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Posted by David on February 03, 2000 at 13:01:05:

In Reply to: 3 yr. old son severe temper tantrums/ screaming posted by Sarah on January 29, 2000 at 19:08:14:

: My 3 1/2 yr. old son was diagnosed with "oppositional" ADHD a few months ago. We first tried Ritalin and now Adderall which helps control his hyperactivity and out of control social behavior but doesn`t help with his defiance. He has had tantrums that have lasted 3-4 hrs. screaming with pure rage. This is the hardest to deal with of all his symptoms. He is down to 45 mins. maximum with the screaming. I can`t help but feel that he is going to be scarred emotionally from all the screaming not to mention after the first 10 mins. my husband and I feel like doing something evil to him. I really would like to know if other ADD children have this problem and if there is anything that can help it. We have gone to parenting classes, have very consistent discipline, medication, and a structured day for him (as well as appealing to God for help!). I would really like to talk to a parent who is raising or has raised a child like this..
I am not raising a child like yours. I WAS a child like yours. I used to have temper tantrums so filled with rage that to this day I am amazed that I didn't hurt myself. I am 28 by the way. All the tantrums followed the same pattern. Something would set me off. It could have been anything. It could even be as ridiculous as tripping on a toy. I would lose my temper, throw things, hit things, scream (and I mean scream!), and eventually I would stomp up the stairs to my room and slam my door. To give you an idea of how bad it was I can tell you that I slammed the door so hard and so many times that the entire door frame was busted off of the rest of the room. You may be thinkink, big deal, I could do that. But remember, I was 4! I can't tell you why I was like that because I honestly don't know. All I do know is that I am not like that any more. I believe I know why. Whenever I threw a tantrum, my parents did exactly what many experts suggest, nothing. I was never punished for throwing things (during tantrums that is). I was never punished for screaming. I was never punished for stomping up the stairs, no matter how deliberately I tried to break each one of them. And, I was never punished for destroying my bedroom door. I was never spanked, slapped, hit, grounded, yelled at, or given any attention whatsoever, good or bad. Please remember that I am only talking about my temper tantrums. I was disciplined like any other child for anything else I might do wrong. I was not spoiled by any means. I was also very loved by my parents. So, why do I think I stopped acting like that. There are a couple of reasons. One, I eventually realized that they didn't accomplish anything. Two, after a while I got tired. I got tired of feeling angry. I got tired of acting foolishly. I just got tired of it. It is a feeling that only kids who have been through this will understand. I just couldn't do it anymore. It wasn't worth it. I slowly began to find other ways to deal with my frustrations. Along the way I realized that these new choices were not only a lot less tiring, but they also caused me to be a more mature and responsible person. You may not have picked up on the subtlety of it all. Not only did my parents teach me that tantrums would not get me anywhere, by ignoring me at those times they forced me to figure out a solution for myself. That's a big deal for a four year old. It felt a lot better than being spanked or yelled at. I can also tell you that not only do I not have this problem any more. I am the complete opposite. I will never forget how awful that anger felt and how tired I eventually became. As an adult, I know that I will never feel that way again. It is gone from me. You're justified in fearing for your child's safety. But I just wonder, if my parents hadn't done what they did (or didn't do) before I became an adult, then the door to my bedroom would be the last thing to worry about. Well, I'm sorry to take up half your day with this. When I read your message, I saw myself. Trust me, be patient. Your son will thank for it. Good-luck!

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