I have two kids, 8 and 5 years old. My first boy has ADHD he is on medicine, but the medicine will stop working after 4pm, or some times works good or some times so-so.

The problem I have with him is that he argues with me a lot. If I ask him for help, he will raise his voice and said why? why I do not ask his brother for help. If I say dinner is ready, he will say, I am not hungry, what's for dinner, I don't like it, why you always cook so bad? If I say it's time for bed....

He has an excuse for everything, he doesn't want to clean his room, today he expend 3 hours cleaning. His punishment are no playing computer, xbox, no tv, or just stay inside in his bedroom. He is not allow to yell, kick or slam the door, but he will do it, because he said he is angry and it is our fault because we punish him.

I also feel that we love his little brother more that him, because we don't punish him. My 5 years boy is so different, if he drip water on the floor on the table, he will say sorry mama I will clean it right now. My 8 years boy, won't notice it, he won't apologize, if I tell my 5 years clean your bedroom, he will say okey mama.

It is so hard for me, I am just getting crazy with my boy, I do not know what to do. I try a calendar of behavior and put color green, yellow and red, but he will so upset when he get yellow or red. We were in therapy 3 years before we put him on medicine. I feel very disappointed of myself, I don't know what to do. I start yelling now, and I don't want to lose my temper. Any help?

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    ADHD can be tough. I'd suggest more counseling...therapy and potentially exploring other medication options.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 2:56
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    I have an 8yr old boy without ADHD and still get some of that. All I can suggest is be consistent, don't accept excuses, explain your actions as though here were and adult and able to understand, and don't worry if he's upset -- that's his problem and he needs to know that. Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 3:06
  • @BrianWhite: It sounds like you are familiar with the situation. Can you expand your comment into an answer? Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 7:49
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    Yes, I talk with my son's Psychiatric about having therapy, we will do it, he said therapy will help him to control himself and get rid of the medicine. :)
    – Flora
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 20:51
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    Our family is also struggling with a child that has severe ADHD. We have jumped medication to medication, we have dealt with the ticks they have created including him eating his nails gone. He has become a chronic liar which he did not pickup from us. I love him, but he makes life so difficult for our whole family. We have done therapy, which seems to make him happy though not sure how much it has helped. Stay away from food with red and yellow dyes in them. Good luck, and you are not alone.
    – Tony
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 13:10

8 Answers 8


I have an 8yr old boy without ADHD and still get some of that.

First off, understand. Make sure you fully comprehend how your child sees you and your actions, and how he feels towards you and your actions. Put yourself in his shoes. Be him. You can't really make him understand you unless you first understand him and make sure he knows that you really do understand. Don't sympathize! Empathize. Sympathy is a form of agreement. Empathy is a form of understanding. That requires a quiet time where you can both sit and talk freely, uninterrupted, for an extended time. Actually, I like going for a walk and talking like that because then there's no awkwardness whenever the conversation stops for a bit.

Only then can you try to make him understand.

  • Let him know what you expect and that these expectations are completely independent of anyone else's behavior (especially his brother). Make sure that he understands that all consequences will be a result of his actions. If he doesn't like a consequence, well, that's his problem. It's a direct result of actions he chose (or failed to choose otherwise). "If you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other."
  • Let him know exactly what the consequences will be, good and bad, to how he behaves.
  • Be consistent every time and in every situation. If you decide that a consequence is wrong, don't relent but wait for some quiet time and then explain that you're changing the consequence and why. Make sure he knows in advance. Change based on your choices, not his resistance.
  • Give love unconditionally. Never, ever, under any circumstances, withdraw your affection. That must be the rock on which he can build his understanding of you.

It will be hard. It's hard with a non-ADHD child. But it will be worth it.

