Thursday, October 9, 2008

Easy As One, Two, Three

So, we have dived head first into Behavior Modification techniques for ADHD, although without going to a specialist. I have read (or skimmed) quite a few books and web pages and forums looking for tips and techniques that work best for other parents in the same boat.

What I never realized with ADHD (and a reason that I balk at the diagnosis) is that these kids apparently come with a lot of anger issues and behavioral problems. I thought it was just happy hyperactivity or gaze-out-the-window-dreaminess. I worried he might instead be bi-polar or something because I was seeing depression and mania, aggression and sudden anger. But apparently, these are common occurrences with ADHD.

We found something that is working pretty well for us so far. Even though I am one to loathe stickers, charts, and behavior games of all kinds.

We settled on a version of a tactic that worked so well with his (fabulous) kindergarten teacher last year. It's a kind of ladder chart with steps from 1-10. I came up (with his help) with 10 privileges that he has in our house, and each step adds one or removes one from what he is allowed to do. With each offense, rule broken, etc, he moves down a notch, and with each good behavior, he moves up.

He comes home each day with a red, yellow, or green card telling us how his behavior was that day and he goes up one with green, down with red, and stays level with yellow. If he walks out of the house on time in the morning without trouble, and on time, he moves up. If he shows kindness to his brother he moves up, etc. (As long as its NOT done so that he CAN move up!)

I gave him the option of choosing which level he should begin the method on, and of course he chose level 10 - Full Privileges! And I have to say he has spent most all of his time up at the very top of the ladder since we have begun it. But then most chart methods start off fabulous and go south eventually, so we shall see.

We also initiated a "counting" process based on the 1-2-3 Magic discipline approach by Dr. Thomas Phelan. Very simplistically, you say "That's one" when anger, backtalk or disobeying occurs. "That's two" when it occurs again immediately afterward. On "three" they get a time out, but for us, we move him down a rung on the ladder and he loses a priviledge. Less time outs for us, and now we use them only for hitting, extreme rudeness and for cooling down from a rage.

This method is nice for ADHD kids because it gives two warnings instead of the one he was always failing to heed or sometimes even notice. Gives him more than one chance to realize what is about to happen and get himself under control and make a shift. And while we did make rules, you can count any kind of undesirable behavior.


Noah: Can I go play with the water hose before dinner?

Me: No, we are just about to eat and I don't want you to get all wet and muddy.

Noah: Oh Pleeeeeeze!!????

Me: I said no, honey.

Noah: WHY NOT!?

(and instead of saying "I just gave you the reason why not!" or "because I said so", I now can simply say "that's one" and keep chopping vegetables.)

Me: That's One.

Noah: I won't get wet, I SWEAR!!!

Me: That's two.

Noah: grrrrr.... FINE!

No arguing, no raised voices, no letting him get a rise out of me, no explaining myself more than once or justifying my reasons. Counting tells him that whatever he just did is not appropriate. No fuss, no muss.

Pray it lasts.


gail said...

This sounds like a hopeful system and a stress remover for all of you. I wish I had known about it years ago when I was dealing with similar issues! My fingers are crossed for your continued success.

Snowbird said...

Sounds good. I hope it keeps working. I'm with Gail--my fingers are crossed. Keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

I prayed for you.

MariBy said...

Sounds like a good idea.

Anonymous said...

I hope it allows you to feel like a parent in control (rather than negative feeling role) while empowering your child to also feel in control of his own consequences or privleges.
Like anything, it's the simple, yet by far the most challenging, consistency aspect that is the biggest hurdle.
Be strong and don't give up. It averages 6 weeks for a change to become a full habit.
I'm trying to soak in all that you've been so kind to share in case I can share it with others (my job is working with young children and parents) and/or use it as my own infant grows.
All the best positive energy to you all!!!
Thanks for your honesty and willingness to share.

Cindy said...

Sounds like a good plan for both you and Noah. Structure and defined expectations are all good things and it looks like you've hit the mark.

Great minds think alike... we just implemented a chore chart to help get my son ready and out of the house on time. He's a dilly dallier! So far so good!

Rachel Schell said...

oh! I might have to use that system. love it!

Michelle808 said...

Oh my gosh! I know this is three years late BUT I happen to stumble across your blog while trying to find behavioral laddders for my now 3rd grader who has ADHD - INNATENTIVE type. I wouldnt be surprised if th echart has long been put aside but I would love to find out what exactly was put on the chart! If you could help me, that would be wonderful! :)


Karen ShamaLamaMama said...

I just wrote you a long email and then realized I don't have your email address! Send it to me at shamalamamama at gmail dot com. Okay?