View Full Version : I'm completely at a loss.

11-10-14, 12:24 AM
My son is eleven, and was diagnosed with ADHD at age eight. He's a sweet kid, and very smart - makes honor roll when properly medicated, and is on the robotics team at school. But I feel totally unprepared to help him because no two doctors agree on the best approach, and all of the books and resources I have read contradict each other. They can't even agree on what is a symptom and what isn't, much less how to deal with it. For example, does anyone else's child have "good" and "bad" days? The meds are a Godsend most days, but there are days when they don't seem to help one bit. I've been told this is normal, and I've been told it's an indicator that he has been misdiagnosed. Today was a bad day. I could deal with the lack of focus, the running around and screaming, knocking things over, and even forgetting what I told him to do the second I finish saying it. What gets me is the meanness. He gets very angry when his ADHD is kicking in, and takes it out on everyone around him. Today he and his little sister were playing a game where they take turns jumping through a hula hoop. His sister asked him to move closer so she could jump off the porch and do it, and he said no. No reason to say no, other than he wanted to see her jump and miss, as he had done a moment earlier.

I played Yahtzee with him today, and even though he beat me two games in a row, he got angry and unpleasant when the third game was not going his way. When riding his bike home from school with his sister, he speeds ahead of her. Not because he really wants to go that fast, because normally he doesn't. But he wants to see her upset that she can't keep up. I almost feel like all of this is stemming from a feeling of inadequacy. And while I have tried my best to point out the things he does well, it doesn't change. Is this something you often see in kids with ADHD? If so, what do you do? Tonight I just snapped. I yelled at him, which I try not to do, and told him if he doesn't start treating people more kindly, he will have no friends and his sister will not want anything to do with him when he is older. I gave him a long lecture about treating people with respect, and I was far angrier than I should have been. Then when he went to bed, I sat on the couch and cried for what seemed like forever, because I felt guilty but I didn't know what else I could do to help him.

I feel like a failure as a parent on a daily basis. While he is doing better than he used to academically, he still has trouble socially. He has friends, but not many. And he gets picked on. Even my own best friend, who always said she would go to jail for my kids if necessary, told me a few weeks ago that she has tried, but she just doesn't like him. That hurt more than anything, because he really is a sweet kid if he gets the chance to be. I don't want him growing up thinking that he is less than the other kids, or that he can't do everything the other kids can. I don't want him to have to wonder if anyone actually likes him. I just want him to be happy.
Sorry for the rant, I'm just a little overwhelmed at the moment. I guess I just need to know if this has happened with other kids, and if there is a way to help. I'm a little tired of feeling useless.

11-10-14, 05:59 AM
We've gone through some periods like this, and things are really good right now, so they can get better. I can't go super crazy with advice right now BC of time constraints but here's where I would start.

1) The medication should work consistently. Not really some days better than others (a little differece OK, but shouldn't be that drastic). I would get his meds reevaluated right away.

2) Reestablish your bond with him by practicing unconditional love. He can't help much of what he does (especially if his meds aren't working right), so being constantly berated (and lectured, and screamed at) for what he can't help is taking a toll on him psychologically and is feeding this oppositional personality, just like your gut told you. Put the bond above all else. I know this part his hard and counterintuitive when he can't behave to society's standards, but just try.

3) Just accept a little less for now. Less than perfect behavior, quality over quantity with friends, don't put him in situations he will be picked on. Accept the situation for now and if you do #1 and #2 the rest should work itself out....

11-10-14, 06:44 AM
Hi Critter :0) I remember 'those' days much earlier on in my son's journey...people would ask me 'what's wrong with him', 'he isn't normal', 'i can't babysit him cos he drives me nuts'. lol. i used to frustrate myself by trying to make him fit a mold of what people expected. The more I did this, the more I ran circles around myself...My son is who he is and I accept him - warts and all. I don't expect people to 'get' him anymore. But, I would rip someone's head off if they put him down. Followed by a lecture of 'difference is beautiful'. ADHD is a tough diagnosis to live with...even tougher for the person who has it...loved ones live with it and it has to become a sort-of normal integration into our lives. As a parent - I have to work with it, embrace it, therapy it, time-out it, congratulate it, and praiiiiiiise it to the hilt.

There are good days, and bad days. the extra bad days usually signify that something is awry and I have to become a detective and make appointments with the pedi when I suspect a growth spurt combatting meds or look at the environment as my son is super sensitive to change. I have to adapt to his needs in order to give him the best support that I can. and to make him feel loved and cared for.

