Advanced search

What's for lunch today? Take inspiration from Mumsnetters' tried-and-tested recipes in our Top Bananas! cookbook - now under £10

Find out more

Pathological Demand avoidance management

(11 Posts)
BertieBotts Tue 30-Dec-14 12:35:49

Humour me for a minute. I don't know if DS has PDA, but have been reading around it and the descriptions are absolutely spot on to the particular behaviours we are struggling with at the moment. We've tried all of the usual (over the last three years, not chopping and changing approaches) and nothing is helping, so if this is a new approach we haven't tried I'll give it a go. DH has already said if we don't see an improvement in a year's time after he starts school (we are in Germany, he's 6, not 4.)

He is a lovely child until you ask him to do something perfectly innocuous and then the ridiculousness starts. I find it very, very difficult to manage because it's so frustrating - he's not resisting, he's avoiding. Just like the description. The EXACT same things as those websites say. "My legs hurt." "My hands are made of lava" "What day is it today?", long long spiels of conversation which he won't break for anything to avoid the fact that he's supposed to be listening to you. Arguing, crying, fighting, silliness over the same things that he has to do regularly, even has a chart to help him count down to, has to do EVERY day, it's not a surprise, as soon as he finally gets in there he's singing away perfectly happy, it's just the fact of being told "It's time for your shower now".

So all of the websites say that to help them you're supposed to pick your battles (okay, we already do, but he has to get to kindergarten, and go to bed, and shower/bathe, and brush his teeth and we like him to help out around the house and get off the playstation when he's asked to.)

Change the way you ask. Most of this is stuff I had picked up years ago that seems to work better for him. (Even as a toddler, asking "Can I hold your hand?" was 100x more successful than "Hold my hand"). Demanding/barking orders never works. Letting him do things at his own pace, maybe. Changing the way you word it, the most successful, but sometimes things need to be done, and now, not in an hour after you've finished sighing and flopping.

But still - I lose patience with it. Once I've said something "wrong" it's just started off a chain reaction - he will expend easily ten or twenty times as much energy and time avoiding or arguing against something than he would have done just doing it. Sometimes extreme anxiety or anger, sometimes giggling and running around and playing games and pretending he's deaf or injured or whatever. And I worry about these ways of managing it - is it really helpful to pander to it when he will one day be an adult, underneath people other than us and have to do things that other people say sometimes? If he learns it's an okay way to be, how will he ever hold down a job? I realise I'm catastrophising a bit, and I absolutely don't believe children should be little army sergeants obeying every order immediately, in fact I'm quite against this idea, but it's difficult to live with him when he takes such umbrage at being asked to do anything at all.

I'm going out so will be back later, but any thoughts at all, I'd be interested.

Hurr1cane Tue 30-Dec-14 12:52:13

Where are you op? We have one free session left for behaviour management with a PDA specialist with my support group.

BertieBotts Tue 30-Dec-14 14:26:29

In Germany. So unlikely to be near anything UK based smile

PolterGoose Tue 30-Dec-14 15:02:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ohmygrood Tue 30-Dec-14 15:06:54

Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome in Children by Phil Christie is a good read. You can buy it in kindle form on amazon.

BertieBotts Wed 31-Dec-14 13:21:25

Polter how old is your DS now and what do you mean in terms of paying off? Because I'm feeling like they could work well now but I'm worried that it's going to make everyone's life more difficult in the long term.

PolterGoose Wed 31-Dec-14 14:26:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lljkk Wed 31-Dec-14 14:27:33

Try not to think too long term; luckily kids change & mature.
I think kids like this you can only coax them towards being more amenable to rest of society's norms. I used to bribe mine with a chocolate raisin to wear new socks. He forgot the daily chocolate after a few days especially if I just let him wear same socks for days & days, pick your battles....
Sometimes you have to do what you have to do just to get thru today.

When DS (10yo) is being a control freak, I try not to engage or pander. Or only engage minimally (like a broken record): "No you can't go on the computer", repeatedly minimally, in the most non-emotional voice I can muster. If he keeps sobbing "BUT WHY?" then I eventually say "I'm sorry I can't explain it any better than I already did" or "I don't have to give you a reason, that's just how it is, I'm not going to try to explain it again" Finally he gets something else, so he has his own perception of victory (like an orange or biscuit, mine is very food-oriented!!). Eventually, suddenly, a switch goes and the child who was too tired for 2 hours to lift his head from the table enthusiastically goes out for a 6 mile hike talking non-stop all the way.

Unfortunately the rest of the world thinks he's simply an ill-disciplined brat, but I gave up caring what they think unless they stand in the way.

It helps with DS (reduces anxiety) if we try to plan ahead, give him an illusion of control. So I say "What would you like to do today-this-afternoon-this evening-tomorrow?" Then we discuss various options & he knows he chose one of them which I try to stick to. Spontaneity can be too difficult.

PolterGoose Wed 31-Dec-14 14:30:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lljkk Wed 31-Dec-14 14:33:59

ps: the book that saved my sanity is The Explosive Child.

BertieBotts Sun 04-Jan-15 14:32:09

I keep seeing The Explosive Child recommended, I think I'll try that.

What's working well at the moment is when either me or DH lose it the other goes in and "plays good cop" and that seems to calm him down again (to an extent).

I must say I find it really hard not to think long term - it's sort of my ultimate aim to make him an independent, fairly successful, reasonably happy adult really.

I have to grin about the sock thing - not so much any more but over the past three years he has been bloody obsessive over socks, wearing the same pair for so long that his toenails were practically ingrown underneath them and we didn't notice because he barely ever took socks off blush

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: