Impulsive/ADHD In 5 Year Old Boy

Updated on June 15, 2018
E.D. asks from Saint Louis, MO
11 answers

At my son's 5 year well check we discussed some concerns with our ped regarding behavior. We had been getting reports at preschool that he had a hard time sitting at circle time, would interrupt the teacher and others, etc. At home we see him be very emotional, get upset easily if things don't go his way, has a hard time keeping himself busy. When he is happy things are perfect, when he gets in a mood, it is impossible to deal with. He will get angry, scream, hit, etc. He can verbally tell me what he is and is not supposed to do but just can not control himself. We can't seem to find a discipline method that works. We have since started seeing a therapist. She says she wouldn't talk about a diagnosis for ADHD until we see how he does in kindergarten but she does see some impulse control issues. We have been doing the therapy weekly for almost 2 months now and I haven't seen much change. I am worried sick with each passing day about how kindergarten will go. So my question-what do I do next? Do I give the therapy more time? Do I keep seeing the therapist and get an appt with a psychologist? This is my oldest and first time I have had to deal with something like this. I, of course, want to do whatever it takes to help him and our family but I am not sure what that is. I am so sick of feeling constantly defeated.

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answers from Boston on

I'm going to leave you with 3 areas of thought:

1) Yes, give therapy more time. It takes a while for child and therapist to bond and for her to find out and experience the problems, let alone to implement strategies.

2) There is no rule that a 5 year old has to go to kindergarten. You can hold him out a year, find a pre-K or similar program, and give him an extra year to mature and get control. (We did this with our son, who had a June birthday. He was intellectually on track and socially adept in general, but he didn't have the focus he needed to be in a large class. And, he napped for 3 hours a day well past the age of 4 and I couldn't see him in afternoon kindergarten (which was the schedule for our neighborhood back then - half the district had morning K and half had afternoon K). He turned 6, and started K at 6 yrs. 2 months. Best decision we ever made. In the year in between, we put him in a Kindergarten readiness program 5 days a week with an extended day/lunch option 3 days a week, and he did great. He got used to the longer day, transitioned from the morning teacher/program to the afternoon one, and learned to adjust while still being in a smaller-than-public school class.

3) If you are "worried sick" and "feeling constantly defeated," you are making this a measure of your parenting abilities. It isn't. You can talk to the therapist about whether you are trying too many discipline techniques in too short a period of time, or not. But this is not about you, and it's likely that your stress and tension is adding to the problem. Not causing it, mind you, but not helping it either. Please work with the therapist or with another one for just yourself to help you learn calming techniques (which your son needs to learn too), and find ways out of this cycle of anxiety. If you get agitated, how does it help him to learn to calm himself down? And no matter how hard we think we are hiding our emotions from our kids, we aren't. You have other children and this stress level is not a good way to get thorough the next 15+ years of parenting. Yes, what you're going through is a trial and a frustration, but so is 3rd grade and so is 7th grade, and don't get me started on the teen years and the defiance/moodiness that goes along with it. Please get some help and some perspective for yourself. Asking for help doesn't mean you're a failure as a parent. It means your kids came without an operator's manual, and they are as different and challenging as a car vs. a vacuum vs. a lawnmower. Skills help.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I don't know if I have any advice because my son is not ADHD, but he also was similar to this at age 5 (although he could hold it together at school). He had tantrums, was very emotional, would get angry and he wanted to be in control. He had a hard time with transitions and did not like it when he could not get his way. It was exhausting and I also felt defeated. I think I read every "difficult child" book out there! I was often so worried and all the daily battles were so hard. We did end up putting our son into therapy when he was a bit older and it helped a lot. For him it was important to find a therapist who he really clicked with. And then he just became easier as he got older and more mature. For my son it was 6th grade where we finally noticed he was starting to be mature and more easy going...and when he started taking responsibility for things. It was a very long and exhausting process though and I did not notice other parents (except one) having that hard of a time. I think some kids are just a lot harder than others. If your son has ADHD get him all the help and special services you can. You will be the one to have to push for things. I wish you luck. Hang in there.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

A therapist can't diagnose. He needs to be seen by a child psychiatrist or neuropsychologist for an assessment. These specialists can give a thorough evaluation and determine whether it's ADHD, something else, or just normal five-year-old behavior. However, as the parent of a 15-year-old who had neon signs of ADHD at three, your story rings a bell with me.

