View Full Version : Am I in denial?? Mostly a vent!

07-23-15, 08:16 PM
I always thought my eldest son (6) had somehow avoided inheriting his Dad's ADHD. He's been highly highly sensitive from birth, has anxiety, migraines, and OCD. I didn't think much of that as I have those same things, and he was so different from anything I saw in his Dad or siblings.

However, I wonder if I've been in denial. He has found school extremely hard. Academically he excels, but socially and behaviourally not so much. He is doing a lot better this year as he just "clicks" with his teacher and she is in frequent contact with me so we can manage him together.

School has introduced this new behaviour reward system, which in theory is nice but, as you can imagine, better for some than others. My son has become obsessed with being "good" and getting to the top of the chart every day (which is impossible fyi). He's a model student in school, but when he comes home it's diabolical. He has nothing left in him. He is angry, violent, crying, and verbally abusive (in a child's way, the insults are fairly harmless but they're intended to wound!). He goes to sleep anxious and crying but still angry. He can never sit still to eat, says his head is filled with thoughts, and on reflection I seem to do almost everything for him (he's only 6, but for example I seem to help him dress in the morning as he gets stressed about it). He says he hates being told what to do all day at school. The teacher says he gets on fine with the kids in his class, but he never likes to see them outside of school time.

Am I in denial? I have made an appointment with a paediatrician who is supposedly the best with ADHD and recommended by the local ADHD association. (Even if he doesn't have ADHD I would love some professional advice with the rest, so I'm looking forward to it.) I have to wait a couple of months to see him. I don't want my son to have it as I feel he already has his fair share of afflictions. But I guess it's never really fair is it.

07-23-15, 10:46 PM
We've had the best luck with a diagnosis and meds from a Child Psychiatrist (which are tough to find and difficult to get an appt with as a new patient). The other 2 diagnosis from a regular psychiatrist and a LCSW were different, but the child psychiatrist seems to have the best fit in my opinion (the child psychologist diagnosed my daughter with anxiety with possible ADHD).

07-24-15, 02:29 AM
I don't know if what I am saying is helpful in any way but I have ADHD and despite doing great at school and getting along with my peers. Sometimes this "healthy competition" isn't really helpful to me. I become fixated on having to also be on the top. Maybe you should tell him that the list his class has is helpful for some but that it's not so important for him to focus on it with all his energy. It calmed me when a mentor told me to focus on my work, on what makes me happy and that the rest will work itself out. I mean, he is 6 so I don't know if this will help him but I hope so. Best to you both.

07-24-15, 06:37 AM
I have always had an issue with the reward thing in school. I know it can be helpful to some kids but to those who have issues all it does is re-enforce the fact that they are not good enough to get a treat. Maybe in a home, a reward chart is better but in school surrounded by your peers who are getting prizes and such, it can become glaringly obvious that a child is not "good enough" when they dont get a reward. When I was a kid, the strategy was smiley faces. The teacher would send home an index card with a smile, sad face or straight line(so so) face and that was how my mom knew what kind of a day I had. This was only done for me and 1 other kid in class. There were no rewards either, it was just a behavior thing and always subjective. I used to feel like crap bringing home the sad faces and never felt particularly happy with the so-so ones. The happy ones never made me feel good because they were so infrequent. The problem with these types of things is it pits the kids against each other, and the other kids know who is not doing well. It creates unnecessary competition IMO.

07-24-15, 05:14 PM
My son's teacher is an absolute gem - I explained how the reward system was affecting my son and she has changed it to a group-based reward system to see if it helps. He seemed relieved, but was still hysterical last night. I'm expecting next week to go a bit better! He's been making a lot of comments about concentration and having too many thoughts so it will be interesting to see what the paed says.

Apoeticdevice, thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like you had a similar reaction to the healthy competition as my son! I am constantly reminding him that being the top (in everything) isn't important. He tells me I'm wrong but I think my words will sink in on some level if I say it enough. Is there anything you remember that helped you cope?

