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Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults

Parents of 14u Daughter - Attitude/behavior/not caring

We are new to group and in need of advice.  Our daughter has been diagnosed wit ADD/ODD and undying other issues-  Her doctor says to early to diagnose her.  It’s a battle every night with homework grades, attitude, talking back.  She is not scared of my husband and will go toe to toe with me (step mom) and now doesn’t back down to my husband.  Her biological mom has some mental illness so we are very concerned that our daughter may have some other issues.  Is anyone else experiencing with their teens-  1) no sense of consequence 2) keeps repeating same behavior - not learning from mistakes/actions 3) doesn’t care…..  4) hygiene issues.  5) indifferent attitude at school 5) doesn’t seem to have empathy…

We don’t have insurance that covers mental heatlh anymore so if anyone know of a So Counselor with sliding scale in AV or San Fernando area - please advice-  Also camps maybe?


I’m very sorry to hear what you are going through.  As parents of ADHD children, I’m sure we can all relate.  My daughter was diagnosed at 5 and it has been a struggle since then to find the right medication and everything.  I am very surprised that your doctor says it’s to early to diagnose her based on the information you’ve stated, but some doctors are very hesitant.  You may want to seek a second opinion just to cover all the bases.

I will tell you that from my personal experience, the right medication can help as far as aggression and even concentration.  It’s obviously not a miracle pill, but it can help.

Unfortunately, the rest is part of the ADHD/ODD diagnosis and you have to find what works.  The hygiene issues are something my daughter has struggled with and at 14 herself is still not wanting to do.  And the homework is just as bad.  It’s a constant nightmare and I feel your pain.  We fight all the time and the only way I’ve found that works for her, somewhat, is to take away her computer time. 

I don’t live in the same State as you so I can’t help you with finding the right counselor, but I can tell you that ADDitude magazine is very, very helpful and there are a lot of very helpful parents on here and I’m sure someone can send you in the right direction.

While I know my reply isn’t very helpful, I wanted to just let you know that there are people out there who feel your pain and we can empathize with you.  Good luck, keep strong and know you are not alone!

Posted by horselover36 on Oct 30, 2013 at 7:05pm

No -thank you-  The doctors will not diagnose further issues like bipolar, that type-  she is on medication but that is for focusing not behavior -  The problem we have is we take away stuff and it doesn’t affect her.  Her phone is fully blocked and it’s like no big deal.  The hygiene - we are talking about not wearing pads at times during her cycle-  although she is better - then she hides under wear -  she has always had a issue with bathroom but you would think she would figure it out especially as she gets older.  What is driving my husband up the wall is she has to comment on everything and I do mean everything-  she will get yelled out or in trouble - most kids would stop talking (especially when the argument gets raised but not Tori)  She has to make a comment or mutter and than denies it right after-  She has used the “F” word at me but than denies it.  Things would be better if she just kept her mouth shut and did what she was told (most kids- maybe tell them 2 times 3 pushing it -)  But Tori will go toe to toe with us.  We get her on routine like everyone states-  but then she doesn’t do it and gets mad when we send her back-  example-  take your bra off when you go to bed.  Every night we have to say it again.  Here is another one - She feeds the dogs every morning-  The food is in the trash can out side on patio-  she does not put the lid on correctly so it blows off - so we have to remind her-  we say do it correctly and we won’t remind you…...  She still doesn’t do it.  So it’s almost like we give up and my Son does more chores - or we don’t make her do anything which isn’t right either. 
The worse part is she sets the tone for the house and we recognize it-  but don’t know how to change it-  It’s a argument or fight every flippin day - only get a break when she is at school or practice.  Last night - I dealt with her as my husband feels like he could come unglued at her-  so I set up her homework and all I got was attitude - don’t care told me to “f” off and then she will go toe to toe with me- face to face like she is gonna hit me-  For now I can still take her but one day I may not be able too.

