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Section 10
Attribution Process in Parent-Adolescent Conflict

Question 10 | Test | Table of Contents | ADHD CEU Courses
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In the last section, we discussed the Four Steps for dealing with an ADHD teenager’s problems. The Four Steps to use in dealing with an ADHD teenager’s problems were 1. Doing nothing, 2. Consulting, 3. Negotiating, and 4. Taking Charge.

In this section, we will discuss How Not to Argue with your ADHD Teen. This section is broken into two parts. In the first part, we will discuss Four Reasons Why Arguing Doesn’t Work. The Four Points of Arguing I have found are as follows arguing doesn’t work, arguing usually escalates, each person controls 50 percent of the problem, and teens love to bait their parents.

On the second part of this CD, we will discuss Two Steps for Avoiding and Stopping Arguments. The Two Steps we will discuss are to Avoid and Stop Arguments are to stop talking, and to know how to handle the ADHD teen’s next move.

How NOT to Argue with your ADHD Teen

For Anita, age 39 mother, and Diana, age 16 diagnosed with ADHD, arguments consumed a large amount of time. Anita stated, "I can’t talk to Diana. She never listens. I have to yell to get her attention, and then she yells back because I yelled at her. Before I know it, we’re having a full-blown argument, and I can’t even remember what I started talking to her about. By the end of the argument, I always feel drained, but nothing has changed.

"Diana still refuses to do anything I ask, even if it’s simple, like washing the dishes, or helping to make dinner. The last time we argued, she took the car and drove off. I think she spent the night at a friend’s house, but she hasn’t told me. I haven’t asked her yet, because I know we’ll just argue about that, too."

I explained to Anita that arguing is one of the hardest things to stop doing with ADHD teens. As you are well aware, arguing is useless, provocative, depressing, addictive, and irritating, but often seems inevitable to parents. Anita looked hopeless and asked, "Then what am I supposed to do?" I told Anita that I have found Four Reasons Why Arguing Doesn’t Work that might help her stop the arguments.

Four Reasons Why Arguing Doesn't Work

♦ Reason #1 - Arguing Doesn't Work
To explain the first reason that arguing doesn’t work, I asked, "How many times have you ever actually accomplished anything with Diana by yelling at her and arguing with her?" Anita shook her head and answered, "Gosh, I can’t recall any right now." I suggested that Anita keep that in mind before arguing with her daughter in the future. I added, "It might save you from wasting time."

♦ Reason #2 - Arguing Escalates
The second reason that arguing doesn’t work I explained to Anita was that arguing usually escalates, and she agreed. Anita stated, "If you try and start a discussion about something minor, Diana might have you in a verbal war within moments. The discussion you wanted might not start as an argument, but it could end as one."

♦ Reason #3 - Controlling only 50% of the Problem
In addition to the points that arguing doesn’t work and arguing usually escalates, I explained to Anita that the third point regarding arguing is that Anita can control only 50 percent of the problem. I reminded Anita that arguing takes two people. I stated, "Diana doesn’t argue with herself. She can’t argue with you if she’s the only one talking. Do you agree?"

♦ Reason #4 - Teens Love to Bait their Parents
After explaining that arguing doesn’t work, that arguing usually escalates, and that the parent controls only 50 percent of the argument, I gave Anita the fourth point of arguing, that teens love to bait their parents. I stated, "Be aware that Diana may be trying to bait you. She might be trying to provoke arguments because she knows that nothing changes when you argue."

Anita looked hopeless again and stated, "Now I know those points, but I still don’t know what to do when Diana starts arguing with me."

♦ Two Steps to Avoiding and Stopping Arguments
I explained to Anita that there can be Two Steps to Avoiding and Stopping Arguments.

Step #1 - 
I explained, "First, stop talking." Anita looked shocked, so I explained, "I know it sounds so simple that you don’t think it’ll work, but try it. Remember that you control half of the argument. Diana can’t argue with you if you don’t argue back."
Step #2 - Anita asked, "But what do I do if Diana keeps yelling at me?" I explained that the second step to avoiding and stopping arguments was to be prepared for the Diana’s next move. As you know, teens with ADHD, like most teens, will likely try a manipulative technique. I suggested to Anita that she be aware of manipulative techniques such as badgering, intimidation, threat, or martyrdom. I stated, "Don’t give in to Diana if she’s using a manipulative technique."

