Mom on the verge…I'm not alone, right?

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Parents Behavior & Discipline Mom on the verge…I'm not alone, right?

Viewing 31 reply threads
  • Author
    • #84566

      Sometimes I feel like I am alone. Sometimes I feel defeated. I feel like a horrible mom. I just don’t know how to get out of this chaos, this vicious cycle. Being a single mom to an 11 yr old boy is not easy. Then lets factor in the ADD/ADHD, possible ODD, and all that comes with that. I can honestly say, I don’t know how to do all of “this” and I definitely dont know where to start to fix it. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around most of my son’s actions & choices. It doesn’t make sense to me. Then I realize that some people cannot grasp depression or chronic pain just as I cant comprehend these behavioral issues. I never had these problems. I want to learn, I want to help my son. He was diagnosed around 8 years old. We have tried behavioral therapy, many different medications, charts, lists, etc etc. He was well above average in his infancy/toddler years & pre-school and excelled really. They recommended Kindergarten when he was still 4, not turning 5 until October(School started end of August) and I wasn’t really comfortable but had many reassurances and enrolled him. I was told he was mature for his age, and didn’t start hearing about a few impulse issues toward the end of the year. In 1st grade, all hell broke loose. The lying started, very impulsive behavior, getting in trouble at school, and he fell behind in school work. The teacher was not a very understanding person, so that didn’t help matters. This is when the nightmare for my whole family started. We sought help from his pediatrician and then a psychologist with behavioral therapy. The problem was that this place was one of only a couple that took his insurance and it was like a revolving door. There were too many patients. After 2 years of therapy and trying many medications, I wasn’t really seeing much progress. He’s had over 20 suspensions from school. Theres no comprehension of consequences for actions & choices and that scares me immensely. I fear for him now & in the future. He does have remorse after the fact but the bad choice is already made. Sometimes I feel like I am too tough on him and other times I feel like I am not tough enough. I have tried taking things away, grounding, spanking…and what baffles me, is that when he was little I could count on one hand how many times I had to put him into “time out” and if i said, “No,” he listened right away and learned lessons and I thought I was abnormally lucky. The habitual lying is what I hate the most, the feeling of not trusting your own child is sad. I dont think one day has gone by without a lie of some sort for months now. I find food missing; whole bags of shredded cheese, chips, crackers; items for a meal that I specifically tell him is off limits, cans of frosting, cake mixes, pretty much anything he can get his hands on. I found wrappers, plates, food and garbage underneath and in my couch so bad that im sure smoke was coming out of my ears. He went through multiple therapy sessions on that scenario but it still continues. I don’t even want to go into the issues with his bedroom and all the garbage(which he has 3 garbage cans in there), dirty clothes, broken toys, etc. We’ve been working on this for years. The mornings and nights are chaos. I wake up stressed and usually want to cry and go to bed angry. Its no way to live for both of us. I’ve tried to make a game out of things, offer allowance & rewards, offer help, make lists, charts, keep a routine as much as possible, etc. But then I get to my wits end and blow up. He’s searched inappropriate things online(which to some extent is normal), went into my bedroom and retrieved his gaming console & hooked it up even though it was taken away, has now taken money out of my drawer, gone through my drawers and retrieved tablets/phones, gone through my bedroom and opened gifts/packages that may or may not have been for him, carved symbols into my wooden kitchen drawers, put holes in various things, used up all of his minutes for his phone within a matter of days from purchasing games, songs, etc, taking things and food daily…the list could go on & on. These things happen many many times. The stories & lies he comes up with, even though I can directly show him proof, or placing blame on others is tiring. His school locker is atrocious, he never remembers to bring home his homework, or tell me about a test let alone study for it, he doesn’t behave on the school bus, he has many issues with peers and sadly not many friends, and he has an IEP in place but does not utilize some of his assistance. Middle school had me on edge due to his younger age then most in his class and all of his issues so I tried organizing things(trapper keepers, color coded folders/notebooks, etc) as easily as I could for him and had him help me do so…he doesn’t utilize it. I’ve wanted to take him out of the sports we pay for but I feel like thats the only thing that helps him in many ways and all I feel that he actually cares about. His aunt, and grandparents are frustrated and don’t understand all of this either. They are afraid for his future as well. We’ve all tried talking with him and he always says, he doesn’t know why he does these things. Sometimes I think he doesn’t know, but other times I feel like he knows exactly what he’s doing. Our relationship is strained and I feel like nothing works so I hit a wall and feel guilty for feeling as if I give up. I don’t want to yell anymore, I don’t want to dislike my child. Until , I found this site, I thought I was the only person going through some of these things. I did not think most of this could be just ADD causing it. I wish there was definitive testing on my son that I could see to help me understand, as that’s the type of person I am. I need evidence/proof. What’s even more frustrating for his family & I is that he has such a great potential but this has taken over. He’s a beautiful, handsome boy, he’s great at every sport, he shows compassion to the elderly, he has manners but peers know that he’s a “trouble maker”, annoying and sadly he’s never been invited to birthday parties, sleep overs, and he doesn’t really have any friends or even a best friend. 🙁 I am currently researching more & more ways to help him & help me understand more. I needed to vent tonight and any suggestions or help would be appreciated greatly.

    • #84569

      No, you are not alone. I have a similar scenerio with my 11 yr old son. As a matter of fact, I was just reading some articles about being a ADHD mom and discipline, and I had to stop, because they made me feel guilty. Guilty that even though I worry about him all the time and constantly try to make thing better, that I don’t. I end up yelling, as much as I try not to. I am constantly caught between making accomodations for him and trying to ensure that I am teaching him what he needs to be a confident, productive adult in the future. I wonder if he will be able to navigate the bumpy road of life, or fall prey to one of the numerous pitfalls along the way, knowing that if he does, it will in the end be my fault if he does. I have shed many, many tears of frustration and disappointment in myself. No, you are not alone. If I have one suggestion for you, it would be to find something that you and your son can do where you can let go and have some positive time together. For me, it was a Spring Break vacation. I loaded up both of my sons (11 & 7) and drove 1,000 miles to Utah. I had no idea how it was going to go, since it seems that everything I plan to be a fun activity seems to turn into a tantrum (even going to see Santa). I decided not to tell them where we were going or what we were doing, so they couldn’t poo-poo the idea before it even got started. This seemed to work, but it also gave my 11 yr old 3 panic attacks on the way there. He seemed to get in his mind that I was going to make them do something like scale a rockface, which is really out of left field, but we worked through it. As a matter of fact, it seemed easier to deal with the behavior since we were all out of our element. In the end, I think that being outside of your daily routine allowed all of us to react better to each other, and allowed him to see a less stressed, more fun part of me, the part I wish I could show him all of the time. I am not sure if it was the trip, or maturity, but our relationship, while still strained on some days, is better that it was before. I actually have one more suggestion, forgiveness. I try to let the problems of the day melt away during each night and start everyday, like it is a new beginning. Sometimes I forgive him, but most days I am trying to forgive myself. Whenever there is a good behavior, go out of your way to compliment it, show him that you notice he remembered to bring his homework home, or that he actually got the banana peel in the garbage. Even though those are “expected” behaviors, not ones that deserve praise, they are him trying to do what you want, and it will matter that you noticed. Because sometimes that is the way he says “I love you”, and you noticing it is your way of telling him you love him back. Just keep trying new things, and definately celebrate the ones that work. Remember, you are not alone in the frustration and tears and sins and unending mistakes, and keep loving him the best ways that you can.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by krystyn.kono.
      • #85243

        I totally relate to all you’re saying. I have a 12 year old son with attachment disorder (which I dispute) and recently diagnosed with ODD and ADHD. I’m at my wits end with his behaviour.
        Apart from everything you mention, my son also gets VERY verbally abusive, and sometimes physically abusive too.
        It’s just me and him full time so I take the brunt of everything and it’s very hard to cope.
        He had a tutor as his school could no longer meet his needs, but he refused to do any work for the tutor or engage, so now after half term he starts a new provision.
        He also doesn’t have friends, even though probably out of shame he says he does I know he doesn’t as no one ever calls for him.
        He has been having kick offs every single day and last week he destroyed his bedroom, not only that but he refuses to tidy it up and says he will but manipulates me and then doesn’t do it at all. He brakes things and is absolutely vile when he had these nasty freak outs, calls me names, swears at me. During his last freak out he threw bleach on the floor and walls, cut some of my furniture, and poured water and shower gel on the hall floor. This is to name a few.
        When you mention your son takes without asking, my son is the same he doesn’t respect what I say at all. He will turn the house literally over looking for things I’ve said he’s not allowed to use, like his x box or phone. He has zero respect for what I say. He will take anything from the cupboards/fridge and do exactly what he pleases no matter what I say. I’ve had to give my neighbour his electronics now so he can not find them and put a password on the tv.
        I’ve made it clear he can have his stuff when he behaves, but he just refuses and says he won’t do it still.
        He has his good moments but they are few and far between now. It’s so sad as we are/were very close but he’s behaviour is pushing me not to like him, trust him and be around him right now.
        Oh he also took £20 from my bag, he denies it was him but there is only me and him living here and I know for sure I didn’t misplace it.

