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8 year old son with ADHD, anxiety, depression, ODD

Chrismnm profile image
39 Replies

Hello, my name is Christina and I’m new to this support group- looking for some help. my 8 year old son has ADHD, anxiety, depression and ODD. He’s currently on Vyvanse and Prozac. I feel the meds help him but first thing in the morning he struggles to get dressed and brush his teeth. Every answer is always “no” and he hates me. Later he’ll apologize for his behavior.. Completing homework is always a challenge and is frustrating for both of us. He seems to be very lazy with doing his homework- something that should take 15-20 minutes takes over an hour. I’ve tried the “reward” system but he seems to not care about being rewarded. I’m starting to feel overwhelmed with his behavior and attitude towards everything. I think he’s starting to have this “I don’t care about anything” behavior. The only thing I can say for sure he “cares about” is video games which is all he wants to do and makes him happy. I have taken the video games away during the week and limited his use to 1 hour on the weekends. He has a very difficult time going to bed. It usually takes him an hour to an hour and half to go to bed. Has anyone experience any of my issues and if so any suggestions? I’d appreciate any comments/suggestions. Thank you!

39 Replies
cindaroo profile image

I absolutely know exactly what you're talking about. This will probably be something you've heard before, but I'll say it anyway. Consistency. It won't work a miracle at first, but it will get through to your child, eventually. Anyone can administer medication or hand out a punishment, but consistently enforcing routines and providing continued love and support will provide comfort and build confidence...over time. ADHD will remain, but the negative feelings may start to subside once they know they have answers to their problems. Perhaps try tackling homework, but BEFORE you start lay down a rule that will remain his constant. If he gets stumped or aggravated, he can take a 2-3 minute break, but will have to go back to it or no video games afterwards, ... or whatever would spark his interest. Sometimes figuring out the "if this, then no that" part is hardest. But the key is to stay consistent. A full week of being punished from video games with only 1 hour on weekends is not something a child with ADHD can process, so it will probably never work. The reward needs to be obtainable within a very short period of time....like immediately after homework is finished...even if he can only play for 15 minutes.

With our son, I told him he could take a small break and ask me questions for extra help, but I would not do it for him. If he went back and tried but still asked for my help, great. If he gave up and threw a fit, then I would no longer be available to help out and he could turn his homework in and get a 0. That worked for me. I've repeated it enough times that he now knows that if he freaks out on his homework and gives up, he'll get no further help from me and can turn it in incomplete to get his 0. I don't think getting the 0 bothers him, it's me refusing to help him. Children, even with ADHD, still want to please their parents. I know it may not seem that way, but they do.

Good luck.

Never give up.

Chrismnm profile image
Chrismnm in reply to cindaroo

Thank you for your advice. I will definitely work on the consistency. This is something we haven’t been doing. I appreciate the information and your time. Take care.

cindaroo profile image
cindaroo in reply to Chrismnm

Oh, and in my earlier message I said "something a child with ADHD can process"...I meant to say "can't process" although I'm sure you figured that out.

I'll be thinking about your family.

Pinkram profile image
Pinkram in reply to cindaroo

You said it right; “is not something a child with ADHD can process”

Vcesare profile image
Vcesare in reply to Chrismnm

Hello. I struggle very hard with this too. My nights are terrible. My son has ADHD and constantly fights me to do anything. My husband works night shift and its just me with a 15 month old at home. If u find any tips please share. You are not alone.

seller profile image
seller in reply to Vcesare

I have 2 things to say about your evenings: first of all, if your son has more than maybe 15-20 min of homework, I would have a talk with his teacher about reducing it. Second, if your son is taking ADHD meds, I can guarantee that they have worn off by dinner time, which means he probably has very little ability to focus. In high school, we gave our son a booster of Ritalin for homework, although that did interfere with his sleep (which was never great anyway). I have to say that I am not in favor of giving grade schoolers extra ADHD meds just to get homework completed. I would have to tell the school that my child is not doing homework.

GoDukes profile image
GoDukes in reply to seller

We found a med called Guanfacin that we give our 9 yr old before dinner. It helps smooth out his coming down off of the Foculin in the evening and I think it helps him fall right asleep most nights. It is not a stimulant. :)

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to GoDukes

Yes, great medication our is suppose to be 24 hours so it helps with focus in school.

