It happened again. One moment, she was complimenting me on today’s dishes that were Pinterest inspired. A few moments later, hell broke loose. How? Why? This child. This sweet, sweet child of mine. Oppositional Defiant Disorder has affected our home. It is no longer a label that is given to misguided children. This, this… horrendous, life changing behavior has become personal. My daughter, my sweet, sweet daughter has this oppositional defiant disorder. This disorder doesn’t end at her. No, this behavior has taken over our home. Our lives. How do you find peace in a home decorated in chaos? A home with a storm brewing, striking when you least expect it.
I noticed it six years ago, at the tender age of two. Tantrums should only last 10-15 minutes they said. She should be able to potty train, they said. She should respond to no, they said.
They were wrong.
Her tantrums? An ear piercing 1-2 hours at a time, a few times a day. Potty training? Way after three. And even until this day, accidents occur when she is highly emotional. No, that two letter word is more like a command you say to dogs when they start chewing your shoes.
She doesn’t fit your normal mold.
My child does not fit into a mold at all. She can’t be squeezed into a box. She can’t be placed into a certain category, or field. This child, this high spirited, uncontrollably emotional, energetic, intuitive, strong willed, oppositional defiant disorder having child- she’s one of a kind.
This child, she surprises me each day.
In public, I pray that we can make it through the grocery store without causing a scene. I recall the day, almost three years ago, my husband- then boyfriend and I were at CVS (probably getting Melatonin…just kidding), and she ran. Yes, ran. She did not listen to stop or no, at five years old, the world was in her hands. This child should have joined track and field right then and there. Recruiters, keep an eye out on her! For about five full minutes my husband was LITERALLY weaving in and out of the aisles after her. The moment he caught her, she laughed as if she just finished watching The Nutty Professor.
Two and a half years ago, I was at Walmart, alone with her and her two younger sisters. I said she couldn’t have a bag she wanted. We were at check out, and she threw herself into any crevice she could find. That day I could’ve cried, I probably did cry. Any limb she had control of flew around, and if you were in the radius of that arm or leg you were going to get hit –hard! I don’t recall how I finally was able to rip her away and run to my car with her in my arms and two younger children. I know I cried once I reached the car. “Why does she have to be so difficult!” I constantly asked myself.
And then there are the “other kind” of times. Times that I leave the store with a smile on my face. Those times, my strong willed, high spirited child- she, she was able to make someone else leave the store with a smile. My child, she’s fearless. But she is also brutally honest.
This honesty, I admire. But I only wish she could use a filter. When she tells the tired looking cashier that she is beautiful, and when she tells a child she loves her hair, or even when she tells me I need to change because I am “not in style”, those times are selfless and filled with her thinking of others.
Then, there are other times, times she calls out someone with a deformity and makes them feel ugly, times she decides she should express how she feels, yet does not realize she is being inappropriate. She has not realized how to behave appropriately just yet, but she is learning.
If only we could all be as honest.
When the storm hits, my body responds. First, is everyone else in the house safe? I try to contain her. Just she and I. She needs to release the energy that is built up within her. I also am aware that this will not be a quick, give me blue instead of a purple ice pop kind of hissy fit. No, this is oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) coming out to play.
What do you do when your child with oppositional defiant disorder has an episode?
First, assess the situation. What triggered it? There is ALWAYS a trigger. You need to learn how to identify your child’s triggers.
Once you know what triggered it, you are then able to calmly try to talk to your child, and get them to see things rationally.
Can oppositional defiant disorder change your families life?
Two years ago, my daughter used to love randomly running from me. She would run into streets, she would run onto porches, she would run out of the house. Did I mention, I had younger kids? 99% of the time I was alone as well.
Those were very dark times for me as a mother.
I had first moved to the neighborhood, I was walking my daughters to the bus stop, and she ran. Laughing as she went! I had a small toddler, and a kindergartner to catch the bus, plus she also had to catch the bus! Other parents saw the predicament I was in, considering this all occurred a block away from the bus stop. A few ladies tried helping me catch my daughter, but she was gone with the wind.
Long story short, middle child caught the school bus, the cops were called to help me catch my wild child, and a neighbor, a fellow mom stood with my toddler until my parents from out of town came to pick her up. My daughter was on the way to the hospital. That was a dark time. This is when my daughters ODD was putting her sisters lives at risk. This was not the first, or the last time it occurred.
How do you find peace in the middle of an episode?
Laugh to keep from crying.
No really, I am.
Unless of course your child is setting a fire or hurting herself or someone else. Then, you need to get into survivor mode and brace yourself for whatever, including bites and scratches (I have the scars to prove it).
When the episode hits, remember that this is your child. This child that is currently causing you pain, has a special need. A need for you to be patient and understanding that they do NOT possess the strength, knowledge and capacity to control themselves.
Often times after an episode my highly emotional daughter will confide, with tears streaming down her face, that she doesn’t know why she does things, that she tries, but can not stop.
Your child does not want to cause you pain. More research is being done to find out the who, what, and why’s of this disorder.
Finding peace? You look into her eyes. You see the fear, pain, and confusion that is going through your child. You look, and you bring out the compassion you have within yourself to be strong for your child. As a mother, father, grandparent, human, when someone is hurt you feel a need to help and protect them. The same goes for your child with oppositional defiant disorder. You care, you keep caring, you care until you break through the pain. You care until your child has no choice, but to realize that they are loved. Reach into the eye of the storm. The eye that belongs to your child. That is where is you find peace. That peace, it is in the center of the storm!