The Things We've Tried For Our ADHD Child

by Beth Newman
Originally Published: 

In my son’s first week of kindergarten, he tried to run away. He fought back against teachers who tried to bring him inside. He refused to listen or do anything they asked of him. He threw unimaginable tantrums.

Naturally, the school called and set up meetings with us. Very concerned and unfamiliar with the child they described, we went.

We’d seen signs of “odd” things prior to kindergarten. When he was 2, he would sit for hours on end, watching the wheels of his Matchbox cars go round and round, and he’d cry if you tried to swap out the cars for any other activity. He required intervention to help with delayed speech and fine motor skills. But until kindergarten, we’d never known our son to have any “behavioral” issues. He made friends easily in pre-K, loved his teachers and seemed like any other “normal” child his age.

We took his kindergarten teacher and the other administrators seriously, though. Clearly, something was not right. Two months later, after many meetings, tests and questionnaires, our son was diagnosed with ADHD.

Fast-forward to third grade, and most of the same issues remain: not doing his schoolwork, not doing anything anyone asks him to do, “checking out,” alienating other kids, not listening to or following directions, getting lost in his own thoughts and so on. It’s not for our or his lack of trying. We’ve tried everything. He’s tried everything, and I mean, everything. I’ve kept track. In fact, as proof, I offer up the following lists:

Things We’ve Tried




No screen time

Less screen time

Screen time only when he’s “good”

A reward at the end of the week, if he’s “good”

A reward at the end of the day, if he’s “good”

A reward for just trying to be “good”

A reward for just trying to be “good” for an hour

No sugar

All the sugar he wants

No gluten

All the gluten he wants

No dairy

All the dairy he wants

Laying down the law

Yelling and screaming

Sending him to his room

“I’m not sending you to your room, you’re just getting a time out.”

“Okay, now I’m sending you to your room.”

Counting to three

Counting to two…


Relaxing the laws and making it more of a meritocracy

Relaxing the meritocracy and making it more of an oligarchy (It’s OK, I also had to Google it.)

Rubbing his back a lot

Talk therapy

Behavioral therapy

Physical therapy

Primal Reflex Release Technique therapy

Eye exams

Hearing tests

Autism spectrum disorder tests

Guilt trips about his behavior during his after-school program, because “Mom can’t keep leaving work early to pick you up for bad behavior, unless you don’t like having a house or food or Christmas or vacations. Of course, if you don’t like the house or food or Christmas, by all means, keep it up.”

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) at school

Advocating to make sure the IEP gets implemented at school

Making sure the drama teacher knows the IEP needs to be implemented at school

Making sure the gym teacher knows the IEP needs to be implemented at… (Um, is it 5 o’clock yet?)

An in-classroom aide at school

Seeing a social worker at school

Letting him handpick his summer camp classes

A reward at the end of the week “if camp doesn’t call me one more time to tell me you’re not participating in your summer classes that you handpicked.”

An in-classroom aide at summer camp

Reading books with titles like The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses and Raising Your Spirited Child!

Rereading books with titles like The Wildest (Oh my God, I can’t type all that over again. I probably have ADHD.)

Loving the heck out of him and telling him every single day we’ve never loved anybody, ever, so much in the world, as him

Things We’ve Not Yet Tried


Things We’re Going to Try Next Week

Loving the heck out of him, and telling him every single day we’ve never loved anybody, ever, so much in the world, as him


If medication doesn’t work, I suppose it’ll just go on the list of things we’ve done to try to help him. Perhaps, instead of that first list coming to an end, it will just keep growing. But for now, we’re going to try medication. We’re going to try, and hope it goes well.

Whatever is coming next, we’re ready. And, yet, we’re nowhere near ready because that’s parenthood: an endless game of guess-what’s-next, who-knows, and damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead.

Now, who’s with me? All together now: Geronimo!

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