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Parents of ADHD Toddlers, Preschoolers

HI-New, looking for support, despair growing by the minute

I am the mother to a 3 1/2 year old boy. We struggle daily with his behavior and I am officially at my whit’s end. I spend many days in tears due to his behavior. He is so out of control in public, that I avoid going places. I dread picking him up from preschool, because I know that I am going to get a terrible report. I’m sad because he is the sweetest, funniest kid, but no one gets to see that. I’m frustrated about having to constantly punish him for things that I don’t think he can control. I do not want to medicate him, so I have been researching alternatives, but honestly I wonder if medication would make everyone more happy. I have 2 older kids, 10 & 12, and they steer clear of him, because he’s so bothersome. It’s breaking my heart, and I don’t know what to do. I want everyone to love him like I do. Please help, encourage, or offer me some support. Thank you.


I know exactly what you are going through. First, take a deep breath. You are doing an amazing job and you are not alone. All of us here know how hard it is, and how much stress you are carrying.

The first step is to surround yourself with experts and with people who will truly support you and your family. This means starting with your pediatrician and asking for a referral to a developmental specialist and a young child psychologist. You have to be open to helping your child using solutions that until now you may not have considered. Put aside your preconceived notions about medication (if your son had a body chemistry disorder like diabetes, you’d give him insulin, well ADHD is a brain chemistry disorder and medication isn’t a negative thing)

My daughter is now 5 and by age 3 we were in the same boat as you. She is on medication (guanfacine), we go to family counseling and child therapy, she does occupational therapy to help with her sensory issues, and we have classroom help at her preschool.

For my DD, the behavior aspect is something that is a result of her not being capable of filtering her environment and getting overwhelmed, coupled with zero impulse control. Her medication slows down her brain a bit to give her a chance to cope, and her behavior therapy and our parenting therapy teaches all of us how to help her form new good habits. Some days are still really tough, I won’t lie. For kids like this, they need positive support, empathy, good feedback.

I would also suggest the book “The Explosive Child”, although geared for older kids it really helped us understand where she is coming from emotionally.

Please talk to your pediatrician, and please be open to medication. It is not always the solution, especially for really little kids, and we resisted for a long time due to not wanting to be “those parents”. Now I’m glad I finally stopped listening to all the people in my life who honestly have no f*cking idea what this is like but had tons of opinions, and finally listened to my heart, which is that my kid needed me to advocate for her and that meant putting aside my wishlist of what I wished she *would* be, and starting to embrace who she *is* and *can* be, and that for us included medication.

ADHD is a toughie especially in our littlest ones. Society has so many opinions about our kiddos (mainly that we’re bad parents for not controlling them) and there is so little support for us and our kids. Please know you’re not alone. Please know that although you lock yourself in the bathroom at night and cry and feel like the worst parent ever and feel like there is no hope, that there IS hope, there are so many who know what you’re going through, and who are sending you love and prayers knowing that you’re being the best parent you can be smile  Trust your instincts.

Posted by ElliBear on May 01, 2014 at 6:39am

You have received good suggestions. I just want to add that a call to your local school board inquiring about early intervention services might be very helpful. Kids who can be identified at this age can start receiving services even before they enter the school system and kindergarten. I so wish we had realized my son had neurobehavioral issues before he started school—I definitely would have had him in early intervention!

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on May 01, 2014 at 4:34pm

I have cried many tears myself. My son turned 4 i mid April. I aske my pediatrician about ADHD when he was 2. She said if I did’t get him in play therapy then we would be talking about him being ADHD when he is 6. Little did I know, play therapy was the WORST thing to do for him. I did take him to be tested, and boy did they test him. They tested for autism, ADHD, ADD, etc. He was diagnosed ADHD @ 3 1/2 yrs old. After a lot of tears and prayers, we did put him on medication. I can honestly say that I am glad I did. He is more of a joy to be around and I don’t feel myself dreading the day. We do still have struggles with temper tantrums and we are seeing a psychologist to help us along. He has shed a lot of light can’t give children with ADHD choices as we were told in play therapy. You have to give rhem direct commands. This has stopped a lot of our fights. Children are born with ADHD, its genetic. Why not help your child with the resources that have improved over the years so your whole family can be happy and more so your child. Just imagine what is going on in their own little minds that they can’t say to you.

Posted by kbraswell on May 05, 2014 at 4:35am

Your post struck a chord with me. You sound a lot like me 3 years ago. I didn’t know what to do or how to fix it. I felt really hopeless. I would get sick to my stomach going to pick up my son from preschool bc I knew I was going to hear something negative. We had a lot of problems with hyperactivity & impulsivity (impulsive aggression). He was a sweet boy but was just too much in the classroom.

We tried occupational therapy for sensory processing but it didn’t really help us. I know it can be really helpful.

We tried a behavioral therapist which helped me tighten up my discipline. Our therapist really felt that the ADHD dx/medication might be the answer for us based on her past experiences.

My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 4 1/2 & medication was the answer for us. He is now 6 1/2 & just completed a very successful year of K. It wasn’t a perfect year (we’ve had a few bumps here & there) but support & communication with teachers made a bug difference.

Good luck. I hope this helps you.
We have had a few medication changes over the years but overall medication was the answer.

Posted by Abp2000 on Jul 31, 2014 at 1:27am

Awe, thank you so much everyone. It’s hard to get others to understand how it feels, they all say “oh that’s a boy for you”. No, this is not just boy, we are so far passed boys being boys. We have been doing a research study for preschoolers with ADHD, but I don’t think it’s helping at all. It’s a play/behavioral group therapy. The problem is, there are only 4 kids and 3 adults in the room. They aren’t doing free play, it’s very structured and fun. He is getting lots of one on one attention and they watch them closely. He does pretty well when he has your sole attention, so they aren’t seeing what really goes on. We have an evaluation scheduled with psych at our local Children’s hospital in a couple weeks.
I’m not against meds, we do have a 12 year old son that is ADHD and takes meds. His has never been close to what we are dealing with how. His isn’t a behavior issue, it’s a learning issue. The reason hesitant about meds is because of the way it could affect his growth. Our 12 year old is very small, and he struggles with his peers and to fit in as a result. I can’t feel like I’ve caused that again, and that’s my fear. :(

Posted by Kamphaus5 on Jul 31, 2014 at 3:16am

I too can relate to the despair.  My four year old was finally diagnosed with ADHD.  Ive been at the mercy of a pediatrician,Early Intervention Evaluations, and time waiting for an appointment with a Developmental Pediatrician.  It has been so frustrating to say the least!  I am exhausted!  Now with a diagnoses its still a waiting game…..Re-evaluations, weekly therapy (which I still don’t understand how this helps a 4 year old) but we go weekly.  I too cry often as I am doing this alone.  Just like someone said everyone around us (including family) think it is bad parenting….......but I know its not so I do what I need to do for my son,  Sorry if Im rambling….........

Posted by kbara on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:30am

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