Need help..."Difficult" 5 year old

Are you homeschool a special needs child? Are you personally physically challenged? Here is the place to share your questions, tips, and experiences.

Moderators: Theodore, elliemaejune

Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:38 pm
Location: Missouri

Need help..."Difficult" 5 year old

Postby JJ » Mon Jun 26, 2006 4:11 am

Hi, I checked out the NATHHAN website and found that it really didn't help my particular need so I'm posting here in hopes that someone can help me with my son.
In the subject I put "difficult" in the quotations because I really try not to think of my son as difficult... but being blunt he can really raise the blood pressure when he wants to. He will be 5 on July 15th. He has two conditions which really make each other worse... He has Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) which is exactly what it sounds like, likes to do the opposite of what he's told and likes to be defiant and stubborn. Part of the problem with it is that he has the intelligence of a child 2 years older, approx. age seven according to the testing he's been put through, but he has the maturity level of a 3 year old. So what he has in intelligence he lacks in maturity and it can really be horrible sometimes. The other diagnosis is more detailed, he has Sensory Integration Dysfunction, which causes his 5 senses (taste, smell, hearing etc) to get jumbled. He may hear something and taste something unrelated because of it. Both conditions also cause his concentration level to be practically nothing. If you ever read about them you'll find they are strange conditions which until his diagnosis I'd never heard of. In any case I need some support or someone to point me to a support group. This is going to be an ongoing thing for awhile. I am tired of sending him on time-outs. He's not happy and neither am I. Most of my teaching is through art work which he loves to see the out come but his patience is sooo lacking that he doesn't want to go through the motions to get to the out come. It also makes things worse that I'm also teaching his younger brother (age 3) at the same time. He gets jealous even if his brother is in the room while I work one on one with him (my 5 year old). He sits there and says that he doesn't know the answer after we go over things a hundred times... He purposely ruins his art projects so that he can get out of doing them. Today his art project was also a science project, learning the parts and needs of flowers/plants. He deliberately cut through his flower petals because I wouldn't cut them out for him. I'm getting frusterated, and today was a good day. It seems to be getting a little better, I'm making some progress with him... But, since this could get worse again and will be ongoing I am going to need some help from someone who understands. Even just to talk to someone....
Any suggestions? I'm open for just about anything. I'm fully confident in my prepared curriculum. I feel that it is not too taxing for him. He just doesn't want to try and the statistics on publically schooled children like him are not good. Usually they are suspended and eventually expelled. Not to mention the possiblility of a impending conduct disorder or ADHD (related conditions in older kids) which usually lands them in prison someday. I know it all sounds like I'm all doom and gloom, I'm really not but I just need help and I can't afford the therapist (insurance refuses to pay) for the ODD. He goes to physical therapy for the Sensory Dysfunction. It seems to help but not for the ODD. I also read about a book on ODD children and I really don't think the book will be that helpful for MY state of mind. I can't be a good teacher and parent if I'm upset or frusterated.
Sorry for the ramblings. Thanks to anyone who can help. More than anything I am just looking for a support group but suggestions are helpful too.
Thanks again,
Jeannie C. :?:

Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2006 6:52 pm
Location: MD

Postby judygray842 » Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:56 am

Hi, I'm sorry to hear you're having such a difficult time. My son also has ODD. But I really think he's coming out of it. He's 7, and has ADHD too. I've done a bit of research myself, and here are some tips that help us. I can't promise that they will help you too, but here goes. First, they don't behave defiantly because they like to, it's because they don't know another way. That is just their nature. Second, positive rienforcement goes a lot further than time out. Try setting him up for praise. Give him something to do you know he will do, then praise him for it. And be specific (I reallly like the way you picked up your shoes the very first time I asked you). It's not easy to catch them doing good, when they almost never do, but keep at it, and it might pay off. He may need lots of positive attention, and since he doesn't know how to go about it, he settles for negative. Third, this really helped with my son: try to overwhelm him with very positive activities. Our psyciatrist suggested cub scouts, church, sports, etc. We have our son in scouts, karate, and going to church. He hated all of it from the start, but we stuck with it, and he's starting to like these activities. And it gives an opportunity to praise his effort. He's not perfect, but he's a lot better than he was at 5. Last, you may want to start behavior counselling if you haven't already. Even if you already know what you should be doing, a good counseller can be the support you need to follow through with the tough stuff. Hang in there, all your efforts will pay off. Good luck.
That which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.

Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2006 6:52 pm
Location: MD

Postby judygray842 » Thu Jun 29, 2006 6:15 am

I'm sorry, I didn't realize they refused to pay for the therapist. I just reread that part. If you want, you can email with me at I will try to help you with the things I've learned in counselling. I'm no therapist, but I will try to be supportive. We've been in some form of therapy or another since my boy was 4, and he's 7 now. There isn't any easy answer, it's mostly parent training, and you keep looking for the easy answer because you're so exhausted from the child, but the easy answer never comes. And even when you find something that works, it takes a while to see that it works. Nothing helps overnight. We don't have the sensory problem. I have a nephew with that, and it isn't pretty. He hates it when his clothes are touching him. I'm so glad we don't have that. I can't help you with that at all, having no experience. But I will try to be supportive if that helps you. We just started homeschooling last March. I could see the whole public school thing going downhill fast. He wasn't making friends because he's not like the other kids. He can't read or write, and thier answer to everything is to punish it. Well, he can't help it when he can't sit still for 5 or six hours a day. And when the teacher keeps singling him out in front of the others, they will pick on him, and it snowballs. Of course they blame everything on bad parenting. At least his last teacher in particular. They don't always believe in ADHD or ODD. I know where you're coming from with the scary thoughts of prison one day. I too read up on conduct disorder. This is a real problem that people without experience think is just bad parenting. It's not. These children are different. But you can beat it. You have to keep trying.
That which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.

Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2006 8:57 am
Location: Texas

Another Positive Reinforcement Idea

Postby pamtidteach » Fri Jul 14, 2006 7:28 am

I had a thought about positive reinforcement that works with other children. Sometimes children with SI issue and ODD respond a great deal like children on the Autsim spectrum. These kiddos really like structure, in the idea that they know what is going to happen every day...and that things will be the same day after day. A daily Calendar set up in 15 min intervals might be a good idea....balancing things he really likes to do with things he is not so crazy about. Aren't we all like that... I will clean the bathroom, so I can read a is a life skill to do what we don't want to so we are free to do what we want to do.
One thing to keep in mind is that for years we have known that boys are often not as ready to learn at 5 as girls are. I would not even worry a great deal about academics for a year or so...spend that time on working out the schedule. Moving from 15 min intervals to 20, then to 30...slowly. Once you have hime doing 30 min at a time with pretty good attention...then you can get some teaching done. This will also give you the flexibility to teach the children in alternate 30 min blocks, until they are mature enough to learn together.
You may want to print out a sheet for each day...and you may want to start with just the morning and not even worry about the afternoon...break the morning into 10 or 15 min blocks, write down what he is going to do and then provide a place for a sticker when he gets it done. Don't go for just did it/didn't do it...give him some other positive options...

worked for 10 min with no complaints
Worked for 10 min with 1-5 complaints
worked for 10 min with more than 5 complaints
did not work for 10 min

The first three give him some positive points...then he can work for a daily small "prize"...favorite video, special treat...etc.

Hope this helps
Life is not measured by breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away......

Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2006 12:11 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Have worked with ODD before

Postby ttsansbury » Sat Aug 05, 2006 8:14 pm

Hello. My name is Tesa and I am a special needs consultant. I have worked with ODD many times before and am currently seeking a masters in ABA. Please contact me if there is anything that I can do for you. There are lots of options out there and it is possible to see major improvements when you know the motivation and reinforcers for the behavior. One of the key things that I find is that parents really need a plan/routine that they will be able to follow through with and that is realistc for them. For parents that have a child with ODD and have 3 other siblings, sticker charts and every 15 minute records aren't realistic. The most important concept when working with and dealing with a behavior is that #1 it will take at least 29 days to change a single behavior using a single, consistent method and #2 It will get worse before it gets better.
Contact me if you want to talk. I do this for a living because I love it,
Tesa Sansbury, Special Needs Consultant

User avatar
Posts: 2115
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:14 pm
Location: Missouri, US

Postby Theodore » Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:59 am

Not to nit-pick, but why 29 days precisely? Is 28 days too little? Can you actually estimate the time required for any individual's behavior changes with that amount of accuracy? It sounds more like a guideline from a book than practical advice. If I'm wrong, feel free to explain why.

Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2006 12:11 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Postby ttsansbury » Sun Aug 06, 2006 7:06 am

In dealing or endeavoring to treat/change behaviors that are often specific to ODD, it tends to exercise some of the basic "rules" of functional analysis and behavior modification. In other words, if a child is displaying a learned behavior consistently, it will take consistency to turn that behavior around and by consistency, research has demonstrated repeatedly that it usually takes that amount of time to see a stable state of change without reinforcement modification. There have been numerous studies on the subject but one that I have found especialy helpful on the process was The Experimental (Functional) Analysis of Behavioral Disorders: Methodology, Applications and Limitations by Iwata, Vollmer and Zarcone. (These are some of the most learned people in the field and have been doing major research in the area for over 15 years.) I have found the article very helpful not only professionally but also when teaching my daughters. :)
Tesa Sansbury, Special Needs Consultant

Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006 7:39 pm
Location: Russellville Arkansas

Postby dragonfly183 » Thu Dec 28, 2006 10:03 pm

oh my goodness!!!!! Oppositional Defiance Disorder . you mean they actually have a word for that kind of behavior. That was how my step son acted when he was 5. i used to have to carry that kid kicking and screaming across the house 5 or six times just to get him to hang up his clothes. Every single night he went to sleep with 30 minutes of screaming at the top of his lungs because he didn't want to go to bed. When ever he was told he was doing something wrong he refused to see it that way. He wasn't being bad, I was just being mean to him. It was a major challange for a 25 year old recently married woman who didn't have any children of her own and had never even babysitted.

He is 12 now and although he still likes to think I am mean when he gets in trouble for something he is starting to use logic and reason when being punished for something.

Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:28 pm
Location: FL

The Feingold Diet

Postby janzeiger » Fri Jan 05, 2007 7:55 am

have you tried The Feingold Diet?

Also, are you sure your teaching style matches his learning style?
Jan Zeiger, Certified Teacher

Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:40 am

Postby WAHMBrenda » Sat Jan 06, 2007 1:59 pm

My dd has the same issues that your son does. She acts like a 2yo but is homeschooled as a 1st/2nd grade level. How old is she? 5! If you want to chat send me a message. I am lucky that I have a great therapist. I'm willing to share with you and try to help you if you'd like.
If you're concerned about either the Earth or your health, then you owe it to yourself to check out this web site!

Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:38 pm
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Postby PRSmama » Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:10 pm

I know you originally posted quite a while ago, but when I read it, it immediately brought to mind a book I read recently from one of my favourite authors, Torey (L.) Hayden. She's a child psychologist and special ed teacher (among many things) and writes heartbreaking accounts of the children she's worked with. The one I just read is called 'Beautiful Child'. Although not the main character/child in the book, she describes her work with a little boy who sounds just like your son---right down to the advanced intellect. It's a fascinating read, and may have some good suggestions for your son (even though it's a classroom situation--very small class).
Hope things are looking up for you now, so many months later.

Mom to Jairus, 5
Honour, 3
Verity, 15 months

Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 1:53 pm
Location: PA

Postby Jally » Sun Feb 18, 2007 6:14 pm

It has been awhile since I read her books, but I loved them!

Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: Minnesota

Postby rafismom » Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:00 pm

Here is a light at the end of the tunnel: my now 23 yr old was the poster child, if there is such a thing, for ODD at age 5...also had SID, dyslexia, NVLD and kind of like an at 23 she is in grad school for Special Ed, and a delightful, creative person.

At 5 she was not well enough coordinated to use scissors, so we did crafts etc that did not require coordination....becase she got so frustrated. It looked like she was not focusing but that was not the problem, the problem was, she was also a perfectionist and her coordination sucked so her product was far from perfect.

We homeschooled though grade 6. I used an eclectic curriculum, with unit studies for science and social studies, Wordly Wise, Italic Handwriting (though these days would be inclined to Handwriting without Tears), Writing Road to Reading, Miquon Math followed by Key Math, and Ladybird Key Word Reading....It seemed to work OK as she outgrew the defiantness and became a leader by late elementary school.

Jane in MN

Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:36 am
Location: Central New York

Postby cyndiv » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:48 am

Hi all,

I am new to this forum and this set of posts was exactly what I was looking for. I too have a 5yo son who has struggled with behavior and attention issues in his preschool. We had him assessed last summer (at 4 1/2) because we were experiencing some issues that were clearly outside the typical kid stuff and weren't sure what we were facing. Although they were not able to fully determine the 'final' diagnosis, we left with a spectrum of areas of challange for him that may end up being ODD with Adhd.

