The Smith family has been my client for several months. They sought out coaching for their son Bill. He’s an eighth grader from an affluent community. On top of his ADHD, he also has a processing disorder.
Bill and his mother are not on the best of terms at the moment. The father works a very high-powered job and isn’t as available as the wife, so Bill’s mother is primarily involved in his life. This has created all kinds of stress and pressure that it is difficult for the mother to handle.
As a compensation strategy for Bill, he has taken to lying. Whenever his mother asks him if he’s completed a task, he is telling her what she wants to hear. When questioned, he then Creates Conflict to Avoid Conflict.
I think that Bill is compensating for his frustrations. He lives in a very competitive community and has older siblings that are successful. This has put both internal and external family pressures on Bill. Everything becomes a defeating experience for him. His response is to lie and attack. It isn’t a good strategy, but it is one that works for him and his frustrations.
The first component that needs to change in this whole process is his mother. She’s very frustrated and gets easily fed-up with Bill. This causes major arguments to occur. Here’s two strategies mom needs to use. The first is I would like her to immediately respond to his lies. He usually lies in order to leave the house. When he tells a lie she discovers, she needs to immediately bring him home as a consequence. The other things I would like her to do is track his misbehaviors and lies. To do this, she needs to do this on a weekly basis and discuss this with Bill. If a consequence is appropriate, it needs to be firm but fair.
I do not want his mother to become a drill-sergeant, but I do want her to start helping Bill understand that his misbehaviors are not acceptable. Plus, he will see that if chooses to take the easy-way out and not meet expectations, there’s a consequence both short and long-term.
The family has to be careful here because some of these concerns are due to his processing deficit. I do not like punishing a kid based on something that may be out of his or her control, but the world isn’t a forgiving place either. The important thing is to set the expectation and enforce the rules. If the rule or expectation is explained to the child, then it falls on the child. That is how the world work. However, it is setting up a child with processing deficits for failure if the rules are not fairly laid out or explained. This also can apply to children with severe ADHD.
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