Trouble with 9 y.o. ADHD son attentio... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Trouble with 9 y.o. ADHD son attention seeking

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New member here, reaching out for help at the end of my rope. I have a 9 y.o. son with ADHD, he's been hitting him mom during meltdowns and we've been trying to stop it. We've seen some improvement but within the last few weeks he's started hitting/kicking the walls. He's strong enough now that he put an actual hole in one of the walls while I was at work. One of the things we've done in the last week is further emphasize that he doesn't get what he wants when he hits/screams/damages property, and try to really reinforce the times he does ask for something in the right way.

The problem is that when he wants my attention (instead of an item or whatever), he starts doing things like making loud sounds or trying to annoy us. We were ignoring his attempts yesterday trying not to reinforce that behavior, but if he feels ignored it's a major trigger for him, so he escalates things quickly where he'll go over and start lightly hitting my wife, obviously trying to get a reaction/attention from me. I go over and calmly say "this isn't how you get what you want, and I will not let you hurt mommy". He doesn't stop sometimes, hitting harder until I physically have to grab him to get him away from my wife (as gently and calmly as possible), at which point things just escalated. He then went over and started kicking the wall, so I calmly starting going over there so he didn't smash it up, he took off running to where he was on the other end of the hallway and started taunting me, pretending to kick the wall saying "I'm going to break the wall" with a smile on his face. I didn't react, just reiterated that this behavior isn't going to get him what he wants - but then realizing it is, it's getting my attention....

So how in the world do you not reinforce that behavior when if you ignore it he just escalates things until you have no choice but to give him attention?? I'm at my wits end here, any advice is much appreciated.

7 Replies

I don't have much advice but have similar experiences with my 6 yr old daughter who has ADHD. I have been trying at times to model how she COULD ask for things / attn for example "I think you meant to say "mom, can you please come read me a book?" and responding without asking anything more of her "Oh sure honey". It's modeling without asking her to master it right away. My daughter escalates quickly too though and I can't always catch myself in time. If she's gone off the rails we describe to her calmly that we need to get her to a safe place and that she cannot hurt anyone. Sometimes this involves a chase and a containment (She HATES to be touched when she's dysregulated). It's very challenging. Looking forward to other comments.

Welcome to the group.. We are excited that you have joined us. Many of us have been in your shoes and it is exhausting. I will be honest.. there is not quick fix for these situations. We try things to see what reaction we get and I have a saying that what has always helped me is " when it works... it is working" I know that sound funny, but it truly helps.

You say he has meltdowns when he doesn't get something and you guys are busy

Maybe you could try this approach.. ask him to come up with a way to get your attention (like design a plan.. maybe a bell, etc) of course it will need to explained that your are busy and only when he really needs help. It also sounds like he maybe ( like many children with ADHD) needs more to do to keep him busy. Not sure if he is an only child, mine is but finding a mixture of things for him to do would be great. Of course including both indoor, outdoor, electronic and non-electronic. I always found when I asked for our sons help I always got better results.

Our kids are smart and need special directions.

Here is a little more that I have learned providing 3 tools to assist our children: therapy, medication and an educational plan are really necessary for them to be successful.

Of course we are here to support and encourage you in this journey ( of ups and downs) since we have been on it ourselves.

Let me know if I can help in anyway.. when I first joined the group I also found it useful to search old posts when I needed help to learn from all of the struggles parents have with their children.

Take care!

First of all, kudos to you for standing up for mom and being her partner. What a Godsend. You are the kind of man every woman would benefit from knowing. I know sometimes kids have pent up energy they need to get out. Have you thought about giving him something constructive to do when he behaves this way. Like picking up a dust rag & wiping down baseboards (wiping back & forth eagerly allows them to release energy & you will notice it). I'm not sure if he is attention seeking or just has this energy he doesn't know what to do with. Has the doctor prescribed medication for the adhd? And if so, I would follow up there telling the dr. the current situation. Have you considered family therapy to help support all of you while each of you learns new skills to best grow as a family. I pray all goes well. I wish I had more help to offer.

I have had lots of trouble with my grandson who lives with me being violent and breaking things. A change of medication and lots of counseling has helped. He still sometimes loses his temper but does not hit or break things anymore.

Counseling also helps you look for triggers that may set a child off a child off and get them distracted to avoid getting to that point. It's a horrible thing to put up with, good luck getting it under control.

Just want to let you know you are not alone and we have all been there or living it. I feel as if your situation or story is very similar to mine my son is 10 dx with ADHD & ODD. I am the mom who was getting hit and blamed for everything (still does). We do medicate and see a psychiatrist. But those two are not enough for him. We are struggling with the aggressive behavior, defiance (pretty much with anyone now), tantrums, etc. Our next step is doing Parent Management Training which we honestly should have started early.

Which ever advice you get I suggest talking to a professional that works for you and your family. Also, searching in this group chat helped me a lot.

Best of luck.

I have a 9yo with adhd & odd also. It can be so frustrating and exhausting. Unfortunately, when our kids like this are asking for our attention (either with words or through their actions), we often have no choice but to pause and see what they need in order to help. You already know that ignoring him is triggering; acknowledging his signals is you being responsive to his needs.

Medication is helping over here. Have y’all tried that yet? Does your pediatrician or psychiatrist know about the situation?

I’m so sorry for anyone who struggles with this. I’ve actually been on both sides of the situation; I don’t have the physical aggression but I do have ODD. It’s really, really awful to be the person who gets triggered so easily and lashes out, and it’s so hard feeling helpless as the parent when you see your children struggling with that same hypersensitivity and lack of control.

New here, but this really spoke to me. While my 15 year old son has never gotten completely violent he does react explosively when he doesn't get what he wants or the attention. I don't know if this would work with your child, but when my son gets over agitated I redirect him. Questions like "How about we go outside for a minute?" or "How about you and I take a ten minute break and do something fun for a bit?" - I will do anything to take the focus away from what he wants..........a way to trip up the brain. It becomes a kind of "Squirrel!" moment. Just enough attention to break the focus. Sometimes I've even blurted out nonsense words. When he asked why I did that, I always say "I don't know, I felt like it. I was frustrated." It showed him that I even was frustrated, and it usually dissipated the situation a bit. Its worth a shot.

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