My son is being tested for ADHD...he can't sit still and often doesnt follow directions or follow through with tasks. He has been doing pretty good in school and with his homework, however last night he stole a cigarette and tried hiding it. When we approached him he lied and doesn't seem to be upset by the situation. He said, well I am the bad child anyways so who cares. Any suggestions?
From what you wrote it sounds like your 7 year old son is not your only child. Your son told you he feels like he is "the bad child" and that no one cares, which means there must be another child whom he thinks is "the good child". Your son needs to know that there is no such thing as good and bad children, but there are choices we make which can be good or bad, or somewhere in between. Parents should "love the child and dislike the behavior", and make it clear to the child so the child does not feel they are all bad or all good.
Your son's actions could be partly because of the possible ADHD, but it could be that he is trying to get your attention. Do not assume he is not upset by the situation. He may not show it in the way you expect him, but he actually verbalized it quite clearly when he said he feels he is the bad child and no one cares. Kids figure out quickly if they can get attention from a parent for their negative behaviors.
Once you get the results back from the evaluation you will have more answers. But until then, try to praise your child when he tells you the truth, when he does anything small which is kind or helpful, and of course for his good behavior and grades at school. At Boys Town we say for every reprimand or negative consequence, we want to give 4 more positive comments to the child; a ratio of 4:1, positive to negative statements over the course of the day.
We have a website for parents which you may find useful. Please go to www.parenting.org for more ideas and advice on many different parenting issues. You can also call our toll-free Hotline anytime and talk directly with a crisis counselor, or you can e-mail our Hotline. Either way we are here 24/7 to listen and support parents and kids of all ages.
Thanks again for reaching out and let us know if we can help again!
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A couple of thoughts: first, it sounds like you're addressing the bigger issues by pursuing an evaluation. Hopefully that will lead to a list of strategies to help him across all areas of his development. It also sounds like he's doing pretty well, which is great news!
In terms of this particular situation with the cigarette, there are a few thoughts: first, I'd focus more energy toward the situation if it were part of a larger pattern of behavior. In other words, if this is the first time he's taken anything or been interested in cigarettes, I'd give him a consequence, talk to him about how serious it is, and be done with it. If, however, you notice that it happens more, I'd try your best to find out why it's happening - for example, is he bored and interested in the cigarette because it's something prohibited and exciting? Or, is he taking it to impress friends? There could be a lot of different reasons, and answer of what to do probably lies in the cause.
Another issue with the situation is him saying that he is the "bad child anyways," which probably developed because he is used to getting in trouble. If that is the case, I'd work hard to create as many positive experiences for him as possible where he feels like he isn't the "bad kid," but the good one. Almost always, even with kids who have behavior problems, kids have strengths and interests such as sports, collecting things, playing certain games, or doing other things - create as many experiences as possible for him to be successful and do things that earn him natural praise from you and others. Even if he still gets in trouble, he'll have a lot of positive experiences as well to help him form a better image of himself.
In addition, you may want to mention this to the person doing the evaluation - hopefully that person would be able to recommend some strategies to help as well.