Dealing with ADHD and ODD

Question.

My 12-year-old stepson, who lives with his father and me and has no contact with his biological mother, was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD a few months ago. At home, we mostly experience back talk and argumentative behaviors. School is a nightmare. Teachers call us or email daily that he argues and is angry with the other children, isn't organized and blames others for his actions. Even with all this he has mostly A's. Their biggest concern is his lack of social skills. I want to help him have some positive social interactions and have put him in sports. He ends up alienating himself by telling the other children how they aren’t playing right.

Answer.

Parenting can be frustrating when you have a child who’s facing his own challenges with learning. He is lucky to have a stepmother who cares for him since he has no contact with his biological mother. The school and both you and dad should see eye to eye on his special needs. If his counselor has not addressed these with you, it might be a good idea to make an appointment. Educate yourselves as much as possible. There are scores of books at your library or local bookstores that offer a world of knowledge on these issues. They will give you the support and strategies to help your stepson be successful and for you to feel good about your decisions in raising him.

Here are a few parenting tips that we have found to be helpful when working with children with ADD:

  1. Give your son a very consistent and structured schedule. At home, things may not be as structured as his school day. Setting times for showering, homework, down time, bedtime and dinner will help him stay focused.
  2. Make sure you have his full attention when talking to him. Remind him to maintain eye contact  with you when you are speaking to him. Make sure you reciprocate.
  3. Keep your instructions simple. Ask him to repeat them to ensure he understands.
  4. Look for patterns in his behaviors. Certain foods and lack of sleep could impact his behavior.
  5. Be patient. Try not to take his behaviors personally.

You mentioned that you would like to get him involved in sports. Great idea. Keep in mind that maybe a team sport is not his gig. Martial arts is a great sport for kids and adults, and your son wouldn't need to worry about anyone's actions to perform well. If you notice changes in his behavior and you have questions, call his doctor or counselor. Keep in contact with the teachers, so they understand what is going on at home.