Is this ever going to get any easier?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Is this ever going to get any easier?
Tue, 09-23-2003 - 3:42pm

I posted on this board for a very short time about a year or so ago (I recognize some of the same folks here), but haven't in some time. My DS is 8 (will be 9 in Nov.) and was diagnosed ADHD about a year ago. At that time he was given the whole Stanford Binet assessment and had scores that are sky high, so I know he is bright. His school work, when I finally get him to do it, is excellent, but, well, here is my reason for posting...

After trying many different meds and doses (Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall) we have been doing "okay" on Strattera. I say "okay" because life is nowhere near a cakewalk, but far better than the downright frightening rebounding he used to experience, but still many issues.

Tantrums. Complete and utter meltdowns, some complete with biting himself til he bleeds. They seemingly come out of nowhere and often end almost as abruptly. Everyday is an enormous battle over homework - we spend a minimum of 1 hour "discussing" (okay, sometimes fighting) over doing it. He bangs it out quickly and accurately once he does it, but the lead in to it leaves me anxious, upset and with a headache (I also have a 21 month old, so you can imagine the mania in my house!) He will try to make all sorts of deals (like today he wanted to skip religious school on the promise that he would be cooperative in doing him homework the rest of the week -- note to DS: you have to do your homework without fuss EVERY night) and will do his darnedest to wear me down until he is the victor. I don't cave, but I feel awful all the time.

Unpredictability. Yesterday we were late to swim team practice (he loves swimming and excels at it, but, you guessed it, he was fighting me over going thus making us late). I was sure that he was going to freak over the fact that practice was in full swing when he arrived but, shockingly, he was fine. I felt my shoulders up around my ears and got a headache just from the anticipation of it.

I adore adore adore DS, but there are times that I want nothing more than to get away from him. I dread his arrival home from school because I never know what I am going to get and I often get a freak out of some sort over the most trivial things.

In addition to all this, my father is very ill with cancer (we are very close) as is my FIL. My two kids are extremely high maintenance (the little one is a sweetheart but at the age where he hasn't developed any sense yet so I have to keep a constant watch on him). I am totally overwhelmed with all that is happening in my life and feel like I am somehow failing my kid. I thought once we knew what was happening for him it would be easier to handle, but that hasn't been the case.

I am sorry for the rambling and whining, but I am feeling so trapped that I have been dreaming that I was thrown in jail...

Any words of advise would be greatly appreciated.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-25-2003
Tue, 09-23-2003 - 6:04pm
We've all been there. Honestly - at the moment, I'll take my off the wall ADHD kid over my snotty 16 yo daughter. I'm ready to choke her. Mama said there'd be days like this. Problem is, Mama didn't HAVE days like this. You will get through it, grayer, more tired, less patient. But you will survive. The bottom line is it sucks. Many people just think you're a lousy parent cuz you're not hard enough on him, or they just don't want to help you out because they'd have to "deal with that kid" and they can't. I know all about how that is.

First, you need time for you ASAP! If you don't create even a 30 minute whatever for you in a week - you're going to go stark raving mad. Find someway to get a break...even if it's that you get up 30 mins before your son daily and sit on the front porch with a cup of coffee and get that peace you need. Find that break. You need to find something for you.

Second: You need to set up a reward program with your son. (and get a copy of 1,2,3 Magic if you don't have it yet! It'll save your sanity with both children). You and he will make up a daily checklist. He has to do certain behaviors at school or at home if you want to start it there, before you will allow priviledges. If he is part of the making up of the list - it gives him some ownership and responsibility. Work on 3-5 behaviors at a time. Example:

Charlie will put his things away after school without being reminded. yes - no

Charlie will do his homework within an hour and a half yes no

Charlie will take the dog out without being nagged 4 times yes no

Charlie will eat his breakfast by 8 am every morning yes no

And then however he does on that day (and there will be bad ones!) he earns tickets, points, stickers, etc for tv time, video games, extra homework help, whatever he has that's a priviledge. Bike riding, outside time, you get the idea. You can do this at school (sometimes requires you getting on the teacher's case a lot to GET it home) but things like - Did his work today. Kept his hands to himself. Turned in his homework. Didn't make noises in class. Or even a Tried really hard - but didnt quite make it.

