Violent Rages at School

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    • #144071

      My son is six years old. We’ve always known something was different with him as soon as he learned to walk. We took him to a behavioral specialist when he was only three but they can’t formally diagnose him that young. She stated that he for sure had moderate to severe ADHD, a mood disorder and ODD. The latter two has dissipated a bit but the ADHD has been severe that it’s made him incredibly violent. He was even suspended a few months ago from school…at five years! He’s kicked his teachers, thrown chairs (still to this day), he will get so angry he breaks down into tears and runs out of the classroom down the halls SCREAMING. He’s choked out his peers, numerous instances where he’s punched other children. He bites, kicks, punches, slaps, etc. his sister (mind you, she aggravates him on purpose at times). He has not done any physically violent actions to me, his father, and step-mother. He was on Adderall which made the violent, angry outbursts worse. We’ve switched him to Concerta which has improved his outbursts but still has his moments. For instance, he threw chairs at school yesterday. He’s even gotten to a point where he was enveloped by self-depreciating thoughts. He kept saying he was a bad person, nobody loved him, everybody hates him… because he was constantly getting in trouble. Hurts my heart. I’m just trying to figure out a way to help him, our family, and his teachers catch his triggers before he explodes. I’m tired of getting to the point that he has, I have found myself losing my cool, essentially doing what he does, without the violence of course. Hopefully in the next few months, he will be placed on the extended release version of his meds. We’ve sat him down in Come-To-Jesus talks, instilled in him that he is NOT a bad person, that we all care and love him deeply. Gave him plenty of affection and examples as to how is not a bad person. Any comments or advice will DEFINITELY be appreciated!

    • #144345
      Penny Williams

      A few things come to mind that I’ve learned with my own son over the years:

      1. Could be a bad reaction to this medication. He may need to change. There are two types of stimulants: amphetamine (Adderall, Vyvanse, Evekeo…) and methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Quillivant…). Almost everyone does well on one type or the other, but not both. Since you’ve tried both types and found Concerta to be better, this is less likely the culprit.

      2. He could be experiencing toxic school stress. The one and only time my son was violent like this at school (which was 8 years ago) was when he had a horrendous teacher who praised the kids that performed well academically and essentially punished the kids who didn’t. Dr. Jerome Schultz has brilliant insights and advice in this area! Read his book, Nowhere to Hide and check out his articles on

      Why School Stress Is Devastating for Our Children

      3. Dr. Ross Greene is a genius when it comes to behavior. He sees behavior as communication, a symptom of something else that needs to be addressed (not the behavior itself). His book, Lost at School, will provide a look at why this behavior is happening and how to address it (it’s almost guaranteed his teachers aren’t handling things in a beneficial way).

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

      4. Has he been evaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorder? My son was diagnosed with ASD 6 years after his ADHD diagnosis (ADHD at age 6, ASD at age 12, suspected ASD around age 10). It explained the intense outbursts and meltdowns that didn’t quite fully fit with the ADHD diagnosis. It may be worth it to have him professionally evaluated for ASD. It could be too well hidden to see at his current age, but maybe not.

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

    • #144367

      I have adhd when I was younger I used to attack people a lot. Act up then feel bad about it causing more stress and anxiety. I’m not a doctor but that can Def be an adhd thing. Regulating emotions, things can be overwhelming, jump to quick irrational decision making. Adderall can cause mood swings for sure tho. Could be a combo.

    • #144368

      It’s in reaction to how others treat us. Overly sensitive. Easily set off. Normal kid someone calls him dumb they are like eh whatever. Adhd kid gets called dumb he drop kicks the person then realizes after holy crap I just drop kicked that kick. Impulse control. I used to drop kick people lol. It’s normal. Idk what to do about it tho. He doesn’t mean it.

      • #144381

        I feel badly for the children who have ADHD and have impulse control. That said, I also feel badly for the other children who are on the receiving end of the temper tantrums and rage inflicted on them.
        Hopefully, a professional can help the child and the mother find a solution that works for them.

        I have a niece that is one year younger than my son. She was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 6 or 7. Knowing about her diagnosis explained much of her behavior, but it did not make things easier on my son.
        If my niece didn’t get her way when with other children, she would kick, punch or bite them, my son included. She would haul off and slap him for no reason, and my sister in law made it clear that I was not to discipline my niece.
        One day, when we were down at the lake, my son asked her to stop throwing water in his face. He asked nicely, 3 times. The next time, she was about to throw water at him again, she looked over at me smugly, with that “you can’t do anything about it” face. I looked her in the eye and said: “he asked you nicely to stop”. She did it one more time. My son took a sand pail and scooped up some lake water, and threw it in her face in retaliation, knocking her off her feet. When she got to her feet, she was crying and sputtering, and threatened to tell her Mom. I told her: “Go ahead and tell your Mother. You can then explain to her that your cousin asked you nicely 3 times to stop, and you refused.” That stopped her dead in her tracks. She never told her Mother. It all boils down to consequences, as my sister in law soon found out.

