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Parents of ADHD Children

Help understanding my 6year old with ADHD

I am a 25 year old mother who has a 6 year old son with ADHD. I am in need of a support group to gudie us in our lives and help me as a mother to be the best mother I can be for my son. He means everything to me and he is all I have in my life. I often find myself very fustrated with my son when he does not understand something or listen to what I say. I know he tries so hard to do the things I ask, yet I still get upset and yell at times. In a way it seems when I ask him to simply pick up a book from the floor and put it away where it goes, he ask me three or more times what I just asked him to do. However, there are some cases where he will understand me the first time yet he does the complete opposite of what I asked him to do.
Please someone help me understand what my son is feeling and going through. I want to understand him and help him, not be angry or shout at him anymore. I want my only son to be a happy, healthy 6 year old boy, whose mother understands him more then anyone.
Any advice is welcomed and I thank everyone for the support.


Kids with ADHD have different motivators than neurotypical kids.  My son is definitely not a pleaser and it took years to figure out how to get him to do things without excessive, repetitive nagging on my part (argh! I don’t miss those days!).

Many kids with ADHD are motivated by:
1) Competition
2) A sense of urgency
3) Knowing “what’s in it for them”

I read the above points from an article one time, probably on this web site. I think there are a few more, but I can’t think of them right now.

For example, if I want my son to do a chore, I tell him that he needs to do it before he can watch TV, play a video game, etc. I try to give him lots of warning about this (e.g., telling him on the way home from school, for example).

We turned getting ready for bath into a competition about whether he can “beat the clock” for getting his clothes off and getting in the shower. Once we set the time for one minute, he was super motivated and in that tub in record time (plus, he was so incredibly proud of himself!).  He’s now outgrown this and sends himself to bath (amazing!).

Getting ready for school in the morning got easier when my son decided to sleep in his clothes for the next day rather than wear jammies.

When he behaves, I make sure that LOTS of good things come his way and I point this out to him (e.g., I bought you the Starbucks Hibiscus Berry Tea you love because you had such a great day today!).  When he doesn’t behave, taking things away doesn’t really work for him.  We have a consistent policy that’s now worked for years in which he gets a small ($5) toy for every 5 days of good behavior.  If he has a really bad day at school or home, that doesn’t count for a day of good behavior and one more day gets added to his wait time for the toy.  He usually is involved in selecting the bag of good behavior toys that I have in my closet for him, so he’s bought into the reward. Thrift stores often have great deals on used video games or awesome toys—I usually have a mix of thrift store stuff and new stuff and he doesn’t seem to mind if it’s used or new.

Things will get better, but it will take thinking about what works best for motivating your son, and then being consistent about it. 

My son was not a great person to be around when he was 6.  I hadn’t learned how to best parent him yet and I was experiencing loss that my kid was never going to be the easy going kid that so many of my friends have.  Fast forward 3 years and my son is an awesome kid.  He’s got his ups and downs as we all do, and he’s still not easy going and never will be, but he’s super creative, super athletic, and super loving.  It’s taken a lot of hard work, reflection, and creativity on my part to get to the great relationship we now share.

Posted by MendelZ on Jan 10, 2014 at 3:39am

Beyond getting your child to comply it sounds like you want to have empathy towards him too. If you really want to understand what the affects on ADHD are the brain watch some Dr Russell Barkley on YouTube. Of my many years of dealing with this disability or impairment he explains it the best I’ve ever heard.

If you want to know what it feels like my husband, who has ADHD as well as one of my children, explains it like this. Imagine being really tired, so tired you can’t even form words properly, or hungover. Now imagine that the TV is on really loud, the phone is ringing, your brother is calling out to you, an ambulance screams by, you’ve just had a memory which makes you remember something really emotional and you feel those emotions all over again but you can’t control them, and you have three things super important to do today that you are trying to recall - all of this happening at the exact same moment and you have absolutely no ability to prioritize them. You can’t physically choose which thing to pay attention to because as much as you want it to, your brain will not stop paying attention to those other things. That is what ADHD distractibility is like.

But ADHD is not only distractibility. This is only the first thing we as parents notice. It is a whole disability of they executive functioning of the brain. Dr Barkley puts it this way, a brain with ADHD cannot look back to its learning and experience to look forward to what’s coming at them in the future to decide how to behave now. It’s not a learning problem, it’s an implementing problem. This is why you probably know your son is smart but he does dumb things that make no sense. It’s not that he doesn’t know what to do, he just can’t do it. It is like only ever being able to operate in present time.

