MANAGE the SYMPTOMS
Your goal is not to fix your child and stop the behavior. Good advice is to adjust your approach and your home life because this is what works. You create a situation that improves everyone’s well-being.
Examples of Symptom Management
- ADD, ADHD – Does best in a highly structured and scheduled life. Regimen works better than freedom.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) – Same as above, but take on only one issue at a time so enforcement is easier.
- Schizoaffective Disorder – Ask them what they need to lower stress and anxiety, then help them get it. It may not make sense to you; it only needs to work.
- Bullying – Bullies are usually victims and vice versa. Reduce the triggers that cause bully behavior, and teach a victim self-protection skills. ( ADD, ADHD, and ODD are most often bullies and victims.)
- Depression – Provide stimulation, contact with others, conversation, exercise, responsibility for another’s care.
- Explosions – Have a safe place for a child to rage as long as they need, where nothing can be damaged. Talk about it later, and make a pact or negotiate how certain things can be handled in the future.
- Has family support
- Can be gentle and nurturing (with animals, young children)
- Does well at something (writing, music, athletics)
- Has never harmed him or herself, talks tough but doesn’t act on it
- Is able to attend school, is able to make passing grades
- Keeps a dialogue open with you
See their POTENTIAL and Help them ACHIEVE it.
“There’s nothing so wrong with us
that what’s right with us can’t fix.”
–Mark Katz, MD
LIST Your STRENGTHS
- You want to be a good parent and are taking steps to learn how
- You have supportive people in your life, and you reach out and accept help
- You take care of yourself, you practice self-calming
- You have a good attitude and realistic expectations
CHEER Yourself On
Silently think, “I can handle this;” “I’m the one in control.
Regularly talk through your feelings with others who understand and won’t judge.
Get a life, maintain personal interests, and periodically set thoughts of the child aside without guilt.
Commit to doing the best you can, and accept that this enough – plan to let go someday.
You know you’ve done a good job when they are able to take responsibility for their own care. This is a monumental personal achievement!
In a neutral patient voice, give directions or requests . You will need to repeat yourself, calmly, several times. Your voice should not communicate strong emotions. Tone of voice, not words or volume, is what creates a bad response.
Don’t rush calm. Give the child plenty of time to unwind and settle. Calm is more important than quick.
Ensure there’s a calm place to go – a time-out space, even for you.
Get an appropriate therapy animal – a calm and durable creature unlikely to be harmed.
Reduce chaos in your home: noise, disorder, family emotional upheavals, the intrusive stimulation of an always-on TV, etc.
IDEAS for Managing Resistance
FYI: You want your child to be resistant to the negative things they’ll face in life. It represents willpower, and is a strength to cultivate.
Be quiet and LISTEN. If you respond, address how they feel, not what they say.
Use reverse psychology-ask them to do something you don’t want them to do, so they can defy you and do the opposite.
Choose your battles. Let them think they’ve won on occasion.
For an ODD child, give multiple instructions at once, including things they do and don’t want to do. It becomes too much work to sort out what to defy.
Actively ignore – Stay in the vicinity but don’t respond, look away, act like you can’t hear. They eventually give up. Works best for ages 2 – 12.
- Mix it up – Be unpredictable. Give a reward sometimes but not all the time. Try different incentives, experiment with different ways to set boundaries and structure.
- Research – Every child has something that works for them, example: one child may feel “punished” if sent to their room to be alone; a different child may feel “punished” if required to hang out with mom or dad for a period of time with absolutely nothing to do.
- Always look ahead – What works now will stop working eventually. Be flexible, stay creative. You only need to stay one step ahead.
Nine COMMON Parenting MISTAKES
1. Treat your home like a democracy, let your child have an equal say in decisions. Always do as they ask.
2. Find fault with them and tell them about it repeatedly. If they do something positive, it’s not good enough.
3. Pretend your child has no reason for their behavior. Ignore his or her needs or challenges. Are they being bullied? Are they having a hard time sleeping? Is your home too chaotic?
4. Make rules and only enforce them once in a while, or have consequence come much later.
5. Don’t treat your child appropriately for his or her age. Make long explanations to a 3-year-old about your reasoning. Assume a teen wants to be just like you.
6. Expect common sense from children who are too young (5), or from young adults with a long track record of not showing common sense.
7. Keep trying the same things that still don’t work. Repeat yourself, scream, show how frustrated you are with them.
8. Jump to conclusions that demonize the child. “You are manipulative and deceitful,” “You don’t listen to me on purpose,” “I’m tired of your selfishness…”
9. Make your child responsible for your feelings. If you lose your cool, insist they apologize.
Typical Problem SYMPTOMS – adjust your expectations, they will eventually get better
- Does not show common sense and is not influenced by reason and logic;
- Has no instincts for self-preservation, and poor personal boundaries;
- Has no well-adjusted friends; has friends who are risky or troublesome;
- Doesn’t respond to rewards and consequences;
- Appears to have limited character strengths: honesty, tolerance, respect for others, self-control;
- Does not make plans they can realistically achieve, hangs on to fantasies;
- Acts younger than their peers. Will not be ready for adulthood by 18;
- Lives in the here and now; doesn’t think about the past or future;Does not notice their effect on others.