Is my son a little "off"?: Lately I am... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Is my son a little "off"?


Lately I am beginning to think that my 12 y.o. ADHD son has some mental illness. I cannot seem to make sense of the things he does. Last night was like a circus at home. I found myself yelling, cursing, calling him names and wanting to punch him in the forehead. It usually starts as soon as I pick him up. He enjoys farting in my room and leaving the odor. He will blow his foul breath into my face and laugh. It takes him a year to complete one homework sheet. He draws and writes on his face, arms and legs,. I've found writing on his dresser and the wall. I will ask him to do get the mail, he will get sidetracked and wind up outside on the porch watching rap videos. After his shower, I found him on the floor doing push ups with no clothes on.

Has anyone else experienced odd behaviors in their pre-teen? Please share advice or thoughts on how to manage this. He has odd behaviors with and without medication. thank you!

25 Replies

Much of this sounds like normal ADHD behavior: lack of impulse control, difficulty focusing (homework is a challenge) and being easily distracted while going to do one task (like getting the mail). It also sounds like pre-pubescent boy stuff (like annoying his mom with his farts and working on his muscles). Does he have a positive male role model in his life? When I’m not sure what to make of my 13-year-old son’s behavior, I default to my husband’s knowledge of boys. ;)

Blowing bad breath in your face could just mean he’s wanting attention from you and has learned a way to get it (though it’s negative attention). What are his favorite ways to spend time with you? Try doing more of those things and the attention-grabbing behavior could diminish.

Sounds like your son is overall happy and healthy versus angry and irritable though!? And that’s a positive thing any day when dealing with adhd.

NanatoZ in reply to MVinSeattle

I agree 100%

Janice_H in reply to MVinSeattle

Hello and thanks so much for your advice. His father does not live with us and is not actively involved in his life. It is during my quiet time at night that he tends to act foolishly with me. This is the only time I have for myself to read or watch movies. Other than this there is no time for myself. It is quite annoying.

Madmarie in reply to Janice_H

I am a single mom too, I found my self laughing at your post, only because I’ve been there! I feel if I’m not laughing I may just cry. You have to get respect to the fore front of your home. No way he should be farting in your room, and blowing bad breath in your face. My son would argue to get his way, call me names, and pitch a huge fits. I would take stuff away from him, electronics, skateboard, etc. I also made him sit down, and write 25 to 50 sentences. I won’t disrespect my mom, and call her names. At first he put up a big fight, but he eventually caved in and realized he isn’t going to get his stuff back unless he writes his sentences. I always set him down, and explain this is a house of respect! We may not always agree with each other, but we won’t yell, and call each other names. I make him do chores, and contribute to our household. I always say thanks for helping, thanks for this, and thanks for being so responsible, and on time this morning etc. These kids need to hear what their doing right, just as much as they need to hear what their doing wrong. Just try and change the tone, and dynamics in your household, put your boundaries in place, and stick with them. Sit him down and talk calmly about his disrespectful behavior. I promise it won’t happen over night, but you will start to see a difference.

Janice_H in reply to Madmarie

How old is your son? I have made him write a 2 page letter about why he should not lie or steal things from me and why honesty is important. I'm not sure that it sunk in or whether it made a difference or not. I agree he needs to have some level of respect with his mother, but he can't seem to stop doing this. Thanks so much for your advice.

Madmarie in reply to Janice_H

My son is 11. He figured out the code I set up on x-box and bought 100$ worth of games. He didn’t see his x-box for months after that, I got all the bills out, and made him read the amounts , and what they were for. I explained that if he did that again I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills. There is a lot of sit downs, where I just sit him down and explain things to him. We have been through a lot of ups and downs. I have to say we are in a great place now. I know he respects me. It’s taken me doing these things over and over again to get through to him. I have to be tough, but I also am sure to praise him, and encourage him a lot too. He’s goofy, and he drives me nuts sometimes, but he’s also sweet, funny, and loving. I’m taking him to a pediatric psychiatrist next month. Still struggling in school, and I’m not sure his medication is working as well as it should. It’s a lot of work, and I have little time for anything else, but I pray that if I put time, and dedication in now, that he will be a successful adult. Hang in there!

Janice_H in reply to Madmarie

You're an awesome and dedicated mom!! It's great he has you as his advocate. Hopefully when he is older, he will see how you made a difference in his life. My son is 4 grade levels behind, I don't think his meds help either. I too feel like my whole life is about organizing him - the meds, the appointments, the IEP meetings, talking to teachers, setting rules, the checklists.....It is a tiring duty.