Don't beat yourself up - but learn from this - we all have ****ty days and it is easy to lose it. But, you are the hero in this relationship and it is up to you to get your **** together - go in and see him and say 'Hey, what's up bud? You seem really angry at the moment - and that makes me sad. I want to make you happy - so tell me some stuff that might put a smile on your dial'.

And, if the people around you can't accept him the way he is - then they aren't people you need to go to for advice when the crap hits the fan. You can surround yourself with understanding people by looking at local ADHD support groups and chat with other parents who know where you are at. Also, role modelling to your daughter about what to do when your son is looking for a reaction is something you can learn through peer support groups or even Triple P Parenting. The best you can do for your son is to not make him feel more isolated than he already does - he has to live with this and learning about what he is going through will make it easier for you to implement the right technique to use when he acts out, flips out, starts becoming aggressive etc - in a way that won't make him feel like a freak.

Good luck :)

11-10-14, 06:59 AM
Don't blame everything on ADD. Kids are mean sometimes, it's not like people are angels and they do nothing wrong in live, and only things like ADHD make them do it.

I have seen many mean kids, who learned that momy will give them anything they want, and they can do what they want without being punished. Not saying that this is your case, but keep in mind, don't blame everything on ADHD.

11-10-14, 07:21 AM
behaviour is learnt though - conditioning: positive, negative and operant. All of them have some sort of reward. And acting out is a precursor for 'something is not right here'. OP said he is sweet kid - only nasty and mean when he wants a reaction. I didn't hear anything about him getting positive reinforcement when he 'acts out' - just the opposite - isolation and more name calling. His reward - confirming what he already feels about himself. Yes, there is naturally mean spirited kids - but when a kid has something impinging upon his personality and behaviour then that needs to be addressed and appropriate methods used to curb the behaviour and for the child to learn new ways to get a reaction (in a good way). Praise, encouragement, re-direction, compliments etc go a longgggg way in curbing some negative behaviour. However, a kid with ADHD can still cross that line maaaany times and then can turn around and say 'oh, no - that was bad'. ok - what are you going to do about it? 'i am going to blah blah blah'. hey, thats progress as far as i'm concerned. and it's learning...

11-10-14, 02:23 PM
You might try reading Lost at School and The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. Med only go so far, and these books have a method for identifying lacking skills and things that consistently cause problems for your son, and give you ways to work with him on coming up with solutions.

Does he need a social skills or "friends" class to help him figure out what is causing social difficulties?

11-10-14, 08:24 PM
There may be other things besides adhd that are contributing to his symptoms, like allergies or sensitivity to certain foods, and to petro-chemical additives. Studies have shown that sensitivity to additives such as artificial colors, artificial flavors, and certain preservatives can cause or exacerbate symptoms of adhd. You may want to start keeping a food diary for a couple of weeks and see if he is worse after eating certain things.

We have been following the Feingold diet since my ds was 3 1/2 years old (he is now 15). I found that the chemical additives do affect him. By eliminating them from our diets, we were able to keep him off meds until he entered puberty. Even now, he takes a much lower dose than other kids his age because we follow a natural diet free from those additives. Plus, we are all healthier for it. My kid has the best immune system I've ever seen. He never gets sick. Prior to starting the Feingold diet, he was getting respiratory infections often.

11-10-14, 09:21 PM
Have you tried to keep a journal that logs when he is 'mean', for lack of a better term?
If it is related to when he takes his meds, then at least you may have an idea about what is causing it. Many kids experience a meltdown toward the end of the day when medication is wearing off, but it's not so common to see this when meds are just starting to kick in.
You may also want to log what he has eaten or not eaten. Sometimes blood sugar plunges can cause irritability so if he hasn't eaten anything for a while that might be impacting his behavior. Some kids may be sensitive to food dyes or preservatives in certain foods, as ccom5100 mentioned in her post.

Did you see this type of behavior before he was diagnosed and started medication, or only since he started meds?

11-11-14, 11:10 AM
My son can have good days and bad days. It can depend on a lot. Is he stressed about something? Did he get enough sleep the night before? Is he hungry? Does he feel well? Some of what you described can also be sibling rivalry. Remember too that kids with ADHD generally are less mature than others their age (i.e. 30% rule) so at 11 he may be more comparable to a 7 or 8 yr old. And he could need a med adjustment. Their needs change as they get older, grow, brain chemistry changes and hormones start to flow. If it is a consistent concern, I'd definitely call the doctor. A log as Lynne suggested is an awesome tool.

And we all lose it with our kids on occassion. We are all human so don't beat yourself up.