It is with great pleasure that I welcome Mr. George Lynn to STARFISH Advocacy Association. From the first time I
opened the book Genius! – I felt as if Mr. Lynn was a kindred
spirit. Mr. Lynn’s Seven Criteria of the Field of Nurturing are
simple steps to ensure that the 4 assumptions of invitational
education – Trust, Respect, Optimism, and Intentionality that are the basis of creating and inviting a child to find success.
Mr. Lynn is the father of a child with neurological disorder and
understands first hand the trials and tribulations that we each
live each day. He joins us tonight with his wife and co-author
Joanne Barrie Lynn. Without further delay let me please
welcome George and Joanne to the STARFISH community and Family! Welcome!
Q. Mr. Lynn, what inspired you to write Genius!? How is this book different from your other books about children with
A. I was inspired to write the book by the parents who spoke
with me during and after my presentations about my work with
kids. People wanted to know if there was any hope for their
kids, most of whom had serious behavior difficulties at home
and school. So many severe diagnoses. So I wrote the book to
answer with a strong “Yes!” to this question and described key
factors that I see in the parenting approaches of the most successful parents. The book is different in that it starts with
the premise that our kids are in the process of becoming whole;
there is a developmental lag in basic self-control. But they are
not broken. And, in fact, some of their most distressing
behaviors may foreshadow the gifts they will give to society,
through wild creativity, unbridled energy, and white-hot focus.
The trick is to get them to their young adulthoods in one piece.
Q. How do I identify my child's genius? My son isn't particularly great at anything, although he gets by in most
A. In the book I make clear that when I talk about a child’s
genius I am not referring to IQ or eminence, greatness or such. I am referring to core energy in a person that may be expressed
in ways humble or exalted. Maybe the adult works as a janitor
by day and writes by night and never gets published but enjoys
his life and has lots of friends. Maybe he becomes a
thundering, charismatic success. There are drawbacks and joys
in either place. To find this core energy, or “guiding spirit,”
(this the Roman definition of genius), you study what he has always enjoyed doing and what he is good at doing. You look
at his fears as a source of his gifts—successful people
sometimes derive their intensity from wrestling with their own
demons. You study the general patterns of his personality, his
“archetype” to use Jung’s term. Is he a Hermit, or Hunter, or
Warrior? All these types have powerful positives. So much
more can be imagined for a child if you do not see him as hopeless autistic (Hermit), or ADD (Hunter) or “Bipolar,”
(Warrior). If he tells you his nighttime dreams you can get a
sense of his genius—the part that wants out into the world.
Q. If you have a child that is refusing needed medication, is it usually best to have a third party, such as a therapist or medical doctor, address the issue? How much influence can or should a parent be expected to have alone?
A. In Genius! I call meds the “scaffolding,” or “lattice,” (as in
things flowers grow on in the garden). Needed supports for the
development of personality. If one is indicated it is best to, of
course, suggest it and discuss it, but not push it. Never, never
push medication on a child. In my state (Washington) a child over 13 years old may legally refuse to take medication. So I
do ask trusted others, beloved family doctors, hockey coaches,
etc., to bridge the topic. Or I suggest to parents that they build
an ordinary reward structure around their desire to have their
kid take his meds. If he is dx bipolar disorder, he does not drive
the family car unless he takes his mood stabilizer every day.
Q. Do you feel that your opinions about special needs children have changed over years working with them and if so how is that reflected in your early writings and those of recent years?
A. When I first started my specialty with this population in
1991, I did not know what I was getting into. There were no
labels or definitions, really: no “ADD,” no “ Tourette
Syndrome,” or “Bipolar Disorder,” “Asperger’s Syndrome,” in the common lexicon. My clients taught me about these
conditions and how they impact the lives of kids. And I follow
the medical literature (as a layman). For a year or two before I
began my book on BD in kids, I was hearing about it in
anecdotal writing about child psychiatry. My first book is total
How To (parent very disturbing kids). My second one on
bipolar in kids was written with a huge feeling of responsibility not to misinform people about the seriousness of this condition.
