In the last section, we discussed the Five General Principles for Managing ADHD Adolescent Behavior. The Five General Principles for Managing ADHD Adolescent Behavior are State of Mind, What Type of Adolescent, Relationship with the Adolescent, Seriousness of Problem, and Realistic Expectations.
In this section... we will discuss the Four Common Errors a parent of an ADHD teenager may make. I have found that the Four Common Errors for the parent of an ADHD teenager are 1. spontaneous discussions about problems, 2. nagging, 3. insight transplants, and 4. arguing. Remember Christine and Andy from the previous section? Let’s look more closely at how Christine made the Four Common Errors of a parent of an ADHD teenager.
Christine, mother of Andy, age 18 diagnosed with ADHD, was frustrated with her son’s behaviors. The most recent trigger for an angry outburst for Christine had been Andy’s decision to get his ears pierced. Christine stated, "As soon as I saw those studs in his ears, I just started yelling at him. He just argued with me, which led us to arguing about other things, like how he wouldn’t help around the house and avoided school work. Finally, I just told Andy he was grounded him for a month." Christine then got upset when Andy kicked in two of the doors in the house following the argument. Sound like a situation a client of yours may have been in recently?
After I explained to Christine the Five General Principles for Managing ADHD Adolescent Behavior, which we discussed in the last section, I thought she might benefit from knowing the Four Common Errors a parent with an ADHD teenager may make.
Four Common Errors
♦ Error #1 - Spontaneous Discussions about Problems
The first of the Four Common Errors a parent of an ADHD teenager can make is Spontaneous Discussions About Problems. As you know, spontaneous discussions will almost always increase irritability and decrease cooperation. Christine and Andy’s irritability was magnified by the fact that they were already having an argument about Andy’s new piercings when Christine decided to bring up other problems.
♦ Error #2 - Nagging
Christine made the second of the Four Common Errors of a parent of an ADHD teenager, Nagging, as well. Christine was a chronic nagger when it came to little things Andy would do – or, more often, would not do. She stated, "I feel like I have to yell at him every day to hang his coat up in the closet. And don’t even get me started about what I do when I walk past his bedroom! I tell him all the time he needs to make it so I can at least see the floor, but does he ever listen? No!"
I stated, "Nagging can be defined as a set of repetitive verbal reminders from one person to another – does it seem like that’s what you were doing?" As you know, behind nagging is the parental delusion that the answer to cooperation lies in repetition. I explained to Christine that the best antidote to nagging, especially if the problem is minor, is to simply bite your tongue.
♦ Error #3 - Insight Transplants
In addition to Spontaneous Discussions About Problems and Nagging, the third of the Four Common Errors for a parent of an ADHD teenager is Insight Transplants. As you know, insight transplants, more commonly known as lectures, will do little to motivate a teenager with ADHD to correct his behavior. I explained to Christine that her Insight Transplants were likely going in one ear and out the other for Andy.
I stated, "When he’s being lectured, Andy’s probably thinking just one thing, ‘how can I get out of here as soon as possible?’ The point of your lecture may not be bad, but the fact is that it will most likely produce a lot of aggravation and little change."
♦ Error #4 - Arguing
Finally, the fourth of the Four Common Errors a parent of an ADHD teenager can make is Arguing. In Christine and Andy’s case, arguments clearly got them nowhere. As you know, arguments can be pretty near endless when both Christine and Andy insist on having the last word. Christine and Andy’s argument over the earrings, for example, ended with Andy kicking in two doors – his way of having the last word.
♦ 5-Step Technique: Problem Solving Worksheet
To help Christine find a better solution to approaching problems with Andy, I explained that the best method to avoid making any of the Four Common Errors is to make an appointment. I suggested, "Try setting up a time with him in advance and letting him know what you want to talk about." Once the appointment was made, I suggested Christine use the "Problem-Solving Worksheet" exercise. Together Christine and I did a bit of role-playing to do a practice worksheet.
Christine approached the problem from her perspective, while I acted how Andy may have acted.
Step 1 - First, we identified the problem. Christine wrote on the worksheet, "Andy doesn’t clean his room regularly."
Step 2 - Second, we thought of some different plans to solve the problem. In our brainstorm, we talked about a number of different options and wrote them down in a list. The list included plans like "Andy can’t watch TV until he cleans his room" and "Andy will clean his room once a week or be grounded."
Step 3 - In the third step, we both rated each plan with plusses and minuses to determine which plan would be the best one. The plan Christine and I decided was the best was the plan in which Andy would clean his room once a week or be grounded.
Step 4 - The fourth step is to try the plan. On the worksheet, we wrote down what each Christine and Andy would have to do to make the plan work. Christine agreed to give Andy three reminders each week. Playing Andy, I agreed that I would accept the grounding punishment if after three reminders I still hadn’t cleaned my room.
Step 5 - For the "Problem-Solving Worksheet" exercise, the fifth and final step is to evaluate if the plan worked. I explained to Christine that she would need to hang on to the worksheets she did with Andy.
At the conclusion of each plan, Christine and Andy would need to discuss how the plan worked, what they could have done to make it better, and what each of them thought of the plan. (Parker 97)
Do you have a client like Christine who has an ADHD teenager and makes some of the Four Common Errors of spontaneous discussions about problems, nagging, insight transplants, and arguing? Would your Christine benefit from the "Problem-Solving Worksheet" exercise?
In this section... we have discussed the Four Common Errors for the parent of an ADHD teenager, which are: 1. spontaneous discussions about problems, 2. nagging, 3. insight transplants, and 4. arguing.
In the next section, we will discuss the Four Steps for dealing with an ADHD teenager’s problems. The Four Steps to use in dealing with an ADHD teenager’s problems are 1. Doing nothing, 2. Consulting, 3. Negotiating, and 4. Taking Charge.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Musser, E. D., Karalunas, S. L., Dieckmann, N., Peris, T. S., & Nigg, J. T. (2016). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder developmental trajectories related to parental expressed emotion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(2), 182–195.
Shahidullah, J. D., Carlson, J. S., Haggerty, D., & Lancaster, B. M. (2018). Integrated care models for ADHD in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Families, Systems, & Health, 36(2), 233–247.
Smith, Z. R., Eadeh, H.-M., Breaux, R. P., & Langberg, J. M. (2019). Sleepy, sluggish, worried, or down? The distinction between self-reported sluggish cognitive tempo, daytime sleepiness, and internalizing symptoms in youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychological Assessment, 31(3), 365–375.
Weyers, L., Zemp, M., & Alpers, G. W. (2019). Impaired interparental relationships in families of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A meta-analysis. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 227(1), 31–41.
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