messy. crazy. amazing. joyful.

We're not all officially ADHD. Dad's unofficial. Our ten-year-old twins have ADHD. Our seven-year old wants to have it because everyone is always talking about it. Our three year old has ADHD--just because she's three. And me, Mom, I think it's contagious. Who can remain untouched in a house where shoes seem to be lost every morning, instructions are routinely thrown aside, and fights erupt over which continent capybaras come from?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Taking the Bait

High energy kiddos.

We had a little chit chat with the psychiatrist the other day about how things are going. My husband talked about how the kids have been rather sassy lately, and by the time he is done with them, they have lost their Wii privileges for the rest of their lives, are grounded forever, and can’t watch tv for three years. (Then he’s off to work, and I get to deal with the repercussions.) He knows this is too much, but also knows he doesn’t want disrespectful children.

So our dr. told us that we need to have a clean punishment slate every day or else the kids will feel hopeless about ever having a moment of fun again. My hubby said okay, and we were kind of done with the discussion. But then I told on him! I had to. He’s not really changing his ways in the discipline department, despite the new techniques the psychologist is teaching us. Even though he is a very intelligent, kind, reasonable man, sometimes he doesn’t listen to me. Many things could prompt this. Let’s just say he has ADHD, too, and sometimes I am the great reminder of everything he ought to be doing—thus, he has developed a turn-off-the-wife response. Sometimes when he is disciplining the kids, I come and raise my eyebrows and make faces in an attempt to remind him that he is not using the right technique. This is my way of trying to get his attention without coming out and saying, “Honey, have you not remembered one thing the psychiatrist told us about discipline?” which would very likely undercut his authority in front of the kids.

So, I told the dr. that my husband sometimes cannot resist the temptation to lecture and respond to everything my kids say. I have reminded him (see above) that they don’t listen to lectures and that they need short explanations and quick consequences. And often, when they are trying to push his buttons, he allows his buttons to be pushed and just gets more and more angry. (Right here, I will just say that of course, I am not a perfect disciplinarian either.)

The doctor told him that kids can get stuck in a rut of negative feedback. They want action, they want excitement, and an easy way to get that is to rile up your parents. Even though it’s negative feedback, at least it’s exciting. It is as though they are addicted to pushing your buttons even though they will suffer negative consequences. It's a little dopamine rush. So he challenged my husband not to take the bait. He warned us that the kids would be very angry when we stopped taking the bait, but that after a couple of weeks, they would be used to it and would settle down. Quick consequences and then ignore the sassiness. Stick them in their room if needed. Here goes our fishing experiment. I'll let you know if we can be smarter than the average tuna.

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