    • #84573

      I’m in tears reading this, it’s so near to our story that if we change a couple details I could’ve been the narrator!
      No, soul-sister 💕 you’re definitely not alone. I have 3 sons with my husband- one slightly different detail- our oldest (13 yikes) and youngest (7) are on the autism spectrum, and were the amazingly easy babies and toddlers. Our middle son (11), has ADHD- and is as opposite of our other two as night and day. This isn’t a good nor a bad thing, mind you, just… Different…

      I knew as little about autism as a first time mom possibly could, except for a non-verbal young man that my mom would provide respite care for (when his mom needed to do mom things like grocery shop or get her oil changed) and (I’m risking sounding like the annoying ignorant village idiot by admitting this but we’re here to tell the truth, right?) Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Arnie from “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” *cringing at my younger self* Yet I was 7 when my brother was born and 14 when my sister was born, so I was familiar with the typical milestones and picked up on my oldest son’s delayed speech. Once he was assessed through the school district, and then diagnosed by his Pediatrician, things flowed relatively smoothly. The IEP has proven invaluable, and he has worked tirelessly to get where he’s at today. But this is not an autism forum. This is about my 11yo son, who I feel has slipped through the cracks and has been failed by a school system, a clueless set of parents, and a society that is ready to label him as a problem because of his deficits in understanding socially acceptable behavior. He has the easiest time *making* a friend but kids are generally jerks (mine included at times 💕) and turn on him for one reason or another. One time it was because they were all joking as a group on recess and my son joined in (not knowing what’s OK to joke about and what’s NOT OK to say at school) and the kid took him seriously- so the next thing I know, he’s on an in*school*suspension for a day and he had NO CLUE WHY what he said was inappropriate 💔 when that’s what the whole group was doing… (it’s a longish story but the kid’s MOM was the ACTUAL VICE PRINCIPAL ugh)… The week before last, he (oh my dear sweet lord I can’t believe I’m saying this on a public forum💔) took TWO realistic-looking-except-an-orange-tip plastic pellet guns to school in his backpack. I AM BEYOND GRATEFUL FOR HIS TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL who know of his desperate need to make a friend- because he did NOT have law enforcement called in him nor was he expelled *still having a really hard time talking about it even though I’m not SPEAKING the words out loud*
      Both of his previous schools would’ve crucified him 💔💔💔 but this teacher he has is an absolute ANGEL… But he had no idea of the magnitude of his terrible impulse, even after I explained that real CHILDREN HAVE BEEN BRINGING REAL GUNS TO THEIR REAL SCHOOLS AND REALLY—– 😢😢😢😢😢😢

      He feels like he’s been over-punished because #1″They weren’t real guns and he didn’t even take them out of his backpack— he only showed ONE FRIEND and THAT kid told someone else who told someone else who told on him….. ” and the other reason WE’RE OVERREACTING was #2″They didn’t even have any pellets in them and he didn’t even bring the pellets to school….. ”

      Side note- since Tamir Rice was killed by police because he was playing with a toy gun in a park💔, I have not allowed my children to play with ANY TOY GUNS anywhere except in my back yard at HOME and even then the toys are either NERF or water guns LOUDLY FLUORESCENT OBVIOUS TOYS. They cannot have them in my car, take them anywhere, show friends or anything. That tragic story scarred me and I refuse to give ANYONE a reason to imagine that my boys MIGHT be armed……. My roommate had them in her room, in a drawer- they’re $6 flea market toys that her sons play with when they are here on the weekends. He went into her room (no boundaries) to get a Capri sun (which he didn’t ask for, but she’d given him one the day before so he took that as an open invitation to help himself) from her closet and passed by the dresser they were kept in…. He smuggles food, he pressed his brother’s buttons and eggs them onto a near meltdown if he’s bored, I have dubbed him Officer Sammy because he’s got a report for EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE EXCEPT himself of course…

      But I can deal with allllllllll of that. It’s absolutely driving me to a mental breakdown – don’t get me wrong — but the most soul shattering part for me is that he gets SO ANGRY with himself. 💔💔💔 For not being able to resist an enticing impulse on the fly… For not being able to keep a real friend. For not being able to focus in class. His self loathing is BREAKING MY WHOLE ENTIRE HEART. We’ve tried adderall (sp?) which was phenomenal in helping him in class, but he would come home from school and close himself in his room alone and sob silently, which was SOOOOO UNLIKE HIM… He started to cry in the mornings when it was time to take it, and all but begged me to STOP taking it 💔 But I talked him into giving it another week so he could get used to it… Maybe if he gained a bit of confidence and his body adjusted to the waves of emotions he’d do OK… But with my husband against medications from the gate and with my little boy pleading for me to just give him a chance to “be good by himself without medicine just for one day” I gave in… That was 3 years ago. The school refused to give him an IEP because he tested right on the border so they wanted me to adjust a few things like bedtime and medication before they “put him in special ed” 💔 and I had no clue I had a right to appeal that decision (it was so smooth for my oldest son, and I LOVED his team of specialists teachers and his case worker was so amazing that I’d been blindsided by the refusal for Sammy)… Now there’s non-stimulant medications to help with focus and cognitive behavioral therapy and other options to try— but I will admit that these last 3 years have drained me of….. Well, EVERYTHING. Not just with my children and schools but personal crap, family illness*es*, my own health and emotional weight……. I’m having the HARDEST time picking up and trying again… Ugh I’m acutely aware that I am FAILING MY CHILD with every passing day that I’m NOT making his appointments or getting referrals or doing SOMETHING to HELP him in ANY WAY… But I’m still stuck on *hopeless* if that makes ANY SENSE whatsoever…

      You’re not alone, mama. I’m drowning in California 💔💕

      • #85245

        Yikes! We need to help you with being your “village.” Check out “Autism and Stress” and the Center for Discovery in upstate NY…it’s a reach maybe to get your son in but maybe the book would help. Good luck!

      • #107786

        Im with ya on all of it. My son was in a similar situation where everyone on the bus was “roasting” each other and telling “your mama” jokes. My kid joined in and guess who got kicked off of the bus for 1 week, in school suspended for a day or 2? My son. No one else did. I don’t want to undermine the principal etc and say in from of my son how unfair i feel it is, etc but sometimes other interventions should happen instead of an immediate suspension etc. He definitely needs consequences for actions but some of these examples that we’ve dealt with need to be handled in other ways. Im still hanging on with ya!