Here is another example-  is this ADD/ ODD-  she will go into a full tantrum (the doctor did say she is 3 years behind on maturity)  my husband will fully restrain her (holding her)and she still fights him -  will not relax or calm down-  throw fake tears etc.  One night she stood her ground with my husband -  and they went through this like power struggle for hours.  They had to so she could realize he is the Dad-  but it was exhausting for the whole house-  I know I am rambling but we really are at the end of our rope-  The doctor says you can’t keep disciplining her taking stuff away but we feel like if we reward her - we are rewarding the bad behavior still-  I don’t know…....  Thank you for listening out there-

Posted by DABermea on Oct 30, 2013 at 9:20pm

I’m so sorry for what you are going through with your daughter.  I am going through the same with my stepson.  I bought a book yesterday to try to understand him better.  It’s called ADHD & me.  It’s written by a 17 year old boy that was diagnosed when he was 5.  Already it’s helped me understand more.  So maybe pick up that book.  Also, Boys Town has a hotline.  I’m not sure if they are in your state but they take kids from all over.  If you go online and get the number they may be able to direct you in the right direction.  If you need I can get the phone number for you.  From what I have heard they are very good.
Good luck, I hope you find the help you need.

Posted by Cberry99 on Oct 30, 2013 at 9:20pm


You have quite a tug of way on your hands and it seems you’re locked in a downward spiral. Tori is as frustrated as you are. She does not have the insight as you do to see where this is all going so she simply lashes out in resistance.

So, she still has spirit. And you can use that, or at least acknowledge it. In the meantime, going toe to toe is not working. You would be better off finding ways out of conflict. That is not easy and it will not happen soon, regardless of what you do, but you can switch gears.

What do you respect and love about her. Can you focus on that? Can you ignore some of the things which you would like her to change? Since the ringside is not working you and your husband may as well find some way to take a weekend away and brainstorm a new set of strategies which are the opposite of battle. It sounds a little pie in the sky but what is happening is not working, so there is nothing to lose. And everything to gain.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Oct 31, 2013 at 1:14am

I am sorry to hear about your struggles. I am in a similar boat with a ADD/ODD 13 year old son. He constantly slams his door, tells me to get out of his room & informs me he doesn’t have to do homework. It is a constant battle & similar to your daughter could care less if I take phone, computer, XBOX away.

My recommendation is to read Your Defiant Teen by Russell Barkley. Also, Love & Logic by America’s Parenting Expert, is a great series.

It helped me when i let my son fail in school. It was a tough lesson but he has to take responsibility for himself. I talked to the teachers & principal before stepping away from constantly nagging him to do his schoolwork. He has now learned the consequence.

Start with small steps, focus on her positive attributes - not always what she does “wrong”, & let her have a voice regarding any chores/consequence you implement.

For example, my son got in trouble last week- the punishment i gave him was a choice - he could choose losing A or B. No negotiations, he could chose & it worked like a charm - both were equally important to him.

Good luck, hang in there. It’s a long tough road!

Posted by JF on Oct 31, 2013 at 3:56am

Focus on positivity which is more effective than punishment and consequences with a child with ADHD. Get and read the book The Explosive Child, by Dr. Ross Greene (changed our lives and my son is not explosive). Lastly, maybe get a second opinion for diagnosis and meds. I don’t have any experience with or knowledge on bi-polar, but I read here all the time that bi-polar has to be treated first—that treating ADHD first will make bi-polar worse. I have read about many with bi-polar diagnosed and treat in teen years.

As John Tucker said, the battle of wills isn’t working so it’s time to move on to a different approach.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Oct 31, 2013 at 6:04pm

Thanks Everyone-  We are setting up[ counseling again and will see if that will gain some ground-  Part of the problem is we do change our ways and still nothing works-  My husband tends to give in and I face the attitude-  He leaves for work and she feels she can talk to me anyway she can-  He focuses on She can’t talk to him that way -  never us so I am in a no win battle.  Then he gets mad when I don’t agree with him-  we do focus on positive with her but it only works for a little while-  giving her a choice of punishment -  she doesn’t care-  We took away a Duck Dynasty shirt we just bought her/make up several things-  that finally seemed to make a difference-  Then she goes to Dad and says can I have the shirt to wear for Halloween - asks me what I think - and my answer would be no she needs to face the whole consequence -  but then he is like well she did finally calm down soooooo -  She came out this morning and got the shirt.  He leaves and I get attitude-  Hopefully the new counselor will help us but it will be a battle-

Posted by DABermea on Oct 31, 2013 at 6:40pm

Hi again, DAB,

It’s pointless to change your ways unless you change your thinking.

