Son hitting himself: Need a bit of... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Son hitting himself

Lolmama profile image

Need a bit of support. Today, my 6 year old adhd son instead of hitting me during a meltdown ended up hitting himself. I have been struggling with aggression for quite some time but the aggression has always been limited to myself and my husband. I didn't know what to do because he didn't stop trying to hit himself. It scared the crap out of me and I tried to grab him and hold him tight so he would a) feel me hug him and b) restrain him from hitting himself. I almost feel like initially he was genuinely trying to hurt himself and then because he saw me react it turned into him trying to play on my emotions. I even saw him smile as I turned the TV on to get him to calm down. Anyone have experience with this. What would have been the right approach in this scenario?

I feel like there are 2 sides to my son, one that is going through some serious emotional things I can't seem to help him with and another that is trying to manipulate me into giving in all the time because of his condition.

Any help is much appreciated. He is making our home very unpleasant to live in and it seems to be getting worse.

10 Replies

Thanks for sharing your experiences with your son. Many children with ADHD can not communicate their frustration with certain situations and they take it out on their loved ones or even themselves. I am not sure what tools you are using to help him. The most common are: therapy, medication ( to control emotional regulation and impulse control) and a school plan ( 504 or IEP). In addition learning how to manage behavior is a challange.

We knew the situations that caused our son to have behavior issues and we worked to change that. One example is our son loved to come home and run right out to the basketball hoop. We this is great but he would leave a trail in the car before he got out. So I created an "landmark" near our house and would start prompting he: ok make sure you grab you bag... make sure you grab ypu class projects... in his mind he was already on the court shooting the ball. As we got closer, do you have the things in your hand? I had to learn how to help him. Once we started this, he pick up all his things, I was not mad and screaming about his mess in the car.. it was a win win.

So can you think about what causes these events? Then change it..

You could write back and tell us and we all could give some creative ideas to help. Once I started to realize why he was doing these things the blame went away and we could work throught things.

Hope this helps!

Big hug for all the stress.

So lately the triggers seem to be homework or not getting tv show which is a vicious cycle because i have tried rewarding the hw, praising when he does a good job, trusting him to do it after he's been given a tv show and a number of other things, but nothing is sticking. We had a period of 4 months where there was no aggression at all when we were following barkley's program, but that seems to have fizzled in terms of him being excited about getting tokens. I requested the 504 process to be started at my school, but he's been remote for a good portion of the year and the school recently opened so now he's back 1/2 day in person which is adding to the situation.

As far as therapy, he has not consistently seen any therapists yet, but we will start him on another therapist this week and we are switching to a pediatric neurologist soon so that we can explore medication again. We tried medication for a while but were unsuccessful (and because we didn't like our psychiatrist, we didn't pursue this path because for a period he seemed to be more under control with just our positive parenting in place. I just feel so defeated right now because i've spent so long trying to figure this out and feel things are getting worse now not better.

For us rewarding 1st has never worked. I wonder if you can have written in the 504 to review all homework with school staff. They should be able to do this both in person and virtual. I strongly encourage you to get the school to take over as much as possible.

Hint school gets harder and therefore school needs to step up for you. If you need a supervisor of the teacher helping you, ask for it.

Sorry about the medication.. it really would be wonderful to find one that helps to decrease all the stress.

Let us know how the new doctor helps.

Good luck,

I used to have to hold my son for 5 hours to keep from hurting himself, his brother, and me. Josh would start fires, put metal in electric sockets. Kick the door. Scream and shriek because he did not want to sleep alone. I kept my son busy with the treadmill, and other tasks. I ended homeschooling for 12 years because the school could not deal with him. I also changed the diet.

Lolmama profile image
Lolmama in reply to MarimerCruz

Gosh. That sounds rough. Did the change in diet work? How are you dealing with it now?

MarimerCruz profile image
MarimerCruz in reply to Lolmama

The change in diet helped. I removed dairy. I also did more. Check the paleo diet. No preservatives. No soda, no sugar. Keep the child busy with constructive things like sports.

Have you looked into the Nurtured Heart Approach at all?

Lolmama profile image
Lolmama in reply to Cjkchamp

I looked at it a while ago but at a very surface level. I will return to a deeper dive as i just watched a 26 minute video on it and it does give me some hope. Thank you for the reminder on this approach.

My 8 yo started out hitting me when she was in meltdown mode. She moved on to saying that she was going to kill herself and then watching me emotionally collapse at the thought. Eventually I realized what she was doing and the next time she threatened I simply told her, "that's unfortunate because I'll really miss you" and walked away. She didn't keep it up much longer after that. It felt heartless to walk away when she was struggling but the attention for the behavior can be reinforcing.

She also would bite herself after a meltdown when she was remorseful for hitting me. At the time we were trying the different stimulant meds for her ADHD. All of them made her irritable and aggressive. As it turns out she has anxiety that needed treatment. We got her off stimulants and on an antianxiety med and have seen a major reduction in agressive behavior and self harm.

Teaching her calming strategies to use when she gets upset helped quite a bit too. Fist clenching and deep breathing are her favorites. It took quite a while for her to remember to use them when she was really angry, but it's getting better and better.

I wish you the best, you're definitely not alone in this!

Wow, I would have been a wreck and that must have took so much to be able to calmly deal with it in that way. Thank you for providing this insight and you inspired me to take a similar approach. My son tried to do it again today and I calmly said I'm not sure what hitting yourself is going to help and i walked away for 10 minutes. He definitely stopped as i wasn't feeding the negative attention bucket. When i came back he was sucking his thumb (yes he still does this at this age which is a whole other thing) and just sitting on the couch. He still did not want to comply with my request to go shower but i was able to get him to do it eventually because he was in a calmer space to talk to me. Not sure if this will continue to work, but i'll hold onto it for as long as i can.

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