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ADHD and Sports

Crying, RSD and sports?

My son, 12, is ADHD-Primarily Inattentive.  He is currently not taking any prescription medication.  We’ve tried Concerta and Adderall but did not like the side effects (loss of appetite and slowing of growth) and they did not seem to help at all.  He does well in school, our main problems are emotional.  He is very easily frustrated and cries uncontrollably.  He is extremely hard on himself when it comes to anything remotely competitive.  We try to be very supportive and let him know that its ok to make mistakes, and you don’t always have to be the best at everything.  He does not want to cry in front of his teammates or coaches, but truly can’t seem to control it.  He knows that he is alienating himself from the other boys with his behavior, which makes him feel even worse about himself.  I recently read an article here about Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and it fits him to a tee.  Any advice or experience with this issue?


You could be describing my son although he is hyperactive and impulsive. No attention issues. Im interested to hear what others say.  My son is 8 and acts like every sporting event is a professional championship game. He cries during gym class, recess, nothing competitive.  And he loves sports!  I’d love some
Ideas to help.

Posted by Sporty on Feb 23, 2016 at 3:12am

Not only could it be RSD (, but it sounds like there’s an element of anxiety there too possibly, in the form of perfectionism. I’d talk to his doctor about that.

And individuals with ADHD are often more sensitive and emotional:

My son does not have the perfectionism piece, but is super sensitive and struggles with emotional regulation. Occupational therapy helped some.

My daughter and I both struggle with the perfectionism issue, and both have significant anxiety. Talk with your son’s doctor about the possibility of anxiety as well.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

Posted by adhdmomma on Feb 23, 2016 at 1:03pm

Thanks so much for your response.  Looks like we may need give therapy/medication another try.  We have tried therapy with two different providers for a couple of months each, and of course my son was resistant to going.  It didn’t seem like it could be very beneficial when he would not open up much to either therapists.  The last time we tried was a year ago, and they prescribed Strattera.  We did not start it because of the side effects, but if it would help, it might be worth a shot.  He is a very thin kid to begin with and we are very concerned about the weight loss aspect.

He is athletic and good at his sport.  He does great at practices, but any time there is a game situation or competition (even at practice) he has a melt down if he is ‘beat’.  He says he doesn’t know what he is feeling that makes him cry, he just can’t prevent it. At basketball, getting a foul sends him over the edge.  At cross country, he could not handle kids gaining on him.  It stresses him out to the point where he cannot enjoy anything.  However, we feel like he needs the physical activity as well as some social interaction.  If he did not do any sports, he would be happy to sit on the computer and watch YouTube all day.

Posted by PIKid2016 on Feb 24, 2016 at 2:15pm

Therapy has been very helpful for my son.  He’s 8 and has been going since he was 4.5.  His therapist gives him lots of tools to use when he does get upset.  He doesn’t get very often anymore, but he doesn’t resist. 

Also, he takes stratttera. I definitely think it has helped with his anxiety and need to be perfect.  He hasn’t had any side effects.

Posted by Sporty on Feb 24, 2016 at 2:50pm

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