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ADHD Parents Together
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Losing friends because of behavior - help!

My 10-year-old son has ADHD, ODD and several learning disabilities, including dyslexia, which has made school a struggle for him. (I believe his self-esteem is an issue as well.) He is currently having problems with two other friends in his classroom. Two of the kids will often get together and gang up on the third. My son has been one of the kids who has often said really hurtful things to another child. I’ve continually talked to my son about the behavior we expect from him and that he is hurting others' feelings. My son is generally a very caring/loving person, (at home, at least), so I don't know why he lashes out like this at school. I don't think my son is being bullied or bothered by the other student, so this is perplexing! My son has also lost other friends this school year because of mean things he has said or done to other kids, who were generally good friends to him.

I don’t know how to get through to him to help him realize his actions are really hurting others. I am hoping this community will have ideas. He receives punishment for the bad behaviors (I take away electronics, he cleans up dog poop in the back yard, community service, etc.). He takes the punishments in stride. He is on adhd medication and sees a counselor. We work with the teachers about this (although the classroom teacher has continually failed to keep the three separated.) Nothing is getting through to him – I'm feeling desperate at this point!

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That’s so hard. When my kid was at her most aggressive, it really was because her chemistry wasn’t working right. The lack of impulse control and just general stress level was overriding her true character. My daughter is a caring, intelligent person with strong values - but before we got her anti anxiety medication up to the right level she was hitting, yelling, lying and saying really unkind things. I think they also get into a vicious cycle where they act out and then they feel bad about it which actually begets more bad behavior. Which is a long was of saying that I’m not sure it’s so much a question of getting your kid to “understand” that his behavior is wrong - as it is about keeping doing what you’re doing and maybe tweaking it. Maybe the dosage or medication needs to be adjusted. Or maybe he needs an additional therapy like OT to help him regulate. Maybe his IEP (if he has one) needs to be adjusted somehow. If the stressors at school can be reduced, maybe his behavior will improve. Also, I’m a big believer that rewarding good behavior and showering your kid with love works wonders. When they get into that cycle of being bad and it feels like everyone is mad at them all the time - I think it helps to intentionally do nice things for them. So a one on one lunch date with you or something like that can help break the cycle. Also, this book really helped me: “Your Defiant Child” by Russell Barkley and Christine Benton. Good luck!

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Thank you MaudQ for you very helpful insights! Lots to think about here, and medication may need to be tweaked. I agree, it’s probably very hard to get out of that negative cycle when everyone is getting upset with him. Thanks for the book recommendation too.

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I'm gonna 2nd everything MaudeQ said. Talking to the school counselor may also help give you some ideas.

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My son got to the point that one day he said, “here’s my toys, you’re going to take them away anyway.” Nothing was working. He showed response to The Nurtured Heart Approach. There is a website you can check out. I did their six-week online course. Nothing has beaten the difference we saw putting my son on broad spectrum micronutrients. There are two companies, Hardy Nutritionals and True Hope. Definitely worth looking into!

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Yes, I know what you mean! They just resign themselves to punishment and then are so resilient that you wouldn’t know anything was taken from them! It’s so funny because I have been reading the nurtured heart approach, and trying supplements. The book is helping with the behavior...for sure. I’ll check out the supplements - thanks so much!

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It's so hard to see this in your own child, I'm sorry you are going through this. Among the other GREAT suggestions I second trying Occupational Therapy to help him understand appropriate social skills and how to build friendships. Medication and/or supplements might definitely be part of the problem but many kids (and adults!) with ADHD have a hard time with relationships for a number of reasons. Main one is that their brains typically aren't as developed in those areas regarding social skills. Extra help in OT or from a child psychologist might help. Good luck momma, it WILL get better because you're all over it.

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Thank you! I never had thought of OT as a therapy to use but will check it out. Yes, social and emotional skills are lacking because of the executive function issues. It’s tough. Thanks so much for your reply!

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If he considers these other 2 boys his "friends" it may be hard for him to resist going along with what they are doing. We don't discriminate against anyone yet my grandson has said horrible things about other races. It is hard trying to teach empathy.

Does he have an IEP? At recess the teacher may not be able to keep kids apart but she sure should be able to keep them from sitting near each other in a classroom. And maybe having it put into his plan where he has to sit up front near the teacher so she can keep an eye on things.

When my grandson was in grade school if they got in trouble for something like that they had to walk a circle near the teachers at recess instead of being out with the other kids. That where they were moving but not getting the enjoyment of recess. Might be another solution if that's when this is happening.

Does he see a counselor? That is something they could work on too.

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Thank you anirush for your reply! Yes, I think a part of the problem, at least in some instances, is peer pressure. He does have an IEP and seating is part of it (although this year with the teacher has been a struggle). Thanks for the suggestion about the recess - that's a great idea!

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Hi Mich! Welcome to the ADHD Parents Together Support Group! You're definitely in good company here and we'll try to help out as best as we can, even if it’s just to offer words of encouragement.

First, I’m so sorry for this very difficult stage you’re in right now with your son and the fact that he's losing many of his friends. ADHD all by itself can be can be a challenging disorder to comprehend and manage and I can sense the frustration and overwhelm in relation to your son’s other conditions as well.

Second, I agree with implementing many of the suggestions already offered here. There are a couple of websites that you might want to check out when you have the time if you haven't done so yet. They are primary go-tos for parents in the ADHD community for their steady stream of unlimited resources -- chadd.org and additudemag.com.

Also, have you thought about working with an ADHD Coach to assist your son with goal achievement involving his unique relationship and behavioral challenges? A coach often can help a child feel empowered as though he can direct his life and control attitudes and behaviors. I pray there's some resolution soon to the specific issues that your son is facing and that you will feel more at peace as progress is made. Please keep us posted and be encouraged that things will improve for your son. Blessings!

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Thank you HeathersWellness for the reply! We are not seeing a coach, but he does see a counselor that is helping him with the behavior. Thank you for the good wishes!

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