Defiant Son

Updated on May 27, 2014
K.G. asks from Simpsonville, SC
10 answers

My son is 12. AD/Hd and completely defiant. He is great in school and most of the time in after school care, but when he gets home he does nothing but argue. About anything. He would argue with a wall if the thought it would talk back. I am a divorced mom whos ex still has lots of contact with my son. And he is a typical Disney Land dad. Gets him whatever he wants to keep him quiet. So i get all of the frustrations and anger and ugliness... It has gotten bad enough that i have done the Dr. Phil method of stripping his room down and making him earn everything back. I mean everything. He has no respect for me or my boyfriend who lives with us. (He is very caring and only steps in when my son is completely out of control.) My son even admits that he broke up his dad and his fiance because he didnt like her. He is smart as a whip and stubborn as a mule. How do i get him to stop arguing and talking back? Just relax and have fun. We want to do so much stuff with him but I refuse to reward his attitude.

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So What Happened?

I have recently enrolled my child in Tae Kwon Do which he does really good at. And is respectful to the instructors. At least i can say that he is respectful to others even if he is not to me so that is good. He was diagnosed with AD/HD when he was five. Off the scales.. The doctor did say that he had ODD tendencies but i did not let him put that in his report at the advice of a school teacher friend. And last week his dad did finally get to hear my son in one of his fits. He sas not happy to say the least, but did not uphold any of my punishments while he had him for the weekend. So, i am going to stop arguing, and if he diesnt stop he will be in his room until he is 18... :).
****my son is on vyvanse and has been seen regularly by his psychologist and our family doctor. Along with therapy. I think I may go with a variety from the responses... More one on one time, no arguing from me, and another visit to the dr to see about the ODD. All great suggestions!! Thanks!

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answers from New York on

His age and you have a boyfriend. He is lashing out. Therapy for you both. You need some direction from a professional.

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answers from Beaumont on

I too have a very defiant son. Making headway and wanted to share. We now have a little ritual of eating breakfast out on Saturday mornings. We are the early risers so it's easy to slip out. It has really helped our relationship and through our conversations, I have found ways into his world. Best of luck...hang in there Mama!!

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answers from San Francisco on

Yeah, those Disneyland dads can cause a lot of problems. If his father won't totally spoil your son and allow him to rule the roost, you might want to consider letting him live with dad for a while. Boys need (firm) dads at that age.

If not, I suggest you don't engage him in argument. It's pointless. Reason does not work at this age. Just state your expectations and the consequences as short and simply as possible, and then follow through with the consequences. You've already stripped the room, so I'm not sure how much more you can do.

This can be a tough age -- at least he's doing well in school, and is good at after school care, which is a good sign. If they don't get into drugs and drop out of school or engage in other bad behavior, they pretty much grow out of the surliness in their later teens.

Good luck.

p.s. Is he in a sport with a strong coach? Or martial arts? He should be.

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answers from Sacramento on

Have you had him evaluated for ODD (oppositional defiant disorder)? That's a common co-morbid to ADHD, so it's worth asking his psychiatrist for input. Our son has ADHD, ODD and a variety of other conditions. ODD is one of the toughest of the bunch, but it's under control now through help with the medical professionals and Abilify. Your son may just have plain ol' defiance, but given his existing brain disorder, it's worth asking his psychiatrist for an assessment.

ETA: Why in the world wouldn't the ODD be included in the psychiatrist's report? I don't understand the logic. The school needs to know exactly what conditions he faces so they can help him (it should be noted in his 504 plan or IEP), as does anyone else playing an important role in his life. It sounds like nothing, then, has been done to help with the ODD? That's the missing piece to the puzzle here ... appropriate medical help. Get that and you'll get the right advice for this condition. It's not the same as dealing with a neurotypical kid who's defiant.

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answers from Toledo on

I think it's time for the two of you to spend some fun, quality time together. He is desperate for some positive attention from you. I understand you are concerned that he will perceive that as a reward for his bad behavior, but I really think he's crying out to you. If Dad had a fiancé and you have a boyfriend, where does he fit into the mix? It is very, very normal for him to feel left out and wonder if he's really loved anymore.