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    I'll add, too, that consequences should be "natural" whenever possible. Don't like dinner? Don't eat it. But there's nothing else. You eat what we cook or you go hungry. Don't want to clean your room? Okay. No, you can't go out (or stay in) and play. Work comes before play. That's the way it is. He might not clean it for a week but eventually it'll be worth it to him. You can help but don't give in and do it for him. Made a mess? Get a mop and clean it up. No need to get angry. Be pleasant. Accidents happen. But they need to be cleaned up. Natural consequences. not arbitrary. Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 14:38
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    You can edit your answer instead of leaving a comment.
    – afrazier
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 19:35
  • Yes, Brian, but that also seems to be more like respectful limit setting than 'consequences'. I am wary of 'consequences' because it leads to punishments so easily. And punishments are so counter-productive and hurtful in the long run. Certainly set limits, but this "Give love unconditionally. Never, ever, under any circumstances, withdraw your affection. That must be the rock on which he can build his understanding of you." is absolutely critical. And, it sounds like the OP needs some self-care before this can really happen genuinely. Commented Oct 28, 2012 at 22:48
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    @ChristineGorden, I think of the "limit" as the point where "consequences" become bad. But I like the distinction between that and a "punishment". A punishment is arbitrary but a consequence is natural. You can't have desert because you didn't eat a solid meal. You don't get a bedtime story because you spent too long putting your toys away. You can't go to your friend's house because you have shown yourself untrustworthy. You can't borrow the car because you don't don't help maintain it (wash, gas, whatever). I may enforce the consequence but I try to let nature decide them. Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 16:57
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    I can see that you get the distinction, but I worry about telling others to give consequences/punishments when based on the original post there is otherwise so little evidence of connection, support, encouragement, etc. Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 14:32

Just one more thought added to the many good answers here:

Are you sure your 8yo can handle what you want him to do? Sometimes the 8yo ist "younger" or more vulnerable than the 5yo. Especially if one child is somewhat outside the norm. I have the same age constellation of kids as you do, but my son is gifted and I get the same reaction (the mechnanisms are quite similar with ADHD and gifted kids). And another mom told me exactly the same of her (gifted + Aperger) son.

Practical approach:

  • When he takes 3 hours to clean up his room, offer help. It might be that - especially with ADHD - he can't focus long enough. Ask him to do something quick and easy ("Hand me this towel, please") then stop. Most likely he'll just do it w/o thinking about it as it's not a "real" task. Then work slowly from there.
    It's highly probable that he's stuck in some vicious cycle of "I can't but should be able to and this frustrates and blocks me even more". So he needs some outlet for his internal tension - and what better outlet than you as he subconciously knows you'll love him still.
    I'm not saying let him do what he wants, but rather assure you that deep down he loves and trusts you.
  • Watch out if something triggers his ADHD - some children can't handle media input (Computer, TV, ...). Others react to too much sugar or some foods. Offer alternatives, if possible. Exhaust him. Send him outside to play (if possible) or enroll him im sports. Let him "run off" the adrenaline and other stress hormones.

Natural consequences are a good and valid method for discipline, but consider "letting it go" occasionally (if you feel it would be better). Don't make too much fuss about it. ("You are not hungry? Ok." Then change the topic.) Try to avoid anything that evaluates "him". You think you are giving green or red stars for a behaviour, but he'll likely feel you are rating him as a person. Most likely he's doubting his worth anyway as he needs these pills and doesn't meet your expectations. And at 8yo, no amount of explaining the diference will help much.


This sounds exactly like my house, down to the 8 and 5 year olds. Only I have girls.

Unfortunately, I don't really have any answers for you, only sympathy and letting you know that you're not alone.

First, keep in contact with your doctor about the medication. If what your son is taking isn't working well enough, then it needs adjusted. You may need to increase the dose, take multiple smaller doses through the day, or switch to a different medication.

I'm not sure where you're at, but there may be resources in your community that you can take advantage of that are designed to help your family out, like wraparound services. Again, your doctor should be aware of these programs. With an ADHD diagnosis, your son may also qualify for government health care programs.

With the wild variance in the effectiveness of his medication, I'd be doubly sure that he's taking it at the same time every day and really taking it.

Also, make sure that you're getting some time for yourself to unwind and relieve stress. If you spend all day every day feeling like you're at your wit's end and one simple request away from a 45-minute tantrum, you're not going to be as effective a parent as you'd like to be.

