ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder - Part 2

This excerpt is from Dr. C & Elwood’s Introduction to ADHD Volume 3 - ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Counseling Elwood’s parents about O.D.D. - Part 2

Mr. Splinter: I’m a pretty good yeller, sometimes. I hate it when Elwood is disrespectful!

Dr. C: As difficult as it sounds, I believe that you have to learn not to take the disrespect personally. The children are really more into the arguing itself rather than the content of the argument. Whenever we argue back with our children, we put ourselves on their level, and then we’ve lost from the very beginning. The more we yell, the more powerful they become and they’re able to say to themselves “I’m so powerful, that I can make mom and dad get angry like that.”

Mr. Splinter: This stuff is easy for you to say, but I don’t know that it’s easy to do.

Dr. C: I’d like to tell you how successful I’ve been with this technique since I know that I should practice what I preach. But I’ve had all the same mistakes myself over and over again. I used to get into arguments with my son. The arguments would end and then I’d go to his room and continue the argument again. Both he and I had a bad case of last-word-itis.

Mrs. Splinter: Well, I suffer from that my self.

Dr. C: Anyway a reasonable goal is to reduce the amount of energy you put into arguing and explaining. Focus on frequent, quick powerful consequences, instead of on always getting the last word, explaining or arguing.

Mrs. Splinter: Sometimes when I send Elwood to his room for time out, he refuses to go. Other times he keeps coming out and annoying me.

Dr. C: There are two types of consequences. Cooperative ones and non-cooperative ones. Children have to cooperate for cooperative consequences to be effective. If they don’t and you end up putting a lot of energy into the consequence, you need to select a non-cooperative consequence.

Mr. Splinter: What’s non-cooperative consequence?

Dr. C: One where the child doesn’t have to cooperate for the consequence to be effective. For example, taking away half of his video games for a few days. Immediacy, not needing the child’s cooperation and not needing to put significant energy into the consequence are the advantages of these technique.

Mrs. Splinter: That does sound a lot easier than trying to keep Elwood in his room.

Dr. C: I also believe that short consequences work better than long ones. Short ones not only take less energy, but you’re more likely to follow through with them than the long ones. With long consequences you end up piling one on top of the other every time the child misbehaves. And you can quickly run out of choices.

Mr. Splinter: I wrecked a car when I was 16. My old man told me he’d never let me drive again. But after a few months he changed his mind.

Dr. C: Better to use a short consequence and follow through than to teach the child that you don’t mean what you say. I also think that it is a mistake to set up punishment which you can’t enforce.

Mrs. Splinter: What do you mean?

Dr. C: For example you ground the children from the television and telephone for one week, knowing that you won’t be there to supervise. Better to say to your child “You are grounded for one week while I’m home. When I’m not home watch television, use the telephone.”

Mrs. Splinter: Ok, I understand.

Dr. C: Every time your child violates a consequence, he or she is able to say, “Mom and Dad can’t punish me.” Then the problems just become much worse.

Mrs. Splinter: Well, we sure don’t need that to happen!

Dr. C: It’s also important that you try to spend good, one on one time with your child on a regular basis no matter how your children are acting. It’s important that we enjoy our children and they enjoy us. That is one of the reasons we had them. But I know that this can be difficult when you are really angry.

Mr. Splinter: You can say that again!

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Stay tuned for part 3!

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