You speak of battles in the language of power and ego. No legitimate therapist will give you the means of winning the battles or bending her to your will.

There is a very simple way to improve this if you are willing to cease thinking about winning and losing.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Oct 31, 2013 at 7:40pm

I’m agreeable with Mr. Tucker, you have to stop looking at this as a battle to win or lose. Obviously your daughter has your same strong will and determined mind and this is good. So focus on that, putting the lid on the dog food, taking off her bra at night, these are minor things you don’t need to win and only make tori feel that you are micro managing her every move, which in turn makes her feel powerless.

My daughter went through almost two years of sleeping fully clothed just so she could sleep in longer in the morning before school. It’s a battle I had to give her because the fight just wasn’t worth it. Eventually. She matured a bit and realized that getting up a little earlier wasn’t that big of a deal.

My 9 year old doesn’t like to take showers and many times we have to send him back in because barely turns the water on, gets wet and is back out again.

My advice is this, pick your battles. The ones that will affect her long term history in school such as homework and such choose how you approach them. Many kids just don’t understand consequences and it may take years to learn it but she will and she will open her eyes and it will suddenly click that hygiene is important and she will do it on her own, believe me it will happen one day. Encourage her, even when she doesn’t get it exactly how you want her to.

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and it would literally hurt and make me furious when my kids would do something and it wasn’t done my way. I fought it and eventually either I was doing everything or my kids didn’t want to help anymore. I had to learn to accept their help, their way and not be so concerned about how things were perfect.

I have found that not responding in an angry, yelling manner makes our house calmer. My son throws temper tantrums when he does this he must go to his room. I simply tell him, “when you can behave calmly and we can talk you may come out” the first few times there was kicking, screaming, threatening, etc for an hour but after a few times of this it stopped and he is able to talk and get his feelings out and we can discuss ways to do things. It’s hard, but it works if you are consistent. Reacting to the behavior in the same anger and restraint she does only makes it louder. If she breaks things, the consequence is she doesn’t have it any longer. If she messes up her room, the consequence is she has to clean it or live with it messy.

My daughters room was a complete disaster for several years and once a week on a Saturday she would have to spend all day away from friends cleaning it. Eventually she realized it was easier to keep it clean and spend time with friends than a whole day cleaning with mom. If she got mad and stopped working, I stopped too. When she as ready to clean it, I would let her do a bit then help her. Allow her to see that while you are always there to help her, your day does not revolve around her temper tantrums. She is not going to always get her way, use real life explanations such as, “you will always have a boss whether it’s at home, work, school, or fun activity.” There are always people in charge and uses to follow.

As for your son doing more chores this will teach him that sometimes in life we must do a bit more to help others who are not as a las we are. It can teach him compassion, forgiveness and love if you approach it that way. Encourage them to do things together. Use your son as an example when he gets a reward for doing everything the way it should be done. This rewards him for his jobs, which may come naturally for him, while giving your daughter an example of the way it needs to be done.

Children and young adults with these difficulties need immediate gratification because they struggle with sense of time, such as saving up for a new car, not going to happen most often because it takes too long. To them an extra five minutes is too long. So if she puts the lid on correctly give her a point and tell her you appreciate that she did this. It may seem common sense to you, but her brain works differently and has to grasp at this concept. Hugs, praise and encouragement should be in abundance in her life for every little thing.

I found that if I’m not praising my son for little things like closing the refrigerator door while he pours the milk or I don’t acknowledge small accomplishments, he begins to find ways to get my attention because even bad attention is better than no attention. It’s like he feels I’m ignoring him if I’m not talking to him, even if it’s to tell him he didn’t do something I wanted and that is not a good thing.

