Tantrums, etc.



Today difficult child had a meltdown because he didn't want to go to his dad's house. He goes for one day every weekend but he was tired this morning and I guess he hadn't prepared for the transition. So here he is yelling that he hates his dad, hates his house, wish he never met him, stop talking to me, leave me alone, I hate life. He's very upset and angry and tears are streaming down his face. And lately he's taken to pretend choking himself for effect. I will usually tickle him and he laughs and then gets mad because I made him laugh when he wanted to be mad. I asked his dad to leave and come back and within a half hour he had worked through it.

It's these mornings that just wipe me out~ I feel so beat up afterwards. The separation anxiety that chokes me, the tantrums, the anxiety, the adolescent moods all the time. I guess I belong to this group, huh?

I sometimes just need to feel secure in knowing that I'm doing all I can. We don't always get that in real life but sometimes this group does more for my spirit than any other group in real life.

Are mood stabilizers used to help with this type of thing? Maybe I need to talk to psychiatrist again about trying a different approach. We tried the prozac (for anxiety) watching for signs of possible BiPolar (BP) and though they didn't seem to indicate it positively, I felt his behavior was worse enough that I was hesitated trying his second option, celexa. This is the one area that I feel like I could do better. I've been reluctant to try all the possible medication possiblities but a lot of days lately I feel like I'm not doing the right thing by that.

Well I guess I've rambled enough. Thanks for existing.



Active Member
I don't see that there is a chemical solution to this because the problem itself is so complex.

It boils down to problems with change. He needs time to prepare himself and to get his head around what is happening. A timetable can help; or a chart on a calendar, so he can look at it and see that he has a day with dad on such-and-such a day.

I'm glad his dad was understanding about it and went away for half an hour. It is good that you can do this. If he had also thrown a tantrum and insisted high-handedly on his parental rights, you would have had big problems.

Part of the difficulty with change is locked up with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but a big part of it is simply the child having a lot of trouble every day in trying to make sense of the world. They develop their own strategy (whatever it might be) to deal with things, one of those strategies being placing a high value on things being the same, as much as possible. Routine.

If you can plan it into difficult child's routine, to include the visits, it might be easier.

I bet you're having fun with homework, too! And evening routines, etc. It all goes together.

By all means talk to the doctor, but don't expect a medication to fix this, it's just too large an issue.

(and they STILL won't accept Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) as a diagnosis? They're crazy!)



OMG YES, the homework. How did you know? Why is that such a fight, Marg? I do understand what you are saying, but why is the homework so hard? It's horrible!


My son didn't do well with transition either. It was a nightmare.

We found that giving time cues helped with this in many instances, e.g., bath time in 15 min, bath time in 10 min, bath time in 5 min.

Re: homework. Many of our kids are exhausted when they get out of school. They are overstimulated and tired from trying to keep up all day, bombarded with colors, people moving around, demands on attention, use much energy to stay on task, etc. Then the transition from school to home, then when home transitioning to homework. Many times, difficult child's medications are about played out by the time he gets home at 5:30 or 6:30 pm and has to do homework. Frankly, it's more than some of our kids can do.

I'm ashamed to admit that I spent hours sitting with difficult child and "making" him do 5 or 10 minutes worth of homework when he was in elementary school. He was capable of doing the work, and I felt it was my job to require it. I accomplished nothing but making a bad situation worse. After a couple of years of this, I stopped.

In about 3rd or 4th grade, I changed my approach. When difficult child can do his homework, I see to it that it gets done. I ask if there is homework, check his planner to see if there's homework notations made, encourage him. But if he's not able to do it within a reasonable time, it's not a battle that I fight.

I shouldn't write this -- board jinx. lol But, my son started 8th grade last Monday. He is 13 yrs old. He's had homework every night except for the first day. He's come home and promptly started his homework without prompting from me. And mercy me, he's even removed himself from the dining room table to the quite computer room to do his homework because we (husband and I) were distracting him. :faint:

In one respect, difficult child is learning what he needs and what he has to do to reach a specific goal. But you also have to factor in other things. With ADHD, one of those things is the 2/3rds rule. ADHD doesn't impact intelligence, but it can have great adverse impact on executive functions. So when I think back, difficult child was 7 yrs old in the 2nd grade, but emotionally he was in the 4 yr old range. How much sense does it make to require homework from a 4 yr old?

He's 13 now, so executive functions are in the 8-9 yr old range. He's now able to work on his own, e.g., beginning to work independently. That's probably about right on target.

