How ADHD Affects Social Skills and What to Do about it

By Karen DeBolt | 7th Mar 2013 | Filed under Parenting, Social Skills, Techniques

I hope everything is going well for you and your family! This article was created for a

talk that I’m giving at the CHADD Parent Support Group next Thursday, so I thought that
I would share it with you as well. This talk is open to anyone, so if you are local and
would like to attend all the details are on their website:

It will be held at 6:30 pm at Beaverton Christ Community Church, 4325 SW 107th Ave.
Beaverton, OR. 97005. Feel free to call me for directions at 503-459-2073.


How ADHD Affects Social Skills and What to Do about it

Social skills are those human interacting abilities that just come naturally for most
people. Neurotypical folks don’t need to learn to notice body language or how to start a
conversation. The learning just happens without a lot of outside intervention beyond
societal norms – i.e. good manners.

However, for those who have been diagnosed with ADHD, the learning may be a
challenge due to the very way that they are wired. Being easily distracted,
over-stimulated, under stimulated, or just having a hard time focusing can affect social
learning as well as being able to use the skills that are already there. Here are some

* Andrew blurts out answers and speaks to the teacher in the same way that he
might talk to a buddy which comes across as very disrespectful.

* Jim is a hero on the playground for his amazing arm fart skills, but gets in big
trouble for doing it at his very formal great grandmother’s home.

* Amy’s friend Sarah asks her how she likes her new dress. Amy honestly tells
Sarah and she doesn’t like it. Sarah stops talking to Amy and worst other girls stop
talking to Amy also, but she has no idea what the problem is.

* Janes talks non-stop about whatever is in her head at the moment and does not
notice that her friend’s and her family are bored or would like to respond even.

* Bruce loves to play with other kids but he has to direct all the play, win every
game, and will throw a huge fit if things don’t go his way. Other kids start to avoid him.

* Andrew is thoughtful and kind with younger kids and when he is one on one, but
either shuts down or gets super silly in larger groups.

* Robin gests very angry when someone bumps into them accidentally and will
assume that the other person did it “on purpose.”

* Bonnie stands too close to people and doesn’t recognize their discomfort when
they step back.

Sound familiar?

These children are all exhibiting social skills challenges that are fairly common for kids
with ADHD. The hard part often is helping kids to recognize how their behavior affects
all of their relationships. So how can parents help?

Three tips for helping kids with ADHD to improve social skills:

Tip #1: Discuss Expected versus Unexpected Behaviors

Explore the difference between expected and unexpected behaviors. Talk to your child
about the types of behavior that are expected versus those that are unexpected as
they happen.

Not all unexpected behavior causes trouble, but it might just cause others to think
“weird thoughts” about you. Putting underwear on your head and walking around is not
necessarily going to get you in trouble but it will get you a reputation as being a bit odd
or weird. Talking too much and not listening is unexpected but not necessarily bad

Talking about these things with your child using examples can be helpful to begin the
conversation about how their behavior affects other people.

Tip #2 Increasing awareness through watching others

When watching TV shows or movies at home stop the action and talk about what is
happening in moment. Ask your child questions to help build awareness of social

- How is that character feeling right now? (builds feeling words vocabulary)
- How does this character’s behavior affect that character? (awareness of expected
vs unexpected behaviors and also how behaviors affect others)
- How would you do in that situation? (Opens up problem solving social situations)

These kinds of conversations can help children to be able to talk about social situations
in a non-threatening way that is not personal to them which is a first step towards better
social awareness.

Tip #3 Rubber Chicken Moments – Using humor

Using a humorous method to point out unexpected behaviors can help your child to
begin to build awareness. During our afterschool program and Day camps we call these
moments Rubber Chicken moments. By giving someone who has made a social mistake
the rubber chicken you can use humor to point out that everyone makes social errors on
occasion. Having a leader give himself or herself the rubber chicken helps kids to see
that everyone messes up sometimes – even me!

For even more ideas and more in-depth conversation about improving your child’s
social skills come to the Stumptown CHADD Parent support Group and see Karen’s
presentation called “Five Ways Kids with ADHD Can Build Better Social Skills.”

Whiz Kid After School Program to be announced soon!

This is program designed to teach kids
the basics of social skills so that they can learn
relationship skills to make and keep friends, control
impulses that get them in trouble, be able to see how their
behavior affects others in their lives, and have a great
time doing it.

