Lecture 4: How to prevent and solve conflicts with your ADHD child

Analyze conflicts

One of my notes from what was said was, that one of the things that teachers have a great difficulty with, is bad and good days. What works one day, ought to work always, but that is not the case when it comes to children with ADHD. It’s quite the opposite. They are so impulsive and the work memory, mentioned in previous lectures, is so bad, that they can’t do things per automatic like other children do, and this will create conflicts.

Examples of conflicts are:

* Getting up in the morning

* Meals

* Doing homework

* Going to bed at night

* Situations when you go from one activity to another

* Occupying themselves

* Help with chores

* Visit shops

* When friends and relatives visit, or you go visiting them

Conflicts does not have to be that they object. It can be that they can not sit down at a dinner table without picking a fight with siblings. Or when going to a shop, beg for something that you have already told them that you will not buy.

What does it mean to analyze conflicts? Well, first of all, the child usually know the rules but everything goes too quickly when it comes to the child’s actions. Secondly,  the child can’t generalize that the same rule applies to school, at home, at the library, at the supermarket.

* step one:  is to map out the conflict situations. Why do they happen? Perhaps it is time to not take the child through the aisle with the candy, when going grocery shopping. Perhaps you should order clothes via internet and try them at home, instead of dragging the child to a clothing shop where he will not behave and have arguments.

* step two: What triggers the conflict and what are the consequences?

* step three: How can one prevent that they happen?

* step four: If it happens – how do you intervene?

Simple and clear rules

These children need more help but they have the same demand for independence that other children have.

* Have simple rules that are easy to follow, that are realistic

* Make the rule clear – connect it to certain situations

* Make an agreement with the child

* Write the rule down and place it where it can be seen

* Remind the child often

* Praise often when the child follows the rule

* Do not give options, no space for negotiation

When we discussed this at our table, parents brought up going to the toy shop and how the child would nag, scream, throw a fit, to get a toy they had found. This father and I, told them that we don’t have a problem with this since in our families we just say: “Good, you can put it on your wish list for Christmas/ Birthday/the Easter bunny.” If you ALWAYS say that, there will be no conflict. This mother told us that in her family it always ends up that she buys her daughter the toy because the conflict is such an embarrassment. It should not have to be that way.

Prevent by planning

* Prepare the child by telling what is going to happen. But you can’t really do it days ahead. It has to be right before or they will have forgot what the deal is, what rules go.

* Give the child detailed instructions for what the child is expected to do in the situation coming up – write them down if you have to. The psychologist threw out an example “there will be no swinging in grandmother’s curtains when we go visit her”.

* Seek consent from the child – ask the child to repeat what you have agreed on. Encourage.

* Remind just before it’s time to get in to the situation that might cause conflict.

* Praise the child during and afterwards

* Remember to ignore minor “mistakes”. Once again, choose your conflicts.

To remain calm

* Always remember that when you raise the tone of your voice, you raise the temperature! You are the role model for your child so it is never a good idea to lose your temper.

* Take control over the situation. Your child can not.

* Do not let your child drive you up the wall

* Think calm thoughts, count to ten

* Do not take your child’s behaviour personally

* Act calm, neutral and firm

* Use FEW words and explanations. They only hear parts anyways.

* Do not give in to provocations and protests

To choose your battles

* Accept imperfection. So much in their behaviour insult or irritate the surrounding people.

* prioritize away unnecessary battles

* Avoid giving negative behaviour attention

* Decide which annoying behaviours you can live with

* Make sure the child obeys even if the child protests to you doing so.

What the psychologist added to the power points above was that these children have it in them to scream a lot, to protest. They do not want to be steered/controlled even though they need it more than ordinary children. You have to ignore these screams and protests and finally they will not give the child the incentive to continue using these means of objection.

They gave an internet address where one can see what it’s like for a child with ADHD to go through this and that experience: http://www.hi.se I haven’t looked at it yet to see if it is any good.

She also said that you have to back up your partner even if you do not agree with her/him. There has to be a united front because the child can not take the confusion of disagreeing parents.

If you are going to use Time Out, then it has to be because the child must have a moment to calm down. It must not be used to make the child feel ashamed. This especially since they have great difficulties with reflecting over their own behaviour. They do not see any problems with it. And they can’t brainstorm and come up with other solutions.