    • #84574

      Oooh and I meant to include:

      He gets mad when *I* ask anything of him EVEN THE MOST BASIC OF EXPECTATIONS such as HOMEWORK, taking out the trash ONCE A DAY, REPLACING THE TRASH BAG IN THE NEWLY EMPTIED CAN, SHOWERS, BRUSHING HIS TEETH, BRINGING HIS LAUNDRY FROM HIS ROOM TO MINE SO I CAN WASH……. And I’m empathetic to his situation, but it DOESN’T HELP when he can treat his dad with exceptionally more respect and profoundly less attitude… It makes me question my understanding of ADHD to watch him control his emotions and reactions so much more effectively (no not at all entirely controlled but HELEN KELLER would notice the difference) when his dad is present… (I’m a stay at home mom, dad works a lot to support us💕)

      I asked him if he respected *anyone* in the world one day (it had been a draining week and I was exasperated ) and he said yes, I respect dad. I asked why he thought I didn’t make the cut for the respected roster and after some thought, he said “I’m mad with you and not dad” I asked him if he knew why he was mad with me, and again he thought it through before replying with a shrug that it was because I’m his mom and he needs me to help him but he’s angry that I don’t know how to help him 💔💔💔 Baby boy, I’m mad at me too… But all I can do is try….. 😢

    • #84575

      Oh!! Hugs to you Moms!!…No, you’re never alone, and though I can offer a few small tips or suggestions, I do not at all claim to have any answers, I can only share from experience. Sounds very ODD and a lot of ADHD to me – though I am no professional.

      First, give youself a hug for getting this far! And reaching out – you are not a horrible mom, because its obvious you put a lot of care and hard work in to him! Well done!

      Second, dont stop loving him, he needs you more than he will admit, in fact just go give him a hug…he works hard too!

      Third, Go right back to the start, as if he were 3 years old, and treat him however it used to work – especially the timeouts. School behaviour gets punished at school, home behaviour gets punished at home…always…

      Despite what your brain is screaming at you to do – ignore the lying for now. When you need to address a misbehaviour, quietly but firmly state the facts only, no opinion or judgement followed up by restating the expected behaviour. If you are absolutely sure he has taken something without asking, – “You have taken ‘xxxxx’ – you need (or you are expected) to ask my permission before taking ‘xxxxx’, or for lying, “You told me that ‘xxxx’. I found out that it was not ‘xxxxx’. We tell the truth in our house”. Then remove yourself from his presence so you signal the end of the engagement, resist the urge to reprimand or get further engaged in any conversation, he is using misbehaviour to engage you and drag you into his favourite occupation, arguing. Lay out some clear written rules about what is expected of him of everyone else in the household. Say five or six clear concise but very nonpersonal rules. Dont get dragged into any arguments about “why”…quietly state, and restate, and restate the simple answer, I’m the parent, I say what happens around here – and walk off – showing that you are not willing to engage in conflict.
      His mind sounds confused, just keep up the support and help for him to clear it…start by emptying his bedroom of all non-bedroom stuff. He’ll react to any way you try to wrestle your authority back, but stick it out, it gets easier. While you are both going through these huge changes, you’ll need each others love, so when he engages with you in a positive way, beam sunshine and love on him. When ever he does something positive, engage with him, not necessarily praise or even reference to what he has done – just offer him a small choice – eg. would you like hawaiian or meatlovers pizza for dinner, would you like to walk to the park or ride to the park, would you like to have banana or apple in your lunchbox, and again resist the urge to engage in an argument over his choice. Giving them a small amount of measured choice enables their self-esteem.

      For your own privacy and to stop the stealing, get some padlocks! and keep the keys on you! You go girl! Show him who’s boss!
      Consider a doctor checkup within a few weeks, to make sure that there are no other medical issues going on that are affecting his behaviour – eg allergies, epilepsy, autism, depression, and to make sure that you are also supported. Also, start any medication very low dose, very slowly…at least a week between dose increase – resist the urge for immediate relief, because it will only bring unwanted side effects i.e depression or violence. We would never have got through these past 17 years without our meds.

      I hope that theres one or two things you can try or retry to help. You’ll make it! You have the right objective!

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by JWK.
      • #84862

        Wow, no, not even close to being alone, and I hope some of the wisdom in these responses makes sense for you too. My kids are older now but we’ve been though a lot of what everyone describes. Throw in a lot of shame and anxiety, stir with dyslexia, add a twist of divorce, and pour over ice cubes of mother ignorance. When the kids were little and all three of us were undiagnosed, I used to put myself in Time-Out in the bathroom, just to give myself a little mental space!

        The suggestions from JWK include some that I’ve tried – and as an adult with ADHD, I’m not able to consistent, which is a big problem of course – and endorse. Setting the outside limits and yet allowing some choice is a good one – we’re packing lunches, but you can decide which kind of sandwich.

        If I had to pick one behavior I adopted that I believe is important and was also effective in giving the right message to my kids, it would be modeling accountability. I really tried to recognize a good idea, a thoughtful gesture, and to the degree that I could compliment my child in front of others, all the better. The idea is not to go overboard but to recognize everyone in the family equally.

        The hard part is taking accountability for my anger, for my actions, but it’s the most important. Reading “The Dance of Anger” made a huge impression on me when my second child was an infant. I’m not proud when I say that I lost my temper a lot and while I carried everyone’s emotions as a single parent 24/7, I didn’t want to use that as an excuse. The book makes the point that other people don’t ‘make’ us mad, we get mad in reaction to other people or situations. In other words, targeting the behavior and not the person – only you’re the person.

        I worked hard to examine my feelings so that I could isolate what triggered my responses. After I’d calmed down, I would apologize to the kids for losing my temper since I don’t like it when someone yells or screams at me either. But I would also try to tell them why or what was upsetting me. Sometimes it took a while, and I’d come back a day later to say that I was wrong to lose my temper with you because what was really bothering me was something at work, or ____ (fill in the blank). As a single parent working full-time and scrambling to pick the kids up after work before getting hit with a late fee, it didn’t take much for me to lose it by the time I got home.

        So if I can offer this to help ease your way, please know that the more you and the other adults in your family’s life model the behavior you’d like to see your children display and the more you hold yourself equally accountable for your own emotions, the better it will be in the long run. A lot of the time it’s going to be what the kids did or didn’t do that causes anger and frustration, but the key is to own your own reactions. God knows I walked this tightrope every day for years and it’s SO hard! I know I made a LOT of mistakes and bad decisions, but I really tried to keep at this one. My kids are now in their early 20s and reflect back at me to help me keep my cool. Hang in there!

    • #84588

      As I am reading your post, all I can think of is my 10yr old niece that I have custody of. You are DEFINITELY not alone! I have had custody of my niece now for almost 4 years and we are at a point that it is starting to semi get better, but every 6-8 months ON THE DOT she has a big episode. Please talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about possible Major Mood Disruption. It is the child equivalent to Bipolar. It is almost impossible, it seems, to get a child diagnoses with bipolar as I have seen may psychiatrists with my niece about this. She does the exact same things you said your child is doing. Sadly, my neice has been hosptalized multiple times. She has a lot of other factors that come into play with her diagnosis. To start on paper we have the following: ADHD, ODD, MMD, Lead Poison, and PTSD. I honestly believe she has schizophrenia as well but no one will entertain the idea. (She tends to hear voices).

      Honestly, I can’t say it will get better. But once you get in the right direction of getting some help for him. It can get easier. You can get opened up to a whole new world of help once you get the right diagnosis. In my case it has gotten easier throughout the years I have had her. Also keep in mind, I have 5 girls I care for. 3 of which are my own, ages 2, 5(ADHD and ASD), 6(ADHD,dyslexic, and Generalized Anxiety), and my two nieces, 10 (All diagnosis listed above) and 11yr (Depression and Generalized Anxiety).

      Life can get easier which can make it better. This parenting thing is hard. Very hard. We are all just trying to make it each day.

    • #84663

      Hugs to all you Moms out there.
      It sounds like the schools have failed your children. Kids with more severe disabilities like the ones described here could really do better in schools designed to meet their needs aka Special ed schools. My middle child was really going of the deep end behavior wise in 5th grade and I got and independent evaluation with recommendations for a proper school. Unfortunately it got ugly and I had to hire a lawyer to get the district to pay but it was worth it. Within a year of attending a proper school, I got my “real” child back. My stress level went way down knowing my child was getting what he needed. Litigation was stressful but it was easier than watching my child fall apart. Simply said, you put your child in a safe place while you go off to battle demons.

      The problem with supplemental services is: it’s only a few hour per week vs spending a majority of time unsupported. A school gives a full time wrap around environment. In a special ed school, the teachers teach there because they WANT to teach a child like yours vs seen as a nuisance by a regular school. They give appropriate homework, if any, that the child can DO so you don’t have to have a fight every evening. You may even need a boarding school if the problem has gotten too out of hand to be handled by a day school.

