Getting Unstuck

After our last appointment with Dr. Rita, Doodicus’s pediatric psychologist, I realized that it had been almost three months since I had made the trip myself as Sparring Partner has handled the prior two appointments. It was a stressful drive with lots of rain on the way down and unbearable fog on the way home and almost all 200 miles of it driven in the dark.

One major concern I had to address was the topic brought up during the last appointment with Sparring Partner and Doodicus, and that was the possibility of there being an OCD diagnosis. Dr. Rita clarified that he does not believe Doodicus has OCD in addition to his ADHD, but instead he has a "rigid way of thinking". And my god, he hit the nail on the head with that one.

The booklet of exercises he sent home with SP (What do Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck) was to help Dood when he has those sticky thoughts. Remember how I said Dood can worry and whine and complain for an obscene amount of time about something so mundane as being denied a candy bar? Those are the thoughts he grabs onto and doesn’t know how to let go. How are we suppose to help him?

Take the example of the candy bar. Once we get past the million Nos in the store (for which I do not obligate a reason. I don’t have to answer his plaintive "WHY??!" with a justification). That annoying response your parents gave you, "Because I said so," is actually true, and I only say it once. I ignore the repeats, except I might say, "I gave you my answer. Do you have a question about it?" Of course, he’ll continue on until we get into the car at which point he crumples, physically and mentally, into a pool of tears. This is when I can calmly ask, "Dood, if you do not get the candy bar, what will happen?"

I’ll give you a moment to soak that in. In fact, it bears repeating:

"If XYZ does/does not happen, what will happen?"

He may actually answer with something on the line of "The world will stop spinning!" if he bothers answering with anything initially, but it’s only then that he can see how big of a deal it really isn’t. It will help unstick that stuck thought.

This process isn’t as easy as you would think unless you have the patience of a Buddhist monk. The whining and crying and acting out and the disrespectful tone of voice over $.99 is simply ridiculous TO ME. It’s a matter of him getting his way, no matter the issue. He will argue with his teacher about the answer to a math problem, even when she works it out for him. He will argue with Aitch over the lyrics of a lullaby (WHO argues with a four-year-old AT. ALL??!!).

We have to get him to practice reasoning, because as Dr. Rita warned, we are really at a very crucial point in Dood’s development during these years. He’s been making some rather dangerous choices recently, i.e. not checking into the after school program at the Y so he ends up unaccounted for if we happen to call, and we cannot afford to let him ride out this "stage". If he can’t get into good thinking habits now, he won’t later.

Speaking of dangerous choices, when I told Dr. Rita about the email from the daycare director who responded about the open interent access: "They also have a policy for the students in which they feel that teaching them responsibility with the internet rather then locking it and them spending time trying to hack in is a good practice," Dr. Rita thought it was one of the most stupid and irresponsible responses he’s heard from someone involved in an administrative position of children. Apparently, my gut reaction was right on.

Hopefully, you will have something to take away from this post, regardless of your child’s behavior when it comes to not getting their way. Help them get unstuck. Ask them, "If you don’t get you that Hot Wheels car, what will happen?" "If you don’t get to play a video game on the Wii, what will happen?" Help them switch gears and not get trapped into a rigid way of thinking.

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13 thoughts on “Getting Unstuck”

    1. I used it twice in the span of about 30 minutes last night. Once over a piece of taffy he found and thought he had to eat RIGHT NOW! And then later I took his two comic books out of his room and he had to have them with him ON HIS SHELF! The key is asking the question in the calmest, most non-threatening way possible. If he gets a hint at all that it’s a threat, I’m screwed. Both times I could see in his face when his brain got “unstuck” and he realized it wasn’t a big deal.

  1. It sounds incredibly wearing, but, as always, i am hugely impressed by the effort you put into figuring out how best to parent.

    Am I very unobservant – I had always assumed dr rita was a woman. Must not have been reading properly!

    1. I use Dr. Rita as his pseudonym so the “Rita” probably threw you off. It was my mnemonic on how to remember his real name. I didn’t intentionally seek a male psychologist, but as we work our way through Dood’s tween years, I’m glad it is a HE.

    1. Oh, I love him with all my sensibilities heart. The man has the soul of that Buddhist monk I referred to. If he was physically attractive to me, I’d be throwing myself at him.

  2. I think that question is a good one for all of us to keep on hand…even for ourselves. I think it would put the brakes on all sorts of repetitive thoughts. I COMPLETELY agree with you that his good judgment needs to be developed now. He will be slammed with bad opportunites in a couple of years and could easily get swept up in shit that isn’t good for any of you.

  3. I think it’s probably too late for my husband. My daughter, however, seems pretty resilient, so I hope I won’t need this for her. My personal response to these kinds of things is “I said no. Now stop asking.” I am fortunate enough to have a kid who responds well enough to that. Sometimes we escalate, but not too often.

    I hope you can find the patience necessary to realign Dood’s thinking.

    1. I think we’ve become a more pessimistic society so it IS easy to let ourselves think the worst. His advice is much like the adage about 5-5-5: will it matter in five hours? in five months? in five years? kind of thing.

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