My third book, Genius! Is an attempt to get more integrated,
perhaps more real about the topic. I value the usefulness of a
good diagnosis, but I see more and more so much confusion
among all of them, so much experimentation with drugs, that I
have pulled back a bit and now start more with trying to see a
kid for who he is and not get into an easier route of deciding on his dx. Sometimes the most helpful thing for me to do is
suggest to parents that they talk to their doctor about
Q. When co-morbid disorders are present which do you
A. The most serious one. This would be the bipolar disorder,
obsessive-compulsive disorder, or high-functioning autism.
These are the major dragons. They are powerful parts of who a
kid is and must be the focus for his development of self-control
and personal effectiveness. If a child is dx Oppositional
Defiance Disorder and dx OCD, it will be the obsessionality
that will get my immediate attention. The ODD is an anxiety reaction, the OCD is a driving, destructive, dragon that may or
may not be the engine that will power his success as an adult.
But first it needs to be tamed. The Genie (aka Genius) needs to
Q. You say to see what scares our children.Is this really a
A. Oh yes. Of course you want to help your child master his
fears so he can transcend them and be successful. But you also
want to follow them to find out more about him and his genius.
As I noted above I believe that what we fear often contains
gifts for us by way of inspiring our resourcefulness. It’s gotta scare the heck out of us to really be good for us (sometimes).
This fits with observer perspective, once you know what you
fear and accept the fear, you are less encumbered by it. In the
process of gaining this knowing you get stronger. This process
starts with acceptance. Occasionally I will have a mother son
couple sitting across from me on the couch. He is 12 and still
has “separation anxiety.” Such a heavy word. At these times I like to point out to the boy that his desire not to leave the love
of his mom to find his own way into the world is
understandable. Heaven, really, who wants to leave. At these
times, with this fear accepted, it will often quickly diminish.
Not pushing or drugging it away. Just understanding it.
Q. Suggestions for positive activities to help with weight loss? Ds’s appetite takes a drastic increase when in depression. Meds have contributed to being obese.
A. You need to review his meds to see if you can change them
or adjunct them for weight gain problems. Some of the new
generation antipsychotics are to be avoided for this reason even
if they work well for mood control. Your doctor might suggest adding a bit of Topiramate to the mix which does decrease
Q. Any unique/new ideas for waking ds in morning --- and then how to get him to move faster so I’m not late for work?
A. Best thing if he is groggy from meds is to adjust the time or
dosage he gets them. If that has all been taken care of then a
later start in the a.m. is advised along with write in to the IEP
around that. Less intense classes when he is cognitively down
Q. My son is very unhappy about going to an out of district school - it is a two hour commute. Every morning he pleads to stay home. He goes to school and does well, but it is tough getting him out the door. We praise him when he goes without screaming. Any other suggestions?
A. Jeez. What an ordeal. Two hours in the car. Yeeech. OK. If
he can read while the car is going (some can and some cannot),
how about a sack of goodies and a good book that he gets paid
to read and would not ordinarily read? How about getting the
school to agree to mental health days or do a bit more
schoolwork from the home computer? How about more project
work that he can do and turn in when he comes for other
academics or social activities—sort of a home school/building
combo? Little things for him to look forward to. You can see
why people fight to have district-paid private school for their
kids when this kind of abusing commute is involved.
Q. How can parents help a teen realize his genius when he resists pretty much everything we say? What is our role?
A. Resistance is best dealt with by good listening. Do not take
it on directly. Look for the genius and affirm it. Accept that he
may be oppositional for years. In my book I talk about several
different ways to identify genius including sorting out a kids
fears, early interests, and current talents. Affirm these.
