Tonight's presentation at the Leaky Brakes workshop got down to the nuts and bolts of parenting children with TS+ (that is some combination of TS, ADHD, and OCD). We listened to two speakers: Jackie White and Peter Black who discussed the technical side of parenting and the emotional side of parenting respectively.
Ms. White gave a brief overview of Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) as outlined in the book The Explosive Child, by Dr. Ross Green. The main idea is that parents need to work with the child during calm moments to find solutions to problems they both share. Being proactive about a problem should result in less stress for both parent and child. Being collaborative about a problem should help both the parent and the child get their needs met. To learn CPS takes time and self awareness, but ultimately, CPS is a valuable skill for both parent and child to learn.
Just this week, Luke and I worked together to solve a problem collaboratively. It wasn't by the book, but it worked for us. Here's how it happened. It was just after dinner and Luke was on the computer, but he hadn't done the dishes yet. When I told him to do the dishes, he began to melt down because his game had just gotten started. I said "Hold on. How long will it take you finish up?" He told me half an hour and I asked him "If I set the timer, will you do your dishes then?" he said yes. And he did. Without being reminded. I was pretty proud of us both.
Mr. Black discussed the emotional side of parenting TS+ kids and how our emotions affect our ability to effectively parent our children. He pointed out that there are two emotional extremes that cause difficulty, intense frustration and excessive sympathy. The frustration leads to authoritarian parenting and that can cause resentment in the child. Excessive sympathy results in passive parenting and a child who thinks they are omnipotent. The ideal to strive for is a balance between sympathy and firmness in order to raise a self-reliant child.
It was acknowledged that parenting a child with a disability causes a strong sense of loss, and that parenting an intense child is exhausting work. As a result, parents must first take care of themselves before they can be capable of caring for their children. An audience member recommended group support. For my part, therapy helped me a lot.
Mr. Black described the need for emotional awareness using Dr. Dunc's favorite metaphor: a car. Parenting a normal child is like cruising down the open highway on a sunny day. You can almost do it automatically. Parenting a child with TS+ is like driving down a treacherous mountain road in the dark. You really need to pay attention! Having an awareness of your own emotions is like turning on the headlights and it helps you see to steer the car.
Next week will be our last session. There will be a panel of experts that we can ask questions of. If anyone has a question that they would like me to bring to the next session, please leave a comment or write me an e-mail. If I get a chance, I will try to ask.
Also, for those of you reading this in Southern Ontario, the CPRI will do presentations in other communities. You just need to organize a big enough group and get your regional organizations to request it. Finally, several people have commented that they wish they had Dr. Dunc where they lived. Well, he does occasionally do international presentations.