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Old 04-08-11, 10:54 AM
Dizfriz Dizfriz is offline
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Discipline Part 2

DISCIPLINE PART 2: When they don't accept a limit.

I presented the ACT model of limit setting in the first Discipline essay, this is the follow up.

There are different thoughts in Child Centered Play Therapy on how to react in specific situations where a child will not accept a limit. I am going to present my thoughts leaving open that others may advocate a somewhat different way. All however are based on the ACT model and the child having choices and those choices being honored. This is not really a set of discipline techniques rather it is a way of thinking about children. I used the term Discipline as a convenience.

Again: Children learn to make good decisions by making both good and bad decisions and taking responsibility for the consequences. It is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.

A warning: This is never to be used as a punishment, a way to criticize or pass judgment on your child because it simply will not work if used that way. With this, children are accepted just as they are without wishing them to be different in any way. We are focusing on behavior decisions, not the child. This is very important. The child does nothing "Bad" or "Wrong." They can make inappropriate behavior decisions however and it is here that we work.

I repeat from the first essay, the most powerful tool you can use is positive feedback when they choose to make good decision; it important to keep this in mind when working with your child.

When the limit is not accepted or broken, the child may be just testing to see what you will do, engaging in a power struggle or perhaps just needing to know that definite boundaries exist so as to feel more secure. There are many reasons for the child doing this. In any case this is when acceptance, understanding and patience are most needed.

So when the child will not make an appropriate decision and refuses to accept the limit, what do you do?

The first step is to state the Final Choice. Again keep in mind with the scenarios that this is the way I work and others may have different ways in specific situations. The basic concepts of the limit setting model, however, are pretty much followed by all in trained in this field.

Also, there is no set way of doing this and there are many variations one can come up with. These scenarios are just to explore some general ways of approaching this and perhaps generate some ideas; only that and nothing more.

THE FINAL CHOICE

Bill throws a toy car across the room.

Mom: "Bill, you look like you like throwing the car but the car is not for throwing. You can pretend to throw car or you can play with it on the floor." (ACT)

Bill gets the car and throws it again. Mom goes through setting the limit again.

Bill again gets the car and gets ready to throw it.

Mom: "I know you want to throw the car but it is not for throwing. If you decide to throw the car, you decide to put up for the day. (The final choice)

Bill throws the car again. He is really going to test Mom, Mom will pass.

Now it is time for activating the final choice. Mom can do this in several ways. Here is one:


Mom: "OK you decided to have the car up for the day. You can put it on the shelf there (points)." If Bill does not put the car up then

Mom: "If you decide not to put the car up then you decide for me to put it up and it will be up for two days."

Bill still does not put the car up. He is really testing Mom. No more warning. "You chose for me to put the car up." and gets up to get the car.

Bill: “No I will put it up." Mom: No, You decided for me to put it up. That was your choice." Mom immediately takes the car and puts it up. Today is Wednesday; you can have it back Friday and play with it then.

Notice how fast the consequence was enacted. There was little or no discussion here. Speed, not severity nor the value of the reward is the key to working with ADHD kids and really any child. You can be very effective with rather small consequences and rewards if you work fast. By fast, I mean that the consequence or reward is activated within 10 seconds after the child's final decision. Immediately is even better. I would recommend starting to move when the car is still in the air. Fast!

Also when the final choice is activated, there is no going back. It must be enforced or you will be setting yourself up a lot more testing before the kid believes you mean what you say.

But if you do have to change for some reason, use something like this "Bill, I have thought about it and I have decided the car will only be up one day because (the reason)." That frames it as having nothing to do with any pleading, crying or nagging. You, the parent are taking responsibility for your decisions; good role model.

Bill wants the car.

Mom: Remember, you chose to have the car put when you decided to throw it and you also chose to have it up for two days when you decided for me to put it up. You can have it back tomorrow." You might decide to take the car up at the first point. I am trying to demonstrate a couple of ways of handling this.