We will be meeting in our Beaverton Location with
a great program with new activities, outdoor games,
and lessons to last a life time on how to get along better with
peers, parents, and everyone else! If this sounds like something
you are interested in for your child. Please call Karen at 503-459-2073

All the details will be announced soon!

Better Behavior Without Stress Book

Does parent coaching sound good, but don’t have the time or
resources to get started right now? Here is the book you
have been waiting for. Karen wrote this book so that she
would have something to give to her coaching clients that
would have all the tools that you need to help calm the
chaos at your home. Click the link here and get a look
inside at

Or get the audio book or EBook (PDF version) at:

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What Social Skills are NOT

By Karen DeBolt | 14th Mar 2012 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections, Social Skills, Techniques

Message from Karen

Well, it has been a number of months since I have been in contact with you all. We have been making some major changes that will allow us to serve more children and their families. This means that we are in the process of moving out of my upstairs and into a new space in the community building of Christ Community Church. We are very fortunate that the Church is allowing us to use their facilities. Our programs have not changed a lot in terms of what and how we are teaching, but we are hopeful that this location will be more central to more families. We are now located in North East Beaverton just off the 217 freeway. 4325 SW107th Avenue, Beaverton, OR 97005

Starting April 5th, we are holding our after school program, Whiz Kids Club, again on Thursdays. We will be running three groups: one for younger boys, one for older boys, and a girls group. All the details are on the website at:

Resource Fair Coming up!

We will be heading over to the Swindell’s Complementary Therapies and Recreation resource fair on March 23rd from 11 am to 4 pm. At 830 NE 47th Ave., Portland, OR. 503-215-2429 Karen will be giving a 20 minute talk about social skills and our day camp program, and we will be manning a booth as well, so come support us and bring the kids as there will be fun things for them to do as well!

What social skills are NOT

I spend a lot of time thinking about, teaching about, writing about social skills. It is very clear to me what it means, but I’m not sure that the big picture concept is completely understood. This article will hopefully clarify what I mean when I talk about social skills.

Social skills is not about manners, which fork to use on the salad, or whether to write a thank you note after a play date although that type of knowledge is a tiny piece. The larger part is about reading non-verbal communication, being able to understand another person’s point of view, and participating in the give and take of a good conversation. Manners are important, but they are not the whole picture.

Social skills is not only about making friends. I have parents all the time tell me that their child has no trouble at all making friends, but when I see their child with friends, I find that they are bossy, they have trouble sharing, they play next to others not with them, and some don’t actually know their friends names or interests. They may not be able to carry on the give and take of a conversation, but will “talk their friends ear off.” This means that while they may claim “friends” in the end they may not really even know what that means or worst they start off a friendship then end up fighting with the friend so much that they lose the friendship which is very painful.

Social skills are not about “being respectful” although this is a concept that must often be taught to our children specifically. Many times our kids do not seem to be able to understand that how they treat an adult is different than how they would treat a child their own age or even a younger child. They appear to believe that all people are equal and to be treated the same which does not work well at all. Teachers, Principals, and even parents often have a very different idea about how children should treat them and see any deviation from that norm as “Disrespectful.” The bottom line is that how one treats one type of person is different than how one treats another and by breaking that hidden social rule, your child will get into trouble.

I hope that this clarifies a bit what it is I’m talking about when I say Social Skills. There is a lot more, and I will be continuing to clarify and give examples and ideas as time goes by.

Of course, I believe that our programs are the amazing for children to begin to learn these skills while having fun, so that they can be more successful in school, at home, and in life! Visit to see if our programs would be a good fit for your family.

Self Care: Taking time to read for fun

In my never ending quest to nag, cajole, and convince you to take care of yourself so that you can take better care of your child, I have gotten bored with the usual suspects – good sleep, healthy food and exercise. Todays topic was suggested to me by a recently divorced mom of two who called reading “fun books” comfort food for the soul. I couldn’t agree more.

Of course, much like comfort food, one person’s fun is going to be different than another person. I remember during my divorce time, I would need to just escape into silliness for a while to take a break from all the seriously scary stuff that was going on in my life, so I read Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” books – all of them in one giant tome. I laughed and laughed until the tears ran down my cheeks.