GoDukes profile image
GoDukes in reply to cindaroo

I would agree with everything Cindaroo says here. Consistency is CRITICAL. Consistency is something kids (and many adults) with ADHD have trouble with on their own. They need that from their parents. My son is all about video games too so I developed a system of rewarding video game time for good grades/study time/exercise. I track it on a Google doc on my phone so, at any given time, I can tell him how much game time he has. If he doesn't have time he can't play. Regardless, games get turned off by 8:00 on weeknights so he can wind down. It has worked really well for him. Good luck!

FINDMYSON profile image

My son has ADHD and if it were not for your son's other diagnosis I would think you were describing my son. I am at my wits end, especially in the mornings trying to get ready for school. I am a single mom and getting him to get ready while getting myself together for work is a nightmare.

I have tried all the suggested punishments and rewards and time outs, electronic removal, but it all seems to bounce right off of him like nothing matters. He is STRONGER than me, in the respect that he is breaking my confidence as a parent and feeling like a failure.

Vcesare profile image
Vcesare in reply to FINDMYSON

This sounds like me.

seller profile image
seller in reply to FINDMYSON

You don't say how old your son is, but if he's fairly young, I would consider letting him sleep in his school clothes. One less thing to argue about. He is med-free in the mornings, so the only other thing to try is to wake him when you get up and give him his ADHD med and let him go back to sleep for 30 min. We did this for a long time and it did help because once the medication was in his system, he could focus on things like dressing, eating, etc. Otherwise, make sure you have everything packed and ready at night and give him something to eat in the car. Forget the punishments for the morning - it's not worth the fight. There will be bigger things!

Connect3 profile image
Connect3 in reply to seller

Wow! I can relate to your experience "FINDMYSON". And this suggestion by "seller" strikes a cord with my experience.My son is 7 yo and was diagnosed with ADHD this past summer.

Since he started Preschool I struggled to figure out what to do with him in the mornings: fight with him to get dressed before school or just dress him for school myself?

I always wish he would just get up and do what he needs to but he doesn't/can't.

My best solution has been help him get dressed and offer rewards for steps he completes without help.

I still struggle with breakfast, bathroom time, and getting shoes and backpack on to get to the car without being a broken record saying an instruction several times without much effect.

Just to add, we have been considering putting my son on medication but haven't seen a doctor or psychiatrist about it yet.

Thank you all for your posts and replies. It is so nice to know I am not the only one going through these kinds of things.

anothermother profile image
anothermother in reply to Connect3

Meds can be VERY helpful. Due to my own issues, it took me a lot longer to try them than I wish it would have. We spent so much time and energy struggling through stuff that meds helped with almost immediately. I don’t know if there’s a reason you haven’t pursued them yet, but if you need to hear it, let me remind you this: the nagging our ADHD kids is not only exhausting for us but it’s stressful and discouraging for them as well.

Those of us with ADHD feel very frustrated with ourselves for having such a hard time just doing regular everyday things that others seem to do with such ease; medication not only improves our ability to focus and start/finish tasks, but also, being able to do those things more easily helps lower our constant stress load and contributes to our self-esteem and feelings if self-efficacy.

Conversely, years and years of struggling to get through the day, knowing what you should be doing but simply can’t do (without the help of meds) and feeling nagged (and thereby annoying or exhausting to the people around us) can lead some deeply rooted emotional issues and even PTSD.

For reference, my husband and I both have ADHD as well as out four kids. It runs in both sides of our family. I know very well how hard it is from both sides of the situation. Help is out there! It’s great you’re finding community here, but be sure to find your support team in person, too.

And one last thing, I’d recommend starting with your pediatrician. Some peds (like ours who has adhd himself as well as adhd kids of his own) have special training in diagnosing adhd and are willing to prescribe and manage adhd meds themselves. Getting help for my kids was so much easier than finding it for myself. Just putting that out there. It ‘s at least worth asking and sharing what’s going on with your ped if (s)he isn’t already in the loop.

Hang in there and keep doing what you can until you find the help you need! Life with and ADHDer will never be “normal” but it can be easier. Hugs!

Kat0762 profile image
Kat0762 in reply to FINDMYSON

Boy can I relate. I'm a single Mom trying to navigate this mostly on my own and it has been heartbreaking. I thought falling behind in school was rough but it's taking up many other aspects of his life. It takes him forever to get things done, I have to remind him constantly, homework is a battle, and now he seems depressed and completely defeated. I'm working on trying to find a good therapist for both of us but in the meantime It feels overwhelming.