Note that there is no anger or criticism. Bill has made his choices and the Mom is honoring them. The thing is that Bill really has choices here and the mother is simply accepting the child's choices. Bill did nothing wrong and his choices are perfectly OK. It is a wonderful learning experience and if you can convey that attitude with your expression and your tone, you are ahead of the game.

What if Bill doesn't throw the car after the limit is stated? Be sure to acknowledge this decision. "You decided not the throw the car when you wanted to. It was not easy but you did it."

Another possible take on this is when Bill is holding up the car getting ready to throw and looking at you.

Mom: "You are pretending to throw the car to see what I will do, but the car is not for throwing." Each situation is a little different and the way you handle it will be also.

Another thing is always try to give them a way they can have their wish. Some call it "Giving in fantasy" In this case you tell the kid when he can get the car back. You are telling him that the car is not gone forever and he will get it back. Also you are telling the child that he can pretend to throw it also giving him his wish in fantasy.

Another situation is where the child wants to do something right now. You set the limit "That's not for doing now, but you can do it later today." Lots of options on this: Remember that to a younger child it is all or mostly "Now". On any consequence they tend to see it as forever so giving them a time span or an out helps them accept it. Also they are not boxed into a corner where there is no “out” or alternative. The idea is to turn it from a potential power struggle into something more reasonable that the child can accept. Use this a lot as it is very effective.

Another example, the child is watching TV and it is time to turn it off. This has been an ongoing issue with Bill.

Mom: Bill, I see that you are enjoying TV but it is for turning off when this program is over"

Program over. Bill keeps watching. Mom gives a couple of more limit statements.

Note: With some in the Autistic spectrum the parent may have to do it with a longer transition time and probably more repeats of the limit. Perhaps a clock set for a 10 minute ahead alert to help the child get closure when the time is actually up would be useful.

Back to Bill:

Mom after one or at most two repeats (ongoing issue) then: Bill I know you like watching TV but it is for turning off. If you decide not to turn it off then you decide for me to turn it off and you decide not to watch it tonight (or tomorrow or whatever you decide is appropriate-it depends a lot on the age and psychological maturity of the child.

Bill continues to watch TV or tries to start an argument to keep it on.

Mom: Bill, you decided for me to turn it off and you decided not to watch it for the rest of the day. It was your choice.

If Bill now tries to turn off the TV it is too late. He has made his decision.

Mom: "No you decided for me to turn off the TV and you decided that you will not watch it tonight. "

After supper: Bill: “Can I watch TV."

Mom: No remember earlier you chose for me to turn it off and you chose not to watch it tonight. You can watch it tomorrow though."

Bill: "But MOM!!!!"

Mom: It was your choice. We are just doing what you decided. You can watch it tomorrow."

Bill: "Grumble, grumble".

You can see in these scenarios that it was made clear to Bill that he had real choices and those choices would be honored by the parent. The parent here is showing Bill that she respects him and his choices. All of the choices were OK with the Mom. She sees inappropriate choices in these scenarios as wonderful learning opportunities so there is no reason to become upset when he does not make the appropriate choice.

Some quick notes: It is the parent's job to set the choices, not the child. The kid can discuss the issues and sometimes you can let him participate in figuring out which choices he will have but he is the child and you are the parent. Your job is not to make the kid mind, it is to set the choices and have the consequences happen, both positive and negative.

One parent reported that her son had said "If I choose to eat my dinner then I can have dessert. I think I will choose to eat my dinner." We both thought it was a lovely moment.

An important note: Sometimes it is not appropriate to give warnings. If a child is involved in something that could cause harm to themselves or others, you go right to the final choice. "Bill, the knife is not for using. It is for putting down now" in a firm voice.