Encourage, praise, encourage it’s the key to changing behavior. Yelling, screaming and physical restraint is just creating more stress and tension in the family, between you and your spouse and won’t change how she feels or does things for the better. Anger creates more anger; you must exude calm. If she yells or doesn’t speak appropriately, tell her you won’t acknowledge her need to talk until she is respectful. It means biting your tongue when she baits you but eventually, maybe even quicker than you think, it will work. Try to always talk to her calmly and rationally even when you are fuming, count to ten, take a deep breath and start over.

I hope this helps. Either way, love her no matter what and tell her you love her all the time. She needs to hear it even when she knows it.

Posted by joeysmom on Nov 01, 2013 at 9:40pm

Hi, I think you have had some great advice already, its difficult keeping cool with ADHD kids as they seem to constantly test the boundaries and push the red button we all wear on our shirts.  My experience has taught me to pick my battles, focus on improving one behaviour at a time, stick rigidly to routines, give instructions clearly and one single step at a time (and written down if needed), use only positive words, make them clear up their own mess and when they won’t find something they care about and remove it.  Reward the tiniest things they do well, forgive and forget and above all realise they can’t control their behaviour as easily as we can and it’s difficult being them.  Don’t dent her self esteem, I learned the hard way that this can have traumatic consequences.
I hope this is helpful and wish you all the best.
Tracy - Mum to two boys with ADHD and Asperger’s who has been to the edge and survived (just).

Posted by Tracybebodiddle on Nov 02, 2013 at 8:30pm

Joeysmom gave you great advice.  If your stepdaughter has Executive Functioning deficits, then allowing her to fail is the WORST thing you can do.  Since your are stepmom, my advice is to let your husband handle it as your are wasting your time in a power struggle no one will win.  Stay calm no matter how it makes you crazy. Find a way to let of steam away from your dd.
If your daughter is on an IEP, you should call a meeting and ask for AB3632 services (mental health) to be included in her IEP.  If she is not on an IEP, ask (in writing)  for the school to do a complete evaluation ASAP.

Posted by on Nov 02, 2013 at 11:49pm

I’m sorry you are going through this.  I don’t understand your doctor’s position of being too early to diagnose - since she’s already been diagnosed with ADD & ODD.  Is she receiving special ed. services?  Are the behaviors primarily at home?  If so, the school district may say that they have no control over what happens at home.  If you don’t already have an IEP in place, she might benefit from one.  I also agree that you should request AB3632 services (I think AB3632 has been given another name).  The IEP team will need to perform a FBA (functional behavior assessment) or if the behaviors are much worse, it may warrant a FAA (Functional Analysis Assessment).  When scheduling an IEP, you should let them know why - a socio-emotional assessment for counseling services via school mental health.  The counseling services for all but one of my students were on-site.  FYI - AB3632 is much more comprehensive and involves some participation with the family. 

I’m fairly certain that LAUSD offers outside School Mental Health referrals - based on a sliding scale that it non-IEP based.  Contact the counseling office and request an application.  You might be able to access the application online. 

As difficult as it may seem, you will need to find the positives.  It may be that the only time you might feel positively about her is when she is sleeping and looks angelic or is quiet.  You must identify positives - and should set up a ratio of 4:1 positives to every corrective.

She shouldn’t be referred to as either good or bad; it’s her behavior that is challenging - not her.  Try to remain calm when she pushes your buttons.

If she has her own room, have you thought about taking off the doorknobs - or the door itself?  If so, then she’ll need ample notification in advance.  Does she have a school contract?  Have you considered creating a home contract? ...Does she do her own laundry?

It’s extremely important not to give in.  If she’s getting mixed signals - it must stop.  I’d always cave into my daughter’s requests out of guilt because I’m a single mom and want to give things sometimes beyond my reach.  I also live with chronic pain and oftentimes feel guilty for being frequently crabby and tired.  I was raised in an upper middle class lifestyle,  so I’ve tried to give her as many opportunities as I had growing up. 