Kat0762 profile image
Kat0762 in reply to FINDMYSON

I'm going through it as well. I'm at my wits end but trying to put on a brave face. I wish it was only the homework. Now he's showing symptoms of high anxiety, lack of control and depression. Anything could cause him to break down and it's difficult for him to bounce back. Now we're both on edge. I'm trying to do it all as a single parent and feel overwhelmed. I'm desperately trying to find him a therapist but it's everything. Some days are better then others but it's taking it's toll.

Flowerpower7 profile image
Flowerpower7 in reply to FINDMYSON

I’m in the same boat. Single mom and getting ready for work at the same time is a nightmare. The only thing that has made it better is waking up earlier. I give my son a checklist and if he can’t accomplish it then he knows he’ll have to wake up earlier the next day.

Momrocket profile image
Momrocket in reply to Flowerpower7

You go, flowerpower7. Sounds like you are doing a great job!

anirush profile image

I mentioned this in another post but my grandson goes to sleep with his school clothes on. It saves a lot of fights in the morning, all he has to do is put on his school and jacket. His school district does breakfast for all so if he won't eat I don't worry about that either.

AlwaysRyan profile image

Punishments rarely work with children with ADHD, they have a hard time understanding themselves, so imagine how they feel. Look into Executive Functioning and see if you are able to pinpoint where your son is having these difficulties. Also, depression is not uncommon for children with ADHD or children with a disability , so you are not alone! If your son is able to apologize, he recognizes that he did something that he probably had no real control over. The video games are how he decompresses, i know you want to make a point, but because children with ADHD need stimulant- it relaxes him, he doesn't know it relaxes him, all he knows is that is makes him feel "normal", and he can focus on one thing.

I have ADHD and so does my 12 year old daughter. It get tiresome, but hold on, just as you are frustrated hes is 10x that amount. My daughter is the inattentive type and she has a hard time with small details, however she loves to put together K'Nex carousel set (that's over 500 pieces varying in shapes and sizes and the directions, and she does it!). That's how she decompresses. It gives her mind a chance to focus.

I hope this helps- good luck!

understood.org/en - go to this website and hit the purple tab (your parent toolkit) and then select the eyeball that says "through your child's eye". its a simulation of what your son can possibly feel, but keep in mind ADHD affects everyone differently.

Grandma01 profile image

I have a 6 year old whom struggle with homework and morning routine. One suggestion was to let him sleep in his school clothes is a great idea. Find an after school activity that will get his body moving, something that will tire him out such, as swimming, going to the park, riding a bile, or skateboarding. As far as brushing his teeth maybe just have him rinse instead of maybe he can do this at school. If ever at some point you still can get things going in the right direction, it was suggested that we take him in his pajamas. Homework is always going to be a battle because it's something that they struggle with naturally stay close he'll need lots of reminders to focus. All remove all distractions, other kids, tv on in background, and other noises that can be turned off or removed. Try using a bean bag or a ball to do spelling and colored pencils to to write answers to questions.

I tried these things they work when he wants them to work. If he doesn't want to read or do spelling he starts a fight which gets me upset and then it on, the loud talking.

hope this helps some.

Kat0762 profile image

Yes, my 9 year old is going through a lot of the same things. I just recently got him on meds for ADHD but I believe there is underlying depression as well. It's bad enough the phone calls from school saying he refuses to complete his work or he had a melt down but now he seems so defeated at home. He does a lot of negative self talk, gets frustrated and gives up easily, loses his temper then feels bad later. It's been heartbreaking and makes it hard to focus on anything else. I'm trying to find a counselor or therapist who specializes in this. No luck yet but it's been a rough journey so far.


Momrocket profile image
Momrocket in reply to Kat0762

We got a ton of help from Mensah Medical in Chicago. They do outreach clinics throughout the US. Helped us understand the medical reasons for our son’s symptoms and wrote a prescription for vitamins to correct imbalances. Can’t recommend them highly enough.

CKariya profile image

Hi.. I completely understand what you are going through. It is exactly the same with my 6 year old. Things were not that bad but he was started on Focalin 2 months ago and that made the evenings and mornings worse I believe bcos of rebound.

After discussing these difficulties with my psychiatrist recommended starting Intuniv non stimulant. This has helped him with falling asleep. He has been on it only 3 weeks now and so have not seen much difference in evenings and mornings yet. But just wanted to let you know this is what the psychiatrist suggested. Hopefully we will start seeing results but it takes awhile to build up.