Madmarie in reply to Janice_H

My son is the same. Learning delays, go hand and hand with ADHD. Lots of e-mail exchanges with teachers, and even the principal. I’m fortunate that my sister is a special ed teacher, and she lives 3 blocks from me. She helps me out a lot, and sits in on iep meetings. It can feel so overwhelming at times, and I cry in the shower often. If you can talk with someone about it please do so. I love this sight because it’s validates your feelings, and you see your not alone!! 🙏

Janice_H in reply to Madmarie

You are lucky to have an informed person with you at IEP meetings. This site has been a godsend. So many other parents have provided support and an ear to listen.

My daughter is 11 and she definitely has behaviors that upset me. I agree with MVin Seattle, though, it sounds like from your description that your son is within the bounds of ADHD and puberty. Have you ever had him tested for anything else? He could also have ODD or depression or something like that which could be at play here. We try to be very clear about expectations - and make those expectations simple and easy to follow. We do a lot of timers and charts and lists. I have gotten a ton of good advice from ADDitude magazine and their FB page. I also love Sharon Saline’s “What Your ADHD Child Wants You to Know.” Is your son in therapy? That helps too. I also always recommend trying to find good things he’s doing and really praising him for it - and also finding as much time as you can to spend positive time with him. They are like negativity sponges - they remember everything bad and forget everything good about themselves :-( FWIW, I have a son too (not ADHD) and he is gross and annoying! So I feel your pain ...

Janice_H in reply to MaudQ

Hi Maud, He's been evaluated for ADHD, depression and learning delay. He does exhibit ODD behaviors but has never received a diagnosis for this. He is not currently in therapy because I am unable to keep taking off work to get him there. It is difficulty to find evening or weekend therapists where I live. On weekends we have quality time doing fun things. Your advice is so helpful

ADHD Is a mental illness although other things usually go along with it like anxiety, depression. How is he doing in school?

Behavioral therapy really helps when they get older. But with growth spurts also come instability with medication.

One of my grandsons gets violent and tries to break things when he is unstable. I would much rather have silly teen things to deal with than that. They say you should pick your battles, what you can just ignore and what's important enough to put your foot down on.

Janice_H in reply to anirush

He struggles in school with Math, writing and reading comprehension. He has IEP services, but they are not helping much.

Sounds like a typical preteen boy with ADHD. My daughter is 12 and is noticeably lagging in maturity at times. Her doctor said children with ADHD tend to lag about 3 years in maturity and will catch up around age 16 when all of the connections in their growing brains are finalized.

Puberty will make ADHD symptoms worse. The hormones can make it crazy and with the fact that the ADHD means that certain frontal lobe behaviors take longer for these kids to mature often times being a couple years behind, your son's behavior seems normal. We really struggled with my son at that age. At 16 we are seeing signs of maturity, but there are still times we see these behaviors. And though he is not out of control as often, he is always easily distractable - especially by electronics. Don't worry, there is nothing wrong with your son. It is part ADHD, part puberty and part being a boy. It can be exhausting. If he is struggling even with the meds I would have his meds checked. It may be the wrong med or the wrong dose. I know that once my son's meds wear off we can tell and it makes homework a living hell for everyone involved. He has learned that study hall is his best friend and tries not to have to bring anything home. I have definitely learned how to pick my battles and how to deal with my son so that things don't escalate. I have been there....the yelling, the slapping, the crying. I am not always as patient and as good as I want to be, but it has made a huge difference in our household. Keep your chin up. You are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you son. His brain works different than ours and it is a learning curve for us all. I know it can be exhausting and frustrating. It will get better, I promise.

Kstox in reply to SMariano

My son is 17 and it felt so good reading your response to Janice.

My son recently got expelled doing an impulsive thing. Needless to say he is doing online schooling and this is a nightmare.

He doesn’t want to take his meds because he said it gives him anxiety ( we have a dr appt tomorrow).

He is smart but doesn’t have any drive.

My husband travels a lot and all I do is complain to him.

I’m at the point of throwing in the towel but I know that’s not fair.

Anyway I just needed to vent.

SMariano in reply to Kstox

Vent all you want. I get it. I would say 99% of the any issues my marriage has is because of the stress from our son. I love him with all my heart, but he can be exhausting. School has always been one our biggest challenges. That and judgement of other people. I used to let it bother me way more wondering why they can't see my son like I do. But I had to let it go. He is amazing in so many ways but can be hard in so many others. Not every day is a good day, but not every day is a bad day. I have my moments when I don't deal as well as I could, but I try so hard to find what works and maintain that. I honestly let a lot of things go that I didn't used to. My yelling and getting upset doesn't change things so I try to walk away. My son is social, so public school is where he wants to be. With this he knows that he has to put in the work, much of it harder for him than others due to his ADHD...but I think this will help prepare him for life after school. But don't get me wrong, I still have my moments when I am overwhelmed with how hard it can be to deal with it all and wonder if we are going to make it.

