Embarrassed by boys’ behavior at play... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

CHADD's ADHD Parents Together

13,387 members4,291 posts

Embarrassed by boys’ behavior at playground


I have 2 boys, 7 & 5 & the older son was recently diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, & ODD.

Their behavior at school is pretty good but I am trying the 7 yr old on a trial on medicine which seems to help his focus at school, but doesn’t seem to help the problems at home.

The worst seems to be when they go to the playground. My 5 yr old is constantly angry & hits & kicks. My 7 yr old melts down & snots, screams, & runs away.

Today their behavior was so bad we had to leave, & then they were screaming so badly in the car that I had to pull over. I got out of the car until they calmed down because it was dangerous to drive. A man came out of his house I suppose to make sure I wasn’t beating them & I just feel humiliated.

Dozens of kids can go to the playground, but almost every day I’m dragging one or both of them.

I’m tired of the daily tirade or griping, fussing, exploding, & the constant feeling that I’m being judged for not disciplining my kids.

I am single mom & I am so tired of always having to remain calm, to constantly praise & diffuse.

I think a year of online school for my 1st grader has intensified his frustrations & I hate that I have no control over him having what he needs for education. I’m sure both of them just let all their bottled up emotions out at the playground, & I have noticed kids being meaner & rougher in general.

Some days I just feel so embarrassed by them I start to feel sorry for myself even though I know they are sweet & strong boys who are leaders.

18 Replies

Welcome to this journey, we are all in this together. I want to start with a big warm hug. So many times I was there when our son was young...I wish someone would have told me... "tomorrow is a better day". Our children are always communicating with us, even when screaming and yelling. The problem is we don't know how to deal/understand it.

Most children with ADHD greatly benefit from 3 things: educational plan (504/IEP), thearpy and medication. I am curious about what you mean the medication doesn't help at home much? In order for medication to really work it's about: type, dose and timing. I strongly encourage you to request him to see a child psychiatrist, who when good, can really make a difference in getting medication dialed in..

As far as behavior with the two of them, can you explain, "maybe we just can't go to the park". Then the 3 of you come up with some strategies explain they need to help make the park fun. Then set 1 to 2 rules: if you kick each other we leave, if you x... we and think about what you can tolerate. If you are going at a time of day when your son's medication has worn off ( afternoon) then you may not see him change at all. Then maybe you go when he is still taking the medication.

We are so sorry you are struggling. If you can get your son into thearpy they can teach him self regulation skill: like when he feels so angry he needs a break, he can walk to his room and tell you I need 5.. honest talks can really help.. when you feel your self needing to step away, go to the bathroom shut the door splash water. This gives everyone a cooling off period.

Many times children with ADHD are able to handle their emotions better as they mature.

Please know in 5 years they won't remember these days.

Big hugs..

We are just starting this so the medication is still in the “trial” period... I started talking to a counselor who works with kids with ADHD but am waiting to get into clinical behavioral therapy. We have an appointment for a neuropsychological diagnostic in 2 months. And am in the process of setting up the IEP testing. So I’m hopeful it will improve, but for right now I just don’t like my kids very much. They are not pleasant to be around. It’s like walking on eggshells and trying to avoid the next bombshell.

The book The Explosive Child is helping me understand the ODD.

For now I try to celebrate small victories.

MaudQ in reply to StellarMom

Just wanted to add that it sounds like you are doing all the right things - but the waiting period before you start to see benefits is misery. While you wait for the meds to kick in, the testing etc, can you ramp up taking care of yourself and your kids? Before we figured out the right meds and therapy and so on, the thing that helped the most was just lavishing our child with love and attention - even if it wasn’t “fixing” anything. And you need it too - although I know that’s easier said than done. Do you have any ability to split your kids up? Now that cases are lower where my family lives, we can send one kid off to an activity to at least get them away from each other. The Explosive Child is excellent IMO and once you have therapy set up for your sons, the therapist can give you tips as well. Hang in there!

StellarMom in reply to MaudQ

Thankfully they both have in person childcare during the day & I go to the YMCA while they are gone. I think it’s just overwhelming right now before we get everything in place. Not every day is terrible & we do enjoyable things like get out in nature. It’s just a tough blow to have them make a scene in front of all these seemingly “good parents” when you are doing everything you can do & they act terribly.

