ADHD with anger outburts

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by answeredprayer, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. answeredprayer

    answeredprayer New Member

    Hello everyone, I am new to your forum, though I have been lurking for a few months now. I stumbled across your wonderful place while looking for support for the situation in which I currently find myself. I have finally gotten to a place where I can not handle this on my own, and thought I would reach out for some advice and here goes. I apologize now if this runs long.

    For quite some time now ( a few years) I have known that my son has had a reading disability and ADHD. We have recently (within the past 3 months) been able to help him in that area with the right medication, though I hate to have to go that route! He is right now on 18 mg of Concerta and has to take a 1 mg tablet of Melatonin to sleep. In the past year my son has started having anger outbursts. At first I assumed it was a "stage" he was going through, but in the past few months his behavior has bordered on defiant and at times extremely defiant. I engaged a behavior therapist for him a little over a month ago, but I don't see any positive change in him. he likes going to see his therapist because she has "so many toys", but there has been no change in his behavior. I am at my wits end!! I feel as if I have failed him in some way, and I have no idea how to deal with his behavior issues. I have never been a parent who "spoils" their child and lets them do whatever they please, so this behavior is shocking to me to say the least! I can honestly say that he has been taught to know better then to act this way. As far as I can tell there really are no triggers for his outbursts in most cases. For instance, when he gets home from school the first thing we do is homework, before the Concerta has a chance to wear off, because if it does homework will never get accomplished. On one particular day he came home and went straight to his room and started playing instead of doing his homework. I simply went to his room and reminded him that he had homework to get done and that he needed to come to the kitchen and do it. He started out back talking me and giving me one of those "how could you ask me to do that" looks. I was firm but not negative and told him that he is not to talk to me that way and that his homework had to be done before playing. he then proceeded to yell at me and tell me I was mean and started kicking the wall and throwing his toys. This was more than just a temper tantrum. The look of pure anger that flashed across his face was scary. I told him he had five time-out minutes for his behavior and that triggered another outburst. In the end the outbursts continued for a few minutes, homework never got accomplished, he got a spanking, and he spent the next hour sitting on his bed for his accumulated time-outs. I realize my tone probably became more forceful and negative as the event escalated, but I don't understand what triggered it to begin with? Now the day before and the next day i could say the same thing to him and he be like OK and do it. It's as if he has two personalities at times. So the same things don't always act as triggers for him.
    To give you more insight into my son... he goes to his fathers house every other weekend. This has been an issue since day one. He comes home with behavior issues most every time. Since pre-school his teachers have been able to tell you when he goes to his dads simply by how he acts. He has no rules at dads has and no stability. His counselor has picked up on this problem as well. She feels as if his outbursts could be a result of that relationship in some way. I try talking to my x about it and he says what he has always said, which is that is has nothing to do with him and that it is my fault for poor discipline techniques. His dad has taught him to lie to me and back talk me, and has openly stated on many occasions that he is going to make my son "mean". Well, I have asked lawyers about this, and in my state, there is nothing I can do about this. As long as my son is not being physically abused by his father, I can not keep him from seeing him.

    I know I am not going in order with my info, and I apologize. Like I said before, this behavior has just begun about a year ago. That is when we tried him on his first medications for his ADHD (Strattera) . He had troubles focusing in school and had a reading disability, which they believe stemmed from the lack of focus. Up to this point he had never had a behavior issue at school or home. His behavior was altered after seeing his dad, but nothing that was a major issue. His started on the lowest dose of Straterra, and moved up to the 40 mg within months...which we found out was a major overdose for his size...we found a new doctor after that. The Straterra made him literally act nuts. I took him off that medication and he has not had any until a few months ago when we started the Concerta.

    I might add also that his behavior issues really started when his dad remarried, and have escalated as his dads marriage has fallen apart. They are still together, but every other weekend they split up and my son is told they are divorcing, only to find them back together the next week.

    I have done the "rewards" system with him, and it failed miserably. I have also done the "take away" system with him, and it failed. Now the counselor is saying that I need to do a mixture of the two.

    I had been told that uping his dose of Concerta would help with these outbursts. He is on the lowest dose. His doctor and I thought it best to put him on a low dose and his counselor also though it would be good to couple therapy with the low dose at first, for a couple months to help them better understand where the behavior is stemming from. I honestly don't know if I can handle a couple more months of this behavior though. what would you all say I should do to begin to get my son back on the right track? He is most often the most sweet and loving boy. these outbursts are driving me can I deal with these better? How can I help him?
  2. maril

    maril New Member

    answeredprayer: Hi, and welcome! I have not been here long myself but find it to be a very helpful place; lots of real experienced and knowledgeable people here.

    I understand how difficult this can be especially when you are doing everything in your power to help your son. It is overwhelming at times, I am sure.

    My difficult child (17 years old) has had extreme mood swings, becomes very angry or depressed, and his behavior seems out of proportion to the cause. We are currently pushing for further evaluation to see if he may have something else going on; right now, is diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, substance abuse/dependence; of course is also a teen with hormone changes and is on medications (stimulant and antidepressant); obviously, it is complicated.