Q. My son doesn't like going to therapy. It is so bad that I start to feel ill when it's time to go. He screams, breaks things, cries and storms around. When we get there, rarely will he sit with the counselor. We stopped taking him because we didn't feel anything beneficial was coming of it. I believe he needs therapy still. Do you think a different counselor could encourage him to
A. Yes to different type of counselor. One who does not do
anything until he gets rapport. It gives me a headache to read
this. I do not work with kids unless they want to come in on
their own every time. I try to be useful. Sometimes that
involves just hanging out and following the child around my
office commenting on his skill at investigating all the little
science knick knacks and things (I work with a lot of
“Aspies.”) Kids seem to value this experience. And it will feed
a sense of stability between sessions. Sometimes the work,
especially with teens, is extreeeemley intense. But a kid has to
say, “Yeah. The guy’s not a total waste of air. I guess I’ll go
back for one more and we’ll see.” There are also very invasive
counselors—people who still do “squeeze therapy” with our
kids “Yeah. He’s getting better. You can tell by the look of
shear terror in his face.” This people are to be avoided.
Q. The more I enforce the rules or consequences, the more my 8 yr. old son rages and threatens me with destructive or aggressive behavior. (He has hit us while driving). By "negotiating" with his demands to calm the situation down, he has effectively gained control and I feel used and manipulated. What can I do to enforce the situation without the rages?
A. I do not know if he is dx bipolar disorder. If he is,
medication is the first order of business. He could kill everyone
in the car if he kicks the driver in the back. This has happened
to me. It is an experience I would like to forget. I would go on
only short trips with him until I knew that it was safe to do so.
Usually medication will be effective against rage. It does give
most kids more control. If meltdown is happening (he has
some control), natural and immediate consequences may get
his attention. Do not engage him. Stop the car. Park the
groceries and go home without them. Offer him his choices and
tell him you will be glad to talk to him as soon as he gets
control of his body. That is important sentence syntax because
it does not blame him as much for what he is doing. It gives
him something to do. I advise parents not to negotiate if you
are being threatened. If you get to that point, you need to have
a plan in mind, a way of dealing with it—maybe he goes to the
ER for a psych eval, maybe you simply pull back, clear the
area of destructibles and let him blow through it. Waiting 8 hrs
in the ER for the eval punishes both of you but it also reminds
him that you repulsed by his threats and will not give in. You
have the strength and will to meet him and to put that genie
back into the bottle until it is old enough to be more
Q. How do we help our children to really see that they have a bright future ahead even with their illnesses? How do we help our children comprehend their own self-worth as individuals; regardless of their disabilities?
A. Most importantly, you address their suffering, not their
diagnosis, and you normalize having the pattern of challenges
and gifts that come with it. You might say to a child, “You
know you have some of that bipolar energy and it just makes
you a tiny bit impulsive,” or “That’s the way we ADD’rs are—more honesty than tact sometimes. Sorry. You come by that
trait honestly.” I’ve learned this from kids with Tourette
syndrome—they tell other kids “It’s OK. Its just movements I
have to make. Its not contagious.” Or (more typically). “I have
Turrets. Get used to it!” And you help kids see the success
patterns that come with the dx. As we point out in Genius! It is
difficult to find too many people in history who made significant contributions to culture who would have been on
heavy meds if they had lived in our time. Perhaps not happy
people, but getting the job done—fulfilling their particular
Q. Our 10 year old has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia and is also gifted. He takes 150 mg of Zoloft a day for anxiety. He uses an irritated tone of voice often and gets angry very easily since he is competitive, perfectionist and doesn't always understand social cues. What is the best way to handle this? What do you recommend to improve communication, the art of conversation and social skills - is there a book or training method that is most effective (there are so many)? Any tips on how to decrease his distractibility other than medication? Is the Fast ForWard program effective? Are enzymes or fish oil advisable?