Sarah that smiley face system is awful, I felt heartbroken for you reading that. It sounds cruel; none of my kids could cope with that. I agree completely with the reward systems, I know they need to encourage appropriate behaviours at school but there must be other ways of doing it. I have to admit when I first saw the new behaviour system my heart sank. I'm utterly relieved the teacher took my concerns seriously and reacted so quickly.

08-07-15, 02:02 AM
It turns out I was in denial - he starts meds in a week or so.

08-07-15, 06:35 AM
At least he got diagnosed young, instead of just finding out after 40 hard years or something.

Good job on getting him help, and best of luck with the transition to meds.

08-07-15, 10:29 AM
Identity is very important when your in the first grade. You watch the other kids to see where and how you fit in. When a child realizes that they don't fit in like the others, they find a way to fit in even if its negative.

What I mean is if being good isn't an option for me to fit in and I'm always in trouble, then my identity becomes the bad kid. If the teachers says zig I zag. The other kids laugh and I have now found my identity.

I would go out of my way to do whatever the opposite of the rule was. At school I kept this identity but only because being good or smart wasn't an option.
However, once I leave school my identity becomes a little more complicated. My family knows who I really am and I cant just defy authority. So frustration and anger begins to surface and when your 6 you have a hard time dealing with it. So crying and insults are common.

I know, I was that kid. I was 6 in 1969 when I was diagnosed and people knew nothing about AD(H)D. I was labeled a bad kid and I suffered for many years because of it. My desk was as far away from the other kids as possible while still remaining in the same room and that included lunch.

I could care a less about some reward program because I couldn't win a sticker if my life depended on it. I would tear the chart down and steal stickers from other kids.

Be careful about doing everything for him and or making excuses for him because of what's going on. Just the opposite, he should be held accountable for outbursts and insults. I would teach kids that it is okay to be angry but it is not okay to hurt others because your angry.

Teach alternatives to venting. Writing or scribbling on paper, punching a pillow and getting that negative energy out. We don't want them to bottle it up we want it to come out, we just need to show them how to express angry without hurting others!

Good luck and I wish good things for you.

08-07-15, 05:34 PM
He's a model student in school, but when he comes home it's diabolical. He has nothing left in him. He is angry, violent, crying, and verbally abusive (in a child's way, the insults are fairly harmless but they're intended to wound!).

I was just posting here about a book called "Scattered" by Gabor Mate. In that book he mentions why children can sometimes have normal days at school but come home and behave how your son is. I think you may find that quite interesting to read. I am starting to think that Mate just put his book for free on his website, but I could be wrong! Here's one link:

It sounds like your son was trying hard all day, and by the time he gets home from school, he's used up all the mental energy he had to control himself. I don't remember what Mate talks about specifically, but he does describe that situation at great depth in one part of the book.

he's really insightful, although I see some people complain that he's not helping with the fixes or solution ideas.

But ADHD is not really a condition that can be "fixed". You can only support your son till he full develops, which for him he may not be fully matured until early 30's or perhaps even later! There are a couple of noteable areas of development that are slower, i hear, and finish up in the early 30's. For this reason, it's more important to keep your son safe from any drugs or alchohol and also avoid any sports where he could get a concussion. Even minor head injuries can hurt someone with ADHD much more. Plus, we can be prone to injury due to risk taking behaviors and clumsiness.

You can't fix it, but understanding helps tremendously as well as developing the perspective that this is a challenge and it can be compensated for. You can add in some aids and supports, you can try to arrange your life in a more suitable way, but in the end you are what you are.

I like to keep in mind that my child is neurologically (and emotionally) at least 3 years behind most kids her age! i don't even get confused by her high IQ and cleverness, because there are so many moments where she reveals herself as still developing in key areas and therefore, I don't expect her to handle things the way her peers do.

There is a clue there to tell me that your child craves connection. You said that he is clicking with his current teacher and performing better as a result. So as a parent, it's important to maintain connection and bond with your child despite their behavior and the school system really taking a huge amount out of him before he gets home. It's so hard. Mate had some ideas that I like and I am implementing. One is to engage your child by inviting them into some shared time, BEFORE the child is misbehaving. Or wait until they calm down and are not actively misbehaving when you invite them. This will probably make better sense in the book Scattered when he describes the experience of being caught up in the child's counter-will.