I also enjoy reading young adult fiction for fun like the Harry Potter Books, Percy Jackson books, or books by John Green. The added bonus is that I can talk to my kids about them and use them as examples for topics I’m trying to explain to them. Also, they just make me laugh. The latest Percy Jackson goes to which is being run by actual amazons with armored and sharpened forklifts! I cracked up at that one!

I also enjoy a nice pulpy mystery novel like by J.D. Robb’s (Nora Roberts) In Death series or James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club books or Alexander McCalls #1 Ladies Detective Agency stories. Fun with a bit of mystery, sexy characters, and adventure thrown in just takes me out of my everyday existence.

So what is fun for you to read? Let us know in the comments on the Blog.

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Using Humor to Improve Social Skills

By Karen DeBolt | 26th Sep 2011 | Filed under Parenting, Social Skills, Techniques

Rubber chicken

"Uh Oh! Having a Rubber Chicken Moment?"

My son is making weird noises as he is doing his homework—AGAIN. I don’t know about you, but those weird noises kind of make me crazy some days, and especially if I’m doing something I need to concentrate on like paying bills or writing this newsletter. I could yell at him for getting on my last nerve yet again, but yelling doesn’t actually seem to get through to him. By the time I’m done yelling, he can’t even remember what I was yelling about in the first place. Not to mention, he would be too upset to finish his homework!

So what to do?

Use a Rubber Chicken!

During our Whiz Kid Afterschool programs and summer camps, we will use humor to point out those annoying social faux pas rather than getting a kid in trouble. Our kids are in trouble enough as it is—learning is the goal. So we will hand a kid who is rolling on the floor during the lesson a rubber chicken. No really, it’s a rubber chicken! It sounds goofy and truly it is. The rubber chicken is something that the kids know symbolizes making a social mistake and that we all make them. Sometimes a kid will stop and ask for the chicken before me or my staff even say a word! It really works well.

There are so many great ways to use humor to help our kids to learn better behavior. What are some ways that you use humor? Let me know down there in the comments!

Whiz Kids After School Program is Enrolling now

If you have a child who could benefit from social skills training who is between 6-12 years old, check out our website. We are offering groups for boys and girls this year. Its starting October 18th for boys and October 19th for girls. Check it out on the Social Whiz kids website!

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Defying Defiance

By Karen DeBolt | 14th Jun 2011 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections, Relationships, School help, Social Skills, Techniques

With the end of the school year drawing to a close, I have been getting lots of parents contacting me regarding their child’s defiance at school. Sometimes this is an ongoing problem, but often it seems to be escalating now or coming up for the first time. This doesn’t really surprise me. Defiance in children is often misunderstood as being about “willful disobedience” or about “trying to drive authority figures crazy” when that is very often not even close to what is going on in the child’s mind.

Allie (not a real child) is a bright and talented 9 year old who is often found starring out the window in the classroom and spinning in fast circles on the playground. Allie often struggles with back talking at home, but does usually doesn’t make a lot of waves at school. This week Allie began to refuse to do things that her teacher or playground attendants requested. She refused to come in from recess with the other children and had to be escorted back to the classroom, then she refused to work on the year end review worksheets that the teacher asked her to do.

What’s going on? 

Allie’s mom and dad were confused about why all the sudden Allie was having trouble at school and they worried that this would carry over to the new school year as well. In the moment, Allie would only answer an informative “I don’t know” with a frown and a shrug when asked about her behavior. Her teachers and parents were very concerned.

Putting on your detective hat 

Defiance can be somewhat complex to untangle at times because the causes are rarely what the adults in the child’s life might think. I find that the most helpful way to think about it is that the child is doing the best that she can in the moment, but is feeling too overwhelmed to do what is asked. This overwhelm can be caused by a myriad of things. Here are some ideas of things your child might say or do to give you some clues.

Anxiety/Perfectionism: “I don’t know how!” “I can’t do it right.” “Its too hard.” “You do it.” “I can’t do it without <the certain color crayon or other supply>”

Sensory Overload: “Its <too loud>, <smells bad>, <that this tag hurts>” Child may hold ears or nose or other sensing organ for protection. Child may bang head, bang into walls(sensory seeking), may shut down, flap hands, or stiffen fingers (sensory defensive)

Emotional: “She did it on purpose!” Uncontrolled emotional outbursts of crying or yelling over things that seem small to others. Holding onto grudges.