A. Wow! I’m breathless for you! Lots of questions. Ok. First
thing to say is that his social presentation is who he is. Sooner
or later people will just get used to it. As they do with people
who have Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and are chronically crabby and depressed. I know this is enormously inconvenient for him
socially, but how many doctors would you describe who have
Btw, I think Zoloft is a good med for him, because of its
positive impact on anxiety, but I would be very careful about
the suicide factor, which is most associated with this SSRI. He
is on a hearty dose of the med. If that does not calm his
personality, get used to it. Let him know how he is coming
across in a very matter of fact manner but do it from a place of
acceptance. At some point, his need for friends will motivate
him to take a breath. That is what I see in kids with AS.
Oftentimes they really start hurting when they get into their
early twenties and try to turn things around, to get more friends
in their lives or start their careers. This is the time when many
of them actually begin to develop more social skills. Right
now, give him feedback and help him develop more social
capability if he comes to you with the question.
So many good books on AS out there. Of course there is Tony
Attwood’s Asperger’s Syndrome, chuck full of ideas. For
younger kids, there is Olga Holland’s, the Dragons of Autism.
What a wise person she is! It would seem like the Starfish
metaphor is very applicable to autistic children. You have to
have the patience to wait, you have to understand their world,
and you have to have a couple of good techniques up your
AS distractibility is a complex issue because it may result from
any number of different factors—he may be obsessing, he may
be in hyperfocus, he may be inattentive in the ADD sense. You
don’t know. So the first step is talking with him from this place
of not knowing and going from there to find out how to help
Naturopathically, magnesium, zinc, and b6 supplementation
are often suggested for kids on the autistic-AS spectrum. In
fact many parents endorse naturopathy because it has helped
much more than pharmacology. There is really no med for
autism because as such, it is not a disorder but just a different
way of thinking. Einstein showed features of both autism or AS
in his personality. Go tell him he belongs in the DSM-IV!
Finishing. Fish oil may help. Omega 3 with a high EPA to
DHA ratio has been shown in studies by the NIMH to stabilize
mood in some children with an early onset BD dx. You would
not want to give the kind of Omega 3 you see in Safeway to
your child with bd because it is stronger in DHA and DHA is
very energizing (and seems to improve focus in some ADD
kids). So if there is a mood disorder you need to order a
product with a five to one or seven to one ratio of EPA to DHA.
Q. Can you give me some examples of affirmations that I could use with my middle school age child? This seems like such a
A. Affirmations for a middle school age child should
emphasize his ability to deal with anxiety and affirm what a
great teenager he is going to be. See my book for format for the affirmation. How you put it is very important. This is a time of
identity crisis and a child should get a lot of hope that he has
Q. My husband and I are both so frustrated with how long it seems to take before our 15 1/2 year old "gets it." He has been dx with bp, anxiety, and adhd 2 1/2 years ago. It seems like his therapist, in collaboration with us, his parents, keep reiterating the same things over and over from keeping his hands off his younger brother of 3 years-whom he loves to tease and play with, to coping mechanisms/calming techniques, for when he feels overwhelmed and frustrated, etc, yet he still has trouble "getting it." We work carefully on being consistent and having appropriate consequences, etc. Sooooo having said all that my question is, "How much does maturity play a role in his heightened awareness of self and ability?
A. First thing aggressive kids need to learn is that violence is
not tolerated. You and your husband need to do the hard
planning to determine how to back this up. if you say the same
things over and over again and he does not hear you need to determine if his neurology or just attention getting is the issue.
Some kids I work with who have the challenges you describe
are OCD about sibling persecution. Consider that therapy
should not be the place where people nag him to stop. That
does not work. If that is happening, your therapist needs to get
to the bottom of your son's resistance to change.
Q. When you have a child who has a history of severe aggression, how can you nurture his gifts while at the same time, keeping him and society safe? Is there a way we can use his talents (gifted in expressing himself through poetry) to help
A. Again, do not be afraid to implement fairly severe
consequences for aggressive behavior or violence. This needs
to be managed before educating his genius. His genius at this
point needs to be contained. Give him the model of family as
community. You put in. you take out. If he takes out your piece
of mind, cut back on something nice you do for him. Some
little thing. If he pushes to violence do not be afraid to call the
crisis center, 911, or local psychiatric hospital to intervene.