To set limits effectively

* Intervene quickly by taking the child away physically from the conflict

* Help the child to a place where he can calm down

* Act with calmness and be firm

* Do not escalate the conflict

* Go through the intervention all the way.

* Avoid discussions and reproaches

* Be predictable and consistent!

Joint problem solving

* What is the problem? Concrete: Getting out of bed, Going to bed…

* What kind of different solutions are possible? You can brainstorm together

* What are the pros – and cons with the different solutions?

* Choose a solution

* Plan how you are going to implement things

* Try the solution

* Evaluate the results – modify or try another solution if the one did not work

SUMMARY: the 14 strategies in your toolbox

1) Cease the good moments

2) Encourage and praise often

3) Give clear orders/instructions

4) Prepare for changes

5) Apply First – Then

6) Have structure in the everyday life

7) Try a reward system

8) Analyze conflicts

9) Have simple and clear rules

10) Prevent by planning

11) Keep calm

12) Choose your battles

13) Set limits effectively

14) Applying Joint Problem solving

One of the things that was brought up about conflicts are that families with children that have ADHD, often get very isolated. Through choice or because people do not want to associate with them because of the child. That is when it is very important to inform those around you, WHY your child behaves the way it does! But the child might still not be invited to Birthday parties. Your friends still might not invite the entire family over for dinner.

They kept on telling us that we are good parents and are doing our best. We can’t help the way our children behave. But all the same, sometimes it is easier not to go to that shop, to that event, to that party, to avoid what will always happen. Another thing that they said was that we need to get a teflon memory and have a teflon coating for all comments. This is not an easy thing at all! I am still working on it and not succeeding.

In my experience so far, one does not have to isolate oneself all together. It is all about how much criticism one is willing to put up with. And how much one can prepare for things. Last year, we went to Normandy and visited lots of museums every day. BUT we did not bring “Kitty”  to all of them. It was better for him to stay at the hotel and watch DVDs, play and swim in the pool and it was calmer for me to get to look at everything in peace. But we did bring him and the other small children to some things that had a lot of outdoor things. I just had to read up on things before, to see if it would be too small, too boring for a child with energy. Going to church might seem the most natural thing for some people and that in this place you would find understanding but it is not so. Some people mind that their spirituality has a difficult time to re-charge when there is a child that makes noise and doesn’t sit still. So, the key word is planning. Pack things that are funny BUT are SILENT. Colouring books, crayons and pens, books with Star Wars pictures in our case, or magazines with lots of pictures. We learned the hard way that Lego was not a good idea, which he likes to pack himself. That draws a crowd to the back row and instead of just hushing him down, we had a whole group to hush down! And irritated elderly people and parents around us! A good idea is having snacks or sandwiches with you or you will have a child that throw themselves suddenly on the floor, “screaming” that he is dying of hunger and nothing can hush him down. Anything to avoid conflict, even if he is “too old” to need to eat just then and you not usually eating in Church.

If you are going to visit friends that have possessive children, I also suggest from experience that it is a good idea, to bring some of my own child’s favourite toys in my bag, to bring out when the fighting starts. Not all parents will intervene and tell their children to let their guests play with their toys. Might seem a non-ADHD situation, but an ADHD child gets twice as angry over the injustice of not charing one’s toys with guests and so on. And the child will throw a fit, so that your child will look like the bad child, in this case. Having HIS toys in your bag, is one way of avoiding the conflict.

As I explained in a previous lecture blog, alpha and omega when it comes to being an ADHD-child’s parent is to foresee problem situations, be prepared for them and try to prevent them. The only way to do this is to create structure wherever you go. Nothing can be spontaneous! Everything has to be planned or you can have a nuclear reaction on your hands and then you can’t prevent a meltdown. All talked about in an excellent Swedish book on ADHD called “To live without breaks”. That is what these children do. They do not have any breaks. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow. They live today! Carpe Diem is really their motto. They live with a 4 second rule which means that they live like the world is going under in 4 seconds, so they live life to the fullest. And since there is no yesterday, they can’t learn by their lessons or past experiences like the rest of us. That “work memory” is missing.

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