ADHD Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Doodicus, who is now 10, was diagnosed with ADHD when he was six. One of the most prominent symptoms of ADHD is impulse control.

Lacking impulse control means he has problems thinking clearly through the consequences to his actions, that he does… well, impulsively.

For his birthday, we gave him a Nintendo 3DS. Some may think it’s an elaborate gift, but electronic games are life-savers for us when we have to sit for somewhere for an extended period of time (two- three-hour car drives; dinner with in-laws; doctor appointments, etc.) because it’s the only thing that can keep him quietly distracted. For everyone involved, something like this gaming system can keep our sanity levels on an even keel. If you have an ADD or ADHD child, you know what I’m saying is true.

He’s been begging us to allow him to bring it to show to his friends at the daycare. I have repeatedly stood my ground and said no. In the past, he has actually snuck things to daycare and either lost them or had them damaged, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s not allowed to bring anything electronic with him to share.

However, this week, which he is off from school for winter vacation, he asked over and over again if he could bring his 3DS to show his friends before everyone was back in school. Tuesday night I finally caved with only one seemingly easy condition he would have to meet: exceptional behavior for two days straight. That meant no whining, no complaining, no crying, no fits of rages, no poor housekeeping, no arguing. His BEST behavior is what I was asking for.

And then I found out that of the four 3DS games he has received since his birthday, he had already “lost” two (I actually had one in my possession that I had found left carelessly on the floor a couple of days before). An additional condition was announced. He’d have to find the remaining game cartridge. You’d think I’d asked for the moon with the wailing and gnashing of teeth, albeit in a much more subdued manner considering our FIRST condition. As an incentive, Sparring Partner told him if he found the cartridge today (Wednesday), he could bring it as soon as Thursday to show his friends. With this new fire lit under his ass, Doodicus produced the “lost” cartridge within 10 minutes (it was under the couch).

Finally! With our reluctant blessings, he set aside what he was bringing to daycare tomorrow (Thursday) and got ready for bed. That’s when everything turned sour. I can’t say what he had done, but it was a breach of the housekeeping rules we have and it was something he had done already this morning; no more than 12 hours after my original condition of being on his BEST behavior for 48 hours. Eight of those twelve were spent asleep. So basically within an hour of waking up, he had blown it and then tried to hide it.

The deal of bringing his 3DS to daycare was completely off the table for both Thursday and/or Friday. In other words, we were back to square one and my original rule: no electronics to daycare.

We tried to explain how inability to show responsibility and consideration for the rules of our home is what blew it for him, but instead of listening and learning, all he could do was pound his head into his pillow and demand we give him a DIFFERENT punishment – an alternative. Not a word of apology or remorse was said. Why? Let’s look back at that whole impulse control thing. Normally, we avoid doing something wrong because we are able to think through the consequences to our actions. Doodicus does not…wait, no: He is INCAPABLE of thinking this way. He performs an action without a moment to consider the consequences. This then means that he feels no need to apologize or feel bad about his actions because in his head he’s done nothing wrong (if he thought he had or was going to do something wrong, he probably wouldn’t do it. Make sense?). Instead he just considers us cruel, unfair, and more and more commonly expressed in fits of rage, that we hate him.

The impulse control issues is probably one of the hardest things we deal with when it comes to the ADHD. It contributes to 90% of the day-to-day issues. When my husband is blowing his stack over something Doodicus has done, I have to remind him over and over again that our son just doesn’t have that edit button; that filter in his brain.

This all happened within an hour of me writing this out. In fact, I can hear Doodicus in his room muttering to himself in anger and disappointment (not with himself, but with us). Tomorrow we’ll have to be on high-alert for smuggled items in pockets, socks, shoes, underwear, coat, all of which he’s done before. Tomorrow I will hope that he’s learned something from all of this. And tomorrow I will worry that he may never.

8 thoughts on “ADHD Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry”

  1. I was looking through my blogs this morning and happened upon yours via “Michelle Smiles”. I just want to say – THANK YOU!! Thank you for being honest and open about your son. I know exactly what you are going through. Your story – has been mine, over and over! My son, Nicolai (12), has been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. It’s not easy. Hang in there! I tell this to everyone, so take it or leave it: One thing that has helped us is a program called Accountable Kids. Thank you again, for being open and not afraid to share your story. Unfortunately there are too many naive people in this world who think we need to punish or discipline our children more.

  2. It almost sounds like Dood has a combination of forgetting the rules in the search of instant gratification, then when he breaks one he covers it up. This may be way off base, but have you tried giving him “permission” to come to you and tell you when he breaks a rule instead of hiding it? It will help him understand honesty, and you can strike a deal that if he is honest about what he has done his punishment will be on a lesser level. Say, if he loses a DS game instead of pretending (lying) that he didn’t, he could feel free to come and ask you for help finding it and he won’t have it taken away for a day, but maybe two hours.

    I may just be talking out of my ass here, but I have always made it abundantly clear to my boys that lying to me is MUCH worse than whatever the original crime was. I also have had to teach them to own up to screwing up. This is a concept that BigD still hasn’t quite grasped.

  3. I don’t know much about ADHD and so am learning a lot from what you post about Doodicus. I am wondering, after reading this post, if there is anything to be done to help him learn impulse control or is it somehow not “learnable” (ie the brain wiring is not there) and so this will be a continuing issue? Seems it can get so frustrating on both your (the parents) parts and the Dood’s part if he isn’t able to think through his actions.

  4. I feel for ya babe…
    Now imagine MY frustration when one of my old friends (recently reconnected) labels my boy as “hyperactive” (no children of her own)… I surely wish I could siphon off some of Z’s exuberant energy a lot of the time, but that doesn’t make him hyper, it just makes me a tired middle-aged mom…

  5. It must be very hard to reason that out in your own head every time he pushes your buttons. Sounds like a very frustrating thing to deal with. I wish I had some solutions to offer you…

  6. We have the same issues with Big C (i.e. he doesn’t preconsider that his actions may be wrong, and so when we “punish” him for them we are being unfair and cruel), and there is little I hate more than having to break his heart enforcing boundaries that I don’t know if he’ll ever learn to live within. This ADHD BS is, well, BS!

    Kudos to mommy for standing your ground and at least attempting to help him learn some manner of impulse control…

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