Friday, March 30, 2012

Finding Success in Small Moments

Well, we had a total meltdown last night over homework, again. Nothing new here. He started giving me lip so he took '8' and went nuts banging on the door and screaming horrible things (names, demands, more names). Wow. When he does that, I try to re-direct my attention and bridge or turn on some music or the TV and wait for the timer to tell me his time is up. There is nothing more I can do while he is down there losing it so I figure if he thinks I don't listen and he isn't actually pushing my buttons, he will eventually give it up. If he was calling me horrible names to my face, that's different. Sigh. The good news is that I totally kept my cool. That's something to celebrate and a success for me when he literally flips out.

I came across a wonderful quote today that I have never heard before but should have as it is by Winston Churchill (love that guy). It is very appropriate for this situation:

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

Let me say that I don't think I'm failing as a parent although in these dark and tough moments I sure feel like I am. But this struck a chord with me because Preston will continue on the path he is on for now and it is so very important for me to stay strong, use the tools and knowledge I have acquired on this journey, and to find a way to make each day pleasant. I realized this morning in the shower that the next 15 years of my life (at least) are going to be torture if I don't find a way to make peace with Preston's behavior (that isn't always within his control) and the disorder that plagues him and affects us all on a daily basis. Just like my Dad used to ignore my attitude so that it didn't sour his, I've got to do the same. Maybe I should talk to my Dad about that.

In the meantime, I guess in Churchill's words I see for me, success consisting of going from day to day without loss of enthusiasm and determination

It's spring break and he'll be home all day every day this week. Heaven help us all!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Slightly Different Reward Tactic

One big issue right now is Preston's uncanny ability to snake candy from his friends. Whether they give it to him willingly or he barters for it I am not sure. Everyday he leaves a trail of candy wrappers around the house and it does indeed affect his behavior. He was off his rocker yesterday afternoon with energy, talking in weird voices and doing anything that might keep the attention fixed on him. I knew he had had candy and sure enough at the end of the day I emptied his pockets and he had enjoyed the fruits (artificially colored, Starburst and Laffy Taffy fruits) of his pilfering labors. I knew that he was being nuts for a reason. I ask and he always lies. That is driving me batty as well.

I had a conversation with a friend and she praised him for his resourcefulness. This is 'Re-Framing' thought number one. The upside to Preston's trading or cojouling his friends for candy is that he creates what he wants. This can be an awesome trait if pointed in the right direction. She suggested that rather than badgering him and scolding him for his naughty behavior, have a chat with him that would look something like, "Wow buddy! When you want something I can see that you find a way to get it. And right now I see that you really want candy. What if you commit to not getting candy from friends at school and you get to pick something from the bunny bowl? I know it is hard for you to pass up on candy. I want to support you and help you make good choices. How does that sound?"

I had this conversation in part the other day and he liked the idea. My friend also suggested that he be able to see it; kids need something tangible to make it real and keep it in his mind. If there is any question or doubt to the reward options, he will choose the moment and the candy. So, I grabbed two boxes of Gummy Bunnies, some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, some snack bag sized oragnic oreo cookies, and made several cards with the following options:

~ You Choose Dinner
~ Trip to Coldstone
~ Gretel Sleeps in Your Room
~ 15 minutes on the Wii
~ One dollar
~ Rent a Redbox
~ One Kneader's Cookie (They do a buy one get one free night every weekend so I grab a few and freeze them for the week).

This method of re-framing fits in line with choosing battles and finding compromises that I mentioned in my last post. The other key point is that my badgering and scolding isn't helping him make better choices so time to try a new tactic. Hopefully, this will help him learn some delayed gratification skills and in the big picture re-train his current habit of begging and snagging the naughty stuff. And if none of the above happen, he isn't feeling beat because I'm always on his case and he is eating 'Mom-Approved' candy that won't make him nuts. The other component is that he skips out on the bunny bowl if he makes a naughty candy choice. I'm trying to think of a small consequence for this course of action as well - thoughts anybody?

I can totally imagine him with a sack tied to a stick on his shoulder outside the school doors with a sign saying, "Starving. Can only eat candy. Mom only serves healthy stuff. Please help."

