Living with an ADHD Child: The Real Story

Can anyone who hasn’t lived with an ADHD kid ever really perceive the amount of stress parents like us endure every minute of each waking hour when these kids are around?Can anyone who hasn't lived with an ADHD kid ever really perceive the amount of stress parents like us endure every minute of each waking hour when these kids are around?

Does the parent of a "normal child" have any inkling of what it's like trying to instruct, or negotiate with a child who constantly moves the goalposts?

Will pediatricians, psychologists or psychiatrists ever really understand that the problems we encounter with these children on a minute-by-minute basis - they are NOT isolated incidents dotted throughout an otherwise normal or peaceful day?

Sheer Frustration

It is frustrating for parents to have to pick out incidents or altercations to be analyzed by these specialists because they don't occur in isolation.They carry on throughout the day, each one systematically going into the next and compounding the original problem.

It is this constant battling about every point, the literal way these children take your words, the aggression and attitude these children use in their daily life, the tantrums, etc. which can sometimes have you about a centimeter from a nervous breakdown. Add to this the impact these children have on other family members, how they affect the overall dynamics of family interaction, the frequent school problems, hospital appointments and the rest, and you have here the potential for a lethal brew!

Livin' La Vida Loca (Living the crazy life)

Following is just one interaction (if you can call it that) that occurred about halfway through the school summer holidays.

This morning, I was playing with my daughter when my son, George, came down stairs. "Hello Sunshine," I said.

"Hello Moonshine," he replied.

(George is ADHD, but there is now some discussion as to whether he is Asperger's too. He takes things completely literally and has extreme difficulty in understanding nuances of speech, tone of voice, facial expressions etc. He can also be extremely fastidious and has to have things put to him very precisely. This causes many, many hypothetical arguments, wastes lots of time and can be extremely exhausting for me.)

George gets under the duvet, which happens to be covering my three year old daughter and they start tittle tattling. So I ask him to move. He pointblank refuses, so we get into an argument and he tells me to f*** off. CHARMING! I fine him 20p from his pocket money for swearing (he's now at about minus £1.20 for this week) and eventually he calms down.

I pass him a magazine to look at to try to get him back on an even keel. "Here, George." He ignores me, so I repeat, "here George."

"Eye, Mum eye," he replies. Again, he has perceived "here" as "ear." It is so frustrating! I know George has a problem but this is not a now-and-again thing. It is constant and frankly it gets boring having to explain words, expressions and meanings the whole time. This sounds very unkind, but this type of thing wears on your nerves and simply the amount of talking one has to do in a day explaining things, or arguing, is simply exhausting for a parent.

We then have the usual breakfast argument. In a nutshell, he doesn't want any of the options I offer him so he ends the conversation with "I'll not have anything then. I'll just starve!" Starve, starve! I've just offered him a larger breakfast menu than he'd get at the Hilton!

By this time, I am starting to lose my patience. He gets up and goes to the door. "I'm going upstairs," he snaps.

"OK, I'll see you later," I reply nonchalantly. 2 seconds later, he's behind me. "I thought you were going upstairs?," I yell.

"Don't see why I have to!" he screams.

What do you do? Just what do you do? If only some of the people we go to for help could live in our houses for a couple of days and just experience the enormity of the situation, they would soon see that we are not overreacting or being incompetent parents. I would like to see anyone solve the problems that we have to contend with every hour of every day.

George returns to his chair and starts ragging his sister again, so I warn him that if he doesn't stop it, I am going to 'count' him. This is where you use the 1, 2, 3 - then time-out method. He hates this and it usually sends him into fits of rage. But what the hell do you do? It's like trying to juggle mercury. "When you do that with Ellie," he shouts, "she gets 2 and three-quarters and 2 and nine-tenths!"

Oh God, here we go again. He tries to goad me into another argument. He's always doing this by either mouthing off, or saying something extremely emotive or offensive to family members or teachers. He certainly knows which of my buttons to press that's for sure. The time is exactly 8.45 am. George has been out of bed approximately 20 minutes, my head is exploding and I am ready for walking out already. What a life!

Can anyone imagine what it is like in term time for mums trying to get these, (and any other) children ready for school? On top of the above aggravation, we have to somehow get these kids into uniform with their lack of motivation to get ready and often their inability to even dress, wash themselves or brush their hair/teeth. (George is 11 and-a-half, but I still get him ready in the morning.) Their poor planning and memory means that books and equipment, which have to be in school on certain days, just don't get there. No wonder we mums feel puddled the whole time too!

So anyone out there with a suspicion that these problems are of our own making, or who feels that maybe, just maybe, our parenting skills are at fault, remember that ADHD knows no boundaries. ANYONE can give birth to a child like this and only when one has lived with the daily turmoil and devastation this condition leaves in it's wake, does one really understand what living with ADHD actually means.

next: Multi-Modal Treatment of ADHD: What Every Parent Needs To Know
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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2007, June 6). Living with an ADHD Child: The Real Story, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Last Updated: February 14, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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