ADHD Parents Together
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Struggling w/ stepsons ADHD

Hello I'm new here and figured I would post a quick message. My 13 year old stepson has not formally been diagnosed but our family doctor prescribed Adderall last year for his obvious ADHD symptoms and possibly OCD. The medication seemed to be helping with his symptoms, but he didn't like the feeling of being tired at the end of the day and didn't want to take the medication so I quit. My husband (his dad) likes him on the medication, but I don't feel comfortable being the one taking him to the doctor (his mom lives in another state) and making him take it when it's not what HE wants. The reason I'm here is 1. My stepson has no friends 2. I feel guilty because I can't handle his symptoms, (he has a heart of gold, is unconditionally giving and has straight A's) just him being in the same room with me makes me feel anxious because he speaks of nonsense topics non stop, interrupts EVERY conversation, constantly is either moving, tapping, whistling, and I don't know how to cope with these symptoms and show him unconditional love

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Hi there,

It's hard enough being a parent; being a step parent is even harder! It's clear that you love and care about your stepson. He's lucky to have you in his life; kids can't have too many people around them who are rooting for them!

I have a couple of recommendations to consider. First, finding medication that has more pros/benefits than cons/side effects is sometimes a long road but it's worth it. Adderall is just one option out there. A medical doctor can help with this kind of trial and error but you might also consider consulting with a psychiatrist who specializes in kids with these kinds of challenges.

Of course medication is not the only thing that helps kids with these types of diagnoses; behavioral stuff is important too--but if meds are medically indicated, it's an important piece of a treatment plan (think about something like Diabetes for example: if you have it you still have to eat right and exercise, but you also may need insulin. Doing one without the other won't give you the right amount of help.)

In terms of him not wanting to take his meds, it's true that you can't force him, but you can help him see how much better his life can be when he does take them. Sometimes the natural consequences are the best teachers on this--When he sees that when he takes them, he has an easier time at school, kids are nicer to him, etc. then he will recognize that they're important.

Last but not least, I think the best way for you to cope with his symptoms and give him unconditional love is to learn as much as you can about his issues and to keep reminding yourself this great quote from Ross Greene's book, "The explosive child": "Kids do well if they can." Having ADHD or OCD or whatever it is should not be used as an excuse, but rather as an explanation for why he acts the way he does. If you can understand that he "can't help it" without outside help, maybe you can be less triggered by it. Also, it will help if you can find ways to keep your relationship with him strong. Have fun with him and find things to like about him and he will see that despite his challenges, he is still loveable.

Hope this helps!

Joyce Mabe parentcoachjoyce.com

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