To keep this short sweet and simple... I have a 8 year old who has been diagnosed with ADHD and has been on all the typical medications. I will admit they do help significantly but I still see things with his mental maturity that concern me. Here is a brief list of things that make me feel like he needs further assistance. I feel like his mentality is that of a 3 year old on a lot of areas.

Concerning behavior of my 8yr old:

  • Still wetting the bed at night (tried hormones, spoke to doctor says normal)
  • Lies frequently
  • Take zero responsibility, makes excuses for everything, back talking 100%
  • Still extremely Clumsy
  • Never cleans his mouth so its always dirty
  • Plays in shower but rarely washes
  • Doesn't wipe his butt after using the pooper
  • Can't be given any responsibility or he fails at even the most simplest tasks
  • Doesn't listen to ANYTHING

Jeez, after reading the list is sounds just like a normal kid almost. I guess I can't really express how bad it really is though through this post.

Any thoughts, or ideas would be great he is a constant sore spot for me and my wife's relationship. I find the only thing he responds to is physical punishment, but I have been banned from such punishment by the wife so its all time outs and groundings which don't do crap.

  • Forgive me but it sounds like you should work on agreeing on a parenting style first. From your last paragraph it sounds like there are some issues between the parents that need to be resolved. Kids notice if the parents disagree, and they will use that to trick the two of you against each other, just to avoid their tasks. (That's not the kids' fault, it's natural!) Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 18:54
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    What is your actual question? What goal are you trying to reach? Is it really that in the title, because it doesn't match the text very well. Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 19:02
  • What I really want is a doctor to diagnose my son mentally challenged and then purpose the magic fix to help him mentally grow to his own age. I feel the way he acts is similar to other kids I know who have Autism but according to everyone else it's all in my head.
    – Tony
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 15:58
  • A good diagnosis requires going to a doctor, or possibly several doctors.
    – DA01
    Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 3:32

3 Answers 3


ADHD Kids honestly have a really hard time with prioritizing so try to be understanding. Ask this eight year old what he thinks might help him remember things better. He is old enough to help brainstorm. By offering him the respect to ask his opinion, you show him that you believe he is capable of responsibility. Right now, it seems he is living up to your expectations of him.

ADHD kids often develop self-esteem issues because they are constantly being "corrected" and told they are bad. By making him a part of the solution, you build his confidence along with his ability to figure out, for himself, how to problem solve - again giving him the chance to practice some responsibility.

ADHD kids also often feel completely out of control in general so they control what they can (on a completely sub-conscious level) even if it means punishment and negative attention. I wrote more about this part of the equation in this answer but the gist of it is. Make sure he is being allowed some choice whenever possible. Give two choices that both please you. For example with homework, "would you like to use a mechanical pencil or a regular pencil while you do your homewok?" Instead of, "time to do homework." He is still being told that homework must be done now, but he is being reminded of something he does in fact have some control over.

I highly suggest checking out Teaching Wiggle Worms to understand a little more about how things really work for learning and movement. I'd also suggest "How to talk so they'll listen and listen so they'll talk" AND if you are concerned that some part of the diagnosis is missing, have another visit with the pediatric psychiatrist. No one online will be able to diagnose your son correctly and since this board is for people from around the world, we can't even suggest a good dr. to go see.


I also have an 8-year old boy. Though he doesn't behave as extremely as yours, I can certainly extrapolate.

  • bed wetting: Get a good mattress protector and don't worry about it. It already affects him with natural consequences (both in discomfort and embarrassment) so you should just love and support him. If he's doing it to "punish" you, not letting it bother you will effectively stop that.
  • no responsibility: Hold him responsible. Make sure the natural consequences apply. Explain why it's a problem. But don't get upset or punish him -- just enforce the natural consequences.
  • excuses: The reason doesn't matter. The consequences result from actions, not reasons.
  • lying: Punish every lie. Natural consequences are harder here as they're long-term and difficult for children to grasp. My kids go 24-hours with no privileges. Some parents make this a spanking offense. You have to judge this yourself. When those natural consequences do occur, typically due to lack of trust, make sure you tie them back so he knows.
  • doesn't wash: Eating dirt turns out to be good for you (at least in some ways). Don't serve him food until he's washed. The natural consequence of not washing before coming to the table is that you don't get to eat.
  • doesn't wipe: Send him back. Check. Not allowed to do anything else (play, go out, eat, etc.) until it's clean. Again, don't get upset -- just calmly and pleasantly enforce the consequences.
  • doesn't listen: Perfectly normal. :-)
  • always fails: Because he has no purpose to succeed. He needs to want to succeed. This is the hardest because giving a child purpose takes a lot of time and patience. It would take forever to write out options but I'll note that Stephen Covey gives an excellent example of this with his son in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

I'll also point you towards this related question that I also tried to answer.

