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ADHD Parents Together
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Son just diagnosed with adhd :(

Hey found this community online thought I would give it a try. My son is 7 and we have been dealing with issues with him since he was four that have just continually gotten worse. His outbursts at home towards me and his dad have gotten so bad I cry because I don’t know how to handle them. He gets so mad and upset over simply not getting his way, screams, kicks , yells , says we hate him and that he hates his life. He has began to call himself stupid and randomly just says things that are not like him. Academically he is failing the second grade because he is so frustrated that he can’t focus that he just gives up. We are working with his doctor and teachers to come up with a treatment plan I am just so overwhelmed and praying we can help him and start seeing some changes . I feel like I am losing my little boy...

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OK, here's why your son hates his life and thinks he's stupid--it's because people yell at him all the time in school, no matter how hard he tries to do the right thing. He's being punished over and over again for failing to do things that he simply isn't capable of doing right now.

First thing is to reset expectations for his behavior, start basing them on his actual abilities rather than his age. Try to look for reasons to praise him, rather than just watching for bad behavior. Getting appropriate accommodations at school can help, too.

This is going to sound crazy, but his grades might actually go up if the amount of work he has to do is cut back to the point that he's able to finish it. If his attention span is seven minutes, and he's given a thirty-minute task, the only thing he learns is how much he hates worksheets, again. If he's given a five-minute task, he can learn one thing.

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We have had very similar experiences in our home as well.

You're not doing anything wrong, and your son simply doesn't have the tools to handle frustration or disappointment. Generally, those with ADHD are 2-4 years behind emotionally than their counterparts. It would seem completely rational for a 3 year old to throw a tantrum if he didn't get what he wants, but with older children, we forget how their frontal cortex is developing. This is the part of the brain that handles stress resolution, impulse control and regulates consequences.

The traditional method of parenting & punishment doesn't usually work with ADHD kids. The part of our brain that connects bad behavior to consequences isn't really functioning yet, so when we expect them to behave rationally, it's like asking someone who's blind to 'look harder'. We need to use a different method of parenting to keep them safe, happy & moving in the right direction.

We have found that rewards & positive reinforcement are far stronger motivators for our 7 yr old than threats or punishments ever were. He views punishments as our 'being mean to him' and fails to see how his behavior had any part in it. When he's being kind, respectful, helpful, staying on task or completing a chore, he earns a reward (or stickers toward a big reward) and this is a much easier strategy for him to comprehend. Good behavior = good reward. This also helps with self esteem, instead of being yelled at or punished, he is being praised and rewarded. When he's being difficult, throwing a tantrum or in a fit, staying completely calm is the best defense (easier said than done). We always give him clear, concise choices and remind him, "is this how you earn a sticker?" instead of "Calm down!" or "Stop yelling!"

It is also very important that ADHD kids get a lot of exercise-just the simple change of walking to school each morning (about 30 minutes) has helped him to stay a bit more focused in the classroom. Working with OT has also helped-putting him at the end of the line so his 'wiggles' don't interfere with the other students and allowing for 'exercise breaks' between transition periods has helped also.

I found the HowToADHD youtube channel very helpful-she explains things in a way that leaves me feeling less like a failure and more understanding: youtube.com/channel/UC-nPM1...

I found simply finding this group and reading stories just like ours was comforting, and by sharing my own experiences, I was letting go of the guilt, anger and sadness that I had previously been holding onto. I hope you find it as supportive as we have.

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I agree with ScatteredMom that you should look into your son's interaction with the teachers.

When my son was 5, the teachers/school implemented some things that were suppose to help him. However, the interpretations by the teachers eventually caused my outgoing child to become fearful of crowds and became upset when people looked at him. After several meetings with the teachers, counselor, and principal, we found out that he was basically being singled-out and embarrassed - one of the teachers even made a red square for him to sit in. So needless to say, we transferred him out. We noticed immediate change, but he's not completely recovered even now, over four years later.

If possible, look into other schools. Visit the classrooms. Talk with the teachers, principal and counselor. Be very honest with your son's situation to see their reactions. What we've learn is that the school and the principal's philosophy has a huge impact on how the teachers handle these situations.

And communication is key. We are in constant dialogue with my son's teachers. This way we'll be able to address issues before they escalate, and the teachers feel supported.

In regards to academics, we just started having issues this year - issues with completing school assignments inability to focus, and writing homework is challenging as well.

For school work, I let him know my disappointment as I know he's capable of completing the work. I always give him the opportunity to explain, the chance to express struggles, if any. But I don't give him the opportunity to think he does not have the ability to do the work. At times, if he is struggling, I will "make mistakes" to show him it's okay to do so as long as he tries his best.

At home, I break up his homework and set a timer for each part. It needs to be realistic and achievable. This gives him a sense of accomplishment and helps him from feeling overwhelmed by the assignments.

I also asked the teacher for additional practice materials. With my son, he tends to do better on in-class assignments with work he's confident doing.

Hopefully, our experience could provide some help or ideas.

Please don't feel discouraged. We've come to the realization that it's never the same, and what works today may not tomorrow. But we wouldn't want him any differently. :)


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