Social Skills: May not recognize authority of teachers, parents, etc. Might be upset over a perceived slight or even a righteous bullying experience. Only sees her own point of view and cannot understand another person’s point of view.

Executive functioning: May be overwhelmed with other responsibilities or perceived responsibilities and unable to properly prioritize.

These will hopefully give you some places to start in exploring with your child her reasons for not doing what she has been told to do. As your child becomes more self aware and better able to communicate her needs she will be able to express her reasons for refusing so that problem solving will become easier for both of you. The key is to ask with empathy so that she more likely to communicate with you and then you can begin problem solving.

Now what? 

Once Allie’s parents were able to have calm information gathering session with Allie they found out a few things that they did not know before. Allie had problems with some girls on the playground and she was very upset about that situation, so that is why she was refusing to come in from the playground and return to class where those girls were. Allie’s parents informed the teacher who did some work with Allie and these girls to help them work out their problems.

So Allie was getting hit from many sides at once which went a long way towards her “defiance.” Allie was having strong emotions regarding the problem with her classmates on the playground. Allie was also feeling that she was not able to do the work in the class room perfectly due to her upset, so she refused to do that as well.

Can you see how punishing Allie for “defiance” would not be helpful in changing her behavior? Through understanding and problem solving, you will be able to help your child to learn how to communicate her needs and problem solve rather than just shutting down and yelling “NO!”

This will take some work, but in the long run you will have a stronger relationship with your child and your child will become skilled at problem solving and self advocating which is bound to build self esteem as well.


Its a big win for both of you!


Sounds great? or think I’m all wet? Let me know by leaving a comment.




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Vitamin N Improves Behavior

By Karen DeBolt | 18th Apr 2011 | Filed under Family Rituals, Parenting, Personal, Reflections, Relationships, Self Care, Techniques

I feel very fortunate to live in an area where nature is
very close, yet it is so easy to forget to go out and enjoy
it. I get so busy that I forget to smell the freshly mown
grass or forget to go over to the local woods for a nice
walk. This lack of being in nature or “vitamin N” can
really start to make us feel crumby after a while.

This is especially true for children who get stuck watching
TV or playing their favorite videogames. Its not like when
I was little and my mom would just say, “Go outside!” and I
would hang out with the neighborhood kids riding bikes or
skating. Our modern world seems to be full of a lot more
worries now.

Lessons from Day Camp

Yet, this vitamin N deficiency really does affect our
children’s behavior in a negative way. During our Summer
Day Camps, we have learned that taking a hike in nature
every single day means that the afternoon activities go
well. Even just going to a playground doesn’t quite work in
the same way. There’s something special about mindfully
walking looking for living creatures to show to each other.
Our campers would be able to focus better and control their
emotions better after taking a hike.

So take this as a reminder to get your Vitamin N this week,
both for yourself and for your child.

And, if you are still thinking about whether to sign up for
Whiz Kid Summer Day Camp then now is the time. We have a
few different options to choose from a 5 week two day a
week camp and a traditional one week Camp for each boys and
girls. All the details are here:

Please don’t delay if this is something that you think would
be a good fit for your family! We have 3 more spots available
in August and 4 in June/July.

Check out the link or feel free to give me a call at
503-459-2073 to get started.

All the best,  Karen

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Cure impulsivity with pickles

By Karen DeBolt | 30th Mar 2011 | Filed under Parenting, School help, Social Skills, Techniques

The young hunter notices movement in the brush and immediately goes after the game that made the movement. This is a person who is most likely to bring home food for his family that day. That quick acting movement without a lot of thinking or planning made him successful, and chances are, he was a leader in his tribe as well.

So take those very sought after and helpful traits and put them into today’s world, and it gets a lot more complicated–especially for kids. Noticing every movement through out the room, hearing the smallest whisper, immediately blurting out an answer or getting out of your seat to go after something without asking first. This is a recipe for big problems for a child in school. He will not be seen as a leader, sadly, but as a behavior problem.

Impulsivity is driven by the emotional centers of our brain. So it follows that having trouble with tolerating frustration also will cause more impulsive behaviors. That feeling of “I want that” is strong and so the impulse to grab it is strong as well. Afterwards, when the rational mind catches up then it might actually feel bad for grabbing something from another child’s hands or putting something in a pocket that doesn’t belong to you. Then the impulse for self-preservation kicks in because the trouble is about to start! All of this behavior is driven by emotion and not by rational logical thought.