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Explosive Child

About two years ago I went over to my neighbor's house for lunch to pick her brain about parenting a child with ADHD. She loaned me the book, "The Explosive Child" by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. I have turned my house upside down looking for that book and for the life of me can't find it. Then, at a lunch, our lovely hostess handed each one of us a book and the book she loaned to me was "The Explosive Child." Apparently, it really is something I need to spend some time reading right now (much to the chagrin of my mother who has been waiting ever so patiently for me to finish Pope Joan. I'm almost done Mom! I do read it!)

One thing I have been working on for myself is getting to bed at the same time each evening. I have read on more than one occasion that regular bed times and bed time routines help the body recognize when it is time to 'power down' and keep your circadian rhythms in check. In doing this, my body does get very tired in anticipation for sleep and I'm not much good reading in bed before the lights go out. So, I picked up The Explosive Child and flipped open to a random page (127) to read just a touch. Again, what I needed to hear was right there in front of me. The incident in the book was referring to a girl that was explosive when she didn't get her way. The incident they refer to is how to she wants to do her homework sitting atop the heat 'register.' The Dad's initial reaction is to object to this request. What he had been taught with the therapist was to ask himself if it was a big deal or not and then to see what kind of compromise could be worked out between him and his daughter. They compromised, but the Dad had a concern regarding the technique (known as Plan B) in all of his recent interactions with his daughter:

"I'm afraid that we're teaching her that she never has to listen to us, and I don't think that bodes well for the future."

"What, she never does what you tell her to now?" the therapist asked.

"No, she actually does what we ask quite often," he replied. "I'm worried that she'll think that all she has to do is start to throw a fit to get what she wants."

The therapist asks a few questions about how the relationship between them is and on all accounts everything was better. This is the part that struck me the most:

"The real world doesn't have Plan B or people who always try to understand," he [Dad] said.

"I don't expect that your fighting with her a lot will help her live in the real world. On the other hand, I do expect that helping her stay calm enough to think clearly in the midst of frustration will be very helpful to her in the real world. If you think about what the real world demands, it's a whole lot more about resolving disputes and disagreements than it is about blind adherence to authority." (125-129)

This is priceless. I need to frame it for my wall or have it embroidered on my pillow for those tough moments.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Best Snack Ever

Preston decided that he had finally had enough of his Mars Venus Chocolate shake. Even made with Silk Cocoa Almond Milk he couldn't do it. I mixed up my IsaLean shake (which I've been trying to get him to enjoy for the last six months now) and he snagged it off the countertop and with one sip he was in love. Fickle child. Oh well - VICTORY! Naturally I had two more cannisters of the Mars Venus shake already shipped and on their way leaving me to find a clever use for them. I can't claim it as my own cleverness (I'll give credit to Dr. John Gray on this one) but a fabulous alternative none-the-less. All hail the Brownie Batter Bites (the name however is my cleverness)!

The boys love them. I love them. They are GOOD for you. I have zero guilt eating these. They should be eaten. Sad for them. Happy for us! And yes, that is a smiley face on the plate.

Soften 2 Tablespoons of Unrefined, Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil
Mix in 2 scoops of Mars Venus Wellness Shake powder
Some chopped nuts of preference (nuts, walnuts) or not!

Mix together and scoop onto parchment paper lined dish and store in the fridge. Coconut oil becomes a liquid at 76 degrees so these babies need to stay cool. They taste like brownie batter. The healthy fats and protein in these bites prevent your blood sugar from spiking besides the fact that coconut oil is totally awesome for you! Let's keep the metabolism going!

You can get the shake at

Monday, March 19, 2012

Getting Outside of My Busy Head

We had the opportunity to head down south this weekend to St. George and go the Thunder Over Utah air show. It was the highlight of my weekend. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I LOVE AIRPLANES! Everybody has their thing and this is definitely one of mine. I get all misty-eyed when these planes take off and fly around; I turn into a two-year-old little boy whose biggest dream is to become a pilot. My little nephew had thought about wearing his little flight suit, and I laughed and thought, "I should have worn mine!" It isn't until later that I actually think that for an adult that could be a little strange. In another life I'll fly a fighter jet. Sigh.

