Looking to get some feedback or advice or shared experiences… Ever since summer camp started our 10 year old has been very difficult. In the beginning he had a few fainting episodes that scared us so we had his heart checked and full blood work and next week he will have in-hospital EEG and MRI, but after initial tests that seems precautionary to rule out any physical symptoms as it is becoming clear that the episodes were psychological. He never wants to go to camp. We spoke to the counselors and informed them that he needs down time from activities and a chance to read or just sit. Yes, it’s a long day outdoors in a recreation park from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm… However we have no choice as my wife and I both work full time. Last week the minor issues he was having previously escalated to kicking a child, taking glasses away from a child and taunting him and taking lunch away from a kid and eating it. He told the counselors that he wants to get kicked out of camp. He was punished by losing all electronics and he was spoken to excessively about bullying to the point where he seemed to get it and even cried. The number of times my wife had to leave work to attend to his issues/behaviors already put her in a very bad spot. I’m worried she will lose her job. This week he threw out his lunch from home and claimed he got no lunch so she had to bring him food at camp. Yesterday we got a call that he is disrespectful and won’t move from the bench. He would not speak to his mother on the phone and when they tried to take him to the office where he can sit for the rest of the day he wouldn’t move… they can’t touch him and they did not have an extra staff member who would sit with him for 5 hours. At this point we are done and fed up. Talking, reasoning, pleading, appealing to his humanity just doesn’t work. So as of yesterday he is in his room with no one talking to him, no electronics. We are beyond stressed, stomach pains, can’t sleep well, and filled with sadness and frustration and also out of ideas. He is on medication and has therapy once a week but it just doesn’t stop. We talk to him all the time, we have three other kids in the house, there is a ton of love and family time on the weekends… Any feedback is appreciated.
Summer Hardships: Looking to get some... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...
ElinsK35- Thank you for sharing, when YOU are living through your life you feel like you are the only one, but I am here to tell you you are not. Many kids with ADHD do the same thing and go to the same extremes to get out of stuff. Here is the good news, summer is almost over and we are here to learn from each other. Maybe next year you guy will hire a group nanny that you share and pay for day trips ( clearly the person has to be trained) but this is how you can approach it with your child. " You can go back to camp or .....".
We just have to out think them and know how they operate, believe me I know you are exhausted, but once you can talk to your child about it the whole thing it changes. We have lived through this with our son now we have the power.
Is you child in counseling and I am not sure if you believe in it but on proper medication? I am not sure he would be doing those things if the dose of medication was correct, some parent don't believe in medication, but we like you must work and have a normal like and now with proper medication, our son can also he attend a summer program and we have not had any calls or issues (other than a cut toe) and I know it is because we told him he would be placed in an intense tutoring program if there were any issues and now his medications is very stable.
The last thing I will say and this is hard to hear maturity helps a lot...
Our son is 11 years old almost 12 years old we seen a lot of change in him..
Our son also has medical issues..
Big hugs and I know after this summer you guys will come up with a creative solution for next year..
Hope this helps, hang in there.
Thank you so much for your reply. He is 10 years old and on two medications and he has therapy once a week to work on coping mechanisms for his impulse control issues and anxiety. We try talk to him endlessly and reason with him and it just does not sink in. I guess it's the impulse control issue... he knows he will get into trouble but in the moment he can't stop himself. Do any parents out there just eventually go into silent mode... there is just nothing else to say... so now it's "eat dinner" and "go to your room" with him... and we still have to attend to the other kids. Our daughter has a different type of ADHD and is on medication and our youngest son has Autism. So we are giving the 10 year old as much help and attention as we can... and it just seems nothing is getting through. Once again thank you for your feedback!
Of course no problem for the feedback... evening is the hardest, our son has responsibilities, reading and lacrosse pratice so he does that before dinner he knows if he does that without trouble he will earn some family TV time if not the TV is off.
We have not gotten to the "shutting down" yet. Please try to take time for yourself, coffee with girlfriend, shopping for a cute outfit ( if you like to thriftshop it is so much fun!!!, maybe a scoop of ice cream).These things are the only way to survive.
I have started to tell myself, I do not have a perfect child and the child I have NOW is not the child I will have 2 years from now. It is the only way we will get through the rough times....
It will get better promise!!
You are a great parent you have done all you can with medication, counseling now it has to start to get better.
