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Help! My Son Takes Everything Apart!


Updated September 27, 2010

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Help! My Son Takes Everything Apart!

Kids with ADHD often express and satisfy their curiosity by physically engaging with items of interest.

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Question: Help! My Son Takes Everything Apart!

"My son takes everything apart! We cannot keep him out of his dad's tools and it makes his dad really angry. Any advice?" --About.com Forum Member


I know it must be frustrating when your son takes things apart and gets into his dad’s tools... not to mention how it may also be dangerous depending on what tools he is getting into!

Kids with ADHD tend to have difficulty thinking through the consequences of their behavior. They are often simply driven by the moment, unable to resist impulses, especially when there is something they are really drawn to and enjoy doing. And for your son, taking things apart and playing with his dad’s tools may be very stimulating and gratifying... and fun!

In other words, your son may not think through the problems that can occur when he is taking apart your favorite small appliance, for example, or he may not think about the dangers that can occur in the garage as he is fiddling with and examining one of his dad’s tools. Instead, he is living in the moment and enjoying the excitement and learning that comes along with playing with the tools and taking things apart.

Additionally, kids with ADHD often express and satisfy their curiosity by physically engaging with items of interest. You may hear a parent say, "My child is into everything!" And the child is often literally "into" these items as he or she feels and manipulates them in a tactile manner -- learning through physical exploration.

I like how Molsof (another ADD.about.com forum member - and an adult with ADHD - who responded to the original post) explained that he did the same thing as a child and ended up having a successful 35-year career as a mechanical engineer! Molsof makes a great point that it may be that this is an area you can nurture in terms of learning the mechanics of things and building. That is not to say that you wouldn’t set parameters and limits around behaviors that are not acceptable to you, but with your guidance, your son may be able to redirect these passions into appropriate learning opportunities.

Here are some ideas that may help:

  • Perhaps you or your son’s father could take him down to a surplus store and get items of interest that would be okay for him to take apart –- an old computer, an old radio, etc. -– whatever your son finds fascinating.

  • You might also want to get a separate tool box that belongs to your son. You could even set up a reward system where he earns additional tools to add to his collection. They don’t have to be new tools. Together you could check out yard sales or pawn shops or check with friends who may have extras they could give to you.

  • Another other idea is to have supervised time where it is okay for your son to explore and learn more about his dad’s tools. That way, he does have opportunities. And perhaps this could also be special bonding and teaching time that he has together with his dad.

These are just some ideas of ways you may be able to redirect your son’s impulses into positive learning experiences. Like Moslof, you may indeed have a budding engineer in your son!

To read more responses in this thread and in others, visit our ADHD Forum.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  4. Children and Teens With ADHD
  5. Parenting Children With ADHD
  6. Taking Things Apart - ADHD and Taking Things Apart

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