Real Life Solutions: ADHD and Counseling

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

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source: brookesb

Q: Our 10-year-old son has been diagnosed with ADHD. The school recommended he have counseling, but we really don’t know why. Our family seems to get along and we don’t have problems with our son other than his direction following and forgetfulness. Why would the school recommend counseling?

A: I would encourage you to ask the school directly as to why the recommendation for counseling was made. Without knowing your specific case, I can’t say exactly why, but I can tell you the purpose of counseling in most cases.

There is a saying, “Pills don’t teach skills.” Too often, parents medicate their children and don’t work on the management of ADHD. Counseling does not cure this disorder, but it does help kids figure out their strengths and weaknesses and how to help themselves, given their unique way of doing things. For example, counseling can help your son develop a reminder system or a tracking system for his homework.

Counseling might focus on relationship skills that help his social life at school—how to deal with frustration, impulsive behaviors, etc. Counseling reinforces a positive mindset and helps children understand that learning can take different forms and doesn’t mean they aren’t bright simply because they learn in less conventional ways.

Counseling is usually helpful when parents feel like they have tried things and need extra help with systems that work. Usually the counselor uses a cognitive behavioral approach in which the focus is on thoughts and behavior. This type of therapy teaches problem-solving, goal setting, new skills, and management of feelings. Finding a therapist who specializes in working with children with ADHD and understands the impact of the disorder is important.

Resource: Raising Boys with ADHD by Mary Anne Richey and James W. Forgan

Real Life Solutions: My Child Is Being Bullied

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

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source: lucylawrence

Q: My son has been the victim of bullying at his school, and we are trying to understand why and how to help. Our family is going through some difficult changes and there has been a lot of yelling and tension in our home. We are trying to work on that by seeing a counselor. Do you have other suggestions for us?

A: In 2010, the APA published a study where researchers reviewed 153 studies on bullying over the past 30 years. What they found was that bullies and victims share similar traits. Both lack social problem-solving skills and feel awkward and uncomfortable among their peers. When you add poor academic skills to the mix, a bully, rather than a victim, is likely to emerge. The study additionally profiled bullies with these traits:

  1. Negative attitudes and beliefs about others
  2. Negative self-image
  3. From families with conflict and poor parenting
  4. Negative school perceptions
  5. Negatively influenced by peers

The study also noted that victims are usually aggressive, lack social skills, think negative thoughts, are problematic in social skills and solving problems, isolate, are rejected by peers and come from negative family, school, and community environments. So continue to work on solving the family tension, work with the school and teach your son a technique called The Swarm. Basically, a group of bystanders swarm the bully and tell him or her to back off. There is power in numbers and bullies will often back down when confronted with a group that pushes back on them. Work with your son to identify who he can get on his team and stand up to the bully.

Also work with the teacher. She may be able to coach the class on the technique as well. Practice social skills and help him problem-solve when he encounters problems at school. Building his confidence to handle peers will go a long way.

Do you have any advice for parents of bullied kids?

Real Life Solutions: Divorce and the Holidays

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We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

 

 

Q: My husband and I are divorced. Last Christmas was our first year apart, and the holidays were a nightmare. This year, we want to minimize the stress on our two young children during the holidays. What can we do to help them and have less fighting this year?

A: Both of you need to be respectful to each other at all times and stay calm and relaxed so as not to pass along stress to your children. Children can feel parental stress, but they don’t know how to cope with it. Whatever issues you fought about last year, talk about them ahead of time and try to come to agreement on those issues. Next, make sure the children see both parents during the holiday time. Work out a schedule before the season begins and stick to your plans. It helps to post a calendar for the children to see the plans on paper.

If your children are going to both homes on Christmas Eve and Day, stick to the pick-up and drop off times. Tell them to have a great time as you drop them off; sometimes kids need permission to have fun with the other parent. Encourage them to give you a few highlights of time with the other parent, but don’t prod for information.

Finally, build in some down time. Kids need rest and time to enjoy their new gifts. Take the time and make every effort to drop unimportant issues during this time of year. If you and your ex approach the holidays with a positive attitude, this will be passed on to your children.

How do you deal with holidays if you are divorced or separated?

Real Life Solutions: Playtime

mintle03(2).jpgWe are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Q: How important is it for me as a parent to play with my child? I feel like I have so much to do during the day. My child has playmates in our neighborhood and likes to play alone with toys. I use playtime to get household chores done, but I am wondering if she needs more of my time.

A: I love your question because you intuitively know that being a Martha mom requires a bit more Mary time (Luke 10:38-42)! Playtime with you is important for your child no matter how many friends and activities she has. No one can make your child feel as special as you can.

It is worth taking time each day to engage in pretend play. Play is a learning activity that encourages verbal and logical skills and the development of relationship skills. Studies show that parents who play with their children have kids with better self-esteem and who are reinforced in their imaginations and creativity. So here are a few ideas.

Instead of cleaning with your mop, make it a puppet. Have your child develop a theme and become part of the pretend world. Be silly and have fun. You can play with puppets and stuffed animals and use them to teach your child real-life situations that present your values.