Also there will be times when the limit is one that the child tests often. In this case you can go right to the Final Choice. "Bill, juice is not for bringing into the living room. If you choose to bring it in, you choose for it to be put up and you choose not have any more today." Bill continues to come into the room. "You have chosen to have the juice put up." Have him hand it to you or take it away as the situation unfolds. After that, "You can have more tomorrow if you wish but it is not for taking in the living room.

In this case the mother went right to the Final Choice because this has been an ongoing issue with Bill, he knows the rules. He is most likely testing so not much in the way of warning are needed.

In cases like this, sometimes you have to be firm. Again lower your voice a little and turn up the volume a little. This signals to the kid that it is serious.

With ADHD kids, limit setting should be done a lot. ADHD kids need more consequences not less. It is simply part of the disorder so use this often and well with these kids.


FINALLY TO THE FINISH:

This is all about choices. In my opinion, the two most powerful words in the English language are "I CHOOSE!" Help your child learn to use them and be responsible for what is chosen. Respect your child and honor his choices.

I had a parent tell me that she heard her son yell "Choices, I'm tired of choices!" Kids will sometimes fight this because they don't like being responsible for all those choices. They would much prefer to put it on the parent. "It was Mom's fault that I was late for school, she didn't make me get ready on time." Nope, put it back on the kid, that's where it belongs.

Again there is a lot more to this and I have only scratched the surface. I gave some resources in the first essay. They might be worth looking at.

To repeat, this is more a way at looking at children than a set of techniques. It shows that your love your child but also that you respect them. That is why there is no “right way” that can applied in all situations. The parent should be aware of the general principles then handle each situation as it occurs. Trust me, it is not easy to come up with responses that work but as you practice your ammo pouch will be much fuller and it tends to become second nature. it can actually be fun at times watching the kid trying to figure a way around his choices so relax and enjoy the interchange.

Finally: PUT IT BACK ON THE CHILD! I can't say that enough. Make them responsible for their decisions, not you.

I hope this will be of some use. Some will like it and some will not. It is admittedly much different than what is taught traditionally so read it and choose how you will react to it. You can use it or ignore it and that is your choice. Both are OK.

These are my ideas on the subject and I alone am responsible for the content.


“A Child gets his feelings of security from predictable and consistent and realistic limitations.”

Virginia Axline, Dibs in search of self.

Dizfriz
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Old 04-08-11, 12:39 PM
Kasechka Kasechka is offline
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Re: Discipline Part 2

May I ask a question?

Our 8 year old is getting to be quite rude and verbally aggressive with me and with her father when she doesn't get her way, and sometimes with her sisters when they displease her. I struggle to find consequences that don't include time-outs--I don't want to isolate her from the family, I want her to be with us. She's more than happy at times to go sulk in her room.

What do you think is a good consequence? We sometimes ignore her verbal aggression toward us, but I can't allow her to hurt her sisters (and model for them name-calling, shouting, etc.).
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Old 04-08-11, 01:50 PM
Dizfriz Dizfriz is offline
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Re: Discipline Part 2

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Originally Posted by Kasechka View Post
May I ask a question?

Our 8 year old is getting to be quite rude and verbally aggressive with me and with her father when she doesn't get her way, and sometimes with her sisters when they displease her. I struggle to find consequences that don't include time-outs--I don't want to isolate her from the family, I want her to be with us. She's more than happy at times to go sulk in her room.

What do you think is a good consequence? We sometimes ignore her verbal aggression toward us, but I can't allow her to hurt her sisters (and model for them name-calling, shouting, etc.).
I cannot speak much on an individual child but can generally about kids.

I might suggest that you look at the essay on time out at http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60130

Time outs do not have to be punitive nor do they have to isolate the child. In my opinion, they work best when they are not punitive but simply a consequence of a child's behavior choices.

In cases like this I might suggest short time outs but enacted each time the child is aggressive and especially with hitting.

Mom: "If you chose to hit, you chose to have a time out. Your choice."

Kid hits: "You hit, you chose time out-chair now!"

