mama2kas asks:

How to deal with a problem child?

My 11 year old son (12 in 6 months), has so many problems, I don't even know where to begin.  He lies, he steals, he beats up on his sisters, he constantly sasses back at authority figures, and he out right disobeys both parents.  We have tried taking him to a psychologist, but it doesn't do any good.  He just lies to them to get what he wants (usually sympathy).  He has been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder).  Though there are meds he can take for the ADHD, there is nothing they can give him for the ODD.  We are at our wits end with him, and I am worried that our constant attention to him is taking away from our other two kids.  How do we get through to him?  How do we change this behavior before it gets completely out of hand?
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



May 29, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

It sounds like you have your hands full and my heart goes out to you. It is so hard having an out of control kid and no resources help you.

This question can't be answered in a Q&A forum, it is really a counseling or coaching issue.  I know you said you have tried that but perhaps you need a different psychologist? One that doesn't allow his/her compassion and sympathy to be manipulated by a child...

I don't want to sound like a commercial, but the best advice I can give you is to take the "Becoming a Love and Logic Parent" class which is probably offered somewhere in your community (do a google). This class will give you the answers you seek- or at least the foundation to begin making healthy changes in your home. Love and Logic also has books, but this class is what will help you because of the video clips and the interaction with other parents and the facilitator.  Many counselors recommend L&L along with therapy.

One thing I can tell you is that with ODD kids it is especially important that you use choices instead of demands and learn how to set limits without saying the word "No." That little word just gives them a reason to fight. So try this instead:

Say Yes Instead of No!
Parents can still set limits and say 'Yes!' by using the following phrases:
• "Yes! Just as soon as ..."
• "Absolutely! Right after..."
• "Yes! And..."
• "Sure! As long as ..."
• "Great idea! But first..."
• "Yes, if..."

Be sure to put the emphasis on the word "Yes!" with great enthusiasm and big smiles. It helps to pause for just a moment right after the 'Yes!'  And then say, "as soon as" or "right after", etc.

Examples: "Can I watch TV?" "Yes! As long as your homework is done."

"Mom can I have that?" "Absolutely! Just as soon as you earn enough money to pay for it!"

Here's one for teens: "Hey Mom, can I borrow the car to go over to Bill's house?" "Sure! Right after you're done mowing the lawn."

Remember, the key is to be cheerful and encouraging as you deliver your message.

It sounds simple but is amazing how well it works.

Another thing to remember is that anger and frustration fuel misbehavior. So if you are responding to your child with anger and frustration (and who wouldn't?! You're in a tough spot), you could be making things worse; especially with ODD. Love and Logic will give you some tools to replace anger responses with. Check out their website- there are many free articles and a good free audio which will help (

There is also a good free audio by the co-founder of L&L on the website I manage   at: The audio will really help you as it directly addresses the frustration/ sympathy issues parents often face in situations where a kid has health issues and is resistant.

Good luck and hang in there. There is hope! I've seen 1000's of lives change with this material (including my own).

Lisa G.
Parent Coach

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Additional Answers (2)

Loddie1 , Parent writes:
I would try a behavior plan that both you and your son can sit down and manage. It is like finances out of control that need to be looked at further. Try sitting down with him at the table when he is not being defiant and ask him to write down  5 things he likes about some of the adults around him (like mom, dad, teacher) then ask him to do the same but things that are not so good. This will give you a good idea how he views "respect" and other issues. Then set up a plan for trying to manage his anger or outburst (defiance). Also, try altering his diet. I always recommend this when dealing with "behaviors". I am a firm believer that diet essentially plays a vital role in this. Have him write down what he eats for break and snack. If you discover his diet is full of sugar (cokes, candy bars, etc. ) or high starches ( breads, rolls, ect). I would start controlling his diet by packing him some veggies and dip along with non carbonated health drink ( B vitamin drink). Another idea is to visit a website with problems (like this one) read the writer's problem ( a similar situation) and then ask your son how he thinks he could help. This will let him know he is not the only child faced with the challenges of ODD and ADHD. Good luck :)
> 60 days ago

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MAMAof3 writes:
I can empathize with you totally.  I am in the same boat, so know you aren't alone.  

My 10 yr. old son has a lot of the same behaviors.  Some say he is just a boy or I'm too hard on him.  Then I get-- it is just him or where do these behaviors or the bad language come from, like it is my fault.  
I am angry and scared a lot. It has been recommended that I get someone to talk to for me instead of just therapy for him. (Which didn't work the first time.  We are trying to find another one that fits our needs better.)  My kids need to not hear anger and consequences all the time.  They are starting to tell other he is just bad.  

I think a parent support group and a therapist for you might be the way to go at this time.  You need a sounding board and support.  Friends don't always have the right answers or responses because their children don't have these issues.

Believe me I understand your frustration.  Just know you are not alone in this.
> 60 days ago

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