Anyone afraid of others?: Let me... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Anyone afraid of others?


Let me explain that title.....

I’m afraid of things like taking my son to the park, because he’s going to behave “differently” and probably be laughed at, and he has enough awareness to notice and get upset (this has happened multiple times). I’m so protective of him, and his feelings are very fragile at 5 years old.

I’m also afraid of the judgement of others. My son doesn’t “look” special needs, so I get self conscious when we have a difficult time in public.

He’s also getting very strong, and it can be hard for me to physically handle him when he has a public meltdown (single parent over here)

I know these are all my own hang-ups and have nothing to do with my son, it just makes me feel like a sissy, and makes me feel bad.

Anyone else go through this phase?

34 Replies

I can relate. When my son was little, I purposefully avoided a lot of places and kept him occupied at home because I never knew how badly he would behave and wasn’t sure what the response would be. He is now 14 and I regret SOME of that, but not all because I feel like that helped keep things manageable. He still got time to play with other kids at school when things were more structured and measured so it wasn’t like he was completely sheltered from playing with others.

Thank you, I was feeling really alone about the subject.

BellisP in reply to Shamasamdrew

Don’t regret please prioritising an easier more pleasant time for your child. Some children are introverts anyway but children can remember a bad experience and get upset. Finding something different to do and people that understand or just give him space to do his or her own thing. I found a great piano teacher. She did not do a normal lesson but just played to him, talked about music, let him sing, he did not have to sit at piano. I was not there most time. His memory of playing with others is not good memories.

We still have that problem with my 14 year old grandson. He gets angry easily over things and it's embarrassing in public. Much better than he was years ago but we still have to watch where we're taking him and whether hes going to be overwhelmed get out of control ,yelling. It is exhausting.

Krispies99 in reply to anirush

Thank you for the response.

We absolutely went through this stage. It was rough. I actually lost many of my friends because of it. It started with my son not being invited to friend gatherings, and then our whole family being shunned bc my friends didn’t want to deal with the drama my son always fell into. It actually was a bullying scenario where the same child in the group always targeted my son, but the response of my “friends” was to just shun us to fix the problem. It was awful. It made me lose confidence in every parent/ child situation and made me fear I was being judged everywhere. I never got an apology or explanation and we wound up moving away bc thank god my husband got a promotion and was transferred out of state. Best choice we ever made bc once my son was away from those awful families he was happy and confident. If I ever see those women again I’d make them feel so low. I think in our case the awful painfulness of that stage definitely had to do with the intolerant ignorant parents I let myself be around. In our new area I’ve found parents to be much more understanding and tolerant. We are now in the Midwest, and were in Boston before- Newton, specifically. Although Newton touts itself as being inclusive, the parents there are not and they don’t tolerate differences. They shun them. I guess my best advice is try to surround yourself with understand smart parents who are familiar and tolerant of adhd and other behavioral problems that aren’t obvious on the surface. The parents that talk about “problem kids” etc, those are the ones you need to run from! Or even better, educate. I should have stood my ground and educated my Newton group but my guess is they would have just ignored my words. Be confident you are doing nothing wrong and try to find parents who understand adhd is real.

Thank you so much!

I'm from the Midwest and find the way that my son acts is normal for that region. We now live in the Southeast and boys are expected to act very very differently.

I don't notice adhd behavior as normal here, I think it's that - at least where we live - people are more kind, supportive, undertanding and less judgemental. Midwesterners have a reputation for being neighborly and that's what we've experienced. But u are right, I think in different regions children are expected to act like adults and judged when they act like children.

That's more of what I meant. There's more leeway for the "boys will be boys" mentality in the midwest.

Yes! Agree 100 percent, kids are allowed to be kids and there's less whispering about whose kid does what.

I went through that phase. My son just turned 9. I was exhausted very time after we came back from the public. I drive now but used to use public transportation everywhere we went.

I was taking my laders out whether I am getting judgemental look. I became very sensitive what people think about us.

But driving helped and my son is maturing. My suggestion is going to wide quiet park that you see less people and let your son be who he is. My son really liked being in the nature, away from people. I also benefitted from that because I can relax. He can be loud, running as much as he can, and be himself.