You are NOT FAILING YOUR KID! You're standing strong, you're not giving in. (that's the hardest thing ever!) You're making sure he becomes a responsible contributing member of society. If his screwing around makes you late for practice, you don't go. If he's going to miss half or more - forget it. It's HIS responsibility to get his things together and be ready. He's the one that loves it, so he'll make sure you get there. But! if he makes you late and not go - he spends that time alone without a toy - not sitting playing video games or vegging in front of the TV.

Now, the tantrums, that's something I'd talk to the doc about. But it could also be a release valve for him. Do you have a basement? It might be worth installing a boxer's heavy bag that he could punch when he's just had it. Or even a small boxing bag. He needs a physical outlet and that might do it. Running up and down stairs may work too (they did that for my son at school - what a godsend!)

And vent here anytime. Email me if you like. I'll always give you a shoulder to cry on or just scream at.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 09-24-2003 - 12:53pm
Sometimes I wonder myself if it ever gets easier.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Wed, 09-24-2003 - 1:00pm

I'm sorry to hear that your father is ill. I know that when I am dealing with multiple issues, every little problem I encounter seems as if it is magnified ten-fold. But I do want you to know that things *will* get better. It might take some time and work, but there will come a day when everything will smooth out. (((Hugs)))

I am wondering if there may be an additional condition/issue which your son may also be struggling with? I can't guess how in-depth of an evaluation he may have had before being given the ADHD dx, but if the meds are not allowing him to {for lack of a better word} 'function' to his fullest ability, there could be another problem somewhere. Now, if in fact an additional condition is a possibility, until it is recognized and addressed, it may quite easily explain the struggles you describe. In any event, (IMHO) it might be well worth investigating.

This link lists some of the conditions which are often seen in conjunction with, instead of and should be ruled out when evaluating a child for ADHD:

Article- "Strategies for Assessing Comorbid Disorders in ADHD"


This is a personal favorite of mine which I read it first a very long time ago. I had no idea just how *much* it would come to mean to me until my son was diagnosed with ADHD. It's a good one.

"God Chooses Moms of Special Needs Children for a Purpose" Written by Erma Bombeck

'Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures, and a couple by habit.

This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of special needs children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of special needs children are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over the Earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger:

"Armstrong, Beth, son, patron saint, Matthew. Forrest, Marjorie, daughter, patron saint, Cecilia."

"Rudledge, Carrie, twins, patron saint....give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."

Finally, He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a special needs child." The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," says God. "Could I give a special needs child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But has she patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it."

"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has her own world. She has to make it live in her world, and that is not going to be easy."

"But, Lord, I don't think she even believes in You."

God smiles. "No matter. I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."

The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive." "Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word' She will never consider a 'step' ordinary. When her child says 'Momma' for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people see My creations." "I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice...and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone, I will be at her side every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as she is here by my side."

"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, pen poised in midair.

God smiles. "A mirror will suffice." '

Good luck!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 09-24-2003 - 1:35pm
I agree with the above post about the reward system. I have a ds 9 that has adhd and a dd 5 who does not. We use one with both kids and it works well. You would have to modify it to suit your ds, and probably make it simpler and more frequent rewards at first. We use poker chips to keep track of good behavior and getting things done that they are supposed to. My kids are expected to do certain things every day. If they get done right, they get a chip. For instance, in the morning the are to get dressed, put their clothes in the hamper and make their bed. They are to eat and brush their teeth and hair and be ready to walk out the door. If this all gets done with no fuss, they get a chip. At night it's the same thing but with a few things added. They also get chips for being good when we go out or playing nice together, or doing a chore I asked them to without complaining. My dd screams when she gets her hair brushed. I told her every time she gets her hair brushed without screaming, she will get a chip. She does not scream anymore unless she is in a foul mood. My ds had trouble keeping his room picked up. I went through it last week and told him from now on, after supper, he is to go into his room and make sure everything is put where it is supposed to be. For each day that he keeps his room picked up he will get a chip. He gets chips if he does his homework without a fuss, or practices his drum without a fuss. When they clear their plates from the table without being asked they get a chip. After awhile, things become habit and they don't have to be asked anymore. For instance, they both ask to be excused each night and immediately clear their plates without a word from us. They still get chips for it, but I do not have to remind them most nights. I also have lists in their rooms that tells them what is expected of them each night and morning. There is also a list in the bathroom to hang the towels up and wipe the counter down and close the shower curtain. All I have to do is ask if their list is done or ask them to check their list.

