Tag Archives: ADHD

Is there a link between Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD and Childhood Bullying?

oppositional defiant childWhile researching information recently for a couple families I work with, I discovered an older article from Huffington Post “Bullying and Mental Health:  Study Links Anxiety, Hyperactivity in Kids to Bullying.”  While this article was written in October 2012, following a study presented at the American Academy of Pediatric’s National Conference, I still found the information thought-provoking.

As we all know, when it comes to bullying, the focus of most of the research out there has been on the victims of bullying.  Studies show that children who are bullied have a higher chance of developing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.  However, this study focused on the relationship between mental health problems and the likelihood that a child will become a bully.  This study found that kids diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder were 6 times more likely to be identified as bullies than children with no mental health disorders!

This makes perfect sense to me when you consider many of the symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are more likely to have frequent tantrums, act out aggressively, engage in “revenge seeking” behaviors, and defy requests from authority figures.  This study also found that children with ADHD were more likely to be identified as bullies as well.  This also makes sense to me when you consider the fact that children with ADHD often act impulsively without thinking of consequences for their actions such as thinking how another child will feel if they call him a name.  Children with ADHD often have poor social skills and lack social restraint.  Thinking through the consequences of their actions is just plain difficult for these children, which falls right in line with the concept that these children may be identified as bullies—perhaps unbeknownst to the child himself.

So what can parents do if they suspect their Oppositional Defiant Child might be a bully?

1.  Help your child create healthy peer relationships.  Encourage your Oppositional Defiant Child to develop and maintain friendships.  If your child doesn’t have many friends right now, try enrolling him in a club or activity that he enjoys.  Then talk to him and listen to him as the two of you discuss the club or activity. Are there children he talks about more frequently than others?  If these children are positive role models for your child to be friends with, then encourage the budding friendships.  If your Oppositional Defiant Child creates meaningful friendships, then he’ll grow his self-esteem and begin to build some empathy for others.

2.  Set rules and follow them.  It’s difficult raising a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  One of the best methods for improving your child’s negative behaviors is to set clear rules and consequences for breaking those rules.  Then follow them CONSISTENTLY!!!  It’s time to impress upon your child that there are rules in life.  Oppositional Defiant children often defy rules and requests from authority figures, making them prime candidates for bullying.  Do you really want your child to be a bully?  Do you really want your child to spend the rest of his life in trouble with authority, such as the school principal, police, court, etc.?  Is that the future you want for your child?  Make sure your child understands that bullying will not be tolerated and set firm boundaries and consequences for such behavior.

3.  Try to understand the reasons behind the bullying behavior.  Is your child angry?  Is he having difficulty expressing his emotions in a healthy way?  Perhaps your child simply needs to learn conflict-resolution skills or problem-solving skills.

4.  Set a good example.  Our kids are like sponges.  They watch, model, and internalize EVERYTHING we do.  Not necessarily everything we say.  So model good behavior with others.  Don’t ridicule or name-call others, even adults.  Your child will begin to think that this is acceptable behavior by watching you interact with other adults this way.  Verbalize your feelings and frustrations in healthy ways.  Explain to your kids that you’re frustrated or feeling angry.  For example, next time a truck driver cuts you off on the interstate, instead of screaming “M***** F*****” and blaring your horn, try taking a deep breath and calmly tell your child, “Boy, that really made me mad.  It’s not nice to cut someone off on the interstate.  Someone could get hurt.”  What a switch, huh?

5.  Establish a positive parenting environment in your home.  Catch your children doing positive things.  Praise them when they interact positively with siblings, friends, parents, and other people in their lives.  Give attention every time your child is being positive.  Establishing a positive parenting environment in your home is the key to putting it all together.  A positive parenting home will teach your child to be positive themselves and not find enjoyment in hurting others.  Show your child how being positive, looking for the good in people, and helping people is a healthier and happier way to live life.

Behavior Management Coaching helps parents of Oppositional Defiant Children learn to establish firm, clear rules and expectations for their children before it’s too late!  We can help turn the negativity of your home into one of mutual respect.  Talk to us today.

ADHD, Lack of Physical Activity, and “Magic Pills”

I recently read a blog that I’m sure you will find just as interesting as I did.  The blog links the rise of ADHD to the decrease in physical activity in children today.  The blog “Increase in ADHD Runs Parallel With Decrease in Physical Activity” makes a fairly convincing argument that the rise in ADHD diagnoses could be in part due to the fact that children today just aren’t getting enough physical activity.