    Anyway, I don't know who suggested you increase the Concerta but I would continue as you have been dosing him per the doctor's instructions (you had said something to the effect that the doctor is keeping the Concerta dose low while the doctor and counselor work at finding the source of your son's behavior).

    In addition, I can't imagine how difficult it must be to regroup and get back on track for you all after your son comes back from visits with his dad, plus the fact that your ex is not supportive. I am sorry that you have to deal with that.

    Good luck to you and your son, and I wish you strength. It sounds like you have a good support system established.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  3. I am so sorry that you are having a rough time I know how hard it can be when faced with your childs unexplainable anger... the funny thin gis htat often times little things like saying no or dont or giving an order rather than a request can trigger a full out full blown temper tantrum which is kind of hard for parents because well they are the parents... i took a pretty good parenting course called the triple p parenting course and while some of it wasnt effective it did teach me alot about what triggers my son has and how to work around them.. personally i find that reward system doesnt work with my son he doesnt honeslty care and the same with time outs out around everyone else i have found myself getting kicked punched and screamed at all the while gettting him to do that so I have basically learned to put him in his room and let him be until he is happy and ready to come out .. every situation is so different yet alike here .. I just joined aswell I hope you can find some support here and that you get some very good advice ... the most important thing is to make sure that you have time alone to recharge your battery otherwise you will get so depeleted that even the little things seem like a huge mountain to cross all though in some cases its hard to acheive that My husband and I dont get a break enough due to lack of help finances ect.. so in that case we have to make do..
  4. Critter Lover

    Critter Lover New Member

    wow....I am truly sorry you are having a problem with your son right now.
    I do not know if anyone has told you that Bi Polar sometimes mask itself
    as ADHD so you might want to have him checked out to see if really should be treated for Bi Polar instead. My son was treated for ADHD when he was 7yrs old taking Ritalin and it took till November of last year for them to figure out that they were treating him wrong and he is 22 yrs old. They took him off the Ritalin cold turkey and my son said can I have my Ritalin back so I can stay awake. Well right then I knew he did not need the medication anymore because Ritalin acts as speed on anyone who is not ADHD. He is taking Depakote ER for Bi Polar now but we are having worse problems recently so I am thinking that they do not have him on the right medications anymore or not the right quantity. My suggestion is for you to ask your doctor if it is possible that your child has bi polar instead of ADHD. He might not be able to control these outburst without proper medications. ((((((HUGS))))))) for support and I hope things get better for you
    with this challenge you face.
  5. navineja

    navineja New Member

    Welcome. Sorry that you have a situation that leads you to need this board, but glad that you have found us! Let me start by saying that you will find a wealth of experience and support from the wonderful parents here. It seems to me that in any situation one of us is dealing with, someone has been there done that!
    I too have a difficult child with ADHD and anger issues. Often homework seemed to be the trigger. After a while, I realized that it was not worth the battle and loss of peace for the rest of us. After all, it wasn't my homework and I was not going to be the one to suffer the consequences of not doing it. I let her "own" the problem (after explaining the situation to the teacher). Her teacher was very cooperative and consistent in providing suitable consequences in school for the undone work. N (my difficult child) still had to stay at her homework area and could not participate in anything else until she got it done (if she chose not to, then she just didn't get to do much else that night, but that was her choice). That reduced the problem about 75%.
    In addition, allowing a short playtime before homework and making sure that she had a snack after school made a big difference.
    None of these things completely eliminated the problems, but it did make a difference. When all else failed and the tantrum came anyway (as it still does occasionally even now), then N is restricted to her room. She has stated that "Sometimes I just want to be angry!". We feel that to a certain extent she has reason to be (due to her past) and also has a right to be (within reason). We tell her that if she wants to be angry and mean, it has to be in her room. Then it is her choice whether she wants to be with the family or alone with her anger. Please note though, that this is after reminders on how to properly deal with the anger, such as using her "tools" (blowing it out, talking, counting to 10, jumping jacks, etc.) There are just times that she refuses to use the tools.
    Again, glad that you found us and hope that you find the support and advice that you need here!

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there, answeredprayer. I apologize, but I have to run out the door so if I repeat anything that anyone said, just skip it. I hadn't any time to read the responses. Your ex is certainly not helping, and I don't know what to tell you about that. However, in my opinion it's not just about your ex, although he is just making things worse.
    Has your son been raging since being on stimulants? If so, perhaps he doesn't have ADHD. ADHD is often the first, and often NOT the last diagnosis a child gets. I would be wanting him evaluated completely by a neuropsychologist before I medicated him so that I knew exactly what was wrong with him...and what the medications should be...rather than having the health professioinal just guess (and, really, that is what they do). I have a few questions:
    1/Are there are psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of your son's family tree?
    2/How was his early development: speech, eye contact, cuddling, ability to interact well and appropriately with his same age peers, ability to transition from one activity to another, any repetitive behaviors (such as lip smacking or hand flapping), an obsessive interests, does he talk like a "Little Professor?"
    3/Is there a possibility of some sort of abuse going on at Dad's house? Physical? Sexual? Maybe from a frequent visitor, like an uncle? Is Dad a drinker? Is stepmom? Anything maybe like that going on?
  7. answeredprayer

