I am a single mother living with add. My son is 3 and we live with my parents. My son is very smart and very social. However, his behavior is out of control. He doesn't listen, we have to actually stand in front of him to get him to listen, he hits us, says "I'll kill you" won't go to bed, runs from the time he wakes up til he goes to bed. We've tried time out, taking toys away, no cartoons, even spanking . . . abolutely no change in behavior. Is he adhd? HELP!!!!
Sounds like an exhausting situation. While children with ADHD often display high levels of hyperactivity coupled with impulsive behaviors, most are not aggressive. If you are interested in finding out if he does have ADHD, the best way to go about it is to have him tested by a psychologist. You can read my Medhelp post on Developmental Assessments and on ADHD to learn more about psychological testing for young children.
The improtant thing is to remember that children can display symptoms of ADHD for many reasons. Your son could have ADHD, but he could also have a mood disorder, anxiety, or a difficult temperment. It is clear that your behavior management strategies are not a good fit for him, and that if you want his behavior to change you will need to change your techniques. Many parents find themselves over-using punishments-including things like you listed, such as taking things away and spanking. For decades research has shown that punishment is not a very effective way of changing human behavior for the long term. Punishment does halt the unwanted behavior in the moment, so we tend to use it over and over again, but it is actually going to make the situation worse over time--as you have found for yourself. Physical punishments such as spanking are especially ineffective for achieving your goal (that of having a welll behaved, kind child). Physical punishments have been shown to lead to increased levels of aggression as well as avoidance of the parent. Again, just what you have observed in your own home.
So in terms of what to do, you can learn more effective behavior modification techniques that will allow you to regain control and keep it. Deep down, your child wants you to be in control, and you can do it with very little punishment. Ask your pediatrician for a referral to a psychologist or child behavior specialist who can provide Parent Management Training, Parent Effectiveness Training or Behavior Modification techniques (all basically the same approach). The psychologist will help you improve how you communicate with your child and teach him to engage in desirable behaviors. In the meantime, there is an excellent book called The Kazdin Method by Dr. Alan Kazdin that will help you get started. The book The Explosive Child by Ross Greene is also great for practical advice you can begin using at once.
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