Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Parenting a Child vs. Parenting a Child with AD(H)D

Parents in general can gather excellent information about fostering success in their child by referring to strategies used for children diagnosed with AD(H)D.

I offer 7 Points of Positive Parenting quick tips sheet and ask that parents use this in through the therapy process as a guide to keep them on the right track.
The 7 Points include:
Catching Good
Response / Consequence
Limit Setting

Check out the ADHD Health Center for excellent resources on ADHD and honestly, general parent skills for success.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Help! My child's behavior just got worse!

Just a quick reminder / tip regarding modifying your child's undesired behavior: often when we are changing our response to your child's behavior to reduce the frequency, intensity or duration of an unwanted or unacceptable behavior we see a spike in the behavior. Things seem to be getting worse and parents want to throw in the hat because they think they've gotten bad advice or are struggling to stay consistent in how they respond to the behavior.

It's very easy for parents to revert back to old patterns at this point and to inadvertently reinforce the behavior they want to see changed. Positive reinforcement happens when anything is done to increase the likelihood of a behavior occurring again. Even a child getting in trouble or being punished can equate positive reinforcement, it's still attention.

This is a very typical response to behavior being changed. It's called an extinction burst. This is the time where consistency in responding to the targeted behavior is critical. If you vary your response you are inviting the behavior to remain, return or escalate. Stick to your plan! It will work.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happiness linke to having or not having children

Newsweek July 7-14, 2008 issue reported that research determined that childless couples are happier.

Whether you believe this or not, have children or not it is compelling to consider a) the reason you had or haven't had children and b) how you perceive your experience of life in general.

As a new parent and a therapist working with families I can definitely see the trend toward a decrease in happiness if the focus is on the burden, the stress and the kind of chaos that can be created if you have not chosen to get organized, take care of yourself and focus on the negative.

The most important thing parents can do to foster happiness and a sense of well being is to begin with taking care of themselves first. This may come in several forms:
  • exercise
  • eating healthy
  • creating independent / recovery time
  • creating time and attention for your spouse
  • being able to set limits for yourself and your children
  • maintaining structure and organization with schedules, activities, responsibilities, etc
  • focusing on what is working and is good and changing what isn't (such as overly busy schedule, too many commitments)
Click here to read the Psychology Today article outlining research that contradicts that childless people are happier than those with children. You may be surprised to read what they have to say about having multiple children vs. one child.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shift Happens

I just saw a You Tube blip called Shift Happens. It was so intriguing, that I could not step away for the brief moment to lay my sleeping newborn in his bassinet. What occurred to me is that life is moving at light speed, to what end is unknown. While watching this I remember seeing a timeline my dad had shown me about technological progression that was equally as shocking ten years ago and I remember feeling concern that things would only continue to speed up. The gap between inventions is becoming less and less, the speed of ingenuity continues to progress at light speeds, the amount of information available and force fed to every person during every possible moment is overwhelming and seems to be endless, relentless and all consuming.

My motivation for sharing these thoughts you may be wondering, is the reflection on this information while I hold my newborn son in my arms enjoying how much life has slowed down in so many ways since his arrival. I am not pressured to read 180,000 times the information a person in Shakespearean times would have read in their lifetime in one sitting of reading the New York Times. I’m not interested in creating a My Space account or Text messaging rather than speaking to those I know and love. I am interested in connecting and helping other people get reconnected in their lives and particularly with their spouses and children.

I’m interested in paying closer attention to things that impact and matter directly to my life and those around me. I’m trying to figure out why we are moving at the speed of light so to speak, what is the rush about? Is there a race to the finish? What will we be missing by going so fast, what errors will we make by not taking the extra moment to create a place we want to be and want to return to in order to get away from this rat race? What is so important that we must be on the go 18 hours a day continuing this pattern, particularly when our families and our health are negatively impacted? When do we say enough and choose to take a step back to reflect? I had already been thinking about this prior to receiving this video clip. I noticed how amazing it was to sit and rock my new baby in silence on a crisp fall morning watching the leaves change and shift from Summer in preparation for Winter. I listened to the sounds of the dead leaves tickling across the pavement and took in the feeling of the cool air rustling the golden and amber maple leaves. I could not have been sitting in greater silence or peace. I could not have been more aware, grounded or serene. This for me was a shift happening! I have new choices and a new focus and a new purpose.

Parenting As Therapy

Kids do not come with operations manuals and sometimes even the best of us need some direction on using parenting skills that fit your child.

This NY Times article talks specifically about behavioral interventions from a parenting skills perspective as the first avenue of defense and sometimes as the only one needed.

I meet so many people that say "Oh, I wish I would have known you X years ago, when I was raising my kids". Therapy is not just for when you have challenges. It is a way to pro-actively face the every day challenges and stress of being overworked, being in a relationship, being a parent, being a child or any other state of being you can imagine.

The idea is to acquire the skills that help you feel good about the life you're leading, the relationships you have and the choices you're making.

In this case, therapy as a parenting skills support. Because sometimes we just aren't equipped to address the stuff of life.

AD(H)D: Back to School Worries

Oh, the new school year. I remember being so excited to get my first day of school outfit set out, have my box of supplies and anticipating seeing friends I hadn't seen all summer.

For some, the idea of the new school year brings mixed blessings. They may be relieved because their child really thrives in the structured environment. They may be dreading the prospect of behavioral issues and concern over their child's progress, grades and ability to pay attention long enough to learn anything.

This is a link to a nice and simple overview of concerns parents may have regarding AD(H)D with the new school year just around the corner.

It's critical to remember that although a teacher's observations are helpful and may add pieces to a puzzle you've been trying to figure out, they cannot diagnosis or recommend treatment for AD(H)D. With so many students and so little resources it's easy to spot a child that may need some additional attention or redirection. This does not however equate diagnostic criteria.

If you have concerns, check out some of the links I've provided. Seek consultation with a Mental Health Professional as well as your general practitioner.

If it truly is AD(H)D, there are multiple strategies to look into in addition to any medication options.