Good luck!

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    Even if you assume children inherently want to succeed, it doesn't sound like this child has the skills to succeed. Also invest some time actually teaching skills for self-care etc. Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 15:03
  • @ChristineGordon, do you mean the skills required for the (failed) tasks or the "initiative" skills to actually do and complete them? The former are easier to teach than the latter but both are learned. (Just curious -- I agree both ways.) Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 15:14
  • The former. I believe kids want to succeed, and will succeed, when they know how. But I also agree that this child will need to learn a new attitude and approach to things, and I don't think that comes from shame or threats of violence. Building a better relationship will invite cooperation. Just like adults work better for a boss that is collaborative, communicative and respectful. Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 15:20
  • I agree about not having the skills to succeed. I praise him whenever I actually can and sometimes I even fake it, like with bad art work and such. Teaching him proves nearly impossible as he refuses to pay attention and constantly wants to have his say even if its completely non related. "ya thats great, but my brothers name is Chris and that's i cant blah blah blah" I love him.. it breaks my heart to see him the way he is. Good points in this post though.
    – Tony
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 15:56
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    I agree with Christine on this one. Praise is a reward and thus makes a poor motivator. Don't hold it back if it's deserved but don't use it to get him to do things. Don't defend him either. Why does someone who is good in their own right need defending? He's different -- that's a good thing, albeit a difficult thing. Instead of trying to mold him into what you think he should be, understand him for who he is and encourage it. He still has to fit within the rules of society, of course, so he can't be allowed to run free but aside from that, accept him even if you don't agree with him. Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 19:51

Yes, punishment doesn't do anything except build resentment (in the best-case scenario). Have you tried spending time with your child and investing in the relationship? You're going to need the return on this investment when he is a teenager and able to fight back.

As for bedwetting, it is more common than you might think, especially for boys that age. If he hasn't developed the physical means to control his body during sleep, which he hasn't or he would, then punishing him won't do anything but shame him and destroy his sense of self. Rather, you could help him learn how to handle this challenge. It is reasonable that he be expected to change his sheets, and put the dirty clothes in the laundry, etc. No shame, no issue.

For the rest, I hear a lot of labeling, and frustration and I'm sure its only perpetuating the cycle. In my opinion, children do better when they feel better, just like the rest of us. This doesn't mean personal cheerleaders, but it means having faith in him and communicating that faith. It means teaching him the skills to be successful. It means having family meetings where everyone can help share responsibility, make decisions, and solve problems together as a family. And it means being a mirror to help him notice and reflect upon his own behavior and growth, rather than constantly being judged (positively or negatively) by others (parents, teachers, etc).

For exactly how to do this, I suggest reading Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson. It will help you learn to invite cooperation rather than demanding obedience. Obedience can feel nice in the short term, but doesn't really do much to prepare him for life as an independent adult.

And, for what this looks like in a family, I recommend the following blogs:

  • I ignored the mental health concern because this all sounds typical to me. I would get this (your) part under control first and then start asking about what else might be going on. He will never mature if you never give him the space to do so. Please consider investing in your relationship with him. Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 14:23
  • Nice these blogs seem great I will keep an eye on them thank you.
    – Tony
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 17:44
  • Good, glad to be of help. Sometimes just remembering you are not alone helps a lot! Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 17:47
  • I would add that punishment can also kill the kid's spirit and self-esteem and "physical punishment" can do even more negative that is. Great answer though. Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 23:43
  • @Tony, I realized the two blogs I gave you are both written by women, here's one written by a dad in case that makes a difference to you, although this one is not updated as often unfortunately. singledadbrad.com Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 18:20

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