      The key to getting private school placement is to prove the public school has failed and based on what is written here, they have. My suggestion is 3 fold, 1) look for an appropriate placement(s) that your child will thrive in, 2) quietly gather evidence, emails, school work, reports from the school to show they cannot/have not provide an appropriate education and look for a special ed lawyer or advocate to help guide you.

    • #84693
      Penny Williams

      Punishment doesn’t change behavior because it doesn’t address the cause of the behavior. If you haven’t yet, read Ross Greene’s “The Explosive Child.” His approach works for kids that don’t improve with “crime and punishment” parenting.

      Check out his article with a brief overview here:

      Time for Plan B? 10 Tips for Dealing with an Explosive Child

      This is a piece I wrote on positive parenting too:

      The Single Most Helpful Strategy in Raising Your Child

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

    • #85031

      I did not read the entire info but I caught the stuff about food in the room and CANS OF FROSTING. My daughter had this too. We’d find wrappers, 1/2 drunk gatorade, empty cans of frosting- huge stash of empty stuff hidden in her room. After much therapy- ding! A light went on in my head. Took her to a psychiatrist- this was self medicating for depression. Sugar increases seratonin (I think or something like this.) Once she started taking prozac all this stopped. I would NEVER have thought she was suffering from depression but the difference after meds was huge. Again, I did not read everything but if you’ve not looked at this- it might be part of the problem. And please keep in mind different anti-depressants work for different people so don’t give up if the first doesn’t help. This also helped her not have frequent emotional meltdowns- they went away- she’d lose it at the littlest thing. LATER she was diagnosed with ADD as well- not sure how much that played into it but the prozac fixed the sugar cravings.

      Hope this is helpful and sorry I did not read entire post and replies so apologies if I am being redundant.

    • #85032

      P.S. I suffer from depression, have been on meds for 25+ years and know all about it but did not recognize it in my daughter at all until we figured out the sugar link.

      • #85069

        Somewhat similar to Julie KDC’s post about medicating her mood with food/sugar, the author of Beyond Consequences makes mention of a “theory” that the stealing gives these kids a rush or a “high” that is likely similar to what those who use drugs might feel, and that they’re also self-medicating when they steal. It makes some sense when one notes that also they’re frequently stealing stuff that they don’t need, want, or will ever use again; i.e. they’re stealing for stealing’s sake. I do think with the ADHD kids some of it is truly impulsive, but I’m not sure it all is – at least with my son. The stuff he takes isn’t always glitery and enticing -it’s just stuff.

    • #85048

      I am relatively new to this topic and am still researching much myself. You mentioned wanting “science” or “facts” and I just want to offer these 3 thoughts:

      There is something called SPECT imaging which is a brain imaging similar to an MRI – however it appears to monitor the brain in various situations, thus being able to identify areas of the brain that are overactive, underactive, etc. The intent being to then target treatment to the “science” of how the brain is working. There is a clinic in some of the bigger cities called the AMEN clinic (AMEN is the founding doctors last name). I have not tried this nor do I know anyone that has, but it does look interesting. If anyone here has experience with SPECT imaging please let us know!

      I agree wholeheartedly with the person that spoke about finding a place to place your child if the school cannot provide appropriate education. I have a friend who dealt with this and also got an attorney. She was eventually successful in getting her child transferred to a specialized school at the district’s expense. There were several layers to this so it will be draining and there is a cost associated with it (legal fees, independent evaluations) – but in the end it could be beneficial.

      Lastly, I have another friend who has a child with very similar things as described above. After years of medications and psychiatrists, she continued to pursue a line of thinking that no one would initially listen to – Lyme Disease. I do not know much about the science behind this – but apparently it can cause many of the similar symptoms. Her child was in fact diagnosed with a Lyme derivative, and is currently in a heavy course of treatment for such. Lyme disease is not always detected in initial exams, so a visit to a specialist on Lyme and autoimmune diseases may help.

      I know the thought of pursuing all of these other options is exhausting – especially when we are just trying to get through the day. Hang in there Mom – you are doing great.

    • #85060

      Hi. You are not alone. ADHD moms are just different from other moms. Somedays better than others. You have to keep a diary of the good days otherwise.. all you remember is the bad days and we have lots of those..

      What worked for us.
      1. Meds. It’s really important that he takes it. We use concerta. In small doses it helps with organization.
      2. He needs an iep to get accommodations.
      3. He also needs a tutor in area that he needs additional support. This is on top of the support that he might get from a school. Iep is key. If you don’t have it, school can’t do too much.
      4. Regular communication with his teacher. I mean daily. To let them know the challenge and also homework he needs to focus on.
      5. Make sure he feels comfortable to write tests or prep for test. Eg. For one exam we help to prep for exam at least one month ahead.
      6. All the other stuff.. yes sure I get frustrated, cry, feel quilts etc etc but I have to remember that we might be the only friends left for him if he stops making friends.
      7. Some days if it gets too much. I have to take a walk and let it go.

    • #85063

      Sorry for your extracurricular troubles. If you can, try to be good to yourself and make it a goal to be silly with this son. I’ve had a turnaround with my extreme behaviors son with talking stuffed animals. Baby talk, no loud voices. Our kids are sound sensitive and ptsd. My son now asks for a stuffed animal to weigh in when he’s “red zone.” I’m shopping with a turquoise blue rabbit in the freezer section…Later we circle back when he’s green zone. He was ”teaching” me “Chinese” the other night. That was hysterical. Other nights it’s farts. We’re very classy around here. He has to jump and run, bike and slowly we’re making tiny progress. I’m hoping to get him to improv. This summer. I think the more he can name the emotions, and see patterns…”it looks like you have a lot of feelings that need to come out.” Get him to overhear you bragging about him (maybe on the phone, etc.). Make sure he knows he’s your guy. Do everything together—chores, wash the car, plant pumpkins for October, make cookies, collect canned food with him for the homeless in the neighborhood…get him to do things for a neighbor…get the old lady’s paper. He needs to see he matters and makes a difference, sees cause and effect. We don’t give up around here. We try again. Practice it over and over. Tell him what’s coming up…no surprises. “I’ll pick you up after school. Then we go to the dentist.” Have a protein snack (and emergency snacks) in the car.:). You’ve come so far. Best to you.

    • #85070
      mom of 2

      No, you are not alone. Been there. I won’t repeat any of the suggestions that others have made…but will add another. Find something that your son excels at and let him do it, even if it is to the exclusion of other things that he “needs” to do. Maybe that’s sports for him, maybe it’s video games…whatever it is, give him the chance to excel at something he wants to excel at (not at something you or his teachers want him to excel at). Be his biggest advocate (even if inside you are saying that what he wants to do is a waste of time). I am struck by the fact that his school accelerated him into kindergarten and then “all hell broke loose” in first grade. In my experience, this sounds like a very bright (perhaps even gifted) boy who had room to explore and keep himself engaged and occupied pre-school, and then suddenly got trapped in the routine and boredom of first grade. He is bored out of his mind in school, yet struggling with the ADD that keeps him from delivering on the repetitive, process-driven stuff that the typical elementary teacher wants. The material is boring so he can’t focus. He squirms and fidgets and doesn’t do his work (because it’s too boring to bother and because ADD makes it doubly hard to bother) so the teacher gets mad at him, compounding his inability to focus and making him feel guilty to boot. Repeat and amplify for 5-6 years. And lying is the only way out that he can see. Lived through it with my son. It took until high school to figure out that what he needed was for me to be the person who believed in him unconditionally and got the rest of the world off his back so that he could focus on what he loved to do. Now he’s in college, studying something he loves and doing great. And amazingly, all the other stuff (laundry, cleaning the room, meals) gets done, too, at least as much as it needs to (which, it turns out, is a lot less than many people would have you believe). Hang in there!!!!

