February 19th, 2009
Posted By:
Categories: ODD

One of our sons, Z, has been diagnosed with ODD, otherwise known as Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It sounds as frustrating as it is. One of the diagnostic symptoms is “often deliberately annoys people”. Man, is that the truth! Z will find the thing that drives you the most crazy and then he’ll do it as often as possible. He has many ways in which he acts out this particular behavior but his predominant method is talking. Z is always talking. T says that Z even talks in his sleep. He talks when we are talking and when we aren’t. He talks when the tv is on and when I’m on the phone. He talks when we’re in the car and when we’re at the dinner table. There is not a moment in the day when Z does not talk. Most of what he says doesn’t even make sense. Usually he is talking just for the sake of talking. I’ll tell you what, it is so irritating that I sometimes leave the room.


In talking with other parents who have adopted children from foster care, I know that all of our kids have issues. We as parents face these issues on a daily basis and try to get creative about how to deal with them. I know that Z has valid cause to be such a mess. That doesn’t make it easier to listen to the talking. Sometimes I feel guilty for not being more patient or coming up with the genius solution to all of Z’s problems. Sometimes I want to bang my head against the wall until it bleeds. Sometimes I want to leave town and never look back. I’m sure that some of you feel the same way with the behaviors you face each day. But we don’t do these things. We think about it, sure, but we stay the course. Our family works hard to find ways to cope. One of the ways we deal with many of Z’s behaviors is to give him time alone in his room to act these things out. If Z wants to talk non-stop, we tell him he is welcome to go and do so in his room. This offer is never an option. He goes to the room for 10 mins and talks himself silly and then he is allowed to come out and join the family. We have the same opportunity for chewing on one’s fingers and clothes or picking one’s nose. Each of our children are welcome to spend 10 mins in their room, alone, with their finger up their nose. We found this wonderful opportunity in a book called, “When Love is Not Enough” by Nancy Thomas.

If you have accepted the task of loving and parenting troubled children, even if you didn’t know what you were getting into when you started, then you are going to need to find creative ways to approach creative behaviors. We read until our eyes hurt. We’ve found every book we can and talk to as many people as we can. We take the advice that works and we don’t agonize over the advice that doesn’t work. Each kid is different and so each approach must be different. Don’t give up on your child’s crazy or irritating behaviors. Keep on pushing and searching for the thing that will work today and then use that piece of help until it doesn’t work anymore. Be predictable in that you always respond in a loving and calm manner. Be unpredictable in that your kids don’t know what kind of crazy “opportunity” you’ll have next. Make consequences fun for you and as irritating to your kid as their behavior is to the rest of mankind. I’ve found that behaviors are like viruses. Sometimes they build immunity to the antibiotic you’ve used to treat in the past. But you don’t let the virus keep you from living your life; you just try something new to put it in its place. Always love your child and make that love perfectly apparent. Hate the virus and do what you can to keep it contained. As for us, Z is going to keep chattering in his room and I’m going to keep exercising my self-control.
Photo Credit.

6 Responses to “Chatterbox”

  1. taben says:

    Thanks for posting this. There are so many things that ring true to us in your post, including ODD symptoms, the fact that foster children are bound to have issues, the fact that often we do not know what we are getting into and the fact that parenting these kids requires self control.
    My mother says, “It is not always about attaching to these kids or even loving them. It is about being committed and acting in a loving way”. I have found this to be very true.

  2. Renee E says:

    Taben -

    Thank you so much for your comment. I really needed that quote from your mom today! Sometimes it is so hard and we often feel so guilty for not “feeling” these mushy, love feelings for our kids. It is always nice to know that there are others out there who understand. Be blessed in your journey with your kiddos.

    - Renee

  3. dmuise says:

    I am not an adoptive parent, but am a graduate student looking to learn more about these types of relationships that you speak of. If any of you will take the time to complete my survey I would be very grateful. The survey should take you less than 15 minutes. Your participation will be completely anonymous as names are not attached to the survey. If you have any questions or concerns you can email me at dmuise@bridgew.edu. Just click the link below to begin or copy/paste it into your browser.


    Thank you

  4. cmh0150 says:

    thank you for sharing…. we are considering adoption of a child who has been diagnosed with ODD and ADHD… he has has prior failed adoptions…. we are really trying to see if we can be the ones who have the capacity and patience but, right now, based on what we are reading, may have to keep looking….

  5. 3crazykids says:

    We fought hard to remove our youngest adopted daughter’s brother from an awful home. Our son, now diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities and a newly found chromosome deletion…has been so frustrating! We feel guilty all of the time for not loving him the same as our girls. It just seems that all of our time is spent on his negative energy and the girls who behave like normal children are left out? The girls are good students and try hard in all they do. Our little man though seems to control our family and demand all of our time. Now it seems that this very cute, seemingly normal boy will need a guardian for the rest of his life! I don’t want to raise his children too! Sorry I can’t be more encouraging but I am at my wits end this week.

  6. zrespinoza says:

    All my 4 kids have ADD or ADHD I think is so normal on kids that have been in foster home for some time, however ODD is more complicate since there is no medication for that on top of that one of my kids have border line personality making thinks hard. I said if you kid has ADD or ADHD you can learn how to cope with that plus medication usually helps if is something more you may want to investigate before getting you self in a hard ride.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.