There can be a number of variations on this but the format often works well.

I do not know the situation in Russia but I always have some concern when a lot of aggression is being seen. A good assessment might be useful.

Good luck,

Dizfriz
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Old 04-08-11, 11:23 PM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

I really appreciate this essay. It is different from many traditional discipline techniques, but it is very logical. It makes complete sense to me, especially as a child turns into a young adult and is more responsible for individual behaviors. If children grow up thinking that they alone are responsible for their own choices, I would think the transition to adulthood would be much easier.

Another benefit to this philosophy I can see is that the parent doesn't have to get mad or frustrated at the child. The "choice" is at the heart of the issue, not the child. So parents can address the choices while not harboring any guilt, resentment, or anger directed at their child. Sometimes I think parents (myself included) get frustrated when our children don't do what we ask them to do and we don't have a discipline plan in place. I know many of us are constantly changing discipline strategies depending on the type of new problems that arise.

This appproach could be used in any behavior situation, making it easy to consistently implement. I could use the same technique on all of my children in almost any situation-chores, meltdowns, relationships. I really like this!
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Old 04-08-11, 11:47 PM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

Thank you. This is very good!
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Old 04-09-11, 07:03 PM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

I have a question regarding consequences. A psychologist explained to me that ADHD children do not have control over their choices in that moment. So how does one give consequence when they have no control over their actions?
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Old 04-09-11, 07:44 PM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

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Originally Posted by Sixofus View Post
I have a question regarding consequences. A psychologist explained to me that ADHD children do not have control over their choices in that moment. So how does one give consequence when they have no control over their actions?
Someone else may have other ideas but what I like to do when my son was very young, was to give him a "thinking" spot. It isn't a time out. It's a place where he can go to, to calm down.

Another thing you can try is to have the child look at you and take very deep breaths. A cold towl on forehead or on wrists help too. If he/she can't do it, it isn't time to talk. I've often heard throwing a tantrum helps some children reorganize and release the excess energy in their mind.
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Old 04-09-11, 09:46 PM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

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I have a question regarding consequences. A psychologist explained to me that ADHD children do not have control over their choices in that moment. So how does one give consequence when they have no control over their actions?
Was the psychologist speaking about impulsive behaviour? All children are impulsive. The younger the child, the more impulsive they usually are. ADHD is a developmental disorder so the ability to control impulsive behaviour will be delayed - see discussions about the 30% rule.

We are not discussing the behaviour of very young children here, although it is never too early to start offering babies choices.

If Bill's throwing the car was an impulsive action, his mother is calling him on the behaviour, setting limits, and giving him the opportunity to play with the toy within appropriate limits. If Bill has ADHD, it will probably take him longer than his peer group to learn to control some of his impulsive behaviour, but his parents will be setting him up for success by setting limits, giving him choices within those limits, and giving him opportunities to model appropriate behaviour after he does something impulsively.

Sixofus, it might help if you can find some good resources on child development so you can understand what the average behaviour is for the different ages and stages of child development. Then you need to understand where your child is within those stages at any given moment in time and adjust your expectations.

It would help if we knew the age of the particular child that the psychologist you referred to was talking about.

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Old 04-09-11, 10:42 PM
Dizfriz Dizfriz is offline
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Re: Discipline Part 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixofus View Post
I have a question regarding consequences. A psychologist explained to me that ADHD children do not have control over their choices in that moment. So how does one give consequence when they have no control over their actions?
They do have control but it is difficult for them and they often do not have a lot of control especially when younger.

The irony is that ADHD kids need more limits and consequences due to the disorder than non ADHD kids. Those consequences do not have to be severe and in fact can be rather mild but they need to happen often and fast. As I often say, it is the speed of the consequence that counts not the severity of the consequence or the value of the reward. This is especially true of ADHD kids.

By working with them on limits and consequences, you are helping them gain as much control over their impulses as they can. ADHD kids need all the help they can get.