Sometimes it takes a police officer to get through to a strong,
Q. How do you keep a child from becoming overly dependent on a parent.especially if one parent is cold but one is
A. Parents must work this out with a therapist who calls it like
it is. The therapist should realize that parents are doing their
best with the situation. If one is cold, then the child should
know he is not the target and the family should accept this
feature of personality. If coalitions are formed, these should be
interrupted with good listening, and expression of feelings and
fears between parents before working with the entire family.
Q. "Do you think it is worthwhile to try a behavior modification program (positive incentives) with a very unstable child? My 5-yo son is currently hospitalized due to uncontrollable rages and homicidal ideations. His tdoc wants to begin a behavior mod program upon his discharge saying part of the problem is I have been too lenient with him. If you don't think behavior mod is appropriate now, is there any type of psychotherapy worth pursuing for an unstable 5-yo? What is the best therapy approach for a 5-yo once stabilized? Thank
A. I do not buy behavior mod as a solution here. Of course you
should not reinforce bad behavior. You may want to actually
implement a level system in your household starting with a pull
back of all privileges if a child is deliberately using his rage to
get things from you. If he is more early onset bd straight
across, you look first to meds, then to your strategies for
protecting yourself and others, then to ways to stabilize your
household. You look for respite. You make sure you have
admitting privileges at a psychiatric hospital. There are stages
to this but parental leniency is rarely the problem.
Q. My son's school district was not able to educate him and in fact, because of his bipolar disorder, ultimately harassed and abused him. His psychiatrist and the neuropsychologist that worked with us said the school was compromising his stability and we had to take him out of his public school. Now he commutes to a private school almost 2 hours away. He's doing wonderfully academically but is so sad to be segregated and has lost a means to socialize with nondisabled peers - which he so desperately needs and desires. It's starting to make him angry and depressed. He even hides on the bus because the children in the neighborhood mock him for riding the "little bus." I've pleaded with the school to keep us.
A. Well, I have empathy for you. We had something of this
experience with Gregory growing up with the high functioning
autism dx. The devil is in the details when it comes to getting
services from the district. First thing to do is study what they
are doing right at his new school. If his placement is being paid
by the school district they will have a motivation to look at
how the private folks are making it work. You may want to talk
about his return to the public school if these accommodations
are made and after building staff are trained about his condition
Q. I am the mother of an almost 10 year old boy with Bipolar Disorder and ADHD, and the wife of a non-supportive husband. My husband is very gruff with our son and often taunts him to a point of rage. He thinks this will toughen him up. As a result, our son is very disrespectful to his father, frequently tells him to shut up, and has begged me on more than one occasion to divorce him. My husband has refused to attend any counseling, nor read any books which I have offered to explain our son’s disorder to him. Any other suggestion?
A. What we have here is triangulation. And sadism. Sadism,
perhaps with good intent, but it is sadistic to hurt someone and
enjoy the hurting. Triangulation in that it is you and your son
against your husband. This gives you no husband and your son
no father. I think that counseling would help but to be palatable
to your husband it really, genuinely cannot be pedantic—it has
to simply be problem-solving; what works and what does not
work. Sooner or later ignoring the problem will bite parents in
the butt. It will. Every time! It does not toughen someone up to
tease them—just makes them go away. Sometimes fathers
begin getting the idea when their sons no longer come to them
with problems but go to someone else when they need
advice—the football coach or family friend. Sorry to say, men
generally don’t read books. So you may have to read it to him
when the time is right “Honey, is says here that there is a point
in adolescence when a son gets big enough to beat the tar out
of his mean old dad!” No father wants this to happen. There are
good reasons to understand and improve ineffective parenting
Q. Do "most" people that have Bipolar also have at least one other illness as well? eg. Bipolar & Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
A. FAS can look a lot like BD but you do not see the mood
shift in that condition as you do in BD. You may see the
pitiless depression or impulsivity or hyperactivity but the feel
of the condition is different. I do not see a lot of FAS or FAE in
my pvt practice population. I do see a lot of classic ADHD or
ADD along with the BD. I see a lot of psychosis and
obsessional behavior with it. Of course ADHD, BD, FAS, are
frequently reported as co-existing conditions in many families.
