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Keeping Your Sanity

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Ideas For Home Management

We've all done it. Tried to muffle a snicker when our 'specialist' asks us to make a 'star chart.' This supposedly will encourage our child to work towards rewards and learn that they will get no attention, positive or otherwise, from bad behavior. Does this strategy work? Does it cocoa!

Unfortunately, many techniques which work with 'normal' kids just do not with ours. What these practitioners just don't understand is that the mechanism which remembers the reward and gives that good feeling when one is given, is dulled in our children.

What does work then? Well, there aren't any management strategies that work every time, with all kids. What I have found is that something which works on one particular day, may not work the next day. The kids are just too inconsistent, and don't learn from experience. Therefore, it is better to take each occurrence as it comes and don't rely too much on experience. Take it an hour at a time!

Try these tips:

  1. If yours is the kind of kid who won't get up in the morning, try offering an incentive. One parent told me that before, his son just wouldn't rise on being called each morning. But he changed his call from "Johnny, get up. It's breakfast time," to "Captain 'Crusader's' starting." Because the kid was going to get to see his favorite cartoon NOW, he was soon downstairs, sitting, eating his breakfast ... in front of the cartoon of course, but hey who cares, he was up! This has continued and now the problem has been solved - for now.

  2. One way to ease the pressure is to ACCEPT. Learn about ADHD and what behavior you can expect. The more I learned, the more I started to see that some of the baffling things that George does, are just part of his make-up. I also stopped beating my head up against a wall to make him comply with things which weren't that important. Like putting clothes on the right way. If he's happy wearing clothes inside out and back to front, it's OK with me! Well, most of the time.

  3. If you are going through a particularly bad patch, where everything but everything seems to be going wrong, your child seems to be going backwards, and he is picking up so many strange habits and bad behaviors that you don't know where to start, try focusing on one or two of the WORST misdemeanors and forget the rest for the time being.

  4. It is important to distinguish "inability" from "non-compliance." I know this is difficult, but when you start to learn what the child can and can't control, you have a better idea of when to punish and when not to.

    Easier said than done, I hear you say. It is difficult, but by learning as much as you can about ADHD and devouring all the information you can about what to expect, the emotional rollercoaster you are on will subside.

    I used to beat my brains out about George's inability (or was it refusal) to get ready for school in the morning. It was one long week-in, week-out battle after another. Then one day I just said "forget it." In the space of 8 or 10 minutes I could have him washed, dressed, hair brushed and ready...if I did it for him. Some parents would be unhappy about this, but I decided to make life easier for ME.

  5. Now, although George is eleven, I wash him, brush his teeth and comb his hair every day. Dressing, he more or less, he does for himself now, but only if I lay things out for him the night before. I do, however, often have to turn his clothes the right way as he still has a penchant for wearing things back-to-front. It's ten minutes more work for me, but the aggravation factor has decreased a hundred fold in the mornings! I have accepted that motivation is not George's strong point!

  6. Look for the good things and see the whole picture. Although things can be really bad at times for us, and George goes through periods when he is the devil himself, we do accept that things are much better than they were two years ago. He has caught up with his school work and is starting to shine in certain things. Handwriting has improved, swearing has decreased, hyperactivity has decreased. When things look really bad, I think of the all round improvements. There's no magic formula-just a stubbornness to get through this and a hope that things will turn out okay in the end.

next: The Lighter Side: 'Attila the Teen' Memories from a Middle-Aged AD/HD Author
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