So how do we get our kids who struggle with impulsivity to slow down and let their rational brains make a more reasoned choice?

Make up a funny word

So I’m laying in bed the other morning thinking about this very topic. I could imagine myself saying some kind of funny word like “Pickle” or something as a way to slow down the action and engage rational thinking. The laughter would disrupt the “I want” emotion.

Then I thought of “Pecadillo!” which is a funny kind of word and means mistake. I thought about how easy it would be to mispronounce that word on purpose. I realized that this would work even better because then the kids would be laughing at my silly mispronunciation and correcting me which would also slow down that impulse.

That would give me the opportunity to use specific praise to say, “Thank you so much for helping me out, and I notice that you made a great choice to stop what you were doing there. Way to GO!” (high five)

So by using their own natural tendency to laugh at silly sounding words and to want to correct things that don’t sound right, you can help your kid to begin to slow down and think about things. Over time, they will be able to slow their own impulses, but until then you can help them to strengthen those muscles.

So go talk to your kids and have them come up with some funny words that you can all use to slow the action and take a laughter break. What funny words did your family come up with?

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Social Skills: Leader or Troublemaker?

By Karen DeBolt | 16th Mar 2011 | Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Social Skills, Techniques

Lately, I have been working with several young men in my Whiz Kid after school program  who are natural born leaders. They have great ideas, they have strong opinions about how things should be done. And unfortunately, they are often in trouble at home and at school for these very same traits. It may be  highly annoying for parents and teachers to have to deal with a child who doesn’t blindly follow the rules, who has their own opinions, and is very willing to blurt out what they truly think at any given moment.

While I can relate to how hard it can be sometimes, these very same traits are what makes a great leader! So the child who tries to take over the classroom, then gets sent to the principal isn’t necessarily learning how to focus that brightness into being a great leader and instead is being constantly invalidated for being a “troublemaker.” Do we really want to squash those leadership qualities out of them and risk more problems down the road like poor self esteem, depression, and anxiety?

Of course not!

So while we as parents cannot always control what goes on at school, we can make some changes at home that will build leadership skills rather than squash them. Here are some ideas and I would love to hear yours.


  1. Give your child opportunities to be in charge of planning an event. Obviously, you are not going to start with Thanksgiving Dinner, but how about planning a family game night? Allow your child to think about what is needed, what would have to be obtained, when it would be held. Let your child create invitations, put together the snacks that the guests will enjoy, and pick out a variety of games that will be fun for those who are invited..
  2. When your child starts to take control of a situation, use your collaborative problem solving skills to put your concerns and your child’s concerns on the table. This teaches problem solving skills.
  3. When your child is in a leadership role, teach him or her perspective taking. Its critically important for leaders to take the opinions and feelings of others into consideration. This includes parents, teachers, peers, etc.
  4. When your child comes up with a “wild idea” rather than dismiss it out of hand, help your child to consider all the ramifications of implementation. Big picture thinkers must be able to see the challenges as well as the rewards of their ideas.


I know that all of this takes more time than just having a child who obeys us without question, but remember that you are building a leader. Who knows, you may have the next CEO of a major corporation on your hands. Give your child the tools to succeed.


Whiz Kid Club – Spring sessions

If your little leader is having a hard time with perspective taking, controlling behaviors, and other sorts of trouble making that keep him or her from being successful at school and at home, you might want to consider enrolling him in Whiz Kid Club. Whiz Kid Club is a social skills training program held after school that teaches children how to make and keep friends, control impulses that get them into trouble the most, and best of all its really fun! Check out the website for all the details then fill out the form at the bottom of the page to get started or feel free to call Karen at 503-459-2073.

Summer Day Camp Dates are Set!

I know it may seem way too early to think about Day Camp, but with our small group sizes, its really important to get on it if this is something you are interested in signing up for this year. We are doing three camps this year. One week for boys August 1st to 5th and one week for girls August 15th to 19th. We are also doing a new program this year which will be a two day a week camp over a five week period from June 21st to July 20th 9 am to noon. We are hoping that this will work for families who want a little more structure to Summer, but still freedom for weekend getaways. Check out all the details on the website and see if one of these programs is right for your child.