    answeredprayer New Member

    No, I would not categorize his outbursts as rage, and the problem has been coming on since his dad married a year or so ago. A little after this time he was started on Strattera, which is a non-stimulant, and he was before and after the Strattera starting to display signs of anger. Since being on Concerta he is a perfect Angel at school. The teacher say he is like a new kid and his IEP was even down graded. LOL, even writing about the situation here and seeing it on paper is making things more obvious for me. I see him mostly get frustrated when faced with a demand on himself. Such as getting ready for school in the morning on a weekday versus getting up on his own accord on a weekend. I have to say this, I had 3 Dr's opinions on my son before I would except the ADHD diagnosis...I wasn't going to have him treated for something he did not have.

    As far as "psychiatric" cases on either side of his family tree...I have anxiety and my mother does as well. His father and his fathers mother both have ADD/ADHD and dyslexia. There is substance abuse on both sides of the brothers and father and his dads siblings.

    My son was born very ill. He was in the hospital in the nicu for 5 days after his birth. He had a failing heartbeat during delivery (a 22 hour ordeal) and swallowed much fluid and was not breathing. It was determined once he was born that he was within days of being a month overdue, sad thing is that I had been having contractions that long and going to the hospital, only to be given medications to stop the contractions and being sent home because I was not near the designated due date. I had apparently had a cycle for a month or so after being pregnant, which threw off the due date. he was 8lbs, 1oz, and has been pretty healthy ever since. He has sever allergies and can have a reaction out of the blue to things we still don't know of. His development was fine, and he was actually early on many thing such as walking. He has always been a cuddly buddy and loves to give hugs and kisses. He is getting older though, and now he says its embarrissing for me to kiss him in front of his friends lol. He is also a perfectionist, like his mom.

    I want to thank everyone for their replies thus far! Every little bit helps! And posting here has already helped me see my situation from a different point of view. Thanks!
  8. luvmyottb

    luvmyottb Guest

    Pickup a copy of The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It is full of good information to help you deal with the angry outbursts. It will keep you as the parent more sane to the tantrums your child exhibits.

    I would second a neuropsychologist evaluation. Welcome to the board. You will find lots of supportive parents in our corner of the world.
  9. answeredprayer

    answeredprayer New Member

    There is just a lot of conflict in his dad's house. My son deals with the instability of his step-mom and step-brother being there one weekend and gone the next. She has stated that she leaves( and she has left on the weekends he is there while they are gone) because of my son, because she does not like that his dad will take him on Saturdays and have a father son day with him. She thinks he should spend that time with her (she is 19). I don't think that she has said that to my son, but who knows. I don't like him left alone with her. From the beginning she was teaching him some inappropriate things, all innocent, but NOT something I would have him taught by any means. Example... She taught him a "give me five" song that went something like Up high (high five), down low, to the city, pinch your titty. I know that might seem silly, but it has been things like that that I do not like. The whole situation angers me, because it effects my son in such a negative way. My x's mother even sees it and agrees that the situation is causing my son too much anxiety, and she usually sides with her son on most everything. I pray there is no physical abuse, and there are no signs of such. He is however still allowed to sleep in the same bed as his dad and step-mom which I oppose veheminently, but can legally do nothing about. My x's mom has also tried to talk reason into her son on this issue, with no luck. My son is too old for such sleeping arrangements, not that I agree with that kind of sleeping arrangement ever. I don't know who visits while they are there, but my son does have some cousin on his dad's side of the family who are less then desirable playmates for him.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Answeredprayer, welcome!
    I'm glad you finally decided to post.
    Your son sounds like mine. He'd pull the same stuff about playing in his rm instead of doing homework, and then go ballistic and act like it was my fault.
    It does sound like he has anxiety issues, both because he cannot perform the way he thinks he should and it's too anxiety-producing, but also because staying with-his dad is making things worse.
    I would try to change the arrangement with-his dad, (IOW, decrease or eliminate it, and get a dr's opinion to back you up) and increase your son's counseling, but get a diff therapist who is more aggressive. He sounds old enough to do some serious talk therapy about his feelings at this point, in my humble opinion.
    Is he sleeping in their bed every time he goes there? Or only when he's sick?
    Poor kid.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Oh, good heavens. Nineteen! She's still a baby herself. Did somebody have a mid-life crisis??? And that song IS inappropriate. I'd be happy that she leaves when he is there. I wouldn't want her around my son at all. I'm sorry it's so chaotic at dad's house.
    If Dad and his wife let son sleep with them, I am assuming they don't do anything inappropriate when he's there...right? Are you sure? I'm thinking that you most certainly could get a judge to nix those sleeping arrangements. They are not healthy. Does she sleep in a nightie? I would ask a lawyer about that. It doesn't seem kosher to me.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  12. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Just wanted to pop in and say hi and welcome. Sounds like you have your hands full, and I am glad you are getting your son help.