Why is there such an increase in childhood ADHD over the last two decades?

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 11% of children are diagnosed with ADHD by the time they finish high school, a drastic increase since 1990.  I completely agree with many critics out there that suggest that the number of children diagnosed with ADHD is significantly higher than it should be, due in part to the fact that screening for ADHD is largely subjective.  Most screening tools ask parents and teachers a variety of questions in order to assess for ADHD.  However, if you’re a frustrated parent or a teacher who just wants this hyper kid to sit down and shut up, it’s not too easy to sway the data for these surveys.  My wife was a teacher for 7 years.  She knows from personal experience that a hyperactive kid can cause MAJOR disruptions in class.  Teachers are super stressed and getting a hyperactive kid medicated might really change their classroom dynamic for the better.  While I hope this is not common, I can see where a teacher-completed ADHD assessment scale might be swayed ever so slightly to promote medication and those zombie-like tendencies we have all heard horror stories about.

Temptations of the “Magic Pill”

Furthermore, many parents have been brainwashed to think that ADHD medication is the “magic pill” they have been looking for.  Let’s face it…it’s WORK to raise any child in this generation, much less a kid with hyperactive and impulsive tendencies!  Just imagine you’re a stressed out, frustrated parent of an impulsive, bouncing off the walls overactive 8 year old boy.  Wouldn’t you want a “magic pill” that could solve all of your parenting problems without raising so much as a finger?  And your child simply has to raise a cold glass of water and pop that little blue “magic bullet” that will make him listen like an angel and sit at his desk class like a plastic mannequin that will please even the most rigid teacher on the planet!   The little pill that will make their child magically behave and be a model child, the type of child that other parents will be envious over.  Guess what?  ADHD medication is NOT the “magic pill.”  I know this from working with children for over a decade.  When parents medicate their children, instead of finding a magically wonderful child, they often complain that their child is “Just not himself” or a “zombie” or even find that it works for part of the day (usually the part of the day that their child is in school) and then the child becomes the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Toons for the entire evening!

While there isn’t any clear resActive Childrenearch out there linking the rise in ADHD diagnosis to the lack of physical activity in children, this blog on the Huffington Post sure made me stop and think.  The rise in ADHD diagnoses certainly runs parallel to the decline in physical activity in children.  Kids naturally have lots of physical energy they need to expel.  How many times have you watched your children playing and thought, “Gee, I wish I had that much energy.”  So think about it—children are locked up in school for increasingly longer and longer hours each year.  Add to that the fact that schools are slashing their Physical Education classes, extracurricular sports teams, and recess time.  (Oddly enough, studies demonstrate that when kids are engaged in regular physical activity they show less anxiety, increased focus, and better academic performance—sound like ADHD symptoms to you?)  It makes perfect sense that children are hyperactive.  Of course they are!  They have tons of pent up energy and ZERO ways of constructively utilizing that energy on a daily basis.  And to top it off, I bet I can guess what your kids do after they get home from school.  Chances are, they plug in to the TV and begin a marathon of video games that is only interrupted by chips or a candy bar and a fast dash to the bathroom when they can’t hold it any longer.  Starting to see why ADHD is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s lethargic society?

According to the CDC less than 30% of adolescents meet the guidelines for daily physical activity.  Parents can list mountains of reasons to willingly keep their kids indoors—neighborhood safety, urban density, the lure of electronic devises—but the fact of the matter is that it’s healthy for kids to get outside and burn off some of their pent up energy!

How to Help Hyper Kids WITHOUT “Magic Pills”

I am a huge advocate to not medicate your child for ADHD unless you have already tried other avenues.  Don’t get me wrong, though.  There are children that legitimately need ADHD medication and can benefit greatly from taking it regularly.  But a better place to start is with encouraging physical activity, reducing video game time, and using some Positive Parenting skills to see what a difference you can make without relying on the “magic pill” first.  Start by taking your kids to the park, playing catch in the yard, signing them up for a gymnastics class—all of these will help your hyperactive child burn off some of their pent up energy and will make a drastic improvement in the way things go for the rest of the evening.  At Behavior Management Coaching, we teach many Positive Parenting skills that can help frustrated parents of hyper and impulsive kids who just aren’t quite ready for the medication path.  I have personally seen amazing results for ADHD children and their frustrated parents from these Positive Parenting skills.  Using these skills and making several other small changes can make a world of difference in your child’s hyper and impulsive behaviors without going down the “magic pill” path that often leads to even more side effects and other challenges for your already struggling child to overcome.

