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6 year old with ADHD and ODD-Child has difficulty receiving compliments

ilovepumpkinspice profile image

When my son hears positive reinforcement and compliments, his behavior is much worse after. It’s almost as if he wants to prove his defiance and he can’t handle the dopamine spike. It makes it difficult to get him to the point of receiving more positive than negative feedback, especially with other adults in his life. He’s always in trouble when he’s in a group of other kids and he’s never been invited to a play date without me, because other parents don’t know how to handle him. He was just diagnosed a few months ago and I have to admit that I have been frustrated with him more times than I’d like to admit. Witnessing all of this playing out is heartbreaking. How can I help him?

14 Replies
Aspen797 profile image

Have you checked out Russell Barkley? He has great books and talks (YouTube) on raising kids with ADD. He emphasizes positive reinforcement for good behavior, planned ignoring/walking away from bad behavior (choosing your battles), and quality time with your child where you do not guide, instruct, comment on the play but just follow child’s lead. When our son was little, we bounced around with defiance. It’s so hard. The steps above made a huge difference when consistently implemented. We also relied on “built-in” limit setting a lot —first you do this, then you get that (clothes on, teeth brush, then breakfast), and written schedules and time timers to stop nagging. Medication also helped, as did therapy (speech, social, ot) to address lagging skills. I hope you are also finding support for you. This is not a platitude. You need support in order to do the heavy lifting! This is a good and safe community. You might also want to check your local CHADD group too. Welcome!

ilovepumpkinspice profile image
ilovepumpkinspice in reply to Aspen797

I will definitely check out Russell Barkley and I will look into our local CHADD groups. I have been pretty intentional lately with planned ignoring and walking away when I know he's just using it as a ploy to get more attention. We do a ton of built-in limit setting at home, otherwise everything would be a constant spin of negotiation. Our schedule is super important and he falls right into it. The planned ignoring is really tough when we are around other people who see his behavior and can't understand why we are ignoring it. He also has challenges with saying unkind words impulsively. He doesn't mean them, I know that, but feelings are feelings and he gets a ton of negative feedback from this as well as his "rude" behaviors and intonations. So, when I compliment him for using kind words or having good self control, it's really impulsive for him to almost immediately test me by saying something unkind back and then he either gets a rule violation for respect or I ignore it. Either way, it's reinforcing what he's already internalized about himself. I'm not sure what to do about it, bit I will definitely check out these resources. Thank you.

EssEm profile image

I agree on Russell Barkley suggestion. I am still new to this and navigating myself, but I double-downed on the connection aspect and completely forgoing any/all negative reactions to my son's behavior (had to dig deep sometimes, not going to lie), and it has done wonders for his defiant behaviors.

ilovepumpkinspice profile image
ilovepumpkinspice in reply to EssEm

We use planned ignoring or simply say which rule he is violating. I can't say that happens in school though. I can't control how they are punishing him. I think we are doing all the right things at home. He loves to play chase and asks several times a day to play this game. We run around the house and I pretend that I can't catch him. It's the BEST form of connection and time in for him. I have no idea why, but he just loves it.

EssEm profile image
EssEm in reply to ilovepumpkinspice

Mine loves to play chase too!

EssEm profile image
EssEm in reply to EssEm

If the defiant behaviors occur at school, are they mostly around a certain subject or time of day? For my son it was always around reading/writing time...turned out he has dyslexia and reading/writing disabilities and was super super frustrated and feeling BAD about himself, which I think greatly manifested in defiance, anger, and agitation. We are now addressing this as well as his ADHD in an IEP. Can't say for sure if things have improved yet, since we are still virtual learning (thanks COVID!) but I have seen an improvement at home. We are also experimening with getting him the right meds that work for him.

Onthemove1971 profile image

Just curious what "tools" are you using to assist him with these struggles? These will continue to be an issues in many situations.

We are using Mightier, he is in group therapy online once a week where he practices good behavior and rule violations. I have a few tools for the classroom like a wobble chair and a squishy ball. He also has a quiet spot at school. He is often sent to his quiet spot as a punishment though or the teacher will use very frustrated tone of voice when she says he needs to cool down. That bothers me, but I can't control it. He gets the squishy ball at morning circle at school, but he has a hard time keeping it in his hands and gets it taken away. I'm not sure if that is getting him in more "trouble" or not at this point. At home, we have a behavior chart and he gets a star for every 2 hours that he can go without a rule violation. If he gets a certain number of stars (on a leveled scale), he earns Nintendo time. That worked well as an incentive for about a week and then he decided that he wasn't that interested in the Nintendo anymore. He's very smart, so just as soon as we get something to stick, he has figured out the pattern and we are back to the drawing board.

EssEm profile image
EssEm in reply to ilovepumpkinspice

We have had trouble getting reward systems to "stick" too. He basically loses intereted in the prizes after a certain amount of time. He's actually told the teachers at school "I don't feel like earnig stars today". bah!!

In terms of other tools, he loves the sensory cocoon/blanket.

ilovepumpkinspice profile image
ilovepumpkinspice in reply to EssEm

We also have the body sock and he also loves it!

ADHD_DAD profile image

Sounds like you are doing all the right things. Keep up the great work! Chase sounds fun. Exercise is good for both ADHD and ODD. I suspect that you know that. Be well.

MrsD2 profile image

We always write to our daughter when we have something positive to say. She reads it in her own time and then rereads it if she needs to. She always keeps them. This works for us - when she was younger we write with really simple words and pictures. At school, they do a proud cloud for her and put comments and photos on it. Hope this helps.

Cjkchamp profile image

I know what you’re talking about. My son reacted the same way and I got the feeling it had to do with the fact he was told how bad he was all the time. I recommend checking out the nurtures heart approach. I also recommend investigating broad spectrum micronutrients. They were recommended by my son’s psychiatrist and have worked very well for him. They helped with a lot of the behaviors you see with ODD. Did they actually diagnose ODD because your son is young and they usually hold off on that one for a while? They were looking at emotional dysregulation for mine. Wishing you the best!

I have read the Nurtured Heart Approach about two years ago. It was really challenging for us at the time to implement without having a clinician and group therapy or any other kind of support really. I do like the approach though and it makes sense. He was diagnosed with mild ODD. It runs in my family.

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