BTDT profile image

Hi Christina. I am new to this as well and I completely understand i have an 8 year old son too with all the same diagnosis. I am really glad to have come across this site for support to know im not alone even though most of the time it sure feels like it. We are homeschooling and always welcome new play pals. I am glad to have met someone on here recently and the boys chat via hangouts and connect through online gaming. I am learning my son loves me as im sure your son loves you and your doing everything in your power to accomadate him but i think him talking to people just like him helps alot. Its not a fault thing they understand he eachother as i understand you and glad we can relate so I dont feel as bad for being frustrated too. If you're interested feel free to message me your info and lets find away to let them be them and give us abreak as well.😀

Sunshine1974 profile image

Hello, I am new to the group and I have an 8yr who is the exact same way. I had to find someone who knows and understands what it's like to have a child with these type of issues. We had a very bad side effect to Vvyanse and concerta wasn't working. Just last week he was prescribed Adderall but hasn't started because I don't know what kind of reaction I may get. I have seen more than my share. It's hurts because I'm trying to help him but seems like I'm failing. He has a counselor and psychiatrist. I am so afraid that I may never get him the help he needs. The only med that worked was Quillivant XR and it's no longer available

R9344 profile image

This is not an attempt to 'bump' my post but I was wondering if you have any advice. Having read the initial post there are a few similarities with my situation, expect i'm looking in from the outside. My post relates to my younger cousin and my perception of how he is getting handled - if thats the right expression. The part thatrelates with myself is the fact he has never been an issue with me, he plays sports, games, and playstation with me - but its not a free for all. He has my respect and trust, and he's able to be himself in my opinion. The issue I am seeking help on is: healthunlocked.com/adhd-par... (sorry for the length

Vickie109 profile image

Hi there. I am new to this group and completely understand the struggles you are going through. My currently 9 year old son has ADHD with a bit of anxiety & possible ODD. So, I realize our boys could be a lot different, but will tell you so things we are doing that seem to help. My son takes Ritalin that does not take effect until getting on the bus, so mornings continue to be a challenge most days. I agree with others that having a very consistent routine does help. For homework, I decided that my son could have a short 10 - 15 minute break after getting home, but then it was homework time. It works best to get it done in the remaining 30 minutes or so before his meds wear off. No distractions is also important. I have my younger son play in his room during this time. I also sit right next to him to help answer questions and help keep him on task. I may be in the minority, but we allow device time (tablet, ps4, tv) once his homework is complete and if he is not grounded for some type of behavior. He loves device time and agree that it helps him to decompress from the school day. We always cut off device time by 6 pm, all days of the week. On weekends he can earn time after completing his chores, picking up clothes, cleaning room, etc. As far as bedtime, it has always helped my son to have a white noise machine in his room. We also give him 2 mg of chewable melatonin about 1 hour before bed time on school nights. Finally, we started therapy with an ADHD therapist when my son was diagnosed a year and a half ago. He has gone every 2 - 4 weeks, depending on how things are going, since then. It has helped him a lot with self esteem and starting to learn some coping mechanisms. It helps me as well, especially when problems have cropped up at school. I hope something in here helps you. Please don't give up. We have seen so much progress since the beginning. Everyday is still a challenge, but not as hard as it used to be. Good luck to you!

1d2w profile image
1d2w in reply to Vickie109

Thank you Vickie, This is great information, I am new to this.

HMorgs profile image

My daughter is 8 years old and is also on Vyvanse. When I read your post I could relate to a lot of what your going through. We have gone through so many diff meds and combinations and what finally helped so that we could at least make it through the morning without a meltdown was the combination of Vyvanse then also 2mg of Guanffacine & 3 mg Melatonin both at night before bed. Melatonin is an all natural sleep aid and works well for my daughter to help her fall asleep. Guanffacine is a non-narcotic for ADHD and lasts 24 hours , it also helps with getting to sleep. Since she has taken both of those before bed at those doses she can now get dressed and have breakfast and then take her Vyvanse after breakfast, NC she wouldnt eat if she took the Vyvanse 1st thing when she woke up. But as for after school I'm still struggling with that as well, homework is so tough she has no patience and would rather play outside like her 5 year old brother gets to do and I do not let her but that turns into "it's not fair" then a temper tantrum.

Jrandis profile image

I have definitely experienced this as well. I haven’t found much that works accept reading books in the morning b/c he really enjoys the cuddles and closeness (he is a foster child, 6 years old). He does like his tablet too and will want to be on that or watch tv- so we, too have to limit time on those.