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    Thank you for writing me. We just changed his medication, it is much better now. I am being a mom and dad for some weeks until my husband come back from work. My 5 years old just start Pre-K and I am having 2:30 hours Monday to Friday by myself, it is good. Good luck for you too. Take care and thank you again.
    – Flora
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 20:49

I think there's a lot going on here. I can certainly understand the frustration.

I think your son isn't feeling a sense of belonging, as you've already been able to articulate. To me it sounds like you are caught in a power struggle, and he is fighting for his dignity (you've already labeled him "unreasonable"). The question is, how will you be able to develop his sense of belonging so that he feels safe, loved, and wanted? At the same time, are you developing his sense of significance so that he feels capable, appreciated and noticed?

Thing like "Thank you for . It really helped me." "I noticed you worked hard on _." "I know you can __. I have faith in you."

I don't like the Love and Logic model because while I would agree with "Love" (connection, belonging, relationship), consequences (natural or otherwise) don't actually teach anything except that when you are bigger, you are the boss. I would rather teach my child how to be a contributing, valued member of group (in this case family, but soon it will be the larger world).

For success in the long run, I would recommend Positive Discipline. There are practical tools in there to help your child develop his sense of belonging and significance so that he can participate. In my experience, children do better when they feel better. (This does not mean rewards, or bribes, but real connection). And, when children can do better, they do. In fact, there is a lot of research that clearly demonstrates that things like sticker charts actually decrease a child's interest and performance in an activity.

Your 5 year old's compliance at that young age can be fairly typical, but soon he too will start growing out of it. By the time they are teenagers, and certainly adults, you can't make them do anything. Do you want your children to clean their rooms because you told them to, or because it is a skill they have developed as part of their self-care routine? Similarly, should they clean up after themselves because you told them to, or because that has become part of their value set as a member of a healthy, cooperative group (family)? In my experience, kids that come from families where they're used to being told what to do all the time, have no clue what to do when their parents are gone! They haven't learned to think for themselves. I really really recommend taking a breather and reading Positive Discipline or looking up local parenting classes in your area. Your family can become cooperative, respectful and peaceful!

For what this all actually looks like in a family, check out these blogs:



Helpguide.org listed a detailed information on how you can deal with your child having ADHD. The behavioral problems that you mentioned are the manifestations of having ADHD. Actually, ADHD children, if properly trained can be organized and obedient, but the problem is, they don't know how to do it. Thus, as a parent, you really need to have lots of patience, understanding and training on how you can turn and channel their slew behavior into positive ones. You have to look things into proper perspective and accept the fact that your child is having a disorder. His problem behavior is not actually intentional but it is driven by ADHD. You have to hold on to your temper and your sense of humor so you can manage to deal with the situation. Don't be too overly concerned with one task undone, be happy if your child is able to do at least two task in a day. Don't set too much high expectations with ADHD children. You also need to trust and believe to your child, that through patience and reinforcement, he can learn the behavior in time, not just fast as other kids do. -


First, I want to express that I know this is hard but as parents there are certain times when taking a deep breath and taking a little time off isn't a luxury but a requirement. Get some time away from it all to decompress a little.

Secondly, I would like to stress Brian White's point that making sure you listen and understand how he is feeling regularly is super important. In fact, it is the best way to address your son's concern that you love the other son more. Listen, listen listen. Then, tell him what you understood from what you listened to. Paraphrase him. Knowing you are listening will help build his confidence and sense of self worth as well as his ability to listen to you in exchange.

My final suggestion is a little different and will sound crazy at first but please read on because it isn't what it sounds: Stop punishing him. I do not mean to just let him get away with it, instead what I mean is, make connections between his behavior and a natural consequence. For example, if he were simply a guest at your house and had bad manners when he came over to eat, you'd probably not invite him back. To apply this reality to your own family dinner table (where he needs to be invited back), if he is using bad manners (which includes complaining). At the first complaint simply remove his food and say, "oh, I'm so sorry you don't like it. Let me get it away from you." Don't offer him anything else either though. He can go to bed hungry or figure out how to reheat his dinner on his own later. It sounds mean, but he won't starve and he'll get the point.