Old-fashioned games such as hide and go seek, hopscotch, and acting out a fairy tale are easy to do and will bring you and your child closer together. Put down the dust rag and play with your child. She won’t remember a clean house as much as the fun she had with Mom.

 

Real Life Solutions: Keeping Whining at Bay

mintle03(2).jpgWe are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Q: The other day, I took my daughter to a park and we played most of the day. As soon as we came home, she began to whine and said she had nothing to do. I have noticed that no matter how active we are, she complains. I don’t like this behavior and when I lecture her on being grateful, she just rolls her eyes. Any suggestions?

A: Whenever you try to change a child’s behavior, first look at your own. Do you whine and complain and model this behavior? Think about your conversation at meals, in the car, and on the phone. Sometimes parents are the culprit and need to get a handle on their own complaining behavior.

If that is not the case, consider this: Most children today have grown up with loving parents who provide lots of toys and stimulation. They aren’t used to being “bored.” So no amount of lecturing will do.

Instead, you have to do something about the whining that does not involve words. Tell your daughter that Mom and Dad made a mistake by paying attention to her whining and complaining. From now on, you will both ignore that behavior when it happens. You will walk away from her when she whines.

Then do it. Do not give any attention to that behavior when it happens or you will reinforce it. It is OK to give one warning when she says she is bored. Say something like: “It’s up to you to find something to do” or give one suggestion. After that, ignore complaints. Remember that whining usually means she wants to do something other than what is available, she wants you to change your mind, or she wants to do something she can’t do at the moment. So be resolved to use this ignoring strategy.

Keep in mind that when you begin to ignore an obnoxious behavior, it may escalate at first because the child is used to you responding. Do not give in when she escalates and the behavior will soon disappear. But you have to be consistent and give it a week or so.

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Great advice, Dr. Mintle! I may give these tactics a try with my own whiny kid. (Anyone else feel like they might scream if they hear, "Mom, I’m hungry!" again today?) How do you tame whining? — Jessie

Real Life Solutions: Childhood Fears

mintle03(2).jpgWe are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Q: My 4-year-old daughter is very afraid of monsters. She is terrified at bedtime and wants me to stay in the room until she falls asleep. She holds my hand and sometimes cries. Is this normal or should I be concerned that fear is getting the best of her?

A: Not to worry. It is common for children to have specific fears as they grow and develop. And those fears change with age. So, for example, children ages 4 to 6 do have fears about things that are not real like monsters and ghosts. Your daughter is in that age group so her fear is quite normal. Older children (ages 7 to 12) have fears more related to real circumstances that they may have experienced, such as being frightened by an animal that tried to attack.

Typically children grow out of their fears. The most important thing is to validate her fear. Then, try lots of reassurance and a night-light and see if this helps calm her down. A consistent bedtime routine may also help, one that allows her to quiet down and spend time with you. This is also a good opportunity to teach her a Bible verse about fear and pray with her. Pay attention to her level of fear and decide if she is really anxious or simply wants your presence at night. Even if she is anxious, it is part of normal development at this age.

However, if you notice her fear worsening over time, you may want to consider talking to your pediatrician. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common childhood disorders and can develop when fears persist. Anxiety usually appears as sleep difficulties or physical symptoms like stomachaches. The key here is to know the difference between normal developmental fears and anxiety.

What is your child afraid of? How have you helped your child overcome her fears?

Real Life Solutions: Dealing with Shyness

mintle03(2).jpgWe are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

 

Q: I have a shy child and want to help her make friends. She tends to cling to my side and not talk to anyone when we meet a new family. Even after several play dates, she is reluctant to leave me and go off with the other children. I see her playmates trying to engage her, but she is very hesitant. Are there things I can do as a parent to help her with shyness?

A: Shyness in children is not uncommon, so don’t panic. Many children are born with a shy temperament and need a little coaxing to engage in new situations or with new friends. Contact with new people is a bit terrifying but in most cases can be overcome. Occasionally we see children who are so anxious that they need treatment from a mental-health provider to work on anxiety. However, given time to adjust to new situations, most children do fine.

There are two areas of your child’s life I would like you to consider. Has she been rejected by other children (teased, singled out, excluded from peers, etc.) or neglected by other kids (ignored, left out of activities, not picked on a team, etc.)? Being rejected or neglected by peers can reinforce shyness and cause a child to withdraw.

As a parent, you can help coach your child to deal with relationship exchanges by teaching her how to forgive others; manage her feelings of hurt, anger, or rejection; defend herself from teasing; make requests to play; and find friends who will be kind.

A key part of this coaching is focusing on how your child thinks about herself. Shy children tend to over-focus on their own feelings and fears and judge themselves too harshly. They have thoughts like, No one will like me or They think I am stupid. And when someone does show interest, shy kids tend to think it had nothing to do with them. The fear of being rejected or embarrassed takes over. 

So talk about positive things when meeting someone new or engaging in a group. Ask your child what she might like about engaging in an activity with other children. In new situations, it helps to have one familiar face in a group, so try to find that one friend or person your daughter knows to help ease the adjustment. Shy children want to be social. Finally, as much as we want to rescue our children from discomfort, resist paving the way. Instead, prompt her to make a move and encourage independence. Each success will build and bring confidence.