I don't know how old your son is, but for us, it got much better as he got older.

Take care and find a place that you both can relax.

I'm TERRIFIED every single time we go somewhere. My son is doing better at age 6.5 but he still screamed and cried for over half an hour at the pool last week and I was mortified but I made him sit out while his brother played and he eventually stopped and got it back together.

We have also lost several friends since age 18 months and we continue to cycle through them sadly. He is very personable and fun and kids love him but after about the 6th playdate they can't stand him anymore. It's frustrating, exhausting, maddening, and so very very sad.

What's even more sad is that my 2.5 year old has better impulse control and listens better, picks up on social cues. It's a blessing for us as parents but it makes my older child feel worse about himself.

Krispies99 in reply to Klmamma

Through local FB groups I have reached out to other special needs parents with children similar age to my son. I’m hoping that making new friendships with children who are also neuro-diverse will make playdates less judgmental and stressful. And maybe my son can make friends with children who might be more accepting.

Klmamma in reply to Krispies99

This has been what saved me, literally. We joined a social skills class which had a variety of boys that were either Autistic or ADHD or a combination of the two. He immediately made friends. I cannot tell you how relieving it is to have another parent not judge you when your kid just screamed and yelled and swore or ran away from you while you were trying to talk to them. It's still embarrassing, but not that gut wrenching heart breaking cry on the spot type of embarrassment.

I also have to wonder if me being more relaxed around parents who understand makes my son more relaxed and that's part of why playdates go better. I will say you still have to be careful who you play with. One of my best friends son's has ASD and he and my son do not get along at all. My son is rough and tumble and her son doesn't like to be touched etc. She still understands what I'm going through and doesn't judge though. You need that friend you can say absolutely anything to about your kid and they won't judge you.

I have another friend we hang out with who can tell when I'm exhausted and at the end of my rope and she will take over and discipline him for me on our playdates or at least help out some. It's great.

Blue_Whale in reply to Klmamma

oh my gosh yes! My 7 year old ADHD child is more work alone than my other 2 children (age 4 and 2) together. I try not to hold a grudge toward my child but let's be honest......its difficult.

I love this thread bc I wish I knew then, or had the confidence to openly acknowledge and educate on my son's behaviors. Then, I would know early which adults were worth being around. But instead I tried to deny or ignore or always blame my child when there was trouble. I think my own fear, shame and vulnerability made others feel it's was ok to criticize us. What's really annoying to me is the Newton Public Schools have a diveristy program called Understanding Our Differences. The program teaches the kids in phases thoughout elementary, and 2 or 3 times per year they set aside time for a lesson on disabilites. They review physical disabilities, like wheelchair use, cerebal palsey, or other permanet ailments. They review blindness, deafness and cognitive disabilities like Downs Syndrome. They do discuss autism but stop short at ADHD. I was enraged- how can they leave out the most common disability among children?!? I contacted the UOD Massachusetts based program, and they fed me some line that they haven't added ADHD to the program, blah blah. So, Massachusetts Dept. of Education? NOT inclusive at all. It's oen of the reasons why ADHD kids have such a hard time there, bc kids are not being taught to empathize. And therefore, neither are the parents. I wrote several emails about this problem, but we moved so it was no concern of mine anymore.

I agree. I've had moms over the years on the playground give me that knowing look, sympathetic smile, etc. Kids just don't seem to get it. My son has one NT friend and his Mom gets it and she tries to explain to him to be more patient with my son and speak up more, but at the same time you can't expect kids to constantly endure our kids behavior when it drives us insane as well. One can only take so much.

I've encouraged my son's friends to tell him, I'm sorry friend but I need to take a break from you for a little bit. I'm still your friend but some of the things you do like... and ..... really bother me and you keep doing them over and over so I need a break while you work on that skill. This has helped us maintain friendships longterm and has prevented my son from knowingly losing more friends. He is well aware of the fact that he has lost several friends over the years and he's just turned 6.5.

