14-year-old son increasingly irritabl... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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14-year-old son increasingly irritable and hostile during Stay at home orders.


Ideas for best support for our 14-year-old son who is showing increasing signs of irritability, depression and anger during COVID stuck at home orders? We are in WA state and things are still pretty much on lock down. He gets through his school work pretty okay! He will help with a few mandatory chores, but then outside of playing a new video game on his PC and texting friends, he is not interested in spending time with the family or even getting outside any more. He complains constantly (about everything from the food to his lack of privileges and freedom) and says horrible things to my husband and I. EVERY night he is angry about having to get off the PC to go to bed. My boy is miserable (and in the midst of puberty) and making the rest of us miserable. It will be a miracle if we come out okay at the end of this stay at home order.

10 Replies

We are really all in the same boat. We have mandatory outside time or we take a bike ride. Does he have a scooter, skateboard or roller skate or bike.. I would ask which of these he wants to do. Some times its about asking them what they want and telling them pick one...

We also have a basketball hoop and our son does other sports. He is 13 years old and we don't give him evening video game time. We watch TV, play games do legos or puzzles in the evening.

Does he have therapy? We have a monthly call/video conference with this therapist to review how things are going.

Also, if he is taking medication then things are much harder when it wears off in the evening.

Good luck.. we are in CA and it doesn't look like much will open anytime soon. We are stuck at home for a long time.

Thank you Onthemove1971!

My son’s new attachment to this video game has really brought an uptick in the irritability and hostility in his words. And yes, when his medication wears off, the irritability is at its worst. Living in the city, we either need to go with him to a park to skate or bike. We have a basketball hoop but again, one of us needs to go play with him to keep him playing for more than 5 minutes. Both my husband and I are working from home and our three kids have school work that fills up most of the day. So we don’t allow video gaming until school work and chores are done. But now once he starts gaming, he doesn’t want to take a break for dinner or family time or bed time.

He’s not in therapy at this time, but has been in the past. Finding decent therapists has actually been a huge challenge here. Our last one decided to change careers.

It may be time to change medications (which I hate to consider right now).

Many families like our have an afternoon Booster dose, which is the same medication it just help to get through the evening. You could ask about that which make evening go smoother. I know what you mean about going places with our children. I could not just drop our son off.

Good luck on getting through this .

Hi parents, I know this is a very difficult time for parents with children of all ages. We are all going to get through this. Don’t give up. We need to stay strong and calm for our families. We are in NY so are in the brunt of it. Praise God, we are all healthy and making it work. We also have a teenager but she is 18 and had to come home from college. It’s also been difficult to get her out of the house, but I keep asking and sometimes she goes for walks with us and getting food take-out is always a good motivator. Here are some additional tips that I hope will help - As the parent, we have the ability to take away the electronics. I know Moms who only allow it as a reward when they have completed homework, chores, etc and put a limit on it. Yes, they may get angry, but that’s okay. Also, I believe its super important to monitor what they are looking at, addictions during this time are running rampant. If you see red flags make sure you get help for them right away. Don’t stop talking to your teens. Get involved with your teens even though they may be pushing you away. Ask them questions about how they are feeling but don’t judge them just listen and confirm what they are feeling. Show an interest in what they are interested in and engage them in conversation, even if it’s video games. You might even see if they can teach you how to play them. When they complete all their homework, give them words of encouragement. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Try to stay positive and not criticize. Keep inviting them to go outside with you. Try an exercise video together, sounds corny but can build that relationship up. Video chatting with family members has helped us and the family on the other end. Break out the board games that have been collecting dust, learn a new card game. There are many funny posts regarding this pandemic I know sharing that with family has brought laughter into our home again. Also, so make sure you and your teens are not isolating. Keep communicating with friends and family with all the electronic resources you have avail to you. Lastly, and most importantly, for me my peace lies in knowing we have a huge God that is in control of all this and knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m so sorry you are going through this, we are in a similar situation too. Everything you describe, from the angry hurtful comments and constant negativity, is what we are dealing with as well with our 14 yr old. I also am at a loss. Ours was supposed to go to a 6 week fairly rigorous structured summer camp, and that has been cancelled so now I thinking what am I going to do with him all summer. Send him to another camp? Ours does bike a bit and will play tennis occasionally with really the one friend he has close by and that helps. I find some hours and days are better after he says or does something really bad (yesterday he called me stupid and said I was a terrible wife to my husband) and feels bad and “apologizes” but it doesn’t last long until the next rupture. Same with the computer, when I tell him it’s time to turn it off it’s either a yelling reaction or he heads down to us to start spreading the negativity and insulting everything and everyone. I guess I’m trying to ignore the comments but he has a little sister and this is impacting her too and that I just won’t have. We stopped therapy for the pandemic as I know a virtual session would be just one more thing for my son to complain about since he was negative about his therapist In person as well. I guess I’d say I think you are definitely not alone and as much as you can get him outside or to connect with any other kids is good, I’m always pretty reserved with things like gifts or treats for good behavior but maybe it’s just time I start just over-rewarding with incentives at any hint of positive behavior!

My son told me the same "That i am a bad mom and wife" But as moms we forget and move ahead with our love and care.

That is our exact experience with our just turned 14 year old son also. Exact!

I really feel for you guys. We went through and very similar time with our 14-15 year old - the edginess, the irritation with family, the withdrawn behavior. He also got in with a rough crowd, nearly gave up on school, refused to have meals with us, and ran away for 4 days and ended up 600 miles away. We were beside ourselves, and on the verge of shipping him off to a camp for teens with behavioral issues so many times.

But shortly after he turned 16 in December, the cloud started lifting a little bit. And I think the shelter in place has been a bit of a Godsend for us. He is still very immature in his thinking and obstinately focused on his independence. But, I think spending less time with his rough friend group has given him more time with his own thoughts: thinking about what is important to him and who he wants to be. He much warmer around family (even smiling quite a bit), he got a job as a personal shopper at Walmart, he is doing much better in school, and he has reconnected with some good friends from the past.

As our ADHD boys struggle with the clash of puberty and drive for independence vs. their lack of executive function, they can behave in a lot of scary ways. I pray that you guys start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, as we have recently. Stay strong and don't forget to love each other.

Good to know that.

Thanks for sharing.. glad things are better right now for you.

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