    • #85075

      Girlie, I have a 13 yo daughter, very similar situation. I am homeschooling her now. Mostly because the self loathing was so bad, so intense, it git got to the point of planning her suicide. Each child is unique, but my suggestion is, find an environment where he can be himself. Where he can feel accepted and loved. For many years I sided with teachers and principals
      ..and that only hurt my child. She needs help. Use compassionate eyes
      Forget about him fitting in. Focus on helping him deal with his own challenges- and this means trying to perceive life from his point of view.
      Each day is a new day.
      And…you are not alone.

    • #85078
      Eric Swanson

      You are not alone and neither is your son. Check into a little bit of more reading. It is not much reading but a whole lot of insight. RSD rejection sensitivity disphoria. Betting you will find what fuels the action/reactions. Embarrassing to even explain. It is even more difficult than trying to explain ADHD in the first place.

      It is written as if it’s a side show but for myself it is one of my biggest hurdles, and one that not only causes great pain but also fuels grudges that I can not let go of.

      It is something we keep secretly hidden, and do not talk about, yet some literature suggests that 97% of ADD’ers have some aspects of RSD as well.

      It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Want real relief? I am working with Peak Brain. Dr Andrew Hill. Unbelievable what his program has done for me after only 20 sessions. Far from ‘out from under’ its effects but without specifically targeting RSD I am experiencing some relief.

      There is hope. Call them and have a free consult phone conversation.

      Good luck

    • #85081
      Julia Christelle

      This book and the available workbook have helped a number of families I know:

      Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach Paperback – April, 1999
      by Howard Glasser (Author), Jennifer Easley (Author). The workbooks can be useful for sharing with teachers if they are willing to learn about ways to reduce conflict and rages.

      My own twins are adopted and have ADHD as on aspect of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum (FASD or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). FASD can also have symptoms that overlap with autism, but it is organic damage to the brain caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol.

      I subscribe to ADDitude because I find that there are a number of learning and behavioral issues the overlap between FASD and ADHD. And since I read some of the discussions here and also belong to parent discussion groups about raising kids with FASD and parenting teens and young adults with FASD, I see so many emotional and learning issues in common.

      I urge any mother who drank even a little bit during her pregnancy – even before she knew that she was pregnant to consider testing for FASD (at a certified clinic) in addition to seeking advice and treatment for ADHD. If there is any chance that your child has this comorbidty, if for no other reason than the fact that having a correct diagnosis opens the door to many more resources including services and special accommodations at school.

    • #85082

      I’m reposting a briefer version of what I thought I’d posted earlier (but now do not see).

      I feel I could have written the original post as well. I was a single mom to my, now 13 y.o. son, who happens to be adopted (at birth). He’s also quite bright and WAS doing well academically for years…until 3rd-4th grade, when his disruptive behaviors took over and his discipline issues prevailed. He also LIES like crazy! And he steals a lot (I have a padlock on my bedroom doort).

      I had written a much longer post, but the essence of it was this: my son was also diagnosed with ADHD, adjustment disorder, and ultimately ODD. BUT all those things can also look like RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder, which sometimes occurs in adopted individuals or those with significant trauma. Of course the treatment is much, much different. I feel that may be my son’s issue. One problem is that not many (even) professionals are too familiar with it, and even those who are aren’t necessarily trained to treat it. There are maybe 2 qualified RAD therapist in our large metro area (of nearly a million).

      The other things I’d posted were links to some resources that might be useful (even if you don’t think RAD is your son’s issue). Beyond Consequences (book and website); Karyn Purvis’ website EmpoweredToConnect (has some video links) and book, The Connected Child.

      Another poster mentioned Ross Greene’s book, The Explosive Child. For us personally, although it made a lot of sense, we did not have lasting results using his techniques. (We haven’t had LASTING results using anything really; so frustrating).

      Right there with you!

      • #85127
        Penny Williams

        Hi Cathy!

        Just wanted to mention that Ross Greene’s approach is a forever change in the way we parent, so the last effects come from always implementing it. 😉

        Also, it take a really long time and lots of consistency and frequency to change behavior. You might work on one behavior for nine months or more before you see any change.

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

    • #85090

      This is good and bad to hear. You are not alone which means I’m not alone either! Ha, ha! I’m a single mom of an 11 yo boy with ADHD and some ODD as well. We have run the gamut of therapy, medication, routine, IEP, sports, not sports, other hobbies, attempted play dates, charts, positive reinforcement, strict business, consequences, consistently, you name it and we’ve more than likely tried it. My kiddo like all of ours, is a good kid. He’s smart, funny, intuitive, and cams be very empathetic. He can also be intentionally manipulative, lie and cries often about anything. His emotions are at eleven all the time in it’s exhausting to be around. We are getting ready to move cross country so I can quit my career and finish my undergrad at an amazing school that I am beyond lucky to be a part of. This has sent him into a tail spin. We’re back to long dramatic and sometimes violent nights with him punching himself in the face or attacking me. He will thrash my stuff and sometimes his. I try my best to stay calm and obviously do everything to keep everyone safe. In these times he is trying hard to get a reaction but will not stop until he has cycled all the way through angry, violence, hysteria, sobbing/anxiety, to tired and remorseful if we can get there. Then in the am it starts again OR he acts like everything is rainbows and unicorns. We’ve had a lot of talks about the move, expectations, worries, excitement, what we do with feelings etc. there’s been A LOT of forethought and care for his feelings and wellbeing. My fear is that we both start school the same week. Me at a new, upper division college (gotta bring my A game) & he starts middle school, a new school/town/state with none of our usual support systems in place. I’m trying to prep about a million and one things now and for this coming journey. What do we do with these kids we love but batter us and deplete our beings. I feel so guilty sometimes and other times so resentful. Yet, he is only a child and has his own struggles and differences. It’s hard to love someone this much but be hurt by them so harshly. Especially since I grew up around violence and turmoil and have spent my adult life staying clear of that behavior and healing only to have a child that triggers my own trauma. I have to keep a clear head and be the best mother he needs but inside I’m a wreck. I worry I’ll have a heart attack or stroke sometimes. Kidding, but not! I hope we can all have support and maybe find some answers. I’m so glad you posted this thread and when it’s not the middle of the night I will read through some more and think of things that have been helpful to share with you. Hang tight!

    • #85101

      Absolutely not alone and my heart goes out to you, sweetie!! I have an 8-year-old (weeks from being 9) son, who I struggle to feel like a good mother to every single day. I don’t have any answers, but I will share the bits I’ve gleaned over the years since his diagnosis at 5 years old. One moment of digression though: it absolutely astounds me that there are so many struggling mamas (and sometimes dads) out there and so very often we come in absolutely clueless about this thing called ADHD (not to mention comorbid and look-alike diagnoses) and yet we almost all go on this learning curve alone for so very long. It makes no sense to me.

      Moving on…a little about my son and our story. He’s diagnosed with ADHD and he has tested as gifted, which proves frustrating for him. He has done much of what you talk about. The issues with guns being fascinating and suspension from school resonates quite a lot. In second grade (he just finished 3rd), he was in trouble a lot for shooting with his finger and saying (sometimes doing) violent things, like threatening students. He wouldn’t have really hurt them; he was trying to deal with big emotions that he didn’t understand. But the school didn’t know that and I didn’t really know that either at the time. He’s been suspended numerous times and there was even talk about an alternative school for a while.

      I recognize now that I was waiting for someone to come in and point me to the ADHD answer and magically my kid would be fixed, because I followed all the directions. I think I felt embarrassed and angry. I don’t think I really comprehended that it wasn’t defiance.

