Anxiety or Power Struggle?

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    • #198499

      My 7-year-old son has never been easy but is very sensitive and sweet most of the time. He is also very oppositional. He takes meds for ADHD, which have helped. Sometimes he still has times when he flat out refuses to do something, like bike to school. When he is late because of his protests, he expects us to drive him, which we will not do since this is the result of his own behavior. He starts out trying to control the situation by slowly walking to the garage and then hovering around the garage so that his brother gives up on waiting for him because he doesn’t want to be late. Then he comes back inside and asks for a ride. When we say no, he works himself up and is suddenly fearful to bike to school. When we say no, he gets mad and starts knocking on the door incessantly and then starts kicking it. Today he started crying and actually looked fearful but at this point (I felt terrible for him). I feel like we can’t give in or he will keep doing it. When he finally left (30 minutes late), we got a call from a neighbor a few minutes later because he was crying and banging on their door because he said he was having a panic attack. They drove him to school, unaware of what was going on. There have been mornings when the principal has to call him and tell him to bike to school and has even offered to come pick him up. Today, we told him we were going to let Officer Jerry (our police chief) know that he was refusing to go to school, which was what got him out the door but he was still crying. I should mention that our neighborhood is often called “Mayberry” because of its close resemblance. The kids all bike to school, they can come home for lunch, our police officers read to them at school and know the kids by name, and the neighbors know each other well too.

      We have tried everything we know. We have read so many books. We have had several talks about this and he is rational about these situations later. We talk about his fears and emotions a lot. We’ve worked on identifying his emotions and strategies to handle them. We have tried positive parenting and charts and rewards. Now we resort to taking things away or threatening to involve others. We are at a loss. When he gets like this, he cannot think rationally but when he’s thinking rationally, he sets himself up to manipulate situations to get his way. We would love some guidance!

    • #198646
      Penny Williams

      Kids do well if they can. He is clearly experiencing some distress around riding his bike to school (or maybe being at school) — he doesn’t feel safe. He’s only trying to manipulate the situation because he’ll do anything to avoid the situation that is causing him such distress. Forcing and punishing is only worsening his distress.

      “I Have a Student Who Is Too Stressed to Learn”

      Talk with him to determine what is causing his anxiety and panic and help him with that. If he doesn’t feel safe riding his bike to school, what will make him feel safe?

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach, Podcaster & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

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