You don't have to wait until kindergarten for help. AAP, which governs pediatricians, has said ADHD can be diagnosed as young as four. Waiting longer only means your child gets a whole lot of negative feedback for a longer time, with no help in sight. We had a lot of well meaning input that he was just an active boy, he'd grow out of it, be more consistent (sigh), etc. Believed that for far too long. He needed medical help.

In our experience, therapy didn't work with our son until he started medication at four. First day on Ritalin was life changing for him. It connected the dots in his brain in ways that therapy and parenting couldn't. It gave him the tools to be successful with therapy.

Don't wait. Get a referral from the pediatrician to a specialist for a full evaluation. If it's ADHD, join CHADD and subscribe to ADDitude magazine. Both are terrific resources.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

The most frustrating part of parenting is that it never ends. It's ongoing. Your son may simply still be maturing and will eventually grow out of these issues, or there may be a diagnosis to deal with, be it ADHD or something else.
Try to relax and take it one day at a time. Continue with the therapy and see what happens over the next several months. Keep working with the doc and teachers and other school professionals. Keep praising your son when he makes good choices.
My youngest is ADHD with anxiety and middle school was our hardest time by far. There were days I just cried and wished I could run away. The good news is that she got through it and is now a fully functioning and HAPPY 19 year old.
One day at a time mama, hopefully he just needs some time, and if not you will find a way to get through it. We all do!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My 20 yo has ADHD. He sounds very similar to your boy at that age - he couldn't concentrate on anything in preschool and liked to interrupt and argue with others. He was diagnosed by his pediatrician at age 5 (Kindergarten) and his teachers noticed an immediate change once he went on meds - he was sitting quietly reading a book! He tried Adderall and it made him very angry and we then settled on Concerta. As he got older, he recognized that the meds helped him and would tell me that if he forgot to take them, he noticed that he would "interrupt and make dumb jokes in class". He is in college now and only takes the meds on school days for concentration. He is taking a lower dose this summer when he goes to work. I had heard that sometimes kids can get off the meds as they get older and we seem to be heading that way as his impulse control has greatly improved - he just seems to need something to help him focus.

I wish you the best of luck as you manage through this. With the right diagnosis, it will get better!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Ugh I just wrote a lengthy response, and lost all of it so I’ll try again.
E., I’m a holistic nutritionist and I help families with kids that have ADHD like symptoms and behavior get their kids to a better place with diet and nutrition and lifestyle changes. Without knowing your son, his history , or your family and your families eating habits, I would suggest using this summer to swap unhealthy foods for healthy ones, make a commitment and stick with it for the summer and keep a journal of his behavior. Summer is a great time to make the diet healthier with more in season foods and farmers markets. It can be done but can seem overwhelming so break it down and focus on one food group or meal only for a few weeks...for instance, start by removing all gluten containing foods, or just dairy, or foods with colorings and dyes, then maybe make breakfast swaps from cereal to smoothie bowls for example. He may fuss early on in the process, but remember you are in control, you are the boss not him. Eventually he should start to associate with how he feels with foods- kids are very smart! You can look at my blog posts and do a search for ones on ADD on my site or email me at [email protected]



answers from San Antonio on

I was a nervous wreck when I sent my oldest to Kinder. I nearly wrote a dissertation on the sheet provided on any areas for the teacher watch for and help my son improve.

Then at our first meeting she told me what a model student he was/is and how she didn't see any of my concerns.