      Then 3rd grade happened. He started the year entirely differently. He wowed everyone with his much-improved behavior. I’d like to take credit for this, because we did work hard over the summer to improve his behavior (brain-training and screen-free summer were the biggest things, I think); however, in the end, I think the most effective thing was changing his meds from Intuniv to Ritalin. BUT another big thing was that I subscribed to ADDitude magazine right after 2nd grade was over and had the whole summer to read, read, read. I ran into an article about writing a PARENT’S CONCERNS LETTER. I wrote one (several times) and rewrote it (several times) and by the end of the summer, I’d pared it down to about a page and a half. I was very surprised how rapidly I was responded to. The boss of the Special Ed teacher contacted me and scheduled an IEP review and he ran the meeting himself. (He had to come from out-of-town to do that.) I received everything I asked for in the letter! Some things, in the end, were still not satisfactory, but the real learning for me was about my perspective. I wanted the school to know how to “fix” my son. I sure didn’t know and the school surely must know because they worked with so many kids. They did open the door to the world of IEP for me and the Parent’s Concerns letter helped me know how to speak up for my son. And no matter what anyone in the IEP meeting says, YOU are the only real person looking out for your child’s best interest. It doesn’t make the school full of demons, but it is a reality that the school is simply following a law (IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Edcuation Act of 1990) and they are not working with your child out of the goodness of their hearts. The Parent’s Concerns letter gave me the avenue to give voice to legitimate wrongs the school was doing to my son, such as taking away recesses for behaviors he couldn’t control without help.

      Also through ADDitude, I learned about EDUCATIONAL ADVOCATES. It took a lot of phone calls and quite a few dead ends, but I finally lit upon an organization that could help me. Now, I wanted an educational advocate to attend my son’s IEP meetings with me, which is what ADDitude said an EA was. That turns out not to be true in Kansas; EA’s are court-appointed for kids in foster care (usually) and need a voice to represent them in their IEP meetings. Nonetheless, the woman I spoke with gave me 2 key bits of info: 1) they do training for (usually) foster parents to become EAs and I was welcome to come to one they were having in a few days, and 2) EVERY STATE has an organization like this one, because the IDEA law requires each state to have a parent info center. This means your state has something! If you can’t figure out how to reach a similar organization in your state, google Families Together, which is what the organization is called in Kansas, and I feel certain they will help you get to the right people in your state. I felt very empowered after going to the training they offered. It was focused on the IDEA LAW and what my child’s rights were and what my rights were as a parent advocating for my child. I felt much, much more empowered when I went to his initial 3rd grade IEP meeting. Most important, it took me off the path of being a victim (somebody show me…) and put me on the path of knowing how to be an advocate for my son. The road at school is not all roses now, but it is better and I’m taken seriously. It would be even better if I followed up with the school more frequently and that’s on me. This is definitely a situation where the squeaky (but polite and not defensive) wheel gets the attention.

      Other thoughts:
      -I recently read (probably on this site somewhere) that far and away the most effective treatment plan for ADHD is stimulant medication coupled with behavioral therapy, especially GROUP THERAPY. I’d never read that before (the group part), but it makes sense to me. I’m here talking about dealing with ADHD; where does my son talk about it? With another adult (in 1 on 1 therapy) who is trying to help him to change. Is there any place where he can let down his guard? I don’t think so. So GROUP therapy with other ADHD kids makes sense to me. I got a recommendation from his occupational therapist and I’m calling this week to find out how to get started. My fingers are crossed and my hopes are high.

      -There is also something called Parent Child Interaction Training (PICT), which we haven’t done, but could use. (I haven’t found it easy to find where we are.) My interpretation of it is that the therapy takes you steps past the usual therapy advice of being consistent, for example, and teaches you how to do that without freaking out when your child reacts to you trying to change the status quo. Reminds us that it’s totally okay and appropriate to say, “I’m the parent and I say what happens around here.”

      -We had a breakthrough understanding with my son’s occupational therapist. (Out of desperation, I got a referral for an OT to see about sensory issues. I will admit to being skeptical, but pleasantly surprised to find helpful things come out of these appointments). The school complained that he consistently had trouble with hyperactivity and impulsiveness going from PE to music, which happen very near the end of the school day. The OT had him do a simple obstacle course she set up in the hallway, 5 times. The course forced him to change speeds and elevation, which meant he had to engage his brain to do the course well. His first time through, he was clearly hyped up and by the fifth time through, he’d slowed down considerably and was calm enough to balance himself on the yoga ball (the final move). He was like a different kid in a matter of 5 minutes and I was amazed. The OT also showed me a video that a school in France posted. They put a tape-based obstacle course in the school hallway and kids can use it as needed. Look up Audrey LaFleur on Facebook for the post. Wisely, the OT pointed out that just as my son starts his day with Bal-A-Vis-X (a sensory exercise program) and it helps him tremendously to settle into his mornings at school, he needs another ‘sensory dose’ between PE and music just as if he needed another dose of medicine. You can bet I will be including this in my parent’s concerns letter for 4th grade!

      -Another big moment for me was adjusting MY meds! I was taking 50mg of Zoloft for seasonal affective disorder. I increased it to 100mg and then to 200mg after an especially ugly incident with my son. It took me a while to be consistent with the increased dose and in watching my own behavior, I eventually realized the increased dose was helping me tremendously to stay calmer and avoid engaging in power struggles.

      -Magnesium supplement. I’m still finding the right thing for my son (supplement, bath flakes, roll on feet, etc), but I’m sold on the idea of increasing the magnesium. It helps relax muscles. As much as 70% of the country’s population is deficient because our bodies don’t manufacture magnesium so we have to get it from foods we eat.

      -A couple of things I learned from a positive parent group are 1) Mind, Body, Soul Time (MBST) and 2) let him save face. In full disclosure, I struggled with this group a lot, but I did come away with these two important and useful ideas. MBST is 15-20 minutes of time you dedicate to each of your children every day. The kids choose the activity and you avoid criticizing or discipline them. You just love them unconditionally during this time. Talk about what they want. We called it You and Me Time instead of MBST. I’m not good about ensuring this happens but I know how much it helps because my son actually asks for the time. When we have quality time together, just him and me, we are noticeably closer and I feel more connected to him. Saving face is just that, letting him back up and try again without having to bare his soul. For example, say he stole the game console out of your room. Rather than hunt him down for a ‘good talking to,’ take the console back at some non-power struggle time and put it in a different place (probably under lock and key, right?!) and leave a non-judgmental note simply stating the facts about how long the game console will be under lock and key. He doesn’t have to explain to your face or admit he was wrong for taking it. He’s saving face.

      -From personal experience I’ve found that if we’ve reached a power struggle situation and there is a stand off happening, I can ease the moment by letting an ‘almost smile’ show on my lips or by making it a silly staring contest, it breaks the tension and is easier to move on in a positive direction. This seems like the same idea as saving face to me. He doesn’t want to be wrong or let you have the last word.

      -Read articles about Project-Based Learning here on ADDitude. That may help inform your search if you decide to look for another school. It’s more hands-on learning and up-out-of-your-seat work.

      -And finally, there is a new stimulant medication made specifically for children, called Cotempla. It’s very new apparently and side effects are reportedly fewer. It’s ‘exciting because of the micro particle technology it uses as it’s delivery system.’ I can’t tell you any more from that perspective, but the keywords are there if you want to google it for more info. My son switched from Ritalin to Cotempla. He doesn’t like the taste and isn’t always agreeable to taking it, but it’s been a good change for him.

      In the spirit of full disclosure and to reiterate my own need for help in this journey, we struggle with two specific things profoundly. First is video games and the second is him punching me, usually related to the video games in some way. Being more consistent when enforcing the video game rules is probably my error there. Being punched (and sometimes worse) is what I’m struggling with now. He is nearly as tall as me and his punches seem to get harder by the day. The urgency to me is that my son seems to be learning that it’s okay to punch a woman (thinking of potential future partners here) and perhaps making my heart heavier is that my 3-year-old daughter may also be learning that it’s okay if a boy (as in boyfriend or husband eventually) punches her. I, of course, say it’s not okay to hit, but actions speak so much louder than words. I’m not at all sure what to do about this situation and my husband has not been much help. He doesn’t seem to take it seriously.

      Thanks for letting me share my journey as well. I hope something of my middle-of-the-night ramblings is helpful to you. Also wanted to take a moment to thank others for sharing specific suggestions. I’m looking forward to researching/trying some of them.

      Hang in there. What else is there to do, right? We need a retreat for ADHD mamas! And free tickets to it given away on Ellen. 🙂

      Much love and kindness your way!