Flowerpower7 profile image

Medication makes sleeping at night hard for my son. I give him 3mg of melatonin at night to sleep at it works very well.

BVBE profile image

You and I basically have the same son; my 8 year old was diagnosed with ADHA, ODD and anxiety. He takes the same meds, and but also takes a mood stabilizer. We have similar issues with mornings, homework and video games. We have been on this road for a bit and we have tried many things. What is working for us right now (because nothing works forever) is 1.) Have patience, they aren't going to be perfect all the time. 2.) We use a lot of humor to help him get his stuff done instead of yelling. We make jokes and funny faces, etc. It doesn't always work, but helps me remain calm. 3.) We use a reward system for the video games. For every 'star' he gets at school that day, he gets 15 minutes of video game time that day. He can either use them that evening (time permitting) or bank them for another day. 4.) Sleep is a rough one. Again, we choose our battles... if we put him to bed at 8 p.m. he is usually asleep my 9:30 p.m. 5.) I hug him and tell him ALL. THE. TIME. how much I love him and that we are on the same team and we are all working to help him learn new coping skills. It is a rough road, with good days and bad... I just try my best to give him as much grace as possible. Good luck!

Janice_H profile image

Hi, welcome to the support group. What you describe is exactly what I experienced when my son with ADHD began medication. He is now 11 and has been off of meds (my choice) for over a year now. During the time he was on meds, mornings were difficult. He seemed agitated by small things and was in a foul mood a lot and quite defiant. Since he has been off the meds, he is not this way as much. I am certainly not saying to take your son off, but you may want to consider reporting the mood changes and ask for a different medication.

Homework is always a struggle. A 15 minute task usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. What has alleviated this for me is having a tutor to provide homework support 8 hours per week. The work gets completed, it frees up my time and he is learning more. The homework arguments don't exist as much.

Try giving your son chewable melatonin supplements. It will help him fall asleep quickly. It takes my son a long time to settle down also.

Jgaskin1109 profile image

Same here! We start Vyvanse tomorrow. Video games is the only thing that makes my son happy too. He amps up the behavior when we take away the video games. Sometimes I think video games are ruining our kids yet studies show it improves focus. 🤷‍♀️

Pennywink profile image
Pennywink in reply to Jgaskin1109

I have not heard that video games improve overall focus - only that people tend to hyperfocus on the game, but it doesn't extend to everyday life.

If video games are what your son loves best, then that is something to consider to use as a reward. At our house, we only allow video games AFTER homework & chores are done. It's a good motivator here. :)

Jgaskin1109 profile image
Jgaskin1109 in reply to Pennywink

A doctor actually told me that. I thought it was strange too. Yes, we are considering video games as a reward.

Maxie7 profile image

My 8yo son has many of the above mentioned issues. A strategy which helps us in the mornings is to play a favourite song of his choice & he knows he has until the end of it to be dressed ready for school. It takes away the need for my instructions.

Good Luck

Cali87 profile image

Hey Chrismnm, I can totally relate to the homework nightmare. Thankfully, my son has graduated so it's over for me. What I'm about to share comes from two perspectives: a retired special education teacher and a parent of a child with ADD. Speaking as a retired special education teacher, does your child have an IEP or 504? If he does, you can request that an accommodation for "modified expectations" by added to his plan. What this would allow you to do is modify the homework assignment. For example, if he has 10 math problems you modify that to 5. If he has 20 vocabulary words, you modify that to 10. This way, you are more in control of what can be managed (peacefully) at home. If you have push back from the school, let me know and I can give you specific advice. If your child does not have an educational plan, I recommend talking to the teacher. Share what's going on at home. Most teachers do not want their assignments to be a battleground for parent and child. Coordinate with the teacher a reasonable plan, similar to what I already said, but with teacher input. Something I think a teacher would like to hear is that you might expect 3 math problems to be completed but next you'll work on 5 getting done and then more and more. Teachers don't like to think they are giving permission for any child to "do less" or "get away with doing less". So when they hear you will move your son towards greater expectations, that should help. Speaking as a parent, I was successful with the following: getting someone else (even a neighborhood kid) to help my son do his homework, turn homework into a game, instead of taking things away like video time, making it so my son earns the time for doing his homework, when possible, having the answer key because my son liked the immediate feedback. I could go on and on but this reply is already long enough. Please feel free to reach out (if you want) and I will reply. Peace out!

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