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Non custodial dad trying to help ADHD 7yr old son.
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Non custodial dad trying to help ADHD 7yr old son.

I have joint custody of my son who lives with his mother 1 hr away. I pick him up from school on Tues.'s and we meet half way at 7:30pm for the drop off. I also get him every other weekend and every Sunday. We have known about the ADHD for about six months now. At first his mother did not beleive that he had it but after her talking to the teacher,principle,physcologist, and finally reading some information about it, she is now finally seeing the light. I have always been responsible for all of his medical needs and I'm not just talking about the money. I mean taking him to the doc.,dentist,and counceling. At first I was for the meds and we put him on Concerta for 1 day and he complained of a terrible headache (this kid is never sick), so we switched him to Ritalin LA. After researching the ritalin and reading the horror stories I took him off that after the first day. So, now I guess I'm against giving him the drugs. I forgot to mention that he is a very picky eater and will only eat french fries,pizza w/pepporoni(he takes the cheese off),and spagetti with no meat. His breakfast and lunches are ok. Now, his behavior is gone from bad to worse, in most cases I have absolutley no control over him. My girlfriend and her 10 year old daughter live with me. We consider ourselves to be a family, the four of us. I believe my son has a crush on my girlfriends daughter because when they are both here his attention is 100% on her and this is where I loose control. My ex and I have agreed that maybe his diet has been a factor, so we decided to do the- make a meal and that's your dinner, if you don't want to eat it it will be sitting on the stove when your hungry program. The problem is that I don't believe that she is going along with the progam and I am the only one being the bad guy. I can feel him distancing from me and becoming more defiant. I have been reading everything that I can on ADHD and behavioral modification and trying to apply it, but with the short time that I spend with him, I am finding it difficult to apply it when he is yelling at me or shouting shut up to me. I am reading that I should calmly put him in Time Out when he misbehaves but I just don't feel it working. It seems like I am constently putting him in time out. Is this what they call quality time of the 2004's? I also noticed that he has been lying a lot latley. When asked if he did something that I already know he did, he denies it. I gently explain that he won't get into trouble and that lying is very bad and that he can tell me anything. He has also been having a lot of problems in school with his behavior. Any help out there for a desperate,depressed, and divorced dad who loves his son more than anything and would do anything to help him?
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I do have a couple of suggestions for you. First, it's important (if a reliable diagnosis of ADHD has been made) to attempt a reasonable trial on stimulant medication. It's not unusual for a child to experience a headache the first day or two on a medication; generally this disappears after a day or so. You really did not give the medication a chance, and I think you went in the wrong direction. It might make sense to re-visit the medication issue, and instead of employing a methylphenidate-based product (like Concerta or Ritalin LA), you might try an amphetamine-based product, like Adderall (adderrall) or Adderall (adderrall) XR.

Second, your approach to meals is fine. It relies on Mother Nature handling the problem, so to speak, and is an OK route to take for children who restrict their diets to only a few foods.

Third, the time out plan is also fine, but it must be done sytematically to be most effective. Here's aguide for you: read Lynn Clark's book SOS: Help for Parents. It offers the type of systematic approach I recommend. Now, you have to realize the limitations inherent in a plan when a child is living in two households. Hopefully the same behavior management plans can be implemented in both your and his mother's homes.
4 Comments
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I really do feel for you. My husband's son form his first marrage
has ADHD. We do not belive in giving medication . he was on it he was on Adderall (adderrall) but he was getting terible headaches and couldn't even move when he had them. Then he was in a very bad car accident last year with his mother and siblings we almost lost him . From the accident he now has TBI( tramatic brain injury)on top of having the ADHD so we really didn't want him back on that medication so we have been working with his diet and I tell you he is better behaved on the diet then on the pills. It will be very hard in the begining untill hegets use to it but don't give up on him . We do not get any help from his mother either she feeds them whatever they want but be strong it will make the differnce and he will come around. But you also have to put your foot down don't let him talk to you that way ADHD or no ADHD you are still his father and he needs to respect you as such. When my husband and I first got together his son was five. He was terrible he kiked at me , screamed at his dad
had absolutly no manners or respect, he is 12 now and he sometimes still acts up but he has a lot more respect for himself and others now then he used to . You just have to be strong and know that he may lash out at you and you may feel like he is pushing you away somedays but in the end it will all be worth it.
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Avatar_n_tn
I feel for you.  I have the opposite situation.  I am the mom with an ex who wants me to be the bad guy.  I think you will find help and support if you contact The Feingold Association.  They have a large amount of information about diet and ADD/ADHD. Dr. Ben Feingold wrote several books about diet and hyperactivity in children, one of which is a cookbook.  You might try to find them for information about his research and findings. These diets are very hard to implement(especially with young kids who do not want to eat different food than their friends), and the problem is that "cheating" stays in the system for days, and pretty much negates what you have done on good days.  You might try giving your ex the same information to read.  She might see that it is in the best interest of her child.  
You should know there is an emotional aspect to what you are describing as well.  My son had a terrible time coming to grips with our divorce.  Psychological counselling or a social worker's intervention at school could be very helpful. It was for us.
I can only tell you that I regret terribly putting my son on medication.  I fought that battle for years, and lost (school district and ex against me).  My son has had nothing but serious problems ever since.  Sadly, medication is not always everything it is supposed to be. I respect what you are trying to do.  Best of luck to you.
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Avatar_n_tn
I can definately relate to your issues. I am the mother of a 12 year old boy who was diagnosed with ADHD at age 6. At first it was only ADHD and we tried various methods of controling his behavior including diet , different behavioral techniques, and medication. Most children who trully have this disorder cannot function without medicine. It took us 3 years to find the right one but when you do its like a miracle drug. Right now he takes Concerta once a day and has been for 3 years. It truly has given us some quality of life with our son. However, most kids who have ADHD have other underlying problems that reveal themselves later in life as we are now finding out. In the past 2 years our son has been diagnosed with ODD(oppositional defiance disorder), bipolar disorder, and is still struggling with school. But I believe that because of his medicine he is capable of a lot more than he would be without it. Oh, and as far as the diets go, the older your son gets the harder it is to follow and its just one more thing to fight about. Its really not worth it unless he wants to do it. I wish you well and hope you give the medicine another try. The side effects usually wear off in a couple weeks.
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