12 yr old boy making threats, has any... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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12 yr old boy making threats, has anybody else dealt with this?

Adamsmom1228 profile image


Im new to this site. My 12 yr old son was diagnosed at 4 with adhd, ocd, odd n bipolar disorder. Recentlyhe started making threats to teachers, and bus drivers and kids that bullied him of killing himself or them. Hes never been violent he screams and runs anytime him n his siblings argue. But he makes angry threats for negative attention. Hes been evaluated as not a harm to himself but everytime hes annoyed or someone upsets him the words die or kill come out of his mouth. Help! Is this puberty? A phase?

22 Replies

No it isn't typical behavior, it is expression of hopelessness. Rejection, self doubt, and feelings of being overwhelmed are intense because of him having ADHD/BP and often over-expressed.My son was 11 when he was hospitalized for suicidal ideation. This means in addition to the hopeless feeling, they state a plan on how the self harm would be carried out. If this is the case with your son, he should see a counselor on a regular basis and one who is skilled in this area. He should be re-evaluated by a trained screener. That might be a licensed counselor that comes to your house from your local hospital instead of taking him to the hospital. (This didn't exist back when my son was young, so be sure to know how it works in your state) If he already has a doctor who treats him, then he should be familiar with your options.

To hear that your child feels this way can feel devastating. You are wise to reach out for help. When things go this way you need help, this isn't easy to manage yourself. Gather around you trusted emotional support, but don't ignore what he says. Impulsivity is also an issue that is a concern. I got some training from Mental Health First Aid mentalhealthfirstaid.org and some better ways to manage challenging behavior from livesinthebalance.org. It is whole new level of vigilance that I have with my son and other children after knowing the warning signs.

Thank you for your response. He says he yells these things bc otherkids aggravate him n whenhe gets in troubleat school he thinks saying those things will get him out of trouble.

I still wouldn't believe him entirely. There are ways to help him figure out what it is that aggravates him, how to recognize the trigger and give him some tools to control the intensity of his reaction by changing the way he thinks. CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Training is a type of therapy that originally was used for depression, but it is also good for helping people with anxiety, depression's counterpart. It is a treatment that helps people to deal with their problems by changing the way they think about them. Kids can also benefit from mindfulness training. Mindfulness might sound weird, and I thought so too at first, however it is extremely effective for anxiety. It can be another tool your son can have at his disposal and the more the merrier and the better too. My son's diagnosis is Major Depression. He had a hospitalization a couple of years ago. Afterwards he attended an intensive outpatient program that offered CBT. He did very well and we could tell he was using the information everyday and in a productive way. Finding the right program is important. There are places that have programs for his age group. This is very important because older teenagers have different issues and he won't feel comfortable there or might struggle to fit in with them. It is very important to get him into a program that prepares him for his very intense feelings.

Medication can help, IOP programs can help, your support and education helps. It is a tough problem so it requires a lot of approaches. You can't over do it. Look for your state's "Children's System of Care". It was the way we were able to afford the many services our son needed. Sometimes they have to go through the training several times for it to internalize. How are you doing?

My son started doing this as well; although, he is much younger. The "dark language" started last year in 1st grade saying he wanted to kill himself and others, bomb the school etc. He was evaluated by the school and his behavior therapist to not be a threat. It is still incredibly scary to hear your child say these things.

Again, my son is younger. He had to earn device time by not using dark language. He is also on medication. He still uses dark language every now and then but much less frequent.

I hope you find answers and solutions for your son!

Adamsmom1228 profile image
Adamsmom1228 in reply to 123boys

Thank you so much for your response. I love that phrase dark language it suits the situation perfectly. Hes on medication also and after talking to numerous people ive learned it may be a combination of puberty/bipolar/n his adhd n odd causing this. To him he thinksif he says these threats he will be in less trouble or people will listen to hik more. He has an appt tuesday to see his dr. Ive discussed with a family memberwho is a pharmacist about adding risperdal with his other medication to help with the impulsive outbursts when aggravated. This medicine has had fantastic reviewsof helping children very similar to his case. So im hoping the dr will agreeon Tuesday.