Behavior Management Coaching can help parents deal with the stress of parenting an ADHD child by teaching concise, proven Positive Parenting Skills to reduce childhood behavioral problems, improve the child’s self-esteem, and drastically reduce parent’s stress levels in the process.  Talk to us today.

Help! My Child has ADHD but I Can’t Stand the Idea of Medication

Your child is always on the go, never slows down until he passes out late at night, and you’re just not sure what you can do about it.  Does that sound familiar to you?

Maybe you just got off the phone with your son’s third grade teacher about him disrupting class for the 15th time in the last month!  Or maybe you’re afraid, no petrified, to take you’re 8 year old to Church because the last three weekends have ended in a disaster.  And what’s even worse than the stress you feel resulting from these behavioral challenges?

The stress you feel about not knowing what to do about it!ADHD Child

You’re just like the tons of other frazzled parents that have benefited from learning behavioral treatment strategies for managing your child’s Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.  You’ve talked to friends, the nice old lady that sits by you at Church, and even the lady who offered unsolicited advice when little Bobby thought it was a good idea to jump off the table at that nice restaurant you took the family to last Saturday night.  They have no shortage of advice.  But you wonder just how useful it is after trying everything 10 times with no changes in your son’s behavior.  By now you’re skeptical of finding anything that will successfully treat your child’s ADHD.

And the popular solution of medicating your child doesn’t sound enticing either.  You’ve heard the horror stories, and even witnessed first-hand, the “zombie-like” trance that some kids appear to be in after starting these medications.  Don’t get me wrong here.  I’m all about medication if all else fails.

But all else won’t fail if you follow the tips and suggestions presented here.  Follow these tips consistently and your ADHD child will be well on his way to success at school and at home alike.  When behaviors improve from following suggestions like these, he will begin to feel more confident, self-esteem with sky-rocket, and your stress level will plummet.

Toolbox for Treating Childhood ADHD

  • Shift the Focus from Negative Behaviors to Positive Behaviors– Children with ADHD tend to get in trouble A LOT!  For this reason, it’s pertinent that you develop a mindset of using Praise and Positive Attention as opposed to Punishment and Negative Attention.  Your child has likely had enough Negative Attention to last a lifetime.   Sure, it’s hard to focus on the positive when you’re stressed beyond your boiling point.  But that’s exactly what you must learn to do if you want to learn to manage your child’s ADHD behaviors more effectively.  Whatever behavior you are focusing on, just be sure to look for the opposite, known as the Positive Opposite of that behavior.  It’s far more beneficial to focus on the Positive as opposed to the Negative Behaviors.  And, believe me, your child will thank you!
  • Set up a Token Economy or Point System– Another tool to add to your ADHD treatment toolkit is that of a simple Point Chart or Token Economy.  This is a great way to keep your child’s goals in focus and offers a very tangible way to monitor progress.  Most children are motivated by these systems and even simple rewards, when coupled with lavish praise from you as the parent, will motivate an otherwise apathetic child to try harder.  Just remember to couple Praise with each time the child earns points or a reward for the Positive Behavior.

Follow These Additional Suggestions for Even Greater Success                                 Effective Child Therapy offers these 5 tips to keep in mind when using behavioral strategies to treat your child’s ADHD:

  1. Start with goals that your child can achieve and improve in small steps
  2. Be consistent across different times of the day, different settings, and different people
  3. Don’t expect instant changes-teaching and learning new skills takes time, and children’s improvement will be gradual
  4. Constantly monitor the child’s response and adjust treatment as necessary
  5. Begin intervention as early as possible-although behavioral intervention works for all ages, early treatment is more effective than later intervention

But What if Your Child’s ADHD Behaviors Continue?                                                 The good news is that most children will respond to these interventions in a very positive way.  Just remember to start as early as possible, be consistent, and focus on small improvements, not huge progress overnight.  If you try these tips and still find progress to be slow, you might need the help of a trained Behavior Management Professional.

Behavior Management Coaching can help parents deal with the stress of parenting an ADHD child by teaching concise, proven interventions to reduce childhood behavioral problems, improve the child’s self-esteem, and drastically reduce parent’s stress levels in the process.  Talk to us today.