        ADHD may explain some of the behavior, but it does not EXCUSE the behavior. She would not see my point. My point was that if they didn’t find her help then, to figure out a way to deal with her impulse control, there could be serious consequences, especially as she got older. Another student wouldn’t care that my niece has ADHD if she became irritated at something and punched them in the face. It is a miracle that she wasn’t beaten up by another student.

        I guess things worked out OK, for the most part. My niece is now an adult. She had a baby at 19, and seems to be a good Mom.

        • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by AdeleS546.
      • #144733

        It’s so nice to know that your niece grew up as a better or rather “in-control” person. She’s lucky because not all people with ADHD grow up for the better, especially if they are neglected by professional help in their childhood.

    • #145213

      Your son sounds exactly like my now 23yo step son. (Throwing chairs & other items, lashing out physically, etc) His angry outbursts harmed people and put his sister (6 yrs younger) in harms way many times. He was not always cooperative about taking stimulant medication, so we tried other things. We always had him in physical activities, etc. but they were not a cure. I swear sometimes that riled him up even more. So we had to choose carefully given the situation.

      The best thing we saw- was a doctor who first tested his nutritional abilities- this evaluation tested hair, body fluids, etc to see how his detailed health was doing. We learned he did not process some things- like ceisin(sp) from dairy, that is used as a preservative. And some of these things could make his reactions worse. So that dr added specific dietary elements to his life.

      He also, and I think very importantly, added a strong anti-anxiety medication. It was very strong at first, then tapered down. This worked very very well. As you can imagine, the extreme reactions could be from boiling over anxiety in given situations.

      Today he does not take any medications- which were so helpful in calming his mind & body- and it shows- his anxiety and reactions have gotten him thrown out of the Army and living an isolated life. I hope one day he returns to the help he needs. I share this because we cannot blindly reject medication or any type of support- we simply need the supports that help them succeed, and they will change over time.

    • #145222

      My son was taking Ritalin at 5 years old and everytime the medication started wearing off around 12:00 at school he would also go into rages, throw chairs and books around. We tried having them administer the dose at school by 11:30, but whenever they were late, this would happen. Same thing happened at home when his second dose wore off. As soon as we switched him to the slow release the problem stopped completely. It was all because of the come down from his meds.
      We are also looking into possible autism (he is now 10) as there are still several meltdowns at school, just not violent or angry anymore. We suspect the cause for a lot of the meltdowns is sensory stuff. I think Penny mentioned this on her comment. I hope you figure it all out. It is so challenging. We are still waiting for further testing.

    • #145371

      My son is also 6 with the same sort of rage issues. He’s been diagnosed with ADHD for a year and just recently diagnosed as having some Autistic triggers. We’ve tried Vyvanse, Biphentin, and then Adderall for the last few months and we’ve found Adderall has helped him pay attention more to tasks, but he still has difficulty with rage, so we’ve topped him off with a little bit of Risperidone.
      We’ve also gotten to know some of his triggers, such as noise, unexpected transitions, and substitute staff.
      To AdeleS546, thanks for telling us all what we need to know about our children! That was sarcasm. It DOESN’T “all boil down to consequences” because people with ADHD don’t have the impulse control to stop and think about consequences.
      Although I’m not violent the way my son can be, I was also diagnosed with ADHD last year. I can say firsthand that the ADHD medications help by giving that tiny split second of time to control an impulsive emotion. Until I started taking medication myself, for instance, I didn’t really believe people when they said they “almost” cried, because to me, there was never the opportunity for “almost.” By the time I realized I was upset, I was expressing the emotion, regardless of whether it was an appropriate time/place.

      One more comment I have, albeit a bit off topic, is that I think traditional school systems aren’t built for kids with ADHD and ASD. I’m hoping to get my son through elementary school, and then get him into an alternative high school, followed by an alternative career!

      My son is also amazingly creative and sensitive, and I have high hopes. So ‘Cheers’ to our emotional, misunderstood kids who can grow up to be amazing, high-functioning adults.

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