08-07-15, 05:42 PM
I am constantly reminding him that being the top (in everything) isn't important. He tells me I'm wrong but I think my words will sink in on some level if I say it enough. Is there anything you remember that helped you cope?.

My daughter (9 years old) is exactly the same way! If she misspells a word on the pre-test for that weeks spelling, she cries!!!! I try to tell her that these are new words that she is not expected to know how to spell, and therefore getting 20 out of 23 words correct on the first try is actually amazing. But you don't need to be correct all the time, because then we won't have spelling words to study that week! Now, i know she may just need a more challenging program because she is gifted in the area of English. And it is true that some gifted children act out like this because they are bored. But I believe this is just an ADHD trait, and it's interesting when the individual is actually highly intelligent too because they crave challenge but they crumble and get defeated way too much, too early, and quit a lot of things and situations, even ending friendships very fast.

But I see that ADHD people need and crave challenge. The problem is that in the world, the challenges are often group based where some people fail and some succeed.

So, what gives? I don't know!!! But I know we are like this and it surely must be possible to channel that into a positive direction. I have heard some people suggest activities where you are in a group but not competing against them, such as martial arts. That is unlike other sports where you work as a team.

I personally see all this as a gift, but the school years are so hard. Someday his occupation could make his tendencies shine, and even show that there can be a reason for some temperments. But I sympathize with what you and your son are going through. I myself decided to homeschool my daughter because of these reasons.

09-16-15, 05:47 AM
Well I think I've finally recovered from the trauma of realising my eldest has ADHD; for a while I felt like a complete and utter failure for not having noticed earlier that he had it. I felt very silly for always seeing it in my other two children but not him. I think when I looked at him I was so busy seeing all his similarities to me that I completely missed the glaring differences.

He has now been on medication for a month and it has made an incredible difference. Instead of using up all his energy coping with school, he now has enough energy to play outside, do his homework, and be his sweet self after school. I'm amazed at how much his anxiety has also decreased, and he is far more confident and relaxed. He is the little boy who I always knew was trapped inside a big whirlwind of exhaustion and frustration.

Tmoney, I realise your post was a while ago but at the time I didn't have the capacity to reply. What you say about making him accountable for his behaviour is something I have always struggled with. I am an extremely gentle mother and probably far too empathetic, and I find it very hard to call him out on his behaviour when I can see so clearly why it has been triggered. I am making a huge effort with this, so thank you for reinforcing something I felt awkward about doing.

I am still working in closely with his teacher who is amazing, and I have just found a place who will work with us as parents but mostly with my son to help him manage his symptoms - particularly his anxiety, social skills, and anger management. I am so relieved that we have a plan, and that we can hopefully give him the best chance at managing his ADHD to minimise any negative impact on his life.

Thanks so much to all of you who gave support and advice, it's been much appreciated <3

09-16-15, 09:00 AM

So sorry to hear that you have been having hard times with this. But I just want to say that even the most loving and dedicated parent can't 100% be inside her kid's head. I suggest you feel extremely positive about the diagnosis being made, and steps being taken to treat your eldest, rather than beating yourself up because it took a while to figure this out. ADHD can come in so many different forms that no one can be expert in understanding all of them, and diagnosing your own kids is particularly tough because you are so close to them.

Also, I think that Gabor Mate book that Icarus mentioned is valuable. He is a very insightful writer.

Big sympathy to you, and lots of congratulations for weathering a tough patch. Best wishes to you and the kids for the future--

09-16-15, 07:04 PM
Thanks VT, you're right of course. And I am feeling more positive now but I think I needed to grieve first to make room for that positivity. I know from seeing my husband and his family that ADHD can be used to fuel the ambition for a fulfilling career, but I wanted my son's life to be a bit easier. I guess it will be easier as he will have healthier coping mechanisms, but it will never be as easy as not having the disorder in the first place.