Hi there, So sorry to hear your struggles, we’ve all had them but with different magnitudes so we are here to help. It sounds like your son is really struggling and does not enjoy camp. Is this his 1st time at this camp and are there any other camp options available in your area? Perhaps hire a nanny (college student) who could help at home instead? My son also has severe impulse control issues but they are managed through meds and he does great at summer camp. I can tell you he would not do well with an outdoor sports camp all day- they are very challenging. Does your son have impulse control challenges outside of camp? If no then I would say the camp environment is not a good fit for him and he’s acting out in hopes that he gets kicked out. If he struggles with impulse control all the time on meds then a switch in meds should be considered. As much as you want to do the “silent treatment” please try your best not to as it may be hurting your son more. Take sometimes for yourselves during this challenging time. My husband and I do the “tag team” affect. We each take turns then tag the other one when we’ve had our fill. Try to stay calm and realize as much as your are struggling your son is struggling as well. Good luck,
Thank you, we will talk to his doctor to see if she feels a medication change might help... so far the medication has been working pretty well... I mean he has been in trouble many times at school but his teacher was incredibly nice and he made it through the year with decent grades. He always has impulse control issues but it's up and down... we have calm and then we have severe storms. What kills me is when he does something bad he just acts like all is well and nothing happened and when we try to explain what he did wrong he doesn't seem to care much or he only cares for 10 minutes and just taking away electronics doesn't work long-term. What he wants most is attention and he admitted that he would rather have negative attention than no attention so now we are at a point where silence takes away any kind of attention. He knows he is loved, he put us through hell and we have always been there for him so he knows. As far as camp goes, this program was the only option because hiring a person for a full day (8 am to 6 pm) five days a week would cost 5 times what the camp costs. Even the cost for this camp was a stretch for us financially. It's his first year there and he attends with his sister (who has a different type of ADHD and loves the camp and has no issues). I appreciate the feedback... it's good to hear other peoples experiences...
Thanks for sharing. My son is an only child and does the negative attention thing as well. It’s a common ADGD trait. I have to say it has decreased as he matures. He is now 13 and has went down the teenage “rabbit hole” where he doesn’t want our attention anymore so hang in there. Based on what you are saying happens while he’s on meds he may need a change. Also if the storms mostly happen when he’s coming off the meds I’ve experienced that. If my son doesn’t get a small dose at meds at the end of the day (3pm) it’s intense. While the meds are working we have no issues.
Sorry to hear about your situation! Here’s a few ideas, if you haven’t tried them yet:
1. When he’s calm - talk to him & see what he doesn’t like about camp. Maybe there is something going on, or something you can help him / the camp improve. Sometimes just the issues with working memory / time management are a source of my son’s behavior and fairly easy to adapt for. It doesn’t cure everything, but helps a lot in our house.
2. My son needs regular & consistent breaks, both free time & quiet time. Though exercise is good for him, in the short term it wears out his self control before we even make a dent in his energy. I see you requested that with the camp, so hopefully it will help.
3. Praise - my son responds so much better to praise, even for just partial steps. I try to give attention for good things, and even just the absence of negative things. And I try to be calm & specific about what the praise is for. I also try to add a praise to a correction, if it isn’t severe. Such as “Nice job flushing the toilet. Now please go back & wash your hands. Thank you for listening.”
4. Incentives. We’re using a token system this summer. Even rephrasing punishments as incentives makes a huge difference. Like, instead of “If you misbehave at camp, no electronics tonight!”, try “If you do great at camp today, you’ll get to earn some electronic time tonight.” It’s the same cause / effect, but in the first scenario I’d be removing something my son feels entitled to, while in the second scenario there is no preconceived entitlement, it’s something he has to earn & I get to be the generous mother. It might be a struggle at first with changing how things go, but building it up as a good / new things helps.
Thank you for all the replies. How do parents out there handle the lack of empathy and accountability with their ADHD kids? Our son destroys the whole family dynamic, the other three kids don't get to do things because he is punished and his Mom is in tears (and she is patient and strong... he is just that difficult)... but he doesn't seem to have sympathy. Where is our daughter will cry if she sees us cry, he just keeps pushing buttons and the next day he acts like nothing happened where as I'm fuming for a week or more and his lack of understanding makes it harder to move on...
What does the therapist recommend? Does this also happen while he is in school during the school year? Or even at home? If not, my guess is the camp is not making appropriate accommodations, or something there is seriously bothering him. If so, then maybe a closer look at the diagnosis &/or treatment options (or practitioners) might be a good start?
For what it’s worth, my son LOVES attention, and will act out for even negative attention. So figuring out how to give him attention for desired behavior & to deny him attention for negative attention is key in our house. Though not always easy. 1-2-3 Magic has helped us out ALOT.
You may need somewhere for your child to be while you work, but it sounds like this might not be the place. My husband and I both work full time so I do understand the challenges. But if my child were acting out that much and the adults responsible did not seem equipped to work through it and make summer camp a positive experience, I would find somewhere else. I think the long term cost of not finding a good fit for my child would be higher than that of losing my job (and believe me—we really need my job!)