Neurofeedback can be great.  It may work for your daughter - but it didn’t work for me.  I paid for it out of pocket.

If she is as challenging as she sounds, you can try holistic remedies, herbs, and supplements - but she might benefit from meds.  Sometimes, it’s like a shot in the dark and can take months - identifying the correct meds, correct dosage - generics might work fine, but might not.  If they leave her comatose - then they aren’t working. BTW - mental issues (are?) or definitely can be genetic.

...I tried holistic remedies and eventually tried meds and neither worked.  A few years later I had no other options since I truly couldn’t function.  I tried meds again and they worked for about 2 years.  They stopped working - and now I’m on different ones which are okay.  Meds are somewhat of a band-aide.  They may provide some relief but won’t fix the problem, unless the behaviors are solely due to a chemical imbalance.

Counseling won’t work if you can’t find the right counselor.  Also, if your daughter is closed off and won’t commit to it, it just won’t work.  It hasn’t worked for my daughter.  She doesn’t have ADD; she’s just EXTREMELY willful, has been cutting herself, and adolescence has been a nightmare.  She has used and texted the F-word to me.  It’s totally inappropriate and disrespectful and not acceptable.  Lately, I’ve been working on it without getting angry.  Now, I’m focusing on the bigger picture and reestablishing a working relationship with her.  (She’s very hot and cold).

I’m working with a fabulous neuropsychologist in Woodland Hills.  I’m not sure if she only works with insurance and/or what out of pocket costs.  My daughter is so closed off that the neuropsychologist told her that she wouldn’t have to go to counseling and that she’d work with me (mom) instead - to figure out a way to help her (daughter).  So far (in 2 sessions), it has helped - but I know there is a long road ahead.

Please make sure that your son is okay.  I’ve worked with kids with autism.  Sometimes, when the parents spend all their energy on the kid with the challenges, the other one gets ignored.  This might be necessary for a period of time, but not fair to the other child - and can eventually lead to problems with that child.

Can you identify things that your daughter CAN do and build from there?

Consequences won’t work unless you find the right trigger.  Caving in to the t-shirt for Halloween tells your daughter that she can ultimately get her own way.  If she hadn’t already, she should have earned the right to get it back.  If you and your spouse are not on the same page, your daughter can/will figure out a way to get what she wants.

While it’s important for her to take off her bra before going to bed - it’s probably not worth fighting over.  BTW - from age 12-14 my daughter went through a period of refusing to shower.  Some of the other members on her travel ball team went through the same thing - although I suspect to a lesser extent.  At least one of her teammates thought it was funny when her one of her parents said that her feet smelled.  While I still don’t understand this, it made me feel better that my daughter is not alone.

What sort of practice does she do?  Whatever practice she does, she should know that it’s a privilege and not a right.  Her practice can be tied into her behaviors at school, grades, or behaviors at home.  (If she’s in sports and working hard for a sports scholarship for college… academic scholarships are easier to get than sports scholarships.) 

Have requests been posted visually?  This may be helpful.  Initially texting my daughter worked for a little bit.  Now she deletes them, but I save them as reference.

As draining as it might be, you have to focus on her strengths and be positive while holding her accountable.

Hang in there.  Sending you lots of great wishes. smile

Posted by ehyun on Nov 03, 2013 at 2:27am

The first step out of the downward spiral for us was for me not to respond to negative things my daughter would say. it was hard and at first the behavior escalated trying to continue the old pattern -then it died away. Also spending some time everyday just being together doing something that was enjoyable-that too was hard-at first it was just listening to the music she liked together-now we cook together.  It was very important to have a counselor who understood defiant behaviors.  Then we picked one behavior at a time to work on and tied her allowance into that along w/ one simple chore.  It didn’t take long to see things turn around-3 months maybe.  We have seen a return of some of the old ways with a new school year and added stress of social and academic pressure, but knowing that it is a reaction on her part to this helps. I would caution against punitive consequences -they always led no where for us. Good luck.