MaudQ in reply to StellarMom

Yes - I totally get it! We didn’t set foot in a public library for years because we couldn’t handle it. You just have to keep reminding yourself that your kids are good kids, you are a good parent - and if anyone judges you, that’s on them. And you never know what seemingly “perfect” parents are dealing with themselves. Something that helped me a lot was starting to be more open about what my daughter was going through. Some friends disappeared but a lot of other people turned out to have similar issues - which ended up creating a support network.

Adding my virtual hugs and support <3. I hear you! I’m an emotionally excitable person myself, and the message that my sons’ well-being is up to me keeping my calm... it’s exhausting and creates more guilt and pressure and misery. I have been you at the park. I see the other parents chatting away, enjoying themselves, and they were even able to stop for coffee! While our kids require full-time attention (and more!) well beyond the toddler years. Agree with others here, sounds like you are doing amazingly well to cope with everything! I definitely lose it occasionally :-(

Things have definitely gotten better as my older son (8) has been in therapy, on medication and actually distance learning has been good for him. We were lucky to find a babysitter who he adores, and who really likes him (it happens that she’s a young adult on the spectrum, and she says she understands his challenges). They initially bonded at his school aftercare program, bc they both were in to art (and morbid subjects like zombies, skeletons...) My therapist says that is so helpful for my son’s self esteem - relationships where he is respected and liked for who he is. Does your older son have any special talents or interests? That might be something to explore to find other adults or older kids that he could relate to. I put an ad on our neighborhood social media for teenagers who could take my son on a distanced bike ride, just for an hour, and that worked pretty well (1 of the 3 I engaged was not a good match). I realize all of these take time and energy to arrange and cost money.

One thing that might be good for your 5yo is to give him short (15-20min) “special time” where you focus on him ... my 4.5 yo is always asking me to play but I’m either busy (eg, making dinner) or exhausted. I can satisfy him with promise of 15 min, I will play just with you, anything you want and not look at my phone or do anything else. I know it’s not easy with both boys on your own.

Take care and take it easy on yourself :-)

I think this is the root of my pity party today... I just want to go to the freaking playground & chill out like all the other parents with “normal” kids. & I can’t. I actually have to watch them even more. So that sucks. & it’s like an in your face reminder that YOUR kids are not like THEIR kids. Or the guy on his porch just eyeing me to make sure I’m not abusing my kids. I want to yell: “You don’t even know how awesome a freaking mom I am!!!”

You’re exactly right that the 5 year old wants special momma time & he does well when I just play catch with him. I just don’t want to go there and only play catch! ARGH.

I am going to see if I can get them into martial arts. They like being little ninjas & I think it will help them with self control. You’re right though- it all costs money.

I also have a six year old with ADHD and ODD. I’ve had plenty of moments like the one you are describing where I feel humiliated by my child’s behavior. As time has gone on, I’ve tried to accommodate activities like the park or play dates around the time of day he typically will have the “best” behavior. For example, mid afternoon (once meds fully kick in) when I know he’s had a good lunch and his most basic needs have been met (enough food, water, bathroom, energy, good sleep). I also limit most activities to two hours at the absolute most, otherwise behavior “incidents” are more likely to happen if he chooses not to use his cool down tools. There is a tool that we use in addition to meds and therapy called Mightier. This has helped him practice and develop his “cool downs” much better. I’m still always on high alert and have chosen to only be around people who truly care to understand our situation. My heart goes out to you. It’s all really tough and it’s good that you’re focusing on the small wins. They all add up to progress.

Thank you. It really helps to put this all in perspective. It appears the playground is in reality a huge landmine of possible triggers that I have been overlooking. I had a really good conversation with a fellow boy mom in my yoga class & it turns out her older son has ADHD, sensory issues & probably ODD as well... she has had the same issues with haircuts & the playground too.

Sometimes you just have to accept your kids aren’t like other kids & then strategize around what they can do without trying to expect them to do what other kids seemingly so easily handle. We’re taking a break from the big playground today (partially because I’m too demoralized from yesterday) but I think they need somewhere with less kids & less potential triggers.

