On the last track, 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.
On this track, we will discuss How Not to Argue with your ADHD Teen.
This track 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
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
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 track in your next session for that client?
On this track, 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.
On the next track, 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:
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.
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.
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
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