    • #85105

      GirlInterrupted06, I felt like I was reading my own journal when I read your letter. And it was incredibly beneficial and relieving to hear that others are going through the exact challenges. Please know that I am entirely sympathetic. We have gone through several psychologists and now we’re seeing an OT and child psychiatrist now. But (frustratingly and understandibly) nobody seems to to get the “whole boy”, and see what I see. I am a single mum, who willingly chose to adopt a little boy when he was 2. The diagnoses of ADHD came with dyslexia and discalculia. Now 14, we have been through the suspension route, and have now come to the place of either voluntarily taking the child out of school or going down the further path of expulsion after a disciplinary hearing. It’s devastating for a mother to hear this news especially as my son is already in a school for SEN. But the school has not let us down. As much as they are looking out for the best interests of the school children as a whole, they are looking for alternatives for us and I’m so grateful. My son struggles to understand consequences, social mores and boundaries and has underlying anger issues. The school has done its best to accommodate him in their small classes, but his behavior is really having a detrimental affect on the other children, which is causing their parents concern. My hopelessness was where do you send a child who has had to leave a SEN school? So all that to say is there are solutions and they come in unexpected forms. I didn’t reckon on getting the continued support from the school. I think also just reading the account of other parents is as I said before, really encouraging in depressing sort of way:). We are not alone. Our kids are not bad or evil. They are unique and as I have been told many times, we were given our children because we were the best ones for them. So glad I found this article today.

    • #85108

      I too am a single mom, ever since my husband died – her Dad – which of course triggered off a whole new series of problems. I felt completely helpless, hopeless, trapped, depressed, lifeless and of course worried the whole time . Although she is 31 now, and living on her own somehow, she was in a really bad way. To top it all, she was completely addicted to her meds which never helped at all anyway, which is why she kept taking more and more. Then a miracle happened (only a month ago). She committed to stop this chaotic, depressing way of life to one person who for some reason was the only one left that she looked up to. She signed up to a gym, with a coach that she’s crazy about and couldn’t believe how much it made her feel better, positive, excited about life, ready to start anew. I’m telling you this because I think sport is the only way out, not psychiatrists, not meds, not therapists, not CBT, certainly not me, just sport, and subsequently healthier food and habits. Research shows that the same hormones activated by medication, are activated during sport without of course the terrible side affects. I see you’re considering taking him out of sport, please reconsider. It seems to be the only thing he enjoys. If possible, add some more physical activities to his curriculum. Although it’s been only a month, I’m convinced sport has saved my daughter’s life. However, at the age of 31, only she could have made that decision for herself. The dynamics between mother and daughter were toxic.

    • #85068

      Your child sounds EXACTLY like my son, now 13. Very bright, did ok at first, but then started displaying pretty much all the same behaviors you describe. I, too, am most frustrated with the lying…and the STEALING! He will get caught in the act and still deny it, which is also crazy. He, too, seems immune to consequences and is not very motivated by rewards, or at least not for any length of time. I have also tried all the discipline techniques you have.

      Let me ask this, any chance your son is adopted? Mine is. I was a single parent and adopted him at birth, domestically. At age 4 I adopted a second son, and at age 6 I began dating and later married when my son was 8. In hindsight, I first recall that he stole something at age 5. His other really significant ODD behavior was to pee in random places around the house but not because he wasn’t potty trained, because he was, at age 2.

      Where I’m going with this is that many of these behaviors that both our sons display are not only sometimes seen in ADHD, but can be symptoms of RAD – REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER. In fact, RAD literature makes mention that many of those kids are misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Although often thought of as an issue with those abandoned or adopted in later years, it can be seen even in kids adopted at infancy or in kids who’ve suffered other sorts of trauma. I read a lot about it, and I think my son may have it. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are many people-even professionals- well acquainted with RAD and/or trauma therapy. If you think that could be an issue, some resources I’ve found include,
      -Beyond Consequences (book and website):
      -Karyn Purvis’ info: The Connected Child, by Karyn Purvis, PhD. and David Cross, PhD, and
      -The Whole Brain Child, by Daniel Siegel, MD

      So sorry for anyone going through this. I feel your pain! No one gets it! I feel like the crazy one (even though my son’s psychiatrist has reminded me repeatedly, “You know, you’re not the one with the problem.” I just wish there were more clinicians out there who knew more/could offer more (than we’ve had so far).

      Best to you,

    • #85043

      Sounds exactly like our experience. Aside from medication (combination of Zoloft, Ritalin, and Guanfacine) we ordered The Total Transformation program. It was invaluable in giving us concrete strategies in dealing with ODD/ADHA behavior. I would highly suggest the video on consequences which gives specific examples of dealing with lying. From time to time, they run sales so the price is pretty reasonable.

      I know how helpless you feel but this helped us a lot. I wish you all the best.

    • #85037

      Sweet mama, you are NEVER alone, but oh how often do we feel that way. I can empathize as a fellow single mom, and I feel very alone on a daily basis. Life is SO hard, especially being single and having a child or children who struggle – and take out their frustrations on you. You are the safe one, the one that will never leave, the one that will always be there and always love them. You are the constant. You have to find people in your life that you can lean on, even if it’s online in this forum. You have a community here. I love this letter this blogger wrote a couple of years ago. I’ve shared it with parents before, and I read it myself now and then as well. Maybe it will bring you some peace in knowing that you are definitely not alone. I’m happy to share my email as well if you’d like to connect and chat more. Hang in there, mama!

      Dear Special Needs Mom Who Feels Invisible

    • #85196

      My heart also goes out to you! I can totally relate to what you described when my son was that age. The thing that I most want to pass on to you is that there is HOPE, in fact from what you described, in spite of all of the challenges, you should be VERY HOPEFUL because it sounds to me like you have a very gifted, caring child who is making some mistakes, but I do think he is also doing the VERY BEST he can do at this time and so are YOU so I hope you will both give each other a little bit of a break. When he says he doesn’t know why he does things, please believe him. He is not thinking at the time! Afterwards, he knows he made a mistake and feels terrible! No offense to your well meaning family, but unless they have raised an ADHD kid, they have no clue so traditional advice and judgments are of no use in my opinion. Open up with discretion in your local community. Find a sympathetic teacher, counselor or group of parents for support (this really helps). A couple of other things, if he is on stimulants and is growing, he will be ravenous when his meds where off so stock your home with easy to reach nutritious snacks that he is free to grab at will to the extent you can. If you know he disobedied you and did something he shouldn’t have done, just call him on it rather than ask if he did it. Otherwise, you set him up for the double transgression of lying to you. Your positive relationship is most important. He probably goes through most of the day feeling bad about the many mistakes he makes due to poor impulse control but he really needs you to be his refuge at end od day to give him a hug despite how frustrated you may be. His poor impulse control will get better as he gets older so just give him time for now. Pick your battles. My son was totally disorganized too (and still is but he is making his way through a very competitive college program now on his own terms). By the way, I tried the rewards system, organization tools, etc and the only things that ultimately ended up helping him were the right ADHD meds, tutoring in subjects where he was weak, me helping him one on one to accomplish tasks and now his own motivation to pursue what he really wants to do. You mentioned he was young for start of school. So was our son and after a bad first year of middle school, my husband insisted on switching him to a smaller school and repeating 7th grade. I was worried about the negative stigma, but it was a total nonissue for him. I realize that this is not possible for every family, but given that ADHD kids are slow to develop in certain areas, it was definitely the right decision for our family. Other advice is to make sure your kid has had a full neuropsychological evaluation. 50% of kids with ADHD also have one or more LD and the smarter they are, the more it is masked and hard to detect. Also, we were dismayed that a lot of public schools like ours won’t diagnose dyslexia even if they see it because that would mean they have to provide services that the public school doesn’t have the funds to pay for! Outrageous! Encourage your son to pursue electives like CS that he is naturally good at and please don’t take away sports as a punishment! ADHD kids really need exercise as a healthy outlet. Our son is 20 now and doing great pursuing CS at university and interning at a very prestigious silicon valley company that actually values the strengths that ADHD brings (intelligence, creatvity and hyperfocus on the computer screen, imagine that!), so hang in there with your AWESOME, GIFTED, HIGHLY-CHALLENGING CHILD!

