Saturday, April 3, 2010

Loving your oppositional child . . .

I have a child who is oppositional AND I love her. At times I do not like her, at times she really gets on my nerves, AT times (gulp) I don’t feel like being her mother. You too might have an ODD child. When I say ODD I don’t mean odd as in odd-ball, although she does fit that definition:), when I say ODD I mean the psychiatric diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I saw early signs of this with Autumn, at age 3 I knew I was going to have my hands full.

Here is the clinic criteria for a child diagnosed with ODD:

You might have a child with ODD if your child’s oppositional behaviors:

Are persistent (Yep, persistence is autumn’s specialty!)
Have lasted at least six months (we are going on 7 years!!!)
Are clearly disruptive to the family and home or school environment (she can make everyone miserable at home, she was kicked out of summer camp on the first day and she has been sent home from school more times than I can count!)

The following are behaviors associated with ODD:

Negativity (Everything is negative with Autumn!)
Defiance (she does not care about getting in trouble)
Disobedience (Rules are made to be broken!)
Hostility directed toward authority figures (She’s not hostile however she
does not have a healthy fear for authority)

These behaviors might cause your child to regularly and consistently show these signs and symptoms:

Temper tantrums (queen of temper tantrums, even at age 10)
Argumentativeness with adults (She does not argue, she shuts down)
Refusal to comply with adult requests or rules (Authority does not Phase her)
Deliberate annoyance of other people (Annoying is not the word!)
Blaming others for mistakes or misbehavior (It’s everyone else’s fault!)
Acting touchy and easily annoyed (Everything seems to annoy Autumn)
Anger and resentment (Her face says it all, picture a scowl!)
Spiteful or vindictive behavior (Not so much, thank god!)
Aggressiveness toward peers (when she’s in the zone, yes!)
Difficulty maintaining friendships (So sad, but yes, friends don’t come easy)
Academic problems (Yes, last year they wanted to retain her)

Related mental health issues
Oppositional defiant disorder often occurs along with other behavioral or mental health problems such as:

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (YES!)
Anxiety (YES!)
Depression (Have not seen this yet but it’s looming!)

So how do you love a child with this disorder? With Autumn it is easy. Although she can be extremely difficult she can also be the most loving, caring, sensitive child. Her smile lights up a room, her laugh is contagious. I try to remember her good qualities when I’m at my wit’s end. Lately I have been taking deep breathes to get through the moments. I try not to yell, I definitely do not hit. I use to spank, but at around age 3 autumn started to show signs of violence. Spanking made no sense, and honestly spanking did not phase her. Disappointment, yelling, reprimanding does not seem to phase her. Time outs work, taking tv away works, going to bed early works.

Presently I am thankful for the quiet times with autumn. As I write this she is sitting quietly drawing on her dry erase board. She is happy, content. Nothing is bothering her for the moment. I pray one day she grows out of this. I pray that she accepts rules and the way things are supposed to be. She has been resisting school again, she wants me to home school her:). If I could, maybe I would home school her, although she is overly attached to me so I’m not sure what that would do to our relationship. And who am I kidding, I couldn’t handle her, if I’m honest there are days I go to work and thank god I can get out of the house.

After writing this I’m not sure how helpful this is. Not sure I even answered the question, “how do you love your oppositional child”. I guess I just needed to get this out, I have been struggling myself for a while now. Autumn’s opposition and crabby attitude has been escaladed lately. We have had to increase her medications. At age 10 she has hit puberty which has not helped in the hormone department. She is also pissed at her body, she does not want to grow up. She wants her body to stop growing up. For a kid who does not transition well you could imagine what puberty (a major transition) would be like!!!!

So for now I take it one day at a time. Some days I take it one minute at a time. It’s all I can do. More on this later, I’m going to go enjoy my daughter :)!

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