Posted by marais on Nov 03, 2013 at 9:27am

Thanks everyone-  Please understand to all those who said it’s not about winning or losing- We totally understand that -  Our thinking has changed -  It’s not always easy to understand everything in our household and I can’t fully understand what is going on in other households.  Please don’t take that wrong anyone. 

I disagree with those who say all Children/teens understand consequences -  let me a sure you I believe the average child/teen does - our son yes.  Our daughter no which is a part of what is going on with her. 

We met with the counselor last night, just my husband and myself.  We laid it completely and honestly on the table.  She has years of experience dealing with teens and ADD/ODD and mental health.  She listened and saw our frustration and the first thing is we cannot let Tori set the mood in the home.  Second is it seems that we are doing for the most part everything right.  She needs boundaries and consequences but we cannot give in.  My husband did last night before we went.  Marla (Counselor)  did tell us not to take away sports as that can be as important as school.  She said we need to step back in the middle of a situation - call a time out and send her to her room (not always easy as she will stand in front of us and not going)  Not to give her consequences in the middle of an argument-  wait and then let her know but as we told her that just sets her up to go off again.  A lot of this we have heard before but the main advice was to go ahead and let her fail….......  Let her fail some classes…......  Go ahead and give her the chores back…........  Let her do her studies/school/homework by herself -  if she fails then she will face the consequences the school gives her and could even keep her back a year which might not be a bad thing considering she is emotionally 3 year behind.  She has control issues and there is no doubt about that -  Marla said let’s look back and her early years -  Yup we can see that.    Is there more going on then just ADD and ODD -  absolutely- she said a lot of things is not normal with a teenager or with ADHD teen but we need to start somewhere until our insurance changes- 

So we are going to slowly move towards what Marla said.  Tori goes and meets with Marla next week which might only be a visit or two as she may refuse to talk to Marla-  if she doesn’t then my husband and I will go once a month to have a sounding board but we hope and pray Tori will open up and Marla can start addressing some of the issues -

Posted by DABermea on Nov 07, 2013 at 12:18am

We haven’t reached teenage years yet, but experienced many explosive situations “instigated” by our 10-year-old daughter, Susie. She has one older sister (16).
We have had many tug-of-war situations or explosions over seemingly insignificant matters (clean up, home work, TV etc). Here is my take on it: children with ADHD feed emotionally on the chaos that they are able to cause around them (bad action is better than none). This means, for example, only after having had a howling tantrum the child will generate enough adrenaline in the brain to focus on a book report. Very hard for parents to keep up their brave consistency and consequences, as the ADHD child tries to constantly involve them in a battle of the spirits (I would say “unwittingly”).
As an ADHD child could have a lock jaw desperation about their mission to create turbulence, one of you parents will necessarily be the “softer” one. Spirited children are masters at playing one parent against the other. One parent feels urged to give in to the violent tantrum, while the other wants to extinguish it. The first rule is: If you want to stop the behavior, stop the behavior together; if you drop the case, drop the case together; maybe you need to redirect or show a cold shoulder. Wait for the child to come out of the cave again, find factually out from her what she wants and how she sees her case. Let her in her own words express the foregone collisions and realize what’s wrong about it.
Avoid verbal argumentation, use visual clues. Write the child a note, post the rules, praise, requests or reminders. Choose your battle, maybe let the mess in the room go, but make sure the grades are good. We have tried many things (medication, therapy, karate, religion) and each helped a little in its own ways. Create your own patterns to redirect.
It’s just like that: When one child/member has ADHD, the whole family is affected. But there are many ways to modify bad behaviors. Start working on the symptoms as early as possible. You may have to build your own “home grown” institution around one person. Stick to strict repetition/follow through in replacing the undesirable and counter-active behaviors with success-oriented modeling. When reason seems immature, it makes no sense to argue.
ADHD children’s behavior is not “logical.” It’s impulsive. Parents may come to feel like a drill sergeant at times, but coaching is needed. Sometimes children fight the most what they need the most.

Posted by 4Elise on Nov 12, 2013 at 4:14am

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