Sara PA

New Member
There is a reason more of the antidepressants aren't approved for use by children and adolescents: There is very little chance they will work without serious psychiatric side effects. The risk/benefit ration isn't good enough to get them approved. While Prozac, Zoloft and Luvox have managed to get approval for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Prozac for major depressive disorder, none of the rest have because the clincal studies don't support their use by children and adolescents for any indication.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
There has been an ongoing debate on the importance of homework on this board.

Ironically, I've come across this study done by a Duke University professor that proves that both sides were right.

Basically, the study found that there is a significant correlation between student success and homework for grades 7 - 12. Little benefit, however, was found for elementary aged children. The researchers also found that the amount of homework has to be carefully considered per age level.

Here is a link to the study:

Duke University Study on Homework



Active Member
Kathy, the reason I raised homework was not to make any value judgements on whether homework is good or bad - merely to point out that when a kid has such extreme difficulty task-changing, and from other things Michele has told us about her son, I would lay bets that he is giving her a hard time over homework.

I do feel that WITH KIDS LIKE THIS the homework question needs to be re-examined, on an individual basis. What works for easy child kids, and for a lot of difficult children, can be a disaster for some. It's just the way it is.

Michele, I posted a very LONG post on one of your other threads - I described an inkling of what it feels like to a child like this, to try to cope at school every day. They really have to work extra hard to get by, and to add homework into the mix is to bring that struggle right back home, where he comes for a refuge from school and where he needs to feel safe.

What has worked for us, if you can negotiate it with the teacher - if he MUST do homework (for example, he needs support in some subjects) and you can't eliminate if from home, see if you can devote ONE morning on the weekend to work on his homework together, one on one. Keep it fun, like you're watching a movie together - big bowl of popcorn, maybe. Once he gets started he will be on a roll, but it's getting started that is the headache. If you give him plenty of warning, then again remind him the night before, "Tomorrow at 9 am we will work on your homework for Miss V. Be ready, I will work with you so I can understand it too. Miss V said it's OK for me to do this with you." (I add this last bit, because difficult child 3 still refuses to come to me for help with his schoolwork, he says it's cheating for me to help even though his teachers have told me it's OK. He has to hear it from them!)

If you think his homework is revision of stuff he clearly knows well, then talk to his teacher about only giving him work where he needs it; not make-work, which he definitely doesn't need. he also needs to learn to dive right in to work that is challenging, rather than preferring to revise 'easy' work in his favourite topics.

I mentioned one morning - mornings, because he'll be fresher with more mental energy to help him stay focussed; and only one, because a kid's gotta play too, especially kids like yours and mine who have to burn so much mental power, just to follow the (confusing) rules in their world. hand in whatever he's done, even if it's very incomplete - the teacher needs to see his best capability as well as his worst. You will need to be fully in communication and cooperation with his teacher over this - the communication book again. The aim of the exercise for all of you - to help him learn the subject matter, to master it. And whatever you need to do this, you all need to be on the same team (you, the teacher, difficult child). It can work, if you work together. I even managed to work this with the most difficult teacher in difficult child's mainstream experience, because of The Book.

Have you had a face-to-face meeting at the school yet? I know it's early in your school year, I think it would be a good idea to aim for at least one meeting per school term. Especially with kids like ours, you need to head problems off early (which means you need to know about them) and comparing notes with everyone is a darn good start.

Good luck with him, this is a problem that covers huge areas of difficult child's social interactions and learning. Hang in there - it's not all bad. Once you find the key to how he needs to function, you can use it constructively.



Well-Known Member
Staff member
Marg ~ I had just come across this study and thought it would be interesting to share since it goes along with a topic that is often an area of concern.

Since the difficult child in this thread is so young, the study verifies that in this case the benefits would not outweigh a constant struggle over homework.

I was also glad to hear that in Sheila's son's case, the homework issue seems to be disappearing at the very time that the Duke study shows a strong correlation between homework and academic success.

Sheila ~ Any problems on probability, yet? Remember, the Kathy813 homework hotline is always open. :rofl:



Same here. difficult child has trouble with change. Even when they change where the class will meet...he has difficulty. He needs to know before hand of any changes so he can prepare himself. That is why I am going to have to tell him he will not be in class with his friends. Wish Program director wouldn't of said anything. I am not going to mention honors classes. He will just have to deal with that one. I am to afraid. Lol.

Sheila...You give me hope. difficult child is 12, going into 8th grade tomorrow. He has been on a homework strike for 7 years. We have fought, sat next to him, a 10 minute assignment would drag out to hours. After reading your post I have hope.

Kathy813..."homework hotline is always open" OMG...help.


Active Member
Hi! We were always on the "Meltdown Express". Transition was HUGE! With difficult child 1, even the slightest change from routine would result in a total blowout with him. To the point of total restraint.

