Dear Grandparenting: I have a major problem on my hands. Brett is seven years old, weighs in at 61 pounds and thinks he owns the world. Rules are for others, and don’t bother telling him what to do or how to go about it, because he already knows.
Brett might go to war over something minor, like his milk isn’t cold enough. He starts up with all that and then blames me because of my reaction to this endless nonsense. Plus he’s likely to challenge me on anything and everything, making it harder to establish a daily routine. I’ve stopped over-reacting but that didn’t make a big dent.
Since he’s so difficult, you might wonder why I bother. Let’s just say his parents are having their problems too, and I have the extra room. All my children were girls. I’m lost at sea with this little boy and sending out my SOS. Help! Nadine Ellison, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dear Nadine: Congratulations on controlling your emotions and reactions. If you cannot manage yourself, how can you expect to manage an unruly child? By keeping your cool, you model good behavior and don’t add fuel to the fire.
Based on the evidence, your grandson may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) in psychiatric speak, a pattern of stubborn aversion to authority that vexes parents, teachers and others in their orbit.
ODD is among the most common childhood psychiatric issues, affecting upwards of 18% of children, adolescents and teens. ODD is most common in males, but females catch up as they mature.
The good news is that many outgrow it, but ODD remains challenging to manage, much less endure. Set the rules and donÕt bend or bargain; engaging in arguments plays into the hand of an ODD child.
Since they want to be in charge, some suggest giving in on minor issues while controlling the major ones. Remind your grandson that you object to his behavior but love him regardless. Finally, know that ODD tends to be most effectively dealt with through professional counseling.
Grand remark of the week
Rennie Jones from Marshall, Michigan called grandson Eddie on Christmas Day, as he always does. “Get what you wanted for Christmas?” he asked.
“What I really want is peace on earth,” said Eddie. “Probably too much to ask.”