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Keeping things golden for the holidays

By Karen DeBolt | 22nd Nov 2010 | Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Techniques

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought it might be helpful to give you all a new tool to use to help your child to avoid getting in trouble, having anxiety attacks, and even melt downs. I developed this idea with my husband and we call it the Golden Triangle of good behavior. The Golden Triangle is a tool that you can use to evaluate what is going on with your child before trouble starts and then make changes that will hopefully help your child to feel better and so behave better as well.

In order for a child or adult for that matter, to feel good and therefore behave at their best, there needs to be a good balance of two areas. When these are in balance, then your child is inside the Golden Triangle.

  1. Basic needs: hunger, thirst, sleep, safe, warm, free of discomfort
  2. A good balance of stimulation – not too much and not too little

These two areas interact to create either a focused, happy, well behaved child or a perfect storm of trouble! The key is to get the needs met to the degree possible so that the child is within the Golden Triangle and avoid being in the outside areas of unmet needs. Let’s talk more about each area and what happens when they are not in balance.

Feed me now!

When a person’s basic needs are not met, they are uncomfortable or even in pain. No one is at their best under those circumstances. Your child might also have the added difficulty of being unable to identify which of these things or combination of things are needed. I think that lack of sleep is one of the biggest problems and can cause a child to be hyperactive (trying to stay alert) have difficulty focusing on any one thing, and of course may become extremely grumpy. Yet, he’s not sleepy when its time for bed again because he is coping with that feeling by excessively moving around.

Hunger is another one that can cause big problems if it is not caught quickly enough. When my son is overly hungry, he will often become very demanding and grouchy, but sometimes he is not able to say “I’m hungry,” much less go into the kitchen and get a snack or make a sandwich especially when he is way over hungry. When he is mildly hungry these things are a possibility, but when he’s too far gone his communication skills go out the window.

“I’m Bored”

Under stimulation is another area that can cause children to get into trouble quick. When a child is not effectively engaged, trouble will often follow. This may be in the form of impulsive behavior either due to seeking stimulation or seeking trouble which will also have a consequence of a negative reaction– yelling and punishment give a lot of stimulation even if it is the negative kind! You may see hyperactivity in an effort to stimulate the brain. You might experience that glorious state called whining where your child will say “I’m bored.” in that grating whiny tone that all parents love so much (NOT)

In other words, being under stimulated is likely to cause trouble with a capital “T” and that is no fun for anybody.

Stop the world I want to get off!

By the same token, over stimulation leads to overwhelm, anxiety, and defiance. When there is too much stimulation, a child’s nervous system begins to send a signal to slow things down. This will often result in a child who says “No!” to any request or will perseverate about a particular detail in an effort to feel more in control. Too much over stimulation can lead to other problems like depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, and oppositional defiant disorder.

So what do I do?

If your child is out of balance in one or more area either with a basic need or with his level of stimulation, then it is time to make a shift that will put your child back into balance. The tricky part is often figuring out the problem. So this is a good time to put on your detective hat and start asking some questions. Are you hungry? Did you sleep well last night? Are you feeling lonely? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are you bored right now?

These types of questions will help to get down to the basic needs and to the stimulation factors. Another way is to make it very open ended and just say, “I notice that you are (insert annoying behavior here.) What’s up with that?” This leaves it wide open for your child to talk about anything that is going on for him or her in the moment.

Once you have an idea about what the need is, then the real work begins—problem solving to get the need met. Sometimes you will only be able to take the edge off due to time constraints or other obstacles, but that may be enough to nudge your child back into the Golden Triangle where he or she is able to behave well again.

Here is a Golden Triangle worksheet in PDF format that will guide you to better understand what needs your child has right now.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes on the blog!

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!

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Autumn is the time to put on the teflon suit

By Karen DeBolt | 15th Sep 2010 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections, Relationships, Techniques

Autumn is in the air. This is one of my favorite times of the year. I grew up in an area where we only had two seasons, so I really treasure this time of year. The crisp air, the smell of burning leaves, and the gorgeous foliage put a smile on my face. Of course, this is also the beginning of a new school year which brings with it many hopes that things will go better this year and worries that the phone will ring with the school’s number on my caller ID. I know many of you have those same hopes and fears.