You wouldn't be rewarding him. You would be showing him love and making sure he knows in no uncertain terms that you are his mom, you love him and you are there got him always! He doesn't trust that tight now. He's crying out to you. He's begging you to love him, no matter what.

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answers from Boston on

There are a couple of books that you may find helpful, and I would talk to his therapist about this as well.

One is called The Kadzin Method for Parenting Your Defiant Child. It is written by a doctor who has a child/family development institute at Yale and has worked in a clinical setting for decades with children so defiant that they were admitted into a residential treatment program. As extreme as those credentials sound, the book is actually very positive, rational, and doable and it's just a great parenting book in general and not just for kids with ODD.

The second book is by Daniel Amen and is called Healing ADD. It's a revised edition that talks about 7 types of ADHD and is by far the most up to date and comprehensive book on the subject that I've read. One of the interesting areas it delves into is conflict-seeking behavior as a coping mechanism for ADHD. The idea is that high-conflict behavior is such a pervasive trait of those with many types of ADHD that is must serve some biochemical purpose, and it does. Conflict is very stimulating to the brain and some people really function better and are able to focus and get work done after and explosive episode. I know that with my oldest son, when it comes time to sit down and really put on the afterburners and finish up a project or paper, he has to pick a giant fight with me first, have a tantrum, and then he'll calm down, get to work, and will be productive. Obviously it's not a very effective coping mechanism and had a large negative side effect, but it was interesting for me to see it in this light and know that this isn't just personality at work, but the brain self-medicating any way possible to get the job done.

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answers from Washington DC on

Your "so what happened" addition is worrying -- If I read it right, your son was diagnosed with ADHD at five and at the same time (age five) was found to have "ODD tendencies" that you didn't want reported. Does that mean, then, that your son has never received any treatment or further evaluation to see if he has ODD? That is a serious oversight. Is he getting any treatment, meds, therapy for the ADHD? You say he was diagnosed but never mention what treatment, if any, he has had or is having now.

If he has ADHD and its' not treated, it may need treatment now. And if the last mention of ODD was when he was five and he has never been re-evaluated for that since then -- please get him evaluated immediately. He is nearly a teen. If he has ODD, why not get it formally diagnosed and get him the meds and therapy that can help him? Are you worried that he'll be labeled at school as a bad kid? Better to have a label than to go untreated and get worse. He may not have ODD but it sounds like you could at least find out one way or the other.

Whether or not he has ODD, it sounds like you, your boyfriend and your son could all benefit from counseling and you and your boyfriend could use a parenting course aimed at helping parents of defiant preteens. You don't have to try to cope on your own-- there is help out there but the older your son gets, the harder it will be to get him to cooperate in his own treatment if you don't start soon.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Part of this is the age. My 12 year old is doing the same thing and does not have ADHD or any other diagnosis. You have got to be firm and hold what you say.
I push the point my word is the final word and when told something nothing else is to be said from him. Still working on this, but when he argues say over a certain fact, I make him look it up as he will argue his point till he's blue in the face. As for when it comes to getting something done I have a list of daily expectations. That way he cannot argue (although he loves to try) with what is expected of him for the day. It is a slow process but it is working.
With his ADHD, being a kid with divorced parents, and the age it is going to be tough. Work out as much as you can with his therapist as well.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Have you tried 1-2-3 Magic with him before? He is near the end of the age range it is recommended for, but I don't know why it wouldn't work. It would certainly cut out the arguing, which sounds like your biggest hurdle (aside from Disney Dad that is).
Oh well... having an ODD diagnosis changes things a bit. It helps to provide all the relevant information up front.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

It sounds like what you've been doing isn't working so why, WHY, keep doing it?

I suggest you get with his psychiatrist and get his meds updated or changed. If you don't have him on meds then....well, I'll be nice and say it's time you reconsidered that option and not that if a kid had a medical problem a parent does not keep them from having meds that will fix that issue or keep them from being worse.

If he's on meds and the psychiatrist is not willing to change them or update them then an option would be to send kiddo to a life skills type camp for a few weeks or months. I know a kid that went to a survival camp in a semi dessert area and he came back a different kid. He'd learned so much. He's in medical school now.

Another kid I knew went to a facility where she lived for about 6 months. She came back a much better person and she has her MBA and works in big business. The skills she learned have helped her throughout her life and still to this day.

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