Updated: Jan 28, 2021
What would happen if you cursed out your Dad when you were 12 years old? I will tell you what would happen if I did that…nothing, because I would NEVER curse at my Dad as he would kick my ass (as he should!). Fortunately for my father, I did not have an issue with authority and had enough control of my executive functioning to remember that cursing=punishment.
So, why then, am I NOT grabbing my 12 year old kid behind the ear, tossing him in his room and throwing away the key when he calls me a f*cking jerk?
My husband and I have learned that with our frontally-lobe challenged (ADHD diagnoses) and resistant to authority (Oppositional defiant disorder) kids, immediately reacting to an outburst is unhelpful and usually escalates the situation. So, we do the opposite of what our fathers did to us. We do…..nothing.
Ok, so that’s a bit misleading. We are actually working our butts off before, during, and after his outburst, but what you see is us doing “nothing”. To the onlooker, we look like parents who have zero control over our child and have officially given up.
Here’s what you don’t see:
His father and I using the techniques we have learned in family therapy to word our requests about cleaning his room in a non-confrontational manner while giving him options of when to get it done, so he feels in control. We have done the work and learned his triggers, so as to be cognizant of the language and tone we use when speaking to him. When that doesn’t work and my tween flips out, we very quietly tell him to calm down and calmly escort him to his room (where he can safely work through his emotions). This means, we have had to keep our cool and fight against the urge to scream, yell, and flip out on him, which is SUPER hard! When he is done destroying his room and spewing hateful words at us, we allow him the time he needs to settle down. Imagine listening to someone destroying your property and not going ballistic. It is not easy!
Then, after all is said and done, when we are all calm and have moved passed the tantrum, we will discuss what happened with our kiddo and talk about how he could have handled things differently. He still has to do the chore we asked him to do, but he will accept it now, because he understands we are not giving in to his outrage. He will also have to pay for the hole he punched in his wall.
So, in essence…we won? Not really. There are no winners with these disorders. There are only teachable moments that we try to get right the majority of the time.
So, you see our child cursing at us and assume we are not disciplining him or worse, indifferent to it. But, hopefully now, you know we are working harder than you could ever know and could really use some grace right about now!