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Section 7
Track #7 - Helping Parents Differentiate - 'Is it Irritating Behavior or Deep Psychological Trouble?'

Question 7 | Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | ADD CEU Courses
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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On the last track, we discussed the Five Tactics for Start Behavior. The Five Tactics for Start Behavior were Sloppy Positive Verbal Feedback, Kitchen Timers, the Docking System, Natural Consequences, and Charting.

On this track... we will discuss General Principles for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior. I have found that there are Five General Principles for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior. The Five General Principles for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior are State of Mind, What Type of Adolescent, Relationship with the Adolescent, Seriousness of Problem, and Realistic Expectations.

General Principles for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior

Christine who was the mother of Andy, age 18, was frustrated with her son’s behavior. Christine stated, "He’s completely unmotivated. He hates school and won’t help out around the house. He has a terrible attitude. And last week he kicked in two of our doors when I told him he was grounded for a month for getting his ears pierced!" Christine complained that she didn’t know how to get through to Andy. She stated, "I just yell at him all the time because it seems like nothing else will work."

As you can see, Christine was not approaching the behavioral issues with Andy in an effective way. To help Christine have more success in dealing with her son, I explained to her the Five General Principles for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior. As you listen to the explanations that I gave Christine of the Five General Principles for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior, think of your client with an ADD teenager.

Share on Facebook Principle #1- State of Mind
I find that the first General Principle for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior is State of Mind. I explained to Christine that many parents old enough to have a teenager with ADD may be approaching their own crisis – the midlife crisis. As you know, for parents like Christine who may be dealing with their own crises, like caring for aging parents, trying to manage the problems of an ADD teenager could cause displacement of their issues, or emotional dumping.

Share on Facebook Principle #2 - What Type of Adolescent
The second General Principle for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior I have found is What Type of Adolescent your child is. I stated to Christine, "Being objective about your own children is very difficult, especially when ADD has played a large role in shaping your opinion. You might look at what sort of teenager Andy is." Christine interrupted, stating "I’ll tell you what sort of teenager he is – an unmotivated one! He never does anything around the house to help me out."

I explained to Christine that most people, including ADD teenagers, exhibit their worst behavior at home. I stated, "Andy may actually perform basic tasks of life a lot better than you think. Those basic tasks just might be happening outside your home." Christine looked doubtful, so I suggested, "You might want to take a long, slow, calm look at how Andy is doing in several areas. Don’t just look at his behavior at home. Look at Andy’s social life, how he’s doing in school and work, and his self-esteem. Consider both his strengths and weaknesses."

Share on Facebook Principle #3- Relationship with the Adolescent
In addition to State of Mind and What Type of Adolescent, the third General Principle for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior is the Relationship with the Adolescent. I asked Christine to do a "Relationship Evaluation" technique to assess her relationship with Andy.

Share on Facebook Technique: Relationship Evaluation
You may want to use this "Relationship Evaluation" technique to help your client better understand his or her relationship with an ADD teenager.
Step 1 - I asked, "First, how well do you know each other? How often you enjoy just talking, and how good you are at working together?" Christine hesitated, then answered, "We don’t talk as much anymore. I guess I spend most of my time yelling at Andy and nagging him."
Step 2 - I then gave her the second question. I asked, "How much time do you spend having fun with one another?" Christine shrugged and answered, "Andy really doesn’t like hanging out with me. I guess that’s how most teenagers are. Besides, we don’t have the same interests."
Step 3 - Finally, I asked her the third question, "How much do you just plain like each other? Do you enjoy each others’ presence?" Christine answered, "Well, if I didn’t feel like I had to be on his case all the time about responsibilities, I’d enjoy his company a lot more."

Considering the state of Christine’s relationship with Andy, I suggested that she might have more success addressing his behavioral issues through her husband. I then suggested, "Or, if he’s not close to his father, either, you could work to improve your relationship with Andy." (Phelan 99)

Share on Facebook Principle #4- Seriousness of the Problem
I then explained the fourth General Principle for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior I have found, which is Seriousness of the Problem. I suggested to Christine that for less serious difficulties, she might attempt less intrusive methods of behavioral correction. As you know, some behaviors, while irritating to parents, are not indications that an ADD teenager is in deep psychological trouble.

I explained to Christine, "Although you don’t approve of the fact that Andy got his ears pierced, you may want to reconsider whether the piercings were serious enough to warrant a month-long grounding."

Share on Facebook Principle #5- Realistic Expectations
Finally, I explained to Christine the fifth General Principle for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior, Realistic Expectations. As you know, once a child has reached adolescence, the job of parenting is about 60 to 80 percent over. I explained this to Christine, stating, "You’re not likely to revolutionize Andy’s behavior at this age. Yelling at him constantly will probably only frustrate both of you." I suggested that Christine try to be patient with him, and stated, "You might want to just talk to Andy about problems only when it’s really necessary to say something."

Do you have a client like Christine who doesn’t know how to handle her ADD teenager’s behavior problems? Would your Christine benefit from doing the "Relationship Evaluation" technique? Would it be beneficial to replay this track for yourself as a review prior to your next session?

On this track... we have discussed the Five General Principles for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior. The Five General Principles for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior are State of Mind, What Type of Adolescent, Relationship with the Adolescent, Seriousness of Problem, and Realistic Expectations.

On the next track, we will discuss the Four Common Errors for the parent of an ADD teenager. The Four Common Errors for the parent of an ADD teenager are 1. spontaneous discussions about problems, 2. nagging, 3. insight transplants, and 4. arguing.

QUESTION 7
What are the Five General Principles for Managing ADD Adolescent Behavior? To select and enter your answer go to Answer Booklet

 
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