Janice_H in reply to SMariano

What awesome advice!!! Thank you for taking the time and sending positive encouragement. 2 weeks ago he started Ritalin. He gets 5 mg at 5 p.m. on school nights. It is supposed to help him with focus during homework time. Well last night I made a list of all the things he did while I was sitting with him doing homework - writing on his arms with a pen, shaving the outside of his pencil off, looking at the fish tank, singing, looking out the window, sharpening pencils, drawing pictures on his homework sheet, getting up to search for non-relating items. I felt so frustrating watching him be so distracted despite the meds.

Pennywink in reply to Janice_H

What time do you start homework after the meds? For my son, it takes almost 1/2 hour for them to kick in, so I usually try to have a meal or freetime or outside activity on the schedule for that 30 mins.

Like others have said, it sounds like a pubescent boy with ADHD. Could possibly use a med adjustment, as it's pretty common to need one with puberty.

Also, if you haven't already, try to get mini-boughts of quality time in on weekdays. It doesn't always have to be a big thing. Maybe just 15 mins of talking / doing what he wants to do. Then when you're done, just let him know how much you love him & enjoyed your time with him, and now it's time for your quiet time so you can refresh.

Janice_H in reply to Pennywink

I give him the medication at 5:00. We usually start homework at 7:00. Starting next week I will work in the 15 minutes. It will be tough as I am a single mom with too much to do by myself. His homework load is quite heavy. We usually do not finish until 8:30.

Pennywink in reply to Janice_H

Best of luck! Even if it’s just 5 mins instead of 15, hopefully it will help.

And like someone else mentioned, getting reduced / eliminating homework into his school accommodations should help.

Also, like mentioned elsewhere, getting up a bit early for alone time helps me out a lot too. Though I have to be very careful / insanely quite, as my son will still wake up at the drop of a hat if it’s after 6a. Sometimes the cat thwarts my efforts. Lol!


I agree with the other posts - although very annoying, this is typical behavior for many ADHD boys in their teens. I would be sure he is taking his ADHD meds and also know that this has probably worn off by the end of the school day, so their impulsive behavior can look really bad. Homework may require a short-acting booster, although I would try for no homework at all, if you can arrange it. I can tell you I am sure a big part of your son's behavior is just to annoy you. My son admitted this several years ago, when he finally started to mature (at age 23!) - he loved to annoy both me and my husband. Please ignore what you can - the farting, the bad breath (they never brush their teeth!), and most other behaviors. We finally realized that very brief interactions were best, with no long dialogues because he just tuned out. Please try and not take this so seriously because they don't get better for quite a while!!

Janice_H in reply to seller

Thanks for the encouragement and advice. I do not feel so alone knowing there are other parents experiencing similar behaviors.

First, you are doing a great job and that shows just by the fact that you are reaching out for help and advice.

Second, your son is a very normal pre-pubescent boy who is struggling with ADHD.

For us personally, my son did very well on a medication called Intuniv. Along with the medication I did some experimenting with his diet. Unfortunately, it seemed like any small amount of processed food would send his behavior into a tailspin. On days that I would take the time to get all fresh, organic ingredients he was a dream child. On days that I made even a quick box of just about anything his actions within an hour after dinner were off the charts. This has become very expensive and time consuming but when I see my son happy and functioning at a good level it is worth every penny. So, I buy as much organic foods as possible, nothing processed (not even Kraft American Cheese, I buy fresh block cheese that's usually made from pasture raised, organic cow or goat milk that I then slice myself) I make sure as much of the meats I buy are pasture raised with no hormones or antibiotics, I watch his sugar intake, cut out all sodas, etc.

He has always wanted to be a policeman or go into the military (or both). We found a program call the Young Marines for 8-18 year olds which he joined. This gives him great male role models, has taught him discipline and he loves it so much that he seems to be able to focus just fine to be really successful and he has been a tremendous boast to his confidence. The program is very involved in drug education, is supported by the Marine Corps League and the DEA. They have real ranks and the entire program is based on many of the core values of the U.S. Marines. Maybe finding a program, sport activity or something that might interest your son that he has a passion for could help relieve some of his energy.

As for your own personal time. The only help and advice I can give on that one is you might need to create a different time for yourself. I had to make my time an hour before anyone else gets up in the morning. I have come to love and relish my morning time. I don't get to watch my movies but I do get to read. I grab my cup of coffee, crawl back into my cozy bed (or on really nice mornings I sit on my patio) and read for a bit and then I take a nice shower. It allows me to start my day relaxed instead of frantically getting everyone ready. I feel like I can conquer the chaos that starts once everyone else gets up. It took awhile to adjust to the schedule change, I go to bed a little earlier but then so does everyone else and we all seem to be a little bit happier with a better sleep schedule and mom being happy because she found a way to have "her time." Just a suggestion.

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post. These are all great tips!

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