We also went for a hike around Pioneer Park that is mostly red rock and slot canyons. I carried Bentley around for alot of the way because he wasn't making much progress teetering back and forth unsure of what to make of the red rock and sand. He truly looked like Frankenstein. At one point, we walked past this tree with small (smaller than the size of my fingernail) green and shiny leaves. Bentley immediately reached out for it; I on the other didn't even notice it. I had my eyes ahead and was just going through the motions of walking and most likely thinking about where to stop and grab lunch so we could get on the road to pick up the dog before the kennel closed and that Bentley was going to need a bath and so was the dog and so on; you get the idea. I was enjoying the feeling of the rock under my feet but I snapped out of the business of my head when he reached for this tree. I stopped in front of it and he very gingerly touched the small leaves and smiled. In that moment it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen and touched. It was a wonderful moment and reminder to me to really look around and see life through a different set of eyes.

To little Bentley (who is just over one-year-old), everything is a wonder. I haven't become completely desensitized as I still look at the beauty around me, but not on such a small level. I look at flowers and their colors but to stop and look at these tiny, shiny leaves was wonderful. I was grateful for his little reminder to get outside of my busy head and enjoy the present and everything in it. I preach it to my kids so often and I realize I can be just as guilty of missing out on the small and simple wonders as anybody else.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fun Day with Fun Dip

First, I learned at a lovely ladies lunch yesterday that it is okay to experience emotion whether it be sadness, frustration, anger, whatever. Yes, I only  listed negative emotions simply because those are the ones we tend to have the most guilt about and stifle (anger is trickier to stifle; I'm just working on expressing it healthfully and in my own presence excluding anyone else). With that being said, I allowed myself to feel my angry emotion this morning and the amazing thing is that it dissipated much quicker than normal. I also applied my thought-labeling to it (I'm just having the thought that Preston shouldn't sneak candy) and asked myself what requirement I had that was going unfulfilled (Preston shouldn't want to eat or sneak color-tainted candies), and then moved through it and I'm over it. Very, very nice. So, what was it that evoked my angry emotion, you ask? I'll tell you.

I should always assume with Preston that when he is taking is sweet time on something it means he has trickery and treachery up his sleeve. Yesterday morning he was sneaking the nice new eraser I forbade him to take to school and inevitably lose and this morning after supposedly brushing his teeth (which was taking longer than usual) I discovered not one pocket full of Fun Dip candy but two pocketfuls of Fun Dip candy adding up to a grand total of SIX packets of Fun Dip candy stuffed in those tiny, tight pockets. I don't know how Houdini fit them all in there but it was like the magic hat and they kept coming and coming. I can laugh about this now (which I am; oh his poor teacher had he gotten away with it - I envision Mike Myers hooked up to the  park swing set and towing it behind him after Nicole Kidman gave him - the Hyper Hypo - a square of chocolate on SNL) but at the moment I was furious! Sneaking for one but then sneaking something we talk about all the time as being so naughty for him. Those poisonous, toxic, brain-eating colors! I bribe him with Gummy Bunnies and other treats but he still has candy radar and among finding it out there, I'm sure he sells his prized possessions at a stand at school or offers to do other kids' homework (even though he'll fight me to the death to do his own) for toxic color gratification. Oh the humanity!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Identity System

Dang, I'm hungry already. Oooh, sorry. Thinking out loud. So, the Identity System. The following comes from Stanley Block's book, "Come To Your Senses" and I think it is going to be an instrumental tool for me in managing my life with a child with ADHD - well, life in general that really is just a rollercoaster: 

"In itself, the Identity System is not the problem. The problem comes when it becomes dominant, preventing the ideal interplay between separation (the Identity System) and union (the Source - whatever your idea of a higher power may be). The Identity System is helpful only up to the point where development of your self becomes rigid and exclusive - when your IS story is all that you are, all that you can be, and when you do not know how to rest it. Whenever it is overactive, it restricts awareness, creates fear and disrupts the harmony and balance of the mind-body connection. This false and limited vision impairs not only how you experience yourself but your activities as well, reducing you to being only as good as your last thought. But this is of course a fallacy. All thoughts are merely the result of a brain cell secreting a neurotransmitter. Getting to know your IS and its operations is essential to freeing you from self-limiting thoughts.

