do that for him in a public setting when I was told by her that his physical altercations at home resulted in declaring that she “couldn’t handle him any longer”.  I am not judging her by no means. I was simply left wondering.  Knight had very bad school transcripts, a history of failing classes, provoking others to fights, threatening the safety of others while in school, in school and out of school suspensions, and many school initiated psychological reviews. His previous 2 schools had him on an IEP (Independent Education Program) and had marked him as *special needs* because of his behavior. I, however, did not see him as *special. I felt like that was a cop-out instead of addressing his real issue of O.D.D. They had him in classes for developmentally delayed children and he was/is by no means delayed! I set a boundary.

Getting Ready for a New School

I explained to Knight that I did not see him as *special needs. I told him I loved him & would do everything I could to help him, but I would not take up for him to get him out of trouble if he in fact, was guilty. I explained to him the new school I would be enrolling him in was a public school that has a zero tolerance policy for his previous types of behaviors. He said, “whatever”.  I accepted his whatever as a sign of understanding. I knew he heard and  understood what I told him. I also told him that the new school would probably not place him on an easy IEP. His father had said he was going to go to school and ask that one be created, but I knew from experience that the new school treated all children equally. They would test him and decide he was not truly *special. I was grateful I had an entire summer to work with him before he entered into the new school.

Altercations, Defiance & Random Outburst

By week five, I saw several physical altercation attempts between he and his father & a few between he and my boys. None of which were provoked by any reason of means – they just occurred as randomly as part of his need to annoy others.  Here, in random order, is an account of a few:

  • Knight’s father returns home from work. Knight is sitting on the couch playing his Xbox. His father says, “Hey Knight. How was your day?” Knight doesn’t answer. He is ignoring his father. Walking closer to his son, his father asks again. Knight angrily puts down game controller down huffing a loud sigh of disgust. “FINE”, he yells. “It was FINE, OKAY? OH MY GOD!” Not once did he look at his father. He returned to playing his game.  Knight’s father begins to yell back at him about respect, working all day and being happy to come home to him and receiving that reaction from him. (I’ll add that to the list of what didn’t work later.) Knight gets up from the couch. (1)Throws his controller down and wants to escape his father. Knight likes being oppositional and defiant, but detest anyone treating him that way. Knight goes into his bedroom and (2)slams the door. His father follows him. More yelling on both parts.  😦    After all yelling has ceased, both of them are separated. Knight begins (3)kicking and punching the closet door. The door comes out of its track. Falling, it slams into the back wall of the closet.

After about an hour, Knight came to me and asked me to help him.

 He was full of anger and resentment toward his father.

I told him I loved him but that I couldn’t and wouldn’t live in a home with violence. Violence is not love and will never resolve anything. He explained to me that a therapist his mother took him to advised him to destroy things instead of  people when he was mad. He could not see why slamming doors, punching walls, and throwing things was not acceptable. I explained to him that the therapist that told him that was probably correct when Knight was a younger child, but because he is a teenager now (almost a man), he needed to express himself verbally and not with his hands. We had a lengthy conversation about how physical altercations instill fear in people. He said that he felt it was a way of gaining respect. (He was consumed by “respect” yet showed no respect to anyone or anything.) I told him he was gaining my respect until he used his hands to physically display his anger or frustration. I also told him that if he crossed the line at any point with his aggression – he was out. HE asked me what is punishment was going to be. I answered, “I am taking the power cord to your Xbox for 3 days. You can sit on the couch and stare at it, but you can’t make it function for you. I am also taking your phone. I love you and you know I do, but I can’t help you if you don’t try”. He cried. He agreed to keep trying . He apologized to his father, his new brothers, and I. He began working on (and still is working toward) keeping his new promise of limiting or eliminating his physical aggression.

  • On another day, Knight and his new brother’s were hanging out in their room. As mentioned before the place we were living in was a mid-sized city home at the time. They all 3 teenage boys shared a bedroom. I am in my bedroom and it is late. Our rooms share a dividing wall and I hear cussing and foul language through the wall. I don’t know what or who started it.  I also hear, “Dude if you ever ___ I will stab you!” and “You wanna be shanked, dude?”