Hello and I just wanted to say I'm sorry for what you're going through. I'm having some major problems with my almost 13 year old son with ADHD and Anxiety Disorder. (I think he might be Hypomanic AKA Bipolar also but that has yet to be determined.) Mental Health Disorders run in my family and my little brother was on Risperdal and was promptly taken off of it when it came out that the med was known for causing breast tissue growth in young boys so you may want to address that with the doctor, just a heads up. Good luck with your appointment and I hope you get some answers.

Ok thank you so much for the heads up

Please let me know how your son is doing with the additional medication, I’m starting that next week with my son. I’m a little nervous about adding an additional mediation, but he’s been in so much trouble for his aggressive behavior, and he’s having more dramatic breakdowns at my house. I’m willing to try anything at this point.

Hey we just switched from adderall to concerta for his adhd and are starting the risperdal along with the concerta next week also. So i dont kniw the results yet with the risperdal. But so far the concerta has helped. Hes not as aggravates as he was with theadderall

My son is on the generic form of concerta. He’s been on it for a couple of years. I definitely like it better then Adderall. I also do Barlean’s high potency fish oil, and a magnesium supplement.

Ok great i may try that. He was on focalin for 8 years and did real good on it until last year when he turned 12 it seemed like the medication just wasnt working well with him anymore so we tried the adderall. Yesterday was the first day on the concerta and it went well. Today he is having emotional breakdowns so im stumped. Hopefully tom will be better. And im hoping when he starts the risperdal next week it will help as well. Keeping fingers crossed.

Good luck! I do think it takes a few days for them to get used to new medication. Ugh! I just hate it all. It just breaks my heart for all kids, and their families. I know the frustration and pain all to well.

This came up within the last 6 mos with my son at 7 too. Very scary as a parent. We have spent a lot of time processing and supporting my son, so here comes a long post to share in the hopes that this may be helpful for other families too:

For us the school counselor did an evaluation right away (same day/next day) and we discussed with the counselor, principal, teacher, and determined he wasn’t a threat to himself. But they advised us to take it as a flag from our son that something wasn’t right for him. To help know if it is a crisis or not there are a few factors, including if they are talking about actually how they would do it as another poster mentioned, and how down or not you feel they truly are as a parent. And definitely staying close to them and extra supportive and attentive and with them since it is such a serious feeling they are expressing.

Turned out it was anxiety/low self esteem triggered by a series of school incidents, and the counselor helped him unwind them quickly one by one - counselor and my son together talking to the kids/adults where something hadn’t gone right to sort out that it was really just an accident, they weren’t mad at each other, etc. We made many changes to reduce his anxiety. The biggest ones: more sleep, eating every 2-3 hours for even sugar levels, more consistent routine so he know what will be happening each day (including who will drop him off, pick him up, etc far in advance), and we changed our language at home for inclusion. What this means is instead of ‘in our family we do x’ or ‘7 year olds should be able to brush their teeth’ we make sure to reframe just with positive encouragement and step by step. And also more deliberate 1-1 time, saying yes much more often when asked to play a game even if the timing is not ideal as the grownup.

The counselor taught my son and me a tool that has helped so much I wanted to post here for others. So simple, it is a thermometer from 0 to 10 that shows words at each level and feelings at each level. We now use a variation of it many days. The idea is that kill/death are at 10 and describe a very strong feeling, and definitely one to come to a grownup about. 3-5 has some middle level words and feelings and you could try to sort those situations on your own first as a child, 1-3 is very mild and kids can handle these and move on. The kids practice examples of the different levels.

My son still has kill and death as casual parts of his vocabulary, but without the sad emotion of a few months ago, so we are working on it. Things like “ I spilled my yogurt, I’ll kill myself” come up pretty often at home and we stay calm, remind him that language is a 10, and ask him how he would say it as a 5 or sometimes I provide him with the language for it. Oddly it’s really the same approach we took for potty talk, etc, so we are approaching it now as a phase he just needs to learn the rules too. How to name feelings and make them less dramatic.

Last thing - I discovered that once we were out of the woods with him by a few months, j became overcome by very strong parenting guilt and was becoming quite depressed. It caught my by surprise. And I was also on eggshells really worried he might feel this way again at a moments notice if he had another really bad day. Remember to take care of yourself, and to seek counseling for you if you feel it would help. A couple of counseling sessions really helped me turn back around to my usual self again! Good luck to you and your son!