It also gives him a goal to work on in CBT. He got into with our neighbor every day for two weeks. She is 9. I finally sat them down and said what is going with the two of you. She said what she was upset about and he explained what he was upset about. Most of it is social cues and humor etc that he simply isn't understanding and is acting annoying and mean bc he is confused. We then took the info from that meeting to our CBT session that week so he could work it out.

I think it's important for our kids especially to learn to take constructive criticism and learn from it. It's going to be something they have to do their entire lives and is a major skillset for anyone but especially a person with ADHD.

bluemc in reply to Klmamma

These are such good tips and such good advice. Over arching thing it sounds like you have found out, and so have we, that the parent must be proactive. You can’t just wind up your child and send him out on the playground and expect everything to go well. It takes a little more work from us parents, but it is so helpful when you arm the other children/families with a few ways to handle things, as you did when you pulled the children aside and helped them resolve their differences. I learned to be much more proactive and involved. It takes more energy from me but it really pays off for my son AND educated the other family for their interactions with other kids too! Top tip #2 is Much MUCH more activity and preferable outside! It can mean that your family may need to move… Seriously, get somewhere where your child has a regular outlet every day, perhaps multiple times a day, to get outside and ride a bike or run and just be free in nature to be themselves. That’s huge!

I relate to feeling stressed about going to social events with my 9 year old son, parks, other group settings. I remind him he is a unique expression of the divine, and work with him to name his feelings and what happened when something unpleasant happens, and ask for and to talk about the natural consequences. He does not get invited to play dates usually. When he was much younger he had a very hard time leaving the park so I would give him a limited choice by announcing it was time to leave and would ask if he wanted 5 or 10 more minutes. He would pick the longee duration almost always. Then I'd announce the exact time and declare the time we'd leave, "It's 5:23 now so we will leave at 5:33". Sometimes I'd give him a heads up a couple minutes before leave time. I sometimes would say, "Bye sand! Bye park!". I find it's a continual trial and success. And...the park is for everyone.

I haven't reached a point of being outright afraid to take my 5-y.o. out in public, but I am definitely very self-conscious about his behavior. I've had the experience of barely even being able to react to a negative behavior on my son's part before other adults want me to remove him from wherever we are. Even before the pandemic the list of restaurants we'd go out to was shrinking to places that tended to be loud enough to somewhat mask a fussy kid.

Parks and playgrounds aren't that bad for us, though I do have to keep an eye out to make sure my son lets other kids have turns on the slide, monkey bars, etc.

I do feel bad my son doesn't have more friends. He's ended up switching preschools a couple of times and my attempts to reach out to a few parents whose kids seemed to be pals with our son haven't been successful. I do wonder if that is related to my son's behavior.

Klmamma in reply to Nats2005

It likely is. One mom at prek told me that my son and hers seemed to have a love/hate relationship. It's hard when our kids tend to be annoying and in your face alot of times. I think it's important for other kids to kindly speak up about what's bothering them and for our kids to listen and not take it too personal.

I'm also teaching my son to say I'm sorry I rushed around you to be first, it is something I am working on. The catch here is that the other kids need to see that they are actually trying. CBT is amazing and it has taught me how to make every moment a learning moment instead of a Mom freak out moment. It's made my kid so much more self aware too. My son does better with literal statements. This is a problem......this is how we can fix it and this is what you have to do..

You are not alone. My son is 13. Still struggling but the struggle has changed. I still carry resentment and anger towards the “mean moms” who were judgmental and excluded my boy. It is so hard when your child looks normal but is anything but typical. Thank goodness for a few understanding friends and teachers. It’s a hard road. Some People just aren’t your people. And some are. And hopefully, some day, our kids will find their people too.

My wife worked for the ARC for many years and I went along to be with her. Our “kids” Were 10 to 62 and when our bus pulled into a playground the place cleared out fast. Parents grabbed their kids and ran . We even had Tourette’s Syndrome kids and that was really tough. But when we were allowed in a local community gym and our kids got to sit in the stands and watch games and interact with “normal “ kids some important lessons were learned on both sides.

That Dr Seuss graduation story also applies to every day all of you endure. You will.. or you won’t... but you will survive.

Do the best you can.. apologize ... or don’t!