It sounds to me like you’re doing a great job. It’s hard to make the perspective shift sometimes. I struggle with it often. Having the right people and conversations makes all the difference in the world. Our neurodivergent kiddos are living in a neurotypical world and it’s really hard all around.

Stellar, I completely understand what you are going through. My son is now 11. He has ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, ODD, Anxiety and Depression. There was a time when we could not go to the grocery store together because he would have a melt down. People were always judging my parenting skills and giving me dirty looks. I am sure they still do. Every once in a while a parent would come up to me and tell me that it does get better and I was thankful every time. Some of my sons issues have reduced and others are still very present. Just know that you are not alone.

I really appreciate hearing that others are dealing with these same things. In my book The Exploding Child they give an example of how one woman had to accept she couldn’t take her son to the grocery. The mom I chatted with at yoga said she can’t take her kids to the store. I rarely put myself through that torment unless it’s a very short trip.I can slightly understand them getting overstimulated because I am a highly sensitive person/empath. I felt so much better about myself when I learned that I feel things more intensely than others.

Most days I can brush off the real or perceived judgment. Sometimes (moms usually) will tell you something encouraging. A lot of times though I feel like I’m just the one outlier in the group of otherwise well adjusted families.

I love your comments and everyone's responses! One additional thought, I grew up with a brother with a significant disability and I once heard a psychologist tell my mother about "embarrassment by association". The idea is really that each of us controls, or doesn't control, our own behavior. If someone, even a young child, is acting outside of the social norms, there is often not a lot you can do to immediately change the behavior. Other people should not be judging (we also can't control that, but the judgers are in the wrong). I think the best thing we can do is understand our kids have different challenges and learning curves and outsiders have no idea what the situation is. Instead of letting others make us feel bad, let's make sure to support other struggling parents- a simple smile, A "you've got this", a friendly comment about a kid (she has amazing energy", he has great climbing skills" or, my favorite, "that persistence will pay off someday!"). It is really hard, but you know what? You've got this.

It will get better. I've been in your shoes as well. I drug my son off so many playgrounds while kicking and screaming. I've been embarrassed at his hitting and even swearing, pushing, not waiting in line, impulsive poop talk, just being mean, etc. He will be 7 next week.

I've drug him out of people's houses on playdates screaming because he couldn't bring himself to share. I've stood outside the car in the grocery store while he acted like a caged animal over not getting to sit in the car cart. When his brother was a newborn I had to have an employee at the YMCA carry the baby to the car while I carried my animal like 3 year old to the car bc I wouldn't let him take a toy into the childcare area. This same scenario hapenned again at a museum and a mom kindly assisted without me asking but then stood by the car and asked me what was wrong with my son. So much crying and you're right, some days we don't like our kids and that is ok.

He is fine 98% of the time now and not even on meds. We've done two years of OT for Sensory Issues and a year of CBT and he is much better. Now if he has an issue it's something socially that he just isn't noticing bc the ADHD has him moving so fast. We have frank conversations about behaviors that others may find annoying and work on it together. It use to piss him off when I pointed these things out but now he is thankful.

He does still have ADHD and focus issues, but he is calmer and uses his skills more often. He also understands social norms a little better. The sensory piece is gone which was a huge problem before. It truly will get better Mamma.

I feel your pain. Every Damn Day.. What’s been encouraging me is listening to celebratecalm.simplecast.com/. He speaks my language. He knows these kids and has tools for us to deal..Give it a try. You got this!

I had a camp counselor recommended Celebrate Calm & I bought a whole bundle of the cd’s! It has helped a lot to help me understand the challenges & use unconventional strategies for “our kids.”

You all seem like amazing people. I know this probably doesn't help but just wanted to tell you all that you are doing a wonderfabulous job(sorry, I like mixing words) and that I wish I was as calm and patient as you. You don't need to feel bad, you are doing great. And even though I don't have lots of experience, I do have ADHD, and even when I had trouble controlling myself, exercise made it much easier. Maybe instead of taking the kids to the park, martial arts or swimming could help? Even running works for me because it just takes away all the stress. I hope this helps. You're awesome, and so are your kids, so remember that! ♥

I have both boys enrolled in martial arts so glad you think it’s helpful!

You may also like...