He might have been a challenge for me at home but he did great at school. So take a deep breath and just enjoy your summer!! Your son might just surprise you when he hits the doors of the school and do great!!

If he doesn't then you can be ready to deal with issues as they come up. But as my grandma always said, "Don't put the cart before the horse." Big hugs!!



answers from New York on

Kids change and grow over the summer. Send him to K. If there are issues, they will be identified and you can get appropriate help. If he does have problems, holding him back won’t help. Better to get help earlier. Then again, he could very well surprise you.

If he had to repeat K that’s ok. More to gain out of repeating K then keeping him in preschool another year.



answers from Los Angeles on

We have a student who was difficult in another school and after he switched to our school it took a long time for him to finally get to where he is. The student is now 5 years old and he finally grew out of all the little issues he had like sticking pompoms up his nose or putting rubber bands on his leg all day etc. We noticed that a lot of the challenges we faced came out of his lack of proper sleep. We also noticed that when he doesn't take naps during the day he will lose all sense of control and get really hyper about everything. We really had to work with him on staying calm and taking a moment (he also had asthma so we were extremely worried). Don't give up and definitely talk to the teachers. We see the students and how they interact with each other so helping us understand them will help both sides.



answers from Washington DC on

My son was “busy” when he was little. He couldn’t sit still, spoke out of turn, etc... We put him in Kaate. They taught him to sit still, to wait, to find other positive ways to express himself, to think of others first, to help when asked and when not asked, and self defense.
The first 6 months were HARD for him and his teachers, but he figured it out! All of the lessons learned there, spilled over to school. He eventually earned his black belt. He is now a productive member of society, college, graduate, very sweet husband, and Army Officer.
There is hope!



answers from San Diego on

What does his pediatrician say? Is this behavior "new" or has this been his dispostion for awhile (meaning he acts the same way regardless of home or school)? What type of "therapist" are you seeing? Are there any other "red flags" besides listening and following directions type of behavior?

The reason for these questions is, perhaps you don't have all of the pieces to the puzzle that is your son?

If possible, hold him back a year. There is no pressure to send him off to kindergarten if he isn't ready. Speak to his pediatrician about your concerns, perhaps they can recommend some testing that might shed some light on why he is exhibiting these types of behaviors.

At 5 years old, a child should be able to follow simple instructions for a short period of time. However, impulsive behavior is quite typical for this age and learning how to control your emotions is a learned skill.

These questions are important because if you know for sure, without a doubt, that the only issue is ADHD, then with the correct treatment plan, he should begin seeing results. But if there is an underlying issue that hasn't been discovered/ diagnosed yet, then you'll be spinning your wheels until that is addressed. Talk therapy is a tool in the toolbox, along with a myriad of other supports.

Of course therapy can take time, but I believe that "proof is in the pudding" and if it appears that it's not working then it probably isn't and you may need to find another answer.

Allow me to share my experience. I only mention this to you as a helpful guide. I'm in no way implying that your son has any of these issues that my boy has...

I have 2 children, the older one is easy- laid back. My second child is challenging to say the least. For the first 4 years of his life, I truly felt like I was failing him. He was angry all the time, defiant, temper tantrums that lasted for hours. I felt like nothing I did was working. I cried a lot, I read a lot of books.

Finally after being ignored by my pediatrician, I sought out therapists in the private sector to test my child for a lot of different things. After 3 lengthy sessions by a panel of therapists we finally got a diagnosis for ASD (autism spectrum disorder ) and SPD (sensory processing disorder).

It was a lengthy process, because he did not display "typical" traits of a child with these qualities. Well, it's been amazing to see how he has flourished with weekly occupational and speech therapy. In addition, I've learned how to parent him the way he needs. I can go on and on. My point is, only you know your child. Trust your instinct, and if you feel like you are not getting the answers you need, keep digging, keep reaching out and talking. Even so called "professionals" can get it wrong sometimes.

You can do this!

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