When ADHD Kids Push Back with Sass and Disrespect | ImpactADHD®

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What To Do When Kids Push Back With Sass and Disrespect

Welcome to Tea & Tips, where we respond to burning questions from parents and educators -- taking aim on one topic at a time, guiding you to improve communication, confidence and calm.

 

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Elaine:
In this next tip, we're gonna talk about pushback. This is a question we've gotten from a lot of parents -- how to handle defiance and combative behavior. Sassiness. Snarkyness. What to do when kids are sassy or disrespectful.

Diane:
It's a real common challenge and the thing that we want to focus in on is getting really curious about what's going on underneath it. It's easy to go "Well, he's being rude, he's being disrespectful, that behavior is unacceptable," and focus on that. It's normal, because it does feel, in some instances even painful, because our kids are saying things that are just unkind, and hurtful, and other places it's like "Whoa, wait, I need this to stop." We want you to stay first in that "What's really going on for my kid that's making it hard for them to communicate respectfully?" as opposed to just-

Elaine:
Man this kid is just being obnoxious.

Diane:
Exactly. Which is your normal.

Elaine:
The thing is too look at what's behind the behavior. Any behavior that our kids are exhibiting there's always gonna be something behind it, some reason, some motivation, some fear, whatever it is, and a lot of times our kids are stimulation seeking. They're seeking input, sometimes they're looking for the battle so that they can get some engagement.

Diane:
Don't say that like they're doing it on purpose, because they may not be.Their brain is seeking stimulation, and I've been in relationships where you have an argument for absolutely no reason at all, and it's really just the brain wanting to work itself up a little bit.

Elaine:
Right. The example I often use is the adult with ADHD who picks the fight before he can go to sleep at night, and then he's fine, and he goes right to sleep, and then his wife's-

Diane:
His wife's laying there.

Elaine:
Up all night going "Why did we have this fight?" Stimulation seeking behavior is pretty typical, so understanding it doesn't make it okay, it doesn't make it acceptable, but if you understand where the behavior is coming from, you can begin to shift the dynamic, and address it, and take aim on it.

Diane:
The other piece of it might be avoidance. It's like if I'm pushing back, if I'm defying, if I'm arguing with you, if I'm talking back, it may be that either I'm trying to get used to what you said, or it's a transition issue, because it's like I was thinking this, and you're thinking that. The point is, don't jump to the "I've got a rude kid."

Elaine:
And I've gotta stop it.

Diane:
Go back and say "So what's really going on for my kid that's making it difficult for them to communicate respectfully?" I love that spin, because that's really what your challenge is, is to help them communicate in a different way.

Elaine:
The strategies we would offer here first is to let them be heard. If they're upset, or frustrated, or angry, acknowledge that that is a real feeling. We teach A.C.E. Start with acknowledgement, let them get it out, let them express themselves, and have some compassion from where they're coming from.

Diane:
If somebody tells you something that you don't want to hear, you're gonna go ... You might just make that face and not say anything out loud, because you have a different kind of filter than a 10-year-old who's-

Elaine:
Who's snarky.

Diane:
Snarky. But take that minute, show compassion, acknowledge, and then-

Elaine:
It's really hard for you right now, it sounds like you're feeling upset right now, whatever it is to sort of really meet them where they are.

Diane:
Yep. And then explore. What is it that's really bugging you in this situation? How do I help? How can you get what you want, and I get what I want? Just really have a conversation rather than getting focused on shutting it down.

Elaine:
Or stopping the behavior. When kids are sassy or disrespectful, there is always something else going on -- it’s up to you to figure out what it is, so you can begin to shift the dynamic.

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