New Issue!

Spring 2017 Issue ADDitude magazine Read the 'ADHD Therapies That Work' issue now!

The New ADDitude Forums Are Live!

Reach our full community by posting to ADDitude's discussion forums here

Parents of ADHD Children

EXTREME frustration issues

Hi! I’m new here, and I have a 6 yr old daughter with ADD.  I believe she has comorbid Executive Functioning Disorder as well.

She gets extremely frustrated over (to me) simple issues.  For example, she drops a pencil and it causes a 15 minute screaming fit.  Or I ask her what she wants to eat for breakfast and she starts whining, crying, and storms off to her room for 30 minutes because she can’t decide.  Homework is the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. A worksheet with 5-10 math problems takes up to two hours. She whines, cries, says she doesn’t get it, etc.

I understand being sensitive to her unique personality, and that her ADD makes her not think like NeuroTypical children.  But I have two other kids, including an infant to take care of, and have to make dinner, etc.  I can not allow her to be a tyrant in our house!  She has to learn to cope and work with her brain.  ADD is not an “excuse” to scream and cry all day.

Please help!  I’m at my wit’s end!



You don’t mention whether your daughter is on medication. You may find it will help her. 

My son also gets frustrated when I give him too much choice, so I narrow it down to “A or B”.  I don’t want to make all his decisions because he has to learn to make them, but when I ask “What do you want ... ” it can overwhelm him.

Re: Homework - ensure she has an IEP in place. That way the teacher can reduce the quantity of homework assigned to her, as well as other modifications.

There is an excellent YouTube video I recommend you watch.  It is called “Essential Ideas for Parents” by Dr. Russell Barkley.  Full of information explaining both ADHD, Executive Functioning, treatment and tips. It is long but well worth watching.

Another resource is a book by Dr. Ross Greene titled “The Explosive Child”.  You should be able to get it at your local library.

Good luck!

Posted by staypositive on Jan 10, 2014 at 10:17pm

Well an impairment in executive functioning is not a comorbid - that IS ADHD.  And functionally ADHD children are about 30% behind their peers - meaning, you think you are dealing with a 6 year old but really your child is operating at a 4 year old level.  It is NOT that she just simply THINKS different, her brain actually is physiologically different.  Its like Type 1 diabetics, their pancreas is not just functioning different and if they really try hard, eat the right foods, etc. they could force it to function better - it just can’t and it won’t.  So it has to be treated differently than their peers pancreas.

And you know, she does not have control over her brain.  So she can’t stop herself from getting frustrated, particularly without the aid of medication, but you can help her find ways to calm down.  The key is to make bridges to better behavior for her.

One thing that is totally frustrating and upsetting for ADHD kids is they know their brain works differently, they know they behave differently, but they don’t have control over it.  So you have to be her external brain for her in as many ways as you can until she develops habits and patterns of doing those things for herself.  So choices are a good idea at all turns particularly at her age.  Try to get out of the habit of ever asking open ended questions (unless you are asking for her opinion or her feelings) they need limited choices, red or blue?  Toast and jam or cereal for breakfast.  Right now only two choices, as she gets more mature you might up it to three, but really this one simple step saved the day for me!  Clothes shopping, what a nightmare, until I learned to let her browse then when it came time to choose I told her which two choices she had.  Now at 9 my daughter is more able to tolerate a number of choices at a time, but at 6, ugh!

And if you can find a way, nip meltdowns right in the bud.  The thing I found so helpful with my daughter was saying “I can see you are upset/frustrated/mad about—-” just reflecting back to her what she was experiencing without any judgment.  Then you add “and we are getting dressed now” or whatever the task at hand.

And you be calm calm calm.  This was probably the hardest thing for me was to not get frustrated because she is frustrated!  So hard but every time I can manage it so worth it.  It is the difference between a happy morning and a warring morning, getting to school on time and stressfully arriving just in the nick of time, having a pleasant meal and having a fight over dinner… really, can’t stress that enough.  I think this is why, children with ADHD cannot naturally self sooth - that is an executive function, self talk, self calm, - so they can’t get there when you say “calm down, stop crying” whatever.  They just can’t.  There is no point in even asking them to really because all it does is make them feel wrong, flawed, like a bad kid, etc. So you set the energy, set the example.  Like setting the mood of a party - you start a party at your house all maudlin no one else is going to be festive.  It is like if the parent is calm the child has something to hang on to.

This is key to for you as a mother to understand.  When you say to your child “Do this” and they don’t right away, it is not because they don’t want to or are testing you or are manipulating (all those things our older relatives like to say is going on!) they simply can not.  They do not, categorically, have control over the way their brain functions.  There are levels of severity sure, but where your child is impaired is where they are impaired and no yelling, bribing, cohercing or begging is going to change that.  So once you really understand what their particular impairment is you can start to make little bridges to the behavior you want them to do.

Is this more work.  Absolutely.  Parenting a child with ADHD is very much like parenting a child with Aspergers or autism or any other mental impairment.  It is hard and takes extra work and can be heartbreaking unless you put aside your expectations and deal with what is.  You are gonna find a way to manage it, but you have to understand what ‘it’ is first.

Posted by YellaRyan on Jan 11, 2014 at 12:25am

Hi iswear2listen!

The age of 6 with ADHD is a super-tough time! Most kids with ADHD don’t have the skills to tolerate frustration and to problem solve to find another solution when something goes wrong. The book @staypositive recommended, “The Explosive Child,” changed our family dynamic completely, and for the better. Dr. Greene explains the lagging skills in children with neurobehavioral disorders and then teaches you how to work with your child to resolve issues together, limiting meltdowns and explosions. I cannot recommend this book enough for parents of kids with ADHD. As well, he has a website, and a webinar on at

@YellaRyan hit on some important ideas. First, showing empathy for how your child feels will go a long way to reducing or diffusing outbursts. Secondly, you HAVE TO stay calm. Raising your voice or snapping at a child with ADHD only makes the situation worse. It is monumentally tough, but you learn to do it over time.

Behavior or play therapy can help tremendously as well. My son’s therapist has taught me so many crucial strategies over the years.

I found the article, 7 Quick Fixes for ADHD Meltdowns, very helpful early on as well:

Hang in there!

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 13, 2014 at 7:19pm

Reply to this thread

You must be logged in to reply. To log in, click here.
Not a member? Join ADDConnect today. It's free and easy!

Not a member yet? Join here »

Search the ADDConnect Group Discussions