Your IS is based on specific thoughts that I call requirements. These requirements reinforce the damaged self (a dysfunctional state of the body-mind) and dictate how you should be and how the world should be at each moment. Whenever you feel that these requirements are unfulfilled, you experience the symptoms of an activated IS - tension, fear and phsyical distress. Because they are manifestations of a damaged self, your IS requirements cause you to fruitlessly expend energy trying to satisty them. Here's a brief example of requirements and how they bring a person down:

Isabella, a sales clerk in a boutique, would go home irritated, exhausted and resentful after listening to a day's worth of gossip from her co-workers and the demands of her customers. After several weeks of following the techniques described in this book, she noticed an effortless change in the way she viewed her work. When co-workers gossiped, she would smile to herself, aware now that she had the requirment that people shouldn't gossip. She no longer allowed their actions to dictate her reactions, and instead she focused her attention on her work. When customers were demanding and irritable, she recognized that she had an unrealistic expectation that she would be able to make every customer happy. Once she recognized this thought, she was able to let it go. Free from that thought, she simply did her best." (2-4)

A requirement is "simply a thought of how we and the world should be at any moment." By definition, it cannot be met.

For me, recognizing the requirements that Preston should be good regularly, Braeden should listen, the kids should be quiet, the kids should always know what to do with themselves, that I should always be patient and perfectly calm, and bridging to keep me in my natural state so I can call on my wisdom is what is going to help ME turn things around. Mapping - which he explains in his book - along with bridging (listening to the sound of the air conditioner/furnace, a ceiling fan, the fridge, water running, feeling the fabric of my clothes) brings me into the moment and helps me rest my Identity System.

This is all about me. When Preston has a bad day, I have a bad day and with the fact that there are more bad days than good with this little boy, I cannot hang my happiness on whether or not he has a good or bad day. I have to be me, I have to be happy for me. And since he is such an unhappy little bugger, I'll just tell him that I'm happy enough for the both of us because I love him and that makes me happy.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Put a Sock In It (Parents - That Means You!)

Had a lovely discussion with the psychologist this week regarding behavior modification and my need to do some 'tweaking.' So, the discussion included immediate rewards and immediate consequences. He knew well the cycle I have lapsed into which is giving Preston twelve chances at something (which means that I'm nagging about something twelve plus times). This gives both Preston and I the opportunity to reach an aggitated state which equals two people having melt-downs. This means I go back to steadfastly applying 1-2-3 Magic and after two warnings he goes to his bedroom to take eight (minutes). I did this later that day and he went to a time-out and read a book calmly while in there - no kicking and screaming, banging on the door or yacking.

I realized by my own wisdom how important that I ditch talking and lecturing and simply consequence or actually follow through with the '3' count. This is of equal importance with my step-son who I lecture about everything and it NEVER sinks in. I'm sure on some cellular level he is absorbing what he is being told to be accessed at some point in the future when he takes his magic pill like Bradley Cooper in Limitless, but for now it is a total waste of brainpower, energy and my amazing display of vocabulary. So, back to NO TALK, NO EMOTION. For my sanity, and for my kids'sanity. I pulled out my seventh grade journal the other night and was impressed by the fact that I too hated being told what to do, how to do it and that my parents were ruining my life with their stupid rules. Crazy eh? Who'd of thought? I do remember kicking against them at times but always knowing that they were right and there was wisdom in what they were doing. I just hated it. Hated how smart they were. Especially my dad. He rarely got worked up - he just left me notes with consequences on them if I didn't clean up my act. That was a good reminder for me that my step-son is going to hate our discipline and rules, but it is supposed to be that way.

And on that note, I found a fabulous quote from an article I found on One mom would say to her child when the child said they hated her was: "Well, I love you enough for the both of us." And that was it. And with these kids that are so verbally nasty (and not everyone will understand that; there were SO MANY comments about how unacceptable it is that a child ever say such harsh things - they obviously don't have a child with ODD!), that's kind of all you can do. It's bait for these kids and they are gators in the water hoping you will jump in and fight them. As Jim Fay would say, "You can't argue with the ridiculous." We all love our kids. The other nugget of wisdom for today is that you will feed the problem (the child's behavior) with overly harsh or inconsistent discipline. Immediate, manageable consequences consistently.

Here's a toast to more good days than bad ones. And to us parents to keep our cool.