If your child seems shy and this resonates with you, you may want to check out Nurturing the Shy Child by Drs. Barbara and Gary Markway.

Do you have a shy child? How do you cope and teach?

Help! My Child is a Pacifier Junkie!

mintle03(2).jpgWe are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Q: My child is 3 years old and still sucks on her pacifier. We want her to stop, because we read that this can harm her speech and oral development. Can you offer some tips on how to help her stop?

A: Saying goodbye to the pacifier can be traumatic for some kids. Experts usually recommend you begin trying around 18 months because of developing tooth alignment, language development, and even ear infections.

We actually had a ceremony with our son where we wrapped the pacifier and sent it to another child who was much younger and needed it. Our son gave a speech that was quite moving, said his goodbyes, and moved on with life. He told us weeks earlier that he was ready to give it up, and we allowed him to take the lead. We suggested the ceremony, and he really liked the idea. It doesn’t always go that well, so here are other ideas.

First and foremost is to never shame a child for sucking her thumb or using a pacifier. Don’t nag or chide or you will most likely engage in a power struggle. No threats or punishments. Anxiety will rise and the child will feel the need to hang on to the object even more! Some kids go cold turkey like our son did and others, like our daughter, gave it up gradually. Knowing your child makes a difference in how you approach this, so here are a number of ideas that have worked for different children:

  1. Limiting the time of usage and places it can be used, e.g., naptime
  2. Offering a reward or special treat for exchange
  3. Poking a hole in it and deflating it
  4. Creating distraction by playing an instrument, singing, or doing something else with his mouth
  5. Using a reward chart
  6. Going cold turkey

Some kids will cry for a few nights and then be done. It is also important to time the weaning. You don’t want to try this if your child is sick or experiencing a major change. Our first attempt with our son was when we moved him into his big boy bed. That was not the time to give up the paci! Once he adjusted, we had success! And you will too.

Dr. Mintle Answers Your Questions

mintle03(2).jpg We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Q: There is talk in our school about exposing our kindergartners to sex education. I do not understand why the school wants to introduce this at such a young age. What is the thinking behind this?

A: Less than a year ago, the United Nations (UN) recommended that 5-year-olds be taught about gender violence and self-gratification, concepts 5-year-olds cannot even grasp. The UN purported that these issues are age appropriate and that children who live in a world in which AIDS and HIV are rampant must be informed. The guidelines also recommended teaching 9-year-olds the “safety of abortion; the positive and negative effects of aphrodisiacs; and about homophobia, transphobia, and abuse of power.” What you are seeing is a political ideology being introduced as a guise for sex education. It is age-inappropriate and not information most parents would want addressed at young ages. The secular view of sex is not God’s view — a sacred act reserved for a husband and wife — and you do not need to have the secular view forced on your children. You have the right to direct your child’s education even when she attends a public school. Speak out. You do not have to expose your child to sexual content you deem inappropriate. You are a taxpayer and have say in what the school curriculum will include.

Suggested Resource: How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex by Stan and Brenna Jones (Nav Press 2007)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

mintle03(2).jpgDr. Linda Mintle answers your questions each month in the "Real Life Solutions" department of ParentLife magazine. This month Dr. Linda answers questions about celebrating Father’s Day with an almost-absent father and dating as a single parent. Each month we post an extra question on the blog. In this month’s extra question, Dr. Mintle gives some advice about oppositional defiant disorder.

Q: I am at my wit’s end with how often my 6-year-old argues with me. No matter what I ask her to do, she talks back, refuses, and ends up disobeying me. My 11-year-old is not like this and tells me that his sister’s behavior bothers him. She throws tantrums, constantly questions our choices, is irritable most of the time, and keeps our family stressed by her constant refusal to follow the rules. We often receive reports from her teachers in school and at church that she argues, talks back, and refuses to obey. We know her behavior is different from what we see with other children. What should we do?
           
A: It is normal for children to argue at times when they are tired, stressed, hungry or upset. And oppositional behavior gears up during the toddler years and early adolescence. But when arguing becomes consistent and frequent at this age, you need to consider that something more serious may be happening.

When a child has a pattern of uncooperative, hostile, and defiant behavior that does not respond to parent intervention, it is possible that the child could be exhibiting oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Symptoms include many you have mentioned as well as deliberate attempts to upset people, frequent anger and resentment, spiteful attitude, temper tantrums, excessive arguing with adults, blaming others for mistakes, and becoming easily annoyed. As you have also indicated, these behaviors are noticed in many settings.

I would recommend you take your daughter to a mental health therapist to be evaluated. These behaviors also could indicate other disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or mood or anxiety disorders. The goal is to get to the bottom of what is causing the persistent oppositional pattern. Treatment may include parenting classes aimed at managing this behavior better, anger management help, family treatment, social skills training, or more to help improve compliance and tolerate frustration. Treatment can make a difference and help you respond to your child in a way that eases the family tension and helps the family develop a more positive relationship.

Send us your questions for Dr. Mintle! Leave a comment or e-mail us at parentlife@lifeway.com.