For what it is worth, the ACT model I presented in these two essays has been very successful for working with ADHD kids.

Dizfriz
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Old 04-10-11, 12:28 AM
Kasechka Kasechka is offline
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Re: Discipline Part 2

Thanks so much for all your work here , Dizfriz. All of your essays are helping me a great deal (as is this board generally; what a godsend especially for those of us far from "civilization"). There are no specialists here in Russia whom I would trust because of the poor training/lack of evidence-based medicine here, although the school psychologist has been quite insightful about DD's lagging maturity (that 30%!).

We're going to visit home in June and I plan to talk about this with our pediatrician, whom I trust a lot. As far as I can tell, my oldest has inherited my brain down to the last neuron, for better or for worse, so I don't doubt that adhd is the issue.

Off-topic, but I just thank providence that I could get someone to diagnose and treat my adhd remotely--without that, my parenting was really in a downward spiral, especially regarding my oldest.
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Old 05-16-11, 10:44 AM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

Just wanted to check in and let you know that although it means thinking very differently than I'm used to thinking - I may be getting the hang of it.

My Autistic granddaughter used to be almost OCD about picking up her toys and shoes and putting them where they were supposed to go - you know, the way these kids find rules really helpful?

Well, lately she's been leaving her shoes wherever she takes them off and leaving her toys all over the floor and furniture. I tried saying things like "The Barbies need to be put in their box" and had no success. So the other day she went into the other room to play on the computer and left the dolls and their cars all over. I took a plastic bag and put everything in the bag and put the bag inside my closet in my bedroom.

She didn't notice they were missing until she wanted to show one of her new dolls to her dad (he lives in his own apartment) and couldn't find it. I'd told her mom what I'd done so she suggested that she come and ask Gramma where her doll was.

I explained that when I have to pick up the toys off the floor, then I also get to put them away. And I decided to put them in my closet. She very politely asked me if she could have the dolls out of the closet, and I said "Sure, but the next time I have to pick them up, I will have to put them away too."

No yelling, no fighting, no arguing, no trying to make her pick them up and losing that battle. Very simple. Very calm. And apparently effective. *fingers crossed*
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Old 05-16-11, 02:13 PM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

Lunacie

"Done good!" as we would say in Texas.

These kids really work well with this format. I like the way you did it.

Dizfriz
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Old 05-16-11, 04:55 PM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

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Originally Posted by Dizfriz View Post
Lunacie

"Done good!" as we would say in Texas.

These kids really work well with this format. I like the way you did it.

Dizfriz
Thank you. Very hard for me to let go of the talking - the explaining - the drama. But it really does seem to work better.
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Old 05-16-11, 08:03 PM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

That's how we do clean up times, Lunacie! It's been a boon. It took a few tries and not having toys for two days once, but he's got it down now. I know your little lady will get it, too. ^_^
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Old 05-18-11, 05:14 AM
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Re: Discipline Part 2

I know you can't comment on individual children, but any pointers on how to avoid a continual spiralling? Which is what happens in this house with DS who also had ODD and SPD.

Taking the Bill and the car example:
Bill chooses to not put the car on the shelf, so Mum has to go remove the car from Bill's hand, easier said than done.... a chase or wrestling match ensues with an exceptional strong and determined 7 year old. Touching him to try to take the car out of his hand may result in a meltdown of the "you're killing me, I can't breathe" variety. And the learning experience of the choice and consequence is completely overshadowed.

Once the car makes it to the shelf, Bill then drags a chair over or proceeds to climb the shelves to retrieve the car. Repeat choice/consequence method.

If Bill is unsuccessful in retrieving the car or further choice/consequences are used, Bill looks for an alternate outlet for his anger and frustration, involving a rampage of throwing, kicking etc inanimate objects or finding a person, such as his sister to hit/kick. Repeat choice/consequence method.

It just seems to turn into a running battle.
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