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by ADHDMAMA.
      • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by ADHDMAMA.
      • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by ADHDMAMA.
    • #85414

      I would write a list down of his behaviors and the root cause of you can and talk to the therapist to make sure hes been diagnosed correctly. As a last resort extreme solution, take everything away. I mean literally everything but his bed. Lock him out of the kitchen and rest of the house completely if you can. You may have to clean his room to accomplish this (you shouldn’t have to, I know) but the point is a complete reset. Show him these things are a privilege. When he has to start asking you for every little thing he needs (annoying for you I know) make sure before you give him something else (example another drink or snack, more clothes) that hes put the trash in the trash and previous dirty clothes in the hamper. After a couple weeks of him not arguing slowly build up what hes allowed to have and if he stops doing what hes supposed to or argues about cleaning it up, take it back away. Do not yell, do not argue. Just take him to the list of rules and tell him that he didnt do what he was supposed to so you’re taking it away for now but he can still earn it back then walk away. It’s an extreme thing to do but sometimes you just gotta go back to square 1 and build good habits

    • #85437

      I read some in this yesterday morning and wanted to get back to make a comment.
      You are not alone! Parenting is hard.
      I’m going to suggest a clue that helps some people. For SOME people, not eating any gluten/wheat, or maybe it’s the pesticide on the wheat, will help. It may sound unbelievable! but sometimes the way we act has to do with health, food. I know how hard it is to totally get rid of wheat!! but for some, wheat causes emotional meltdowns! I wish we had known this years sooner.
      The books, The Ultramind Solution by Mark Hyman, and What’s Eating Your Child by Kelly Dorfmann give ideas into this.

      I also learned that for some kids, there needs to be a play time first before the “harder” things of the day. I don’t have a reason, but that became helpful to remember.

    • #87726

      You’re definitely not alone! I have definitely felt how you do. I didn’t take the time to read all the replies, so I apologize if there are any repeats, but here are some things that have helped:

      *The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. I read this when I was “on the verge” with my son and feeling totally lost and helpless. It gave me the direction and hope I needed.

      *The Power of Positive Parenting by Glen Latham. EVERY parent should read this and apply, but it’s even more critical for our situations.

      *Driven to Distraction by Hallowell and Ratey

      *Secondary activities — fidgets, music, etc. My son can accomplish the boring tasks a lot better if he’s got something else to keep another part of his mind busy at the same time; sometimes the more unrelated the better: funny rhyming games help him stay on track getting ready for bed, doodling/drawing helps him listen, etc.


      *Sleep — Don’t underestimate the power and importance of enough, good sleep (for both of you).

      *Good nutrition.

      *Structure, routine, a heads up on things. Their chaotic minds need the framework so they can have something to hold onto.

      *LOVE! Be his biggest cheerleader, his teammate in solving problems (while still being the parent).

      *Apologize. Besides powerfully healing, this teaches our kids that everyone makes mistakes, that we can all grow, improve, and learn, and that we’re not locked into who we were or our mistakes or bad behavior. They need to know how to move on and forward.

      *One on one time. 15 minutes of me sitting down to play Legos with my son is just as or more powerful than any rewards system, discipline strategy, etc. Sometimes it’s just me chatting with him before he falls asleep, watching a show we both love, playing a game together (board/video; Minecraft, 20 Questions, etc.).

      *Try to carve out some time for yourself, and take care. Then you can help him better too.

    • #87735

      I know how helpless you feel but try to think positive, exercise, meditate and lead a healthy life that helps a lot. I wish you all the best.

    • #105227

      Hi. I just read your post and have been getting the articles and webinars for almost a year now but haven’t really had the time to do anything. Although I’m not a single parent. I do have 3 boys 15 (weeks away), 11 and 3. Everything you said with a few exceptions describe my 11 year old. It seems like 11 is the age. I felt and still feel guilty because as of this week we are sending him away to a children’s home that have group and individual behavioral therapy due to his stealing. We feel that being among other children that have the same issues and are working through them may help, as he doesn’t have any friends really at school, never has been invited but to 1 birthday party in his entire school career and frankly isn’t well liked at home due to the habitual lying, stealing, and agitation just for agitation’s sake of everyone. I know this may have him picking up other behaviors but we are truly at our wit’s end. We have tried psychiatry, behavioral therapy (but like you when he started it was one of the few that took his insurance and it was a revolving door due to too many patients), medication that he’s still on, while he’s on the medication he’s the kid I know and love. When he’s not or it’s worn off I wonder who’s kid is this and why is he here, why do I have to take care of him… I’m his mom. I am supposed to love him but I feel like for self-preservation’s sake, I can’t. I can’t continue to hurt like this. He’s stealing from us and from his peers as well as teachers at school. Prior to this, which has always been going on, but prior to this he was a great kid. prior to school he was an awesome kid. Kindergarten started the stealing from teachers, glittery and shiny objects, then key chains and pencil sharpeners and other things from other kids. Now it’s cell phones from teachers and peers, leather cowboy boots, more expensive things. I fear for him as he ages because of the amounts of these things. He can and will get arrested if the victims press charges. I know it may not be the best choice to send him away but in thinking of my marriage, thinking of my family and his brothers, we need a time out. I also again fear for his safety. Being a young male and a minority doesn’t help him at all in this day and age and we’re really trying to get him to see that. We talk with him, he gets spankings or as we call them (whoopings) but they’re spankings. He’s actually getting too old for them, and they’re not effective. He gets things taken away, punishments, all of which he adapts to and continues on his life. I feel like he’s at a point where he’s like ok, what’s new. everything else has been taken away from me. I know what it’s like to have nothing. I don’t want that. I do love my child. I feel like a horrible parent. We both do. We just don’t know what else to do. Concerta has been used, but we can no longer afford it. and to be honest we have good insurance but we just simply cannot afford to keep up with all of these doctors and medications that he needs to just function. He does get in trouble in school. Especially now that he’s in middle school. He’s been in in school suspension 3 times in 1 month. He’s labled as a theif and rightfully so because he does in fact steal everything they accuse him of and we find it and return it. He has a 504 and doesn’t really need it, is really bright but doesn’t have the desire to work (which I feel is normal at this stage too). He had a tablet but has had it taken away due to inappropriate searches and viewings (somewhat normal, but the content is alarming). We’re just again at wit’s end. He is talked to by family. We all try to understand him. He’s ADD/ADHD/ODD and we feel every piece of it. I have tried organizing him with his help, he doesn’t utilize the system. I’ve tried being proactive and having meetings and emailing teachers, I think it does more harm than good as they started seeing the stealing after I called it out, trying to be proactive… We find food all in his room, typically sugary things. Depression is something I never though of, but have now after reading this forum. But I just don’t know what else to do and avoided this forum for the sake of being called a bad parent. Being thrown articles at. Feeling alone. Being judged without words. I didn’t want to hijack your post either, so I’m sorry. I just needed to vent. Thanks for reading.

    • #107784

      I want to Thank each and every one of you who replied, gave suggestions, or told your own stories! Thank you! I have kept up & read replies but frankly did not realize so much time had passed. I feel horrible for not responding sooner, as life just happens. It’s tough being a single mom, working full time, trying to get back to school, and parenting our lovely children. Its tough to really Believe I am not alone but just being in this forum, helps a lot!

      Nothing has really changed since my post, we are still in this vicious cycle. I am trying to read a lot of books, articles, etc. Right now I am gearing up for our annual IEP meeting in a couple months and I want to come prepared. I feel my son has slipped through the cracks and his teachers, principals, etc never really have understood my child or any of the children within the district with these diagnoses. I recently had parent-teacher conferences where a teacher told me that my son will get to high school and Flop! He said that he doesn’t care about anything, doesn’t take pride in his work, is lazy, behind in reading, writing, etc etc. I was a basket case. It was unbelievable to me but then I was also not surprised as we’ve dealt with this for years. Trust me, I do keep in contact with all 6 teachers, etc but it doesn’t help. My son FINALLY has ONE teacher that just gets him, gets the WHOLE thing and is willing to help and also advocate for him. This is a small leap forward but there is a lot more to do.

      Thanks again, I appreciate the support and thankful for this outlet

Viewing 31 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.