Ask the Experts

Q: My Son Threatens Violence to Get His Way

When you tell your son “No,” does he lash out in anger and threaten to break things? If you give in to his demands, you are teaching him that violence is an effective tool for getting what he wants. And that is far worse than a few broken toys or shattered glass.

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Q: “I have lost many battles because of my son’s hyperfocus and persistence. Also, when I say ‘No’ it sometimes triggers my son’s anger and I get worried that something is going to get broken. Really that is the main reason I give in. How can I change this?”

A: “I recommend that you learn affective calmness. If your son starts to argue with you because you gave him an answer he didn’t like, rather than try to reason with him or engage in a back and forth, just remain calm and tell him, ‘I told you my answer and it’s going to remain the same.’ If you are fearful that things will get broken, and he can see that, you are unintentionally sending him the message that he can control you by threatening you or feeding into your fears with bad behavior…”

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Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the facilitator of the ADHD Dude Facebook Group and YouTube channel. Ryan specializes in working with males (ages 5-22) who present with ADHD, anxiety with ADHD, and learning differences; he is the one professional in the United States who specializes in teaching social cognitive skills to boys from a male perspective.

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Updated on September 6, 2019

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