Threats are not tolerable. When picking battles, this is a one I chose. I quickly removed all knives and sharp objects from the house and locked them up, as though I was child-proofing for a toddler. I called Knight out on the threats. He denied them over and over. We spoke about accepting responsibility for actions and words we speak as I reminded him I heard them with my own ears. He continued to deny his threats. I told him I was disappointed in him. He had just gained his Xbox back and had played it earlier in the day. I took the power cord again. I took his phone and Wi-Fi from him. (He was very upset about that.) He lost these things for 3 days. To get them back he would need to show good behaviors for 3 days consistently.  His father spoke to him (actually more like lectured him) and in the end he promised to stop the threats…or at least try to. My boys came to me and told me they were worried for their safety. I expressed this to Knight’s father and he spoke yet again with Knight. He re-enforced that threats would not be tolerated. Knight was afraid of being shipped off to a disciplinary school and told me he liked living with us. He promised repetitively to end all threats and he made it almost 4 months before another threat slipped off his tongue. This has and still was a work in progress. 🙂

  • We were all sitting around the dinner table having supper. During conversation the subject of my boys’ deceased father was brought up. When the boys felt secure in the company they kept, they would mention him and want to talk about memories. They were becoming more comfortable with Knight. They mentioned how they missed their father and loved him. Knight (who was in a particularly defiant mood that day) began to laugh loudly. 😦 He said “HA!  Death is funny!” I stopped eating and said, “Death is not funny Knight. Haven’t you ever lost someone who you loved before?” He replied, “Yeah, so!?! I don’t care. Death is Funny. Who Cares anyway? It’s stupid.” Knight’s comments were angering my boys who were recovering from PTSD caused by watching their father die – literally. They loved their father and grieved deeply for a long time during their recovery. 😦  I glanced at my boys to reassure them that this was just one of Knight’s attempt to annoy, defy them, and cause dramatic confusion. My reassuring look was not working. Both boys were filled with anger. My oldest stood up and told Knight “he’d better watch what he said or he wouldn’t be responsible for what could happen if he was enraged”.  Knight had fear in his eyes and I could tell he regretted what he had said, but through defiance – couldn’t bring himself to take it back or apologize. I stood up and announced dinner was over. I sent my oldest son to his room to cool down. I told him I’d be in to talk to him soon. My youngest who was giving Knight a look of total disdain was sent to the bedroom also. Knight jumped up from the table and yelled, “Do it man! Come on. Hit me. I dare you.” He knocked over the chair he was sitting in and said, “I don’t need this. I don’t need you. I’m running away!” He did. He ran out the front door. I went to the boys in their bedroom who were crying. I hugged them, reassured them they are entitled to miss their father and reminded them that Knight is still testing his limits with us. I asked them to bear with me because I was not giving Knight what he wanted. He would not provoke a response from me. I was not giving in or giving up. They told me they loved me. Then, I went out to search for Knight. I didn’t see him in the neighborhood. I drove to the ball field. I didn’t see him. It was getting dark. I called Knight’s mother. She said she would speak with Knight. I called Knight’s father. He said he would speak to Knight and not to worry about it, advising me Knight would be back very soon – he wouldn’t go far.  😦

Knight’s father was correct. He came back within the hour. He knocked on my bedroom door and apologized for his outburst. He said he didn’t know what made him do it or why he had said what he did. I told me he was jealous of my boys’ love for one another and their relationship. He told me he was jealous of how everyone loved each other in our family and that he wanted that. I reminded him that I loved him and that I had already welcomed him into our family. The invitation had been given and he had a choice to take it or not. He said he felt as though he was being treated differently. I promised him that he would be treated equal and reminded him that included following the same rules and requests that the other boys followed daily. Knight’s father lectured him for his actions. Knight’s mother lectured him for his actions. I continued to love him in spite of his actions, so I punished him…again.

Consistency: 3 days of No Phone, No Wi-Fi, No computer, his Xbox was available (all cords this time) – but with No controller, No more outings with me (which he enjoyed), & he had to spend 2 days with his father. He assumed these things were all punishments, but really it was a re-connection time for he and his father.

There is Hope

Of course there have been many other outburst and acts of aggression than these alone. There is no need to write about all of them. The point of this article is to give hope to those parents out there who may be dealing with a child or teen who exhibits O.D.D symptoms and behaviors. We have lived through them all. Encountered them all. Survived them all. Hope comes from knowing that these types of actions and behaviors only very rarely occur now (a year later).

The key for us during this stage (only 5 weeks into Oppositional Defiance Disorder) had been:

  1. Maintaining open dialog
  2. Pointing out annoying behaviors
  3. Bringing lies to Knight’s attention (Taking Ownership of his Words & Actions)
  4. Structure in his daily life
  5. Consistency in discipline

Please stay tuned for Part 5 to come soon.

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