Luckily for me, my son has the same teachers this year for the most part, so I know what to expect and have a good working relationship with them which is a relief. One of the things that I have had to learn over the years is that I cannot allow myself or other people to put my son’s challenging behaviors on me. I have had to put on my teflon suit and deal with frustrated teachers, scolding principals, and  well meaning school counselors that don’t understand what I have been through with my son or how much effort I put into parenting him. How could they know?

So how can you put on your teflon suit?

Here are some ideas to help you to communicate with the other people in your child’s life who
are also struggling with his behavior.

  1. Avoid getting defensive, remind yourself that they do not know you well, so take their comments with a grain of salt.
  2. Provide them with some empathy for their frustrations. I find that this will completely disarm a lot of difficult conversations.
  3. Ask the other person what they would recommend that you do. (I did this one time and found out that the teacher did not know that we were in counseling even though I was sure that we had talked about it in the IEP. Once she knew, she understood better how hard we were working on things and became very helpful.)

Of course, none of this will work, if you are also blaming yourself for your child’s behavior. This will make those judgmental comments more likely to stick. Your child’s behavior is not your fault! That is not to say that there is nothing left to learn–there’s always more to learn.

If you feel confident about yourself, it will be easier to let those jabs slide right off.

Have you felt the need for a Teflon suit? Found a good tip for coping? Please comment below!

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Help! My Kid Won’t Turn In His Homework!

By Karen DeBolt | 30th Jun 2010 | Filed under Parenting, Self Care, Techniques

I recently got a comment on my blog from a mom who is exhausted and requested some help for her son. First of all let me say how excited I got to get this comment from a reader! Please if you have any questions along these lines, please feel free to email them or post them as a comment on my blog and I will be happy to answer them on the blog, in the newsletter or by email. I am honored that you trusted me enough to write.

Here is the message:

“At almost 12 y.o (in July), my son still needs too much input from me to get anything done. He has trouble keeping track of his schedule: when he has tests and other school related due dates. Remembering to put on deodorant, losing assignments just between home and school. It is getting exhausting and I am running out of ideas.”

This particular question is one that I hear frequently at our ADHD parent support group I would say the seeming inability to turn in homework or remember to put on deodorant should be listed in the DSM V under the features of ADHD because it is so common amongst the children of the parents who attend our meetings.Anyway, the good news is that he will probably be able to remember his deodorant and keep track of his work assignments when he is 40 years old. The trick is getting from here to there without losing it yourself.

Many of our children don’t mature at the same speed as their peers. They need more specific training and repetition than other children in order to be successful—not because they are stupid or not capable or trying to drive you crazy, but because the way that his brain is wired is not conducive to those organizational tasks that seem so easy to us.

Working with your child’s neurology

So helping your child to set up a system of organization the works with the way his brain works is going to go a long way towards future success. For example, your child is likely a visual person, so out of sight out of mind is the literal truth. So, setting up a visual reminders is going to really make a difference in whether he remembers or not.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

For example, to help with remembering to turn in homework, set up a class binder with a clear sleeve in the front which will be where the homework goes. When your child arrives at his class and takes out his notebook, the home work will be there sitting in clear sight in the clear sleeve as a reminder to turn it in. The sleeve will keep the homework contained in one place. So, hopefully it won’t get jammed into the bottom of the backpack or the back of the locker never to be seen again. The trick is to teach him that the homework is not done until it is in the clear sleeve! If you are already rewarding your child at home for completing homework adding this step into the requirements will help to cement it as a habit.

I would recommend a similar system for his deodorant. By storing the deodorant in a place that he never forgets to look, it will serve as a reminder to be used. For example, don’t put it away in a drawer or cabinet. Again, out of sight is out of mind. Put it on top of a dresser or on the bathroom counter where it is in plain sight for him to use. Rewarding him for remembering will help it to become a habit over time.

Taking Care Of You

By teaching your child how to work with his own neurology, you will be able to help him to learn to be more independent over time. You may find that it takes your child longer to learn these skills and with more repetition. This is why is it so critical that you make sure to do your own self care so that you don’t get so exhausted. Sometimes I think just knowing that, “This too shall Pass,” helps to keep us going even when we are beyond exhausted. Also, getting support from other parents can be very helpful. Finding a local support group can help you to know that you are not alone and that there is hope that one day your child will remember to turn in his homework and use his deodorant every day.

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