Whatever you do is the best you can do... and if it wasn’t... you will do better next time.

Don’t quit. Your child needs you to be strong. You may fall, you may fail sometimes but get up and start again. Bless you all.

Thank you!

Sad. God has made several mom's cross my path the last few years. I've seen them struggling at the park or pool and one was in tears after her son simply wouldnt listen and then shot gun fingers at her in anger. I smiled and said you are doing amazing Mom, hang in there. Sometimes the conversations go further into what therapists we've used, etc and sometimes they just say thank you and move on.

These moments where my kid sees other struggling kids gives him some perspective on his own life. He isn't the only one that makes mistakes, other people have problems too, and his could be worse.

It's great when the internet is used to support each other and not tear other people apart. This is a great site and the people on it are great people. Keep up the support you are giving others.

Looking back at the park age years, I wish I would have been more tolerant of my boys being loud and overenthusiastic. I was always joking and apologizing to other parents about their behavior. Now that they are older, I kind of wish I would have told those mild-mannered families to "lighten up"! Right now my boys are shouting out answers to their virtual teacher, while half the class is napping.

Isn't that what the park is for? Getting their crazies out? I keep it to a certain limit with the yelling and getting too wild but it's more bc I know his limit before the wild behavior turns into ADHD uncontrolled behavior.

A friend recently yelled at her daughter and put her in timeout at the park for meowing like a cat on the swings. I was like ok....

Nats2005 in reply to Klmamma

Tell your friend there's someone on a message board you frequent who's 50+ years old and regularly meows at his wife. (Who meows back.) And we're both functional adults with good professional jobs. People should be allowed to be silly regardless of age, as long as it's kept to proper places like the park. (Or in your own home.)

Klmamma in reply to Nats2005

Agreed. My husband and I are silly quite often. Life is supposed to be fun!

Funny that this was asked a few days ago. We went to the park yesterday and a kid kept following my kid around, so close he was tripping over him. My son said please stop following me, kid kept at it, so he said are you trying to play with me. Kid said yes, my son politely said I'm playing hide and seek with my friends right now maybe later. The kid kept following him, then i hear the kids grandpa YELLING at my kid "you'll never have any friends if you keep acting like that." My son was confused and said I have friends, I'm playing with then over there can you please tell him to stop following me. My son ran off. I let that one go and told my son to stay away from the man. Half hour later the kid starts doing it again and my kid just calmly ignores him even though he is once again tripping over the kid. Then grandma gets over there with her finger wagging IN my son's face telling him he's a mean mean boy. I fricking lost it at that point. I said you are rediculous and have no business getting in my son's face. He is not mean, he does not have to play eith everyone, he does have to be polite and he was. He came here specifically to play tag with this set of friends he hasn't seen and that's what he was doing. He wasn't excluding your kid or being mean and he has plenty of friends. Grandpa said I see horrible kid bc he has a horrible mom. I told him to screw off at that point. I have never yelled at someone like that before but I was PISSED. My kid actually used his skills instead of flipping out and got yelled at by two psycho adults who had no business yelling at him.

PSA your kids dont have to play with everyone. My kid knows he gets overwhelmed when he plays with too many kids at once and he was already playing with 4 of his friends we'd met there. I'm still pissed about this situation. I am glad my son saw me stand up for him even if I was a little crazy bc I know we are constantly on them bc of their ADHD.

For the record...I am all for people correcting my kid at the park if I dont see something, etc. But this was 100% uncalled for craziness. I witnessed up close the entire situation. When I saw the kid that close to mine I knew it could go south so stayed closed. My son is 6.

Wow! Unbelievable!! What in the world were those people thinking? That’s amazing how well your son handled himself.

Thanks everyone for sharing. I am right there with you with my 8yo son, including 4 yo little brother who can regulate himself and makes older feel bad (not usually intentionally). My therapist said not to shy away from helping my younger to understand and empathize. “We all have challenges and things we are working on. Big brother has ADHD. He has really big feelings and sometimes he has a hard time handling those feelings. We’re all working together as a family to help with that.”

Thanks again, really appreciate this group.

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