And people with ADHD are functioning at one third less than their chronological age. So you really have a 4 year old. My lovely 9 year old still acts at times like a 6 year old because her brain is lagging behind.

I hope that helps. Research in this area is moving leaps and bounds and this is the most treatable psychological disorder. Good luck.

Posted by YellaRyan on Jan 10, 2014 at 4:00am

Hi Patricia. Great advice here. Just wanted to add that parenting an ADHD child is difficult whether you are 25 or 45. I posted about a book on being a mom dealing with losing our patience and getting angry. It’s ““she’s gonna blow” by Julie Barnhill. You can get it on Amazon.

One thing I do is lots of praise. Catch your son doing good things. Let him know any time he did something right - a few times a day. When he listens to you, tell him good job. Build your relationship with him and it will help with the behavior issues. And tell him love him a lot.

Posted by nycmom on Jan 10, 2014 at 4:54am

Everyone, Thank you so much for all of this, I was at work reading this and just started crying. I feel hearing what others have to say, who can relate to me, is a great blessing and is the best way I can learn what my son is going through each day. I live in a small town where there are very limtied resources here and not to many people are educated on ADHD. All of your comments are Are exactly how things are in our life right now. All of the information that was been provided by everyone has been more help than the Dr. offices I have gone to for help. I sat down last night just observing my son and how he does everything. For once, I did not shout or yell at him, I simply just listened and helped him. I now realize my son needs an extra push and that I need to be calm when I have to tell him 7 or 8 times to get in the shower. I also realized the more I shout and yell the harder things are for him. It’s as if I create all this negative towards him which is as if he freaks out more. Over the next week my goal is to not shout and just be calm with him. I started college in 2007 when he was born and have been always on the “fast lane” since then. I now know I need to set a schedule at home, with work, school, sports, everything! If I don’t and we run late for my son getting distracted, the shouting starts all over again.

Our day would end with me yelling at my son for not being on time to bed, so the more I yelled he would learn to yell right back at me, so then he would get punished for yelling back at me. I would tell him he needs to have and show me (as his mother) respect and yelling at me is disrespectful. What I did not notice is he was only learning from me, his mother. He did exactly what I would do, which was yell and shouting! He did not really understand that yelling and shouting at me was “wrong”. He is so used to seeing and hearing me yell, it’s as if it has become our “normal” and I don’t want our life to be based upon yelling and shouting. My heart broke when I told my son to stop yelling at me, and he replied to me crying, “mom, I’m not doing anything wrong, why are you so mad at me for?” YESTERDAY, was the first day we did not yell and shout at each other and it was so great of a feeling. 
I think I forgot how to be a child and think like one again. I tend to miss the little things that matter to him, like him tying his shoes. A child without ADHD may tie his shoes in less than a minute, when it takes my son over 2 or 3 minutes just to tie one shoe. Not only does he take 2 or 3 minutes, in between he will try and do something else.

I have also realized the older he gets the more I notice his ADHD.

Another great challenge will be with my finance, who is not my sons biological father. He works 2 hours away and only gets to come home on the weekends. He is a lot like me when it comes to shouting and yelling. Not only will I have to educate myself on my sons ADHD I need to get my finance to do the same.

Living a life with a 6 year old loving boy who has ADHD has a lot of ups and downs, yet I wouldn’t change him for nothing. Yesterday was the day our lives are going to change for the better. A month down the line I will report how far my family has come with this amazing journey and with the help of this support group I know we can do it. My words alone will never express how I feel for finding this website, support group, and great people who took time out of their day to read my post and help me.

Posted by Patricia Jonell Juarez on Jan 10, 2014 at 10:04pm

ncymom: I found the book on Amzon and ordered it! I am looking forward to reading this book ! Thank you !

Posted by Patricia Jonell Juarez on Jan 10, 2014 at 10:06pm

Remaining calm is paramount and so very tough with parenting a child with ADHD.

Kirk Martin, founder of, is a great resource for effectively parenting children with special needs. He did an expert webinar for called, “The Calm Parent: How to Keep Your Cool When Your ADHD Child Acts Up,” and you can listen to it or read the transcript here:

As well, I highly recommend the book “The Explosive Child,” by Ross Greene. Your child doesn’t have to be explosive to learn some great strategies from this book.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 13, 2014 at 7:40pm

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