I totally agree with ADHDmama’s recommendation of Ross Greene’s collaborative and proactive problem solving approach explained in his two books: The Explosive Child and Raising Human Beings. My daughter and I are working with a therapist that is helping us learn this method and apply it at home. I do not believe that the “tough love” or punitive approach works with these kids. It didn’t work with mine. It just pissed her off further and drove a deeper wedge between us. I may have won some battles but I was losing the war! They need buy-in. And by using the Collaborative Problem Solving approach proactively, you are able to solve problems and also strengthen lagging and weak social and emotional skills in the child. Go to his website: livesintheblanance.org and watch some of the videos. The best part about this approach is it is not based on any kind of diagnosis. So it doesn’t matter if your child is ODD or bipolar or ADHD or whatever. It is just an effective way to solve problems and bring more peace into your home. However, there is a 2 steps forward and 2 steps back process…. there will be ups and downs and I think it will take years. I wish I knew about this when my daughter was 3! But my daughter is 10 and I believe it is never too late. I am working to solve problems (and as a result, behaviors) more effectively and nurture and restore our relationship for a lifetime. I also realized that I had to own my part of the way I interacted with her and I had to change things about me, too. It takes 2 to tango.
My heart truly goes out to you. You must feel very exasperated and discouraged for sure! I hope you will check out Ross Greene’s website and books. If they resonate with you, then you might even seek out a therapist who is knowledgeable about collaborative problem solving and can help train both you and your son. Another book that I think is really really good is Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson.
I wish you the very best. Try not to beat yourself up. (I need to take my own advice, too, in that!) And DON’T GIVE UP! Your son is worth your effort.