Thus leading Drs. Comings, Blum and others to believe that
there is a “dysinhibition gene” that is carried down generation
to generation. The most distressing cases I work with are kids
dx BD plus autism. Here you have rebel without a clue. A lot
of impulsivity and very little common sense or ability to figure
ones way out of tight spots. These kids are usually on a lot of
medication and the challenge may be to find out if all the meds
Q. My son uses foul language when he is angry. I have three younger children and this is a BIG problem - the younger three admire him so. I send him to his room for time to calm down and remember the rules when he uses this language but, the damage has already been done with the younger ones. HELP!!!
A. Tough problem, once they get used to cussing, it’s hard to
stop ‘em. They use it to control us and when they are genuinely
beside themselves with anger. No easy solution for this one but
a good place to start is by teaching your son the concept of community. Do this from the side, “Oh like the football team is
really a community, people giving and getting from a common
work,” or something like that. Get a bit of buy-in to this basic
give and take idea. The next time you get an earful of vulgarity,
tell him that the family is a community and he is taking
something out, namely your piece of mind. You get to live free
of noise pollution. So maybe the give back is a fine for the polluters. Maybe it’s an hour of labor at the local food bank
before he can use the car on Saturday night. Little give backs
should be planned that involve the things that you do for him;
that he depends on you for. Remind of this connection with
Q. How do you help your child move on mentally.from a situation in which they feel something was done wrong to them, but the situation has been rectified and is over?
A. Check out my book on Bipolar Disorder for more on this
method. What I do once I have had a chance to let a kid vent
for a long, long time is ask him if he wants to put the issue
behind him. Then I ask him to visualize the situation in his
mind and see himself dragging the picture like an icon down left or down right wherever he feels relief from his hyper focus
on it. Believe it or not, time usually heals these kinds of
problems as does a lot of contact with the other kids or adults
Q. My son 13(8th grade) is Bipolar and PDD-NOS is having a very difficult time in school (in an alternative school for severely EI kids) and the school has recently petitioned the courts for incorrigibility. He has done nothing criminally wrong. My opinion is they just want to get rid of him. They have told me that Juvenal detention or a strong Boot Camp might help him. They want him in some sort of residential program and they are using the courts to get it done so they won't have to pay. We don't agree and neither does his pdoc. I have begun the search for new placement.
I do not know the body of law that is regulating the process
you describe. Typically school districts avoid putting kids in
residential placements because they are so expensive. I have never heard of a school district being able to use the courts to
force a family to send their kid to a boot camp type of school.
These typically come in in the $4K to 7K a month range. I
would advise you to hire an attorney who specializes in
educational law (fee scale tends to be less than other types) or
get the help of a paraprofessional group who would represent
you and your son in this matter. You might check out Pam and Pete Wrights site (wrightslaw.org or .com) and see if they have
a pamphlet on this topic. Btw, my advice to any parent who is
considering sending a child to a residential school is to Google
or check in person the court records of the district court to
which complaints against school staff would be referred.
Probably in the county seat for the county. Unfortunately
people who abuse kids get to their prey by getting jobs in these establishments, which may or may not be regulated by state
Q. How can I help my 13 yr. old son calm himself when he is getting overly excited (but not necessarily angry)?
A. I would teach him how to take a breath down to his
diaphragm so that his belly comes out with the in breath. he
can practice this every day lying on the floor with a book on
his gut. And he can learn to count back from 5 slowly while giving himself a mind picture of something that feels good or
calming. If he is technically hypomanic, you would want to
consult your doctor to determine if a mood stabilizer or naturopathic remedy would help.
Q. Do you recommend and alternative therapies for young Bipolar children? I have heard some things on craniosacral therapy and Reiki therapy as well as different herbal
A. Alternative approaches can be very calming. The problem is
that you do not have your medical provider right there when a
child destabilizes. I have not found that either of the above
methods you note to be particularly effective with this
population. Your best chance of alt approach working is to
Q. How does comorbidity of schizo-affective disorder impact an adolescent also dx with EOBD and PDD-NOS in being able
A. Greatly. Greatly. This is a very explosive combination.
First you get things under control with meds. That may take up
to five tries. Then you put together the right mix of services at
school. That will probably be with private resources. And you
insure everyone's safety with a home safety plan. And you
learn how to communicate with a person with autism. He may
actually do better with written than spoken communication.
Then you watch and affirm all of his strengths and there may
be many for this type. The good news is that some kids with
the EOBD presentation resolve their issues toward the end of
either adolescence or their twenties. The brain keeps growing if
you can keep things stable you are ahead of the game.
Q. In Genius!, you talk about how the best environments are ones for Attention Different kids are ones in which family members have strong positive connections and practice good communication skills. This is especially challenging in blended, or step family situations. Do you have any hints or
A. Yes. Family counseling is very important. And good
relationships between exes is essential. There needs to be
something of a shared value around positive regard even if one
family is more strict than another. There needs to be a lot of
coordination between households and acceptance. I like it
when I can get both sets of parents into the consulting room
Q. Our son refuses to "own" that he has any issue. He believes the problem is all with us. Any suggestions?
A. First you listen, then you listen. Then you get others to
reinforce what you are saying such as his friends who may be
surprisingly helpful. Kids will point out how rude their friends
are to parent sometimes. It does not help to try to get him to
figure it out logically. The key to this kind of observer
perspective is rapport and noticing the little things and building
on them. Sometimes a kid just has more growing to do and you
have to be very behavioral in your approach. ADD is an
explanation not an excuse, etc. Who cares why you're doing it.
If you do it again as night follow day, this will happen.
Q. In Genius!, when you talk about caregivers coping with stress and finding a way to stay centered even in the midst of a crisis or the ongoing stress living with a challenging child you mention 3 things as being important - purpose, freedom and
A. This means that parents need to have a life and these three
things are the essential features of hardiness for parents under
this kind of stress. You have to have something other than
dealing with crisis in your own mind to pull you out of bed.
You have to have things in your life or people whom you love.
This could also be an art form. And you have to love your own
body and take care of yourself. All these three things are
established in research as keystones to ones mental health
Q. Consequences for behaviors are a part of life. Many times removal to ds's "safe place" is a consequence, but there are other times I feel he needs to understand the severity of his actions/words. What types of consequences are effective for
A. Consequences should relate directly to the offense. They
should be short in duration and permit restitution and
reconciliation. If he punches a hole in the wall, he fixes it. If he
trashes everyone's peace of mind in the family (takes out of the
family community) he does a couple hrs in the food bank. I
suggest also that parents spend some private time doing an
inventory of all the nice things they do for their kid. Put em all
on a list as negotiable. He needs to know that they have strong
boundaries. This is the essence of BD. A powerful genius (aka
Genie) pushing outward that needs to be appropriately
Q. How can you tell when the behavior is manipulative and when it is out of control BP behavior? And can you explain to yourself as well as other people why he can hold it together under certain circumstances but not another?
A. If a behavior is done to manipulate, there will be a pattern of
threats and joviality that accompanies it. Most behavior that is
directly a result of BD is very impulsive and clearly occurs in a
manic or depressed state. Very little precedent. He can hold it
together at school because there is a little bit of choice in his psyche and because the sanctions for letting it out there, mainly
becoming an untouchable with the other kids, are so severe.
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