Bedtime was the worst - he'd meltdown, I'd have the 2 smaller kids sit on my bed in my room and he'd be screaming and raging in his room.

I hate to admit this, but one night I lost it. I told the 2 little ones to stay in their beds and I ORDERED difficult child to sit on the bottom step of the stairs. I put the other 2 to beds with their "family songs and prayers", and didn't allow him to leave the bottom step until they were asleep.

Holy bologney, it worked! It seemed that the disorder would cause chaos in his brain and that was the only way he could express it, was through a meltdown.

I don't look at homework as an academic necessity per se, but I think of it as a building block to learning proper study habits. KG and 1st half of 1st grade were a nightmare. I noticed that a certain amount of "mollycoddling" as a routine worked wonders. Home, snack (fruit, apples & peanutbutter, raisins, cookies & milk, etc) allowed him time to unwind which he eats while he watches 1/2 hour of tv. Homework and then out to play (I'm just short of insane as far as weather goes - GO PLAY!!!). Every 10 mins or so, I'd send him to sharpen his pencil, let the dog out, get a drink, go to the bathroom, etc. BUT (and this is key) you suggest it before he asks. You keep control, but he gets the break.

I don't know if any of this helps, but it worked here!

Good luck!


New Member
Wow, Michelle, you reminded me of tantrums I had since forgotten about. When youngest difficult child was about 2-3 years old and bio mom would come to get him, he'd scream and throw fits. He never wanted to go. She'd pick him up and put him in the car screaming. When he was about 4, this was the last year she had him without supervision, he too would pretend choke himself. He would also bang his head against the wall at her house. During this year she only had him 4 times and then it went to supervised visititation. I'm not sure what brought it on with her. When he started school we did find out that he has trouble changing tasks, moving on, dealing with substitutes etc. So now I wonder if the change from our house to bio moms was just too great for him to deal with. Our house is structured, her house was a free for all. She'd have friends over all times of the night, men spending the night, slept til 1 pm etc. Our house, me or husband are up with the kids all day. If I'm not feeling well, husband takes over. If husband isn't feeling well, I take over. But they are never left to fend for themselves.

I'm not implying anything about your ex's house, but even if not as great as ours, your house and his are different to difficult child. I would want to sit with him and talk about differences in the two homes. If it helps difficult child he should be all for the talk and possibly some adjustments to make them more alike.

We tried several times to work with bio mom on getting her on board with what was best, but unfortunately she felt she was always right and we were the evil ones, so she refused to listen. This is why my youngest difficult child never behaved there, never used the bathroom there, always reverted to his baby ways, my middle difficult child had night terrors there and my oldest difficult child also reverted to his baby ways there. We had problems with potty training with all 3 boys until she stopped having full access to them.

Your ex sounds like he'll work with you and that is great. I count my lucky stars that my ex isn't like husband's ex. He and I, 95% of the time, work together fine where the boys are concerned.


Active Member
:crazy: Yikes, I hate those mornings!

I understand your dilemma about whether or not to try more medications. It is really, really hard. I know for my own life, there is not a possible way my son could function with-out medications. But every kiddo is different, and has different diagnosis'.

You said in your profile that he has AS tendencies, but was never diagnosis as such, and that he has "mood" issues. You also asked if a mood stabilizer could help him. You know, it just depends on whether he really is AS, or if he really has a mood disorder. If he has AS, others on this board have said that medications are not very affective for kids with this diagnosis. If he has a mood disorder, than yes, a mood stab. would probably help.

If you feel your son's behaviors might have the chance of being helped by medications, than I think I would take your psychiatrists advice, and in turn, let him take the lead. You can only try..........that is it........unfortunately guessing and speculating do not answer the question you are asking, only experimenting. You will know more once your son responds positively or negatively to certain medications. This starts to narrow down the pathway that seems so broad right now, and it begins to lead you towards the path into a spectrum of medications that will work.

Good luck.........and be strong :wink:


Active Member
Thanks for sharing. I was quite intriqued from where Harris Cooper comes to her conclusions that homework is good and the formula is 10 minutes for each grade. Since Alfie Kohn has recently come out with his book the ' Homework myth' and he is known to very thorough in examining research I asked a friend who has the book about the Duke research. He said that the book The Homework Myth, reviews the arguments and research on this question in some detail. It also contains an extended analysis of this very researcher (Harris Cooper), who seems to disregard his own data when it comes time to make recommendations. For example, the idea of 10 minutes a night of homework per grade level is based on absolutely no research at all; it's basically plucked out of the air.

I have no problem with people having different views about homework. I think it is great news that our children and families have an advocate like Alfie Kohn in area that causes so much stress and tension

see his site http://alfiekohn.org