Adamsmom1228 profile image
Adamsmom1228 in reply to hope111

Thank you so much for your post. This describes my son so much. Any little thing like him.spilling a drink, or a sibling arguin with him brings these dark words out. Counselor n therapist say hes not a threat to himself bc he has no plan of how he wants to do it or doesn't even realize what he says means he won't be here any longer. So im seeing that other parents are having the same issues that its a phase for negative attention, even though the child may not realize its negative attention their gaining, its simply attention to them. Im so appreciative of your post. I extremely like the thermometer idea n will definitely try that. Im currently reading a book and about chaos to calm for extra ideas and help. Im relieved to know im not alone with this issue.

Madmarie profile image
Madmarie in reply to hope111

Thank you for the advice. I’m going to try the 1-10 method on my son. It’s been very scary. The part at the end hit so close to home. I too have fallen into depression, and anxiety about his school behavior. I have a great therapist and recently started medication myself. It seems to be helping a bit.

A good 2 mile walk has helped with me also

I have had incidents of this (threats to others and self) with one of my boys who has ADHD and RAD (reactive attachment disorder). This son has been in counseling for years to try and help him with his extreme emotions, so working with him with how he talks is an ongoing thing. Because he has RAD and is very manipulative with his words, I have felt that it is important to take him to the hospital when he has threatened himself.

As a former healthcare worker, working with suicidal patients, it's always important to take these threats seriously, even when we believe that the person is doing it in anger or to be manipulative. People can still make attempts in anger and kill themselves by mistake. And for me it is important to create a hospital record to cover my own backside (I'm not making it up), so to speak and to create a paper record to show insurance and other organizations that my son really has a need for help.

Just know that you aren't alone in dealing with a child who is making these kinds of threats. In terms of threats to others, I hold my child accountable. I don't pretend it hasn't happened and I make sure that he apologizes completely. I talk about safe speech and safe actions. We need others to be able to feel safe in our home, at school, on the bus etc.

Adamsmom1228 profile image
Adamsmom1228 in reply to reg2018

Thank you so much. Yes i agree with being accountable for our actions. The principal had a police officer present when he spoke to my son about the threats he had made and the severity of it. This morning i also approached that same officer bc he is a family friend and spoke to him about the situation with my son present again and my sons facial reaction showed that he realizes wow this is a serious thing. Its a work in progress and we will continue to work to get him the help he needs to learn to stop saying such things

I know this is so heartbreaking! My 10 yr. old son was in trouble for throwing a basketball at a girl hitting her in the head.He and the girl have been going at it off and on since last year. He became upset when the reality of what he had done, and the consequences for his actions set in. He picked up a knife in the kitchen, and told me he was going to stab him self dead. I immediately told him to put it down, he did and then asked for a piece of chicken I was shredding. I know it’s just his frustration setting in, but I worry if I don’t deal with it now, then he may follow through when he’s older. His pediatrician just increased his dosage, and also added another medication he hopes will help with his aggressive behavior, and mood elevations. We also are going to begin behavioral therapy. I’m a single mom, I travel out of town 2 days a week for my job. His dad has been awful to say the least. Doesn’t support medication, doesn’t support his school, never shows up to Dr’s appointments, and second guesses his decisions for our son. I’ve had to obtain an attorney for his outlandish behavior, towards me, and our son. Dealing with that nightmare on top of my sons Adhd has been so stressful! It feels good to know I’m not alone, and that other parents struggle with some of the same things. Hoping for the best for you and your son.

hhaddox profile image
hhaddox in reply to Madmarie

What medication is he on for aggression?

So glad the advice has been helpful. Reminds me one other tip from the wonderful school counselor was to ‘not be afraid to ask the scary questions’. This means calmly and when they are calm but mention kill/death, to ask what does that mean to you? Or what do you mean by that?

It’s hard to do but has really helped us to figure out when he is truly down/depressed/something we need to intervene with counselors and teachers vs other times less so (eg sometimes it has meant more wanting some alone time away from others). Please post if we can help with other questions. Thinking of you

This is exactly what my 10 year old is doing. It started last year. He was also diagnosed at 2, but only with ADHD. Only in the past year has he been diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorder. I'm lost as well. We're still trying to figure out his medication.

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