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Parents of ADHD Preteens

How to discipline son with low self-esteem

Every time I try to point out things to my son that he promised to do but hasn’t, he calls himself names (I’m stupid, I’m a jerk) and feels sorry for himself. If I need to discipline him due to something of a more serious nature - he just digs deeper into the self-loathing statements. It hurts me to hear him talk this way.  Why can’t he just accept responsibility, fix the pending problem and move on? I worry about all this “I hate myself” talk.

How can I discipline this kid when all he does is hate himself for making mistakes? (He is 14 and on Concerta). And of course, in typical ADHD fashion - he doesn’t learn from his mistakes but rather repeats them. ugh. Any ideas?


Hello my friend,
Like you I have a 13 year old son who is ADHD. I do not deal too much with the low self esteem but I do know it exists in my son.
It may not be much but I suggest trying positive reinforcement. If a task is not done, go with him and do it together. High five him or thank him often when he does it even with your help. Encourage doing the task right away with some kind of pending reward to follow. By doing it right then it cannot be forgotten.
If something more serious occurs sit and talk with him and see what he can suggest to remedy the problem or what he would recommend as a punishment. You would be surprised.
Talk to the doctor about his medication as well. It may need adjusting. My son is on Focalin XR so I do not know much about the Concerta.
If you can find some kind of club he would be interested in that can give him some peer support.
I know this may not be much but I do hope it helps. If you need a shoulder I am here.
God Bless,

Posted by Judy S on Nov 29, 2013 at 8:41pm

When he says these things, when you discipline him, is it worse later in the day or in the evening? Have you noticed?

My 12 year old is such a pain to correct but especially at night. There is no reasoning. When we have to, we keep it quick, simple and send him to bed.

Just curious.

Posted by chrisd on Dec 05, 2013 at 6:40am

I SO understand!!!  I’ve been trying to get my ADD guy to get things done and I’ve tried a million different strategies, all which seem to quickly stop working.  (He’s low on the self-esteem scale as well; so much so that I finally allowed him to be put on an anti-depressant last month.  I feel your pain).
  So here’s a question for you: the things you’re trying to get him to do, are they “chores” that are his responsibility, or just things that you’ve “randomly” asked him to do?  The reason I’m asking is because I found this app that has been WORKING for me/us, called the Allowance Bot.  It’s a job-tracker, allowance-tracker, and you can change it as often as you want, and you get “approval” authority to determine if he’s done the work!!  I have two guys at that age, and I’ve discovered that they are both motivated by earning money (allowance for doing the chores and misc. jobs I put on there), and it gives them the ability to look at it on their iPod/iPhone and check it off (in the app) when they’ve done it.  Plus, it tracks the allowance (because I am also ADD and would forget how much they had and if they spent it).  I’ve never seen my guys do so well with their responsibilities, and I’ve even started putting some of their school responsibilities on there as well!  (Reading so much a night to write a paper, practicing math facts, etc.).
  I put this suggestion on here because I can tell they feel really good about themselves when they’re able to check off their jobs, and when they get to spend their money as a result!  I thought this might work for you, too, since older kids are motivated by money, and they like the “adult” feeling they get when they get to spend it however they want to.”
  P.S.  Judy’s advice above is also stellar - I use those same strategies with my low-esteem guy, and he responds very well (most of the time).  I remind him that everything in life is just taking one “baby step” (task) at a time.  We ADDers can get very overwhelmed very easily, and seeing it as getting one thing done at a time can really help.  (Like one job checked-off at a time).  Good luck!!  (Sorry this is so long!)

Posted by KatnHat on Feb 20, 2014 at 7:40am

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