He has Sensory Integration Dysfunction and Social/Emotional Delays as well as gross motor and some fine motor delays. He qualified for PT & OT for the gross motor and sensory issues and special Ed services this year for preschool to help him manage better during transitions and to control him impulses better. So far, I feel the vast majority of what he has gotten from the special ed teacher is negative reinforcement and not positive reinforcement. The special ed teacher has her masters in behavioral disorders and has indicated she believes our son has ODD. We have resisted getting a diagnosis of this for him because we are hopeful as some of you have suggested that he may outgrow some of these challenges if he is given enough support. If in fact he does have ODD, he will have a lifetime to wear that label and we'd like to give him as many chances as possible to avoid being 'labeled'. We have had many challenges with his behavior at home and some lesser challenges at school, for which the special ed teacher recommended a 'holding' technique. It resembles more of a 'restrain' than a hold. We were initially told that he would respond quickly, within a week or two if consistently used, but in fact, it has continued on. It did stop most of the biting I was receiving at home, but it seems to have had little effect on the difficulties at school.

Bottom line is, we feel his self image and self esteem are suffering from all this 'help' and while we have seen some modest changes in his behavior we cannot be sure that the behavioral plan is the cause of the change and are certain that that behavioral plan is the cause of a new resistance to going to school and lowered self esteem.

We have decided to homeschool beginning in the fall. We are hopeful that homeschooling will give him the time he needs to grow into his skin a little bit, gain better maturity while protecting his self image. I am just hoping that we can productively educate him at home without battles.

How do all of you get them to 'comply' with doing some 'work'? I would LOVE to chat live wire with other Moms who cope with similar issues. Like several other posters we cannot afford therapy for him and so far the resources available thru the school district have been less than helpful. Many of the books I have read have focused time outs, 1-2-3 counting etc which only serve to make him madder. It seems that he has to have everything on his 'terms'. While I do believe in giving him as much 'control' under reasonable circumstances, I do have to maintain a sense of authority and respect in the household. I am having trouble finding that 'balance'.

Also, I know that I do better with structure and a plan and feel like the 'workbooks' are a good choice for me because I know I can get through them with him and know what I am supposed to do. I am afraid of 'unschooling' because I am afraid I won't succeed as a teacher without the structure myself of a known curriculum.

Okay, I know I have rambled on and on about all this...But I need suggestions and input in any and all directions anyone has experience here.

I would love to find a support group for other Mom's with kids with ODD/ADD behaviors. I would love any suggestions for how other Mom's managed curriculum for these kids (specifically how they set up their day and how much work to expect them to do).

He responds to bribes but I am reluctant to make that a consistent part of his motivation because I don't want him to expect to get something everytime he does what is 'expected' of him. Help?

Thanks to any and all!
I am what I am and that is all that I am.

Posts: 212
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:35 pm

Postby Calla_Dragon » Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:25 pm

I have a child that is exactly like the children described here. I know he would be nailed with an ADHD diagnosis and possibly ODD as well. I don't buy into those diagnoses as much as they're handed out - esp since I know a lot of kids who are labeled ODD and aren't. Seems like every child who has a challenging personality trait gets nailed with a diagnosis for something. They're just exceptionally bright, strong-willed, independent and very energetic kids who need a special brand of parenting. My boy is one of them and sounds like there's potentially more than one in the houses of the moms posting on this board too. I know how these kids feel - I was a "problem" and "difficult" child as well.

We too were in the "can't afford private therapy, school district is not so much helpful" boat. I went therapy alone. I did speech therapy and OT for both of my kids. My older one is recovered autistic with some leftover behaviors that would be sure to get him more than one diagnosis. He also had SID and Auditory Processing Disorder while autistic. The SI is under control and the APD is mostly gone due to therapy. My youngest is developmentally and speech delayed due to severe illness when he was a baby/toddler. He's making great gains through his therapy. It can be done at home on your own.

As far as my oldest, I had a lot of trouble with him charging ahead and doing whatever he pleased. He had a lot of problems listening to me and doing what I asked. He was hyper, disruptive, disrespectful and outright defiant. He had a lot of impulse control problems - he would hit the animals and his brother. He argued with me on everything and anything and would start arguements where there were none. I've literally read just about every parenting book on the market and I've found that conventional parenting techniques do not work on these kids. These kids are a special brand of kids - they're active, strong-willed, independent and very smart. I'm reading Transforming the Difficult Child right now and it is one of the better books I've read. It tells of a very positive approach centered around not necessarily praising a kid's every move, but recognizing it. Too often we get caught in a negative cycle with these kids - we nag on them for doing stuff wrong and we're just so happy when they're good and quiet we feel we don't want to rock the boat by saying anything. So the kids get the feeling that the only way to get our attention is to act out since being good gets them nothing. Negative attention is better than no attention, for a child.
To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.

Return to “Special Needs Homeschooling”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest