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Parents of ADHD Children

Meltdowns of 6 year old granddaughter....

I live with my daughter and her 6 yr. old girl that has ADHD.  My granddaughter is on Daytrana patches and is fine most of the time but she also has scary meltdowns at home and in public.  How do you handle the child and keep people from thinking that she is being abused…..  We’ve had individuals call police and report the incidents!  How do we get her to settle down and not hurt herself or others?  This situation is causing a lot of stress and depression to my daughter due to the fact that she is a single Mom and does not know where to turn for help!  Any suggestions???  We have been searching for local support groups for ADHD but have had no luck finding one.  HELP!!!


My first advice is always to learn as much as you can about ADHD.  Become an expert.  This will help you know what your granddaughter is capable of.

By the time a massive meltdown is happening, it’s often too late to stop it.  The only thing you can really do is keep calm yourself (yelling, etc. will only make things worse). 

Your best bet is to anticipate situations that will be hard for her, and do your best to avoid them.  So if you know she often melts down while grocery shopping, make sure you’re prepared.  Never take her when she’s hungry or tired.  Have a game plan and talk it over with her.  Offer concrete rewards… “you can have something if you’re good” isn’t concrete enough for an ADHD kid.  They need to know specifics.  E.g. “you can pick one treat at the counter, but only if I see you walking beside me in the store and you don’t ask for anything else while we’re here” (or whatever works for you and her).  “Be good” is never specific enough.

My son will meltdown if he’s asked to do something he doesn’t want to when he’s in the middle of something at home.  So, I try to give him plenty of warning.  E.g. “today after swimming lessons, and after lunch, we’re going to cut your hair.  After that you can go outside to play and if I don’t hear a lot of complaints, I’ll even give you money for a trip to 7-11”.  (BTW, my son is almost 12 and has sensory issues, so haircuts are still a big deal for him.  My plan is to make sure he’s had food and plenty of warning, plus a little incentive to keep it together.)

The bottom line is to do anything and everything you can to make it possible for your ADHD kid to succeed.  They want to.  They don’t like feeling out of control.  But their ability to keep control is much less than most people.  They often need help.

Posted by Rai0414 on Jul 10, 2014 at 7:34pm

Thanks for the great tips!  We’ll give it a try!  I’m the grandma and she usually acts better with me compared to her mom.  From what I understand that’s pretty normal…  The meltdowns seem to come when she’s doing something and doesn’t want to stop doing it.  Just getting her undivided attention is a major effort at times, it’s like she tunes everything out.  She can be sweet and loving one minute and in the middle of a meltdown in the next minute…  She is extremely smart and very affectionate most of the time.  I realize staying calm can help the situation and we’ll do our best not to add more stress to the meltdowns and make things even worse.  Thanks again for your comments!!!

Posted by Uma on Jul 11, 2014 at 1:14pm

I highly recommend the book The Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Green.  He also has a websit.  Lives in the balance.  Both have given me new insights and techniques to help my daughter

Posted by Miley on Jul 12, 2014 at 3:31pm

Have you considered a medication adjustment? My 6 year old daughter was having episodes like that in the late afternoons also. It was terrible and exhausting. I feel for your daughter, it is hard on everyone, even your granddaughter. I did a ton of research and reading and discovered that guanfacine, a non stimulant, and short acting, really helped with the medication let down. We have almost no problems (except for of course the typical stuff!) with that anymore. It is gentle and specifically aids in impulse control. I feel it has been a great adjunctive therapy and like that it is not a stimulant, because she really didn’t need that going into the evening/bedtime. The long acting brand name is intuniv, which we have not tried, but I feel that the short acting was all we needed to target the specific time frame. Hope things get better. That is really tough.

Posted by Raemart on Jul 12, 2014 at 4:10pm

Hi Uma!

You mentioned that having to stop something she is doing is often a meltdown trigger for your granddaughter. To help with that, give her very concrete times and transition warnings. For instance, “You have 30 minutes to watch TV. I’m setting the timer (this one is my favorite for kids with ADHD: Time Timer: so you can see exactly how much time you have. I’m going to come warn you when there is just 5 minutes left and when there is just 2 minutes left. Then we have to turn off the TV so we can go to the store.”

Here are some articles on successfully implementing transition support for kids with ADHD:

I also 2nd the recommendation for Ross Greene’s book, “The Explosive Child”—it changed our family. And I’m now reading “How to Talk so Kids will Listen, and Listen so Kids will Talk” and I’m finding it very insightful—there are some many little nuances in the ways we interact with children that can trigger meltdowns.

Keep learning all you can about ADHD and about how it affects your granddaughter specifically.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jul 14, 2014 at 12:45pm

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