When he doesn't set the table or help with dinner, simply don't serve him food. Say, "Oh, you wanted to eat too? - well since you didn't do your part in our family community today, I thought you were saying you didn't want participate in family activity" No warnings, just do it. He'll whine, say it isn't fair and make all sorts of a fuss, but calmly say over and over again that everyone has their job to do in order for it to work for everyone to enjoy dinner together. Again, he won't starve if he misses dinner now and again and he is learning an important lesson - He may be a prince (mine is certainly a princess), but even a prince has his responsibilities.

Same goes for other chores. The "punishment must fit the crime." If you've asked him to dust the family room and he didn't do it (so you did, cuz you didn't want to nag or wait any longer), he doesn't get to use the family room. "Sorry, I know. I agree that it is really sad and we will miss you during our family movie viewing. You should be with us, but only people that help keep it clean, help to make it a mess again". Don't be sarcastic or biting at all, be genuine but make it clear that the rule still applies, "Maybe next time you'll have done your share and we'll be so glad you are back" You get the idea.

If it takes him three hours to clean his room. So be it. If taking so long means he can't go on an outing with you, be sad about it, "Wow, what a bummer you'll miss out. We really want you to come. I'm so sad you didn't get your room cleaned". It sounds like you are already applying a "first things first" approach to this, but instead of it being a "punishment" that he doesn't get xbox, tv . . . simply make it a, "you can play when" kind of a statement along with your empathy. "I know this is really hard for you. I'm feeling (insert emotion, sad, disappointed, frustrated. . . ) about it too. You can play video games when you show me you can also clean up after yourself."

These kinds of natural consequences can apply to A LOT if you let them. The main things are that you always stay calm and sympathetic, make time to listen, paraphrase and empathize, never threaten and do not give warnings. Simply let the consequences fall where they may and although you listen, don't negotiate (maybe with an occasional nudge here and there to the consequences). The reason for no warnings is that it sets it up to come across as a threat and/or punishment. It is also really easy (I'm guilty too) of suggesting the consequence and then not following through.

For more information read, "Parenting with Love and Logic", "How to listen so they'll talk and talk so they'll listen" and "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families" You might also check out the Mecham Family and see if you can sign up for a workshop about control and consequence at www.schoolathomeeffectivley.com.

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    Parenting isn't about control. It's about connection. Control invariably leads to resentment, rebellion, or resignation. Children do better when they feel better. And they feel better when they are noticed, appreciated, respected as people, and loved. Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 2:25
  • Exactly, which is why "punishment" - which usually stems from aiming for control doesn't usually work. Natural Consequences and consequences with the idea of "teach" as well as allowing for mistakes has a much deeper effect so the child learns valuable life lessons instead of resentment. That is also why I stressed Brian's point so strongly. Commented Oct 28, 2012 at 22:07

Just know that you are not alone. You are not a faliure your an awesome mom. Consistency, routines, consiquences, but also a lot of praise when he does something good even when it's small. When you tell him to do something/chore, is one thing at a time.


H, I have a very similar situation an 8 year old diagnosed as ADHD and a 5 year old with speech delay. We decided to NOT medicate our 8 year old and remove absolutely every artificial food colouring from his diet. We used to punished and remove privileges to the 8 years old and be very patient and giving to the 5 year old. The 5 year old will come and ask for something with a big smile and great manners, right after that his older brother (8 year old) will come and ask for something similar in a complete opposite manner. Rude manners and a very aggressive way, of course we would say NO to the 8 year old. We went to therapy and the therapist (which is a great one) suggested to revert the attention, and ONLY note the positive attention to the 8 year old and disregard and invalidate the negative attention. We were skeptical at the beginning, but after a few days noticed the difference it made on our 8 year old boy. To sum-up note all positive and disregard negative. It is quite hard, specially when the older brother is being rude and annoying, bu on the long term it works. As someone else posted you have to be VERY patient, centered and consistent. Hope this helps, it helped us a lot. There are days that even these will not work, but it is a learning curve.

Enjoy your children they are the most amazing miracle of life.

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