At first we had them turn their chips in at the end of the week and there were certain things they could get for a certain amount of chips. For 10 chips they could get a movie at the library, or an hour of play time with one of us, or an hour later bedtime. They also could get 5 cents per chip if they wanted that. For 20 chips they could get a movie from the movie store, or go out to lunch with mom or with dad, or take a trip to the ice cream shop. We have revised it now and they can either have .10 per chip, or they can save them up to 100. When they get to 100 they can pick to go to Chuck E Cheese, the movies or the Childrens Museum. This is 100 for one of them. They cannot combine them. We found that we like to do the things with them like get movies and go get ice cream and we didn't want to only do it when they had enough chips. They are able to wait to get the reward also. This will not work when first starting out. They need more of an immediate reward.

So you might want to establish that homework is at this certain time, ours is after school, and if he does it easily and well, then he gets a reward, whatever you decide it might be. If you decide on immediate rewards, then maybe it would be a game with you, like a card game or a board game( I know it can be difficult to play games with a 21 month old running around) or he can get on the computer for a 1/2 hour, or you could do the chip thing and have the reward at the end of the day. So he has several things to work on, getting ready the right way in the morning, doing his homework and keeping control when he might have had a tantrum. When he does this he gets a chip and if he gets 5 throughout the day, then he gets to play a game with you or gets some computer time or tv time. If you want to work with him to get the tantrums more under control, figure out a number of them that he has to keep it under. If he usually has 10 a day, have him shoot for 8. Then if he hits that for a week or so have it move down. At the same time, try to head the tantrum off. I often can do this by bringing laughter into the situation. If my ds starts to have a tantrum over something simple like brushing his teeth, I might start stomping through the house like a maniac and he looks at me like I am crazy and starts laughing. If he didn't get what he wanted for supper, I might say that I forgot he wanted pigs feet for supper and he gets to laughing and it isn't a big deal anymore. I know you can't head off every tantrum, mine had a doozy of one last night, and I didn't even have time to head it off, and it was all over a hamburger he apparently wanted and didn't tell me when I asked him. But some we can and that might help.

If you do this, sit down and write it all out with him, and let him have input on what the rewards might be. He can get chips if he picks up something you asked him to or goes and brushes his teeth without a tantrum. Catch him being good is basically the idea and make sure he knows you saw and give him the chip or the reward. I do not let my kids keep their chips themselves. They stay in my room. I do not want them lost of played with. I do give them to them to put into their cups so they can actually hold it for a bit. I let them count them also so they know how they are doing. I do not take them away for any reason. I deal with bad behavior with consequences.

I also really like the 123 magic method and use it with both my kids.

And lastly, take some time for yourself. Whether it is after bed or before they get up, take a half hour and read a book or take a bath by candlelight, very relaxing, or whatever you find relaxing. The housework will wait but your sanity won't. You have a lot on your plate and you need to take the time to unwind.



iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2003
Fri, 09-26-2003 - 3:11pm

Thanks so much for that post. I'm sitting here in tears reading the Erma Bombeck article. I just had a meeting this morning with my son's principal and counselor. They are convinced there's more to him than ADHD. i've got an appt with a pediatric neurologist..not til November. He's in a Catholic school, which makes some of this difficult getting help and I'll probably have to change schools at some point. He's such a great kid; and the Adderall is helping him to curb the impulsivitiy and make friends this year; but he has a host of anxiety related stuff..he bangs his hands on his legs; on the desk; etc. He gets so frustrated in class and it just builds through the day.

I'm feeling so down. But reading all teh supportive posts here really helps

So thanks for that article

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Fri, 09-26-2003 - 7:57pm
The Erma Bombeck article really is a good one, isn't it? It helped me put things in proper prespecitve many times.

I empathize with you on the school issue. My children attend a Christian school, and I was concerned that my ADHD son might require outside assistance (special ed). Thankfully, that was not an issue.

My concern now however, is my younger son needing outside assistance, as it seems as we are dealing with a very different learning disability with him.

Hopefully when he is evaluated, we will find out more.