4 Different Scenarios
To help Anita become more comfortable with the Two Steps to Avoiding and Stopping Arguments, we talked through different scenarios.
-- 1. Anita asked, "So what do I do if Diana keeps talking or yelling?" I suggested that Anita continue to remain quiet. I stated, "You can keep doing whatever you were doing before she started yelling, or you can leave. Either way, avoid arguing back."
-- 2. Anita then asked, "And what if Diana follows me yelling?" I answered, "Continue to ignore the yelling. Don’t respond to her with more yelling."
-- 3. Then Anita asked, "What if she threatens to run away, or leave like she did last time?" I explained to Anita that she should still not respond verbally. I stated, "If Diana does leave, don’t stop her. But if she’s not back by her curfew, punish her as you would for any other curfew violation. If Diana’s gone late into the night, call the police."
-- 4. Anita asked next, "What if Diana accuses me of never loving her?" I again told Anita not to respond. I stated, "As you can see, for most of these problems, simply not responding can be a solution. Diana cannot have an argument if you don’t respond to her. You can either keep quiet, or pour gasoline on the fire by talking back."

Do you have a client like Anita who feels like the only way she can communicate with her ADHD teenager is through arguing? Would your Anita benefit from the Two Steps to Avoiding and Stopping Arguments? Would it be beneficial to play this section in your next session for that client?

In this section, we have discussed the Four Points of Arguing. The Four Points of Arguing were that arguing doesn’t work, arguing usually escalates, each person controls 50 percent of the problem, and teens love to bait parents. We also discussed the Two Steps to Avoiding and Stopping Arguments. The two steps were to stop talking, and to be prepared for the ADHD teen’s next move.

In the next section, we will discuss medication in children with ADHD. There are Five Points to consider when thinking about giving an ADHD child medication. These Five Points are 1. the attitudes of the child and parents toward the use of medication, 2. the use of medication in the beginning is only a trial, 3. medication is not a cure, 4. some medications have contraindications, and 5. any child about to take psychotropic medications for ADHD should have a physical exam.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Curtis, D. F., Heath, C. L., & Hogan, W. J. (2021). Child skills training for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A randomized controlled trial of structured dyadic behavior therapy (SDBT). Psychotherapy, 58(1), 68–80.

Dignath, D., Kiesel, A., & Eder, A. B. (2015). Flexible conflict management: Conflict avoidance and conflict adjustment in reactive cognitive control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41(4), 975–988.

Kane, L., Bahl, N., & Ouimet, A. J. (2018). Just tell me it’s going to be OK! Fear of negative evaluation may be more important than fear of positive evaluation in predicting excessive reassurance seeking. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 50(4), 217–225.

Karalunas, S. L., Gustafsson, H. C., Fair, D., Musser, E. D., & Nigg, J. T. (2019). Do we need an irritable subtype of ADHD? Replication and extension of a promising temperament profile approach to ADHD subtyping. Psychological Assessment, 31(2), 236–247.

Markel, C., & Wiener, J. (2014). Attribution processes in parent–adolescent conflict in families of adolescents with and without ADHD. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 46(1), 40–48.

Overgaard, K. R., Oerbeck, B., Friis, S., Biele, G., Pripp, A. H., Aase, H., & Zeiner, P. (2019). Screening with an ADHD-specific rating scale in preschoolers: A cross-cultural comparison of the Early Childhood Inventory-4. Psychological Assessment, 31(8), 985–994.

Sherrill, R. B., Lochman, J. E., DeCoster, J., & Stromeyer, S. L. (2017). Spillover between interparental conflict and parent–child conflict within and across days. Journal of Family Psychology, 31(7), 900–909.

What are the Two Steps to Avoiding and Stopping Arguments? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

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