L: James, you mentioned accountability. Creating a culture of accountability. What does that mean? Can you explain that and how, what it means to parents and kids.
J: First of all, when we start with accountability, one of the things that I talk to teachers and parents about is creating a culture of accountability. And that culture of accountability occurs between two people. So when we talk about what’s on TV, what they’re learning in the movies, what their video games is, that, that’s fine. But the culture of accountability comes with, this is how I’m gonna talk to you and this is how you have to talk to me. This is what I’m gonna expect of you and this is what you can expect of me. That’s very clearly learned out. That you’re accountable for the way you talk to me and treat me. You’re accountable for your responsibilities and you can expect me to take responsibility to be accountable for my responsibilities. I’m gonna pay the rent, I’m gonna have food on the table, I’m gonna make sure that we have a place to live. You have to talk to me appropriately, you have to do your schoolwork and you have to learn how to solve life’s problems without hurting other people.
MG: I think it’s important to note James that a culture of accountability isn’t just a parent child thing. We even as adults need to be accountable; we are accountable every day to someone.
J: That’s right, well, I don’t think people are accountable to a culture. I think that that develops between people. Between individual people and groups. So even personal relationships and work relationships.
J: Work. I’m accountable to that job. I’m accountable to my role in that business. I’m accountable to that business. They’re gonna pay me, that’s what I expect of them, they expect me to do the role that they defined for me. They also expect me to do it with some quality and some efficiency.
MG: So as a parent, what you’re setting your child up for by expecting him to be accountable to you is the whole mindset that you will always be accountable to someone. This is a coping skill. This is a problem solving skill you have to learn.
J: Absolutely. Look, when you hold your child accountable, when you develop that culture of accountability, you as a parent have a responsibility to teach that child to acquire the skills he’s gonna need to be able to be accountable. People who can’t be accountable for their homework disrespect other people. People who can’t be accountable for their behavior turn it around and challenge you and act out. So when you’re having a culture of accountability, there’s a two–way thing. I expect you to do the right thing and you can expect me to teach you how to do the right thing.
MG: So my job as a parent then is to set specific standards, to set specific goals, to set attainable landmarks that a child can say, if I do this, I become accountable. If I do this, I’m behaving responsibly.
J: Yeah, it’s not only setting goals. It’s giving the skills to reach the goal. So let’s say I’m a parent and my goal is that you’re gonna sink five throws from the free throw line in basketball out of ten. Well I just can’t put you up there with a ball and tell you do it, that’s my goal. I’ve gotta show you how to do it. I’ve gotta show you how you place your feet, how you place your arms. How you propel the ball. I’ve gotta spend some time practicing with you. I’ve gotta show you how to do these things and I’ve gotta practice them. So it’s not setting the goals, it’s giving the kid the skills. Acquiring the skills yourself for an understanding of what it takes. Using the tools and using the skills.
James Lehman had a very personal understanding of kids with behavior problems. He displayed severe oppositional, defiant behaviors as a child and teenager, and became a Behavioral Therapist specializing in helping troubled children, teens and their families for 30 years.
Janet Lehman, MSW Child Behavior Therapist
Janet Lehman has over three decades of clinical experience working with out–of–control children and teens and their parents. Working in group homes and residential treatment centers, Janet helped children with serious behavioral disorders learn to get their behavior under control.
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I have 13 year old son who never wants to get a no for an answer. Is there anything to do to correct this behavior?
Comment By : Ben
I have been hearing so much that you should reinforce positive rewarding with good behavior with an adhd child. Is it, that a child with adhd, KNOWS what they are supposed to do and not to do and just want to cause conflict or is it their minds want allow them to do what is right? I am questioning this because I have a step son with this and we have issues everytime he is with us, but his mother says they do not have this at her and her boyfriends home. Can they be so different at another place and only act up with us? Or is adhd very consistent? This child is adopted and has been given pretty much everything all of his 9 years here in America. He has an anxiety disorder along with adhd and very demanding, arguementive and violent at times. Could this be more of a learned process or could it be both?
Comment By : tricia
i Have A Twelve Year Old Who Has Become Out of Control. His Med Work Sometimes. He Hates His Little Sister But He Always Wants To Play With Her. He Blames Her Everytime He Gets In Trouble. He Never Do What Is Asked Of Him. He Acts Like He Is Two Years Old. My Only Option Now Is To Send Him To Military School. My Method Does Not Work. When He Is With Other People He Is The Best Kid, But When He I At Home He Mad all The Time Unless He Is Playing. My Story Is So Deep It Would Take Days Telling Them,,,Thanks For Letting Me Vent
Comment By : mstoyota
* Dear Tricia: Not just ADHD kids but all humans as well as animals respond much better to encouragement and reward than they do to discouragement and punishment. Affection and bonding are critical to development and also foster cooperation and productivity. It’s difficult for ADHD kids to focus, plan ahead and remember, so completing tasks is often harder for them than their peers. They also have a tendency to over-react to stimuli, especially when it is emotionally charged. ADHD kids also tend to be more anxious. Thus, the fear of making mistakes or not doing something fast enough can cause a meltdown, especially when they are worried they will be punished if they fail. The anticipation of a reward however, does not heighten emotional arousal and thus makes it easier for them to stay on task while motivating them to put forth the extra effort to do well.
ADHD children often have extreme difficulty adapting to changes in their environment. This may explain some of the differences you see. By maintaining a similar approach to providing emotional support and behavioral limits from one environment to the next, transitions can be much easier and smoother and thus less traumatic.
Comment By : Dr. Bob
I have a 14 yr old son, he had always struggled in school, when he was smaller, he would cry to me at night and say "mom you just think I'm not trying, I am, but by the time I get it they move on- too fast"
I have had him tested, I have ask for Mod. at school and have been told NO, he's just not doing his work. Now he really doesn't care, he feels like they don't care. His mouth, he's very defint and that's his biggest problem, he gets in trouble at school and ends up in AEP,because he does better there. Now, he had been expelled and I have to meet w/ school board tomorrow and tell them WHY I THINK THEY SHOULD NOT EXPELL HIM FOR REST OF YEAR. What's happening to our schools, they all want straight A students, that can sit there and keep their hands to them selves. Good luck. I just started this program, 4 days ago, I sat him down and told him how things would be, I explained that I knew this was a change but this is how it would be, if not, he would be responsible for the outcome, we've had him to try us, but it is better. The school wants me to send him to a Boot Camp and I have told him this. ALl his friends are BAD and I don't care for them, well he had 2 that's ok. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest, my sister has heard it all.
Comment By : jolene
Do not give up or give in! Can you imagine how you would react if you felt left behind and you couldn't keep up? My daughter had a learning disability and every year, I had to go to school and let her teachers know that I was interested and involved in her education. How they treated her was indeed my concern. If she needed extra time on tests or extra time to complete an assignment, I made sure she got it. She knew I cared and so did her teachers. Does your son have something that he is good at or is interested in? How can that translate into a career choice? Is there someone at school that can identify with him and connect? Encourage him even if no one else does and be his biggest supporter! I always let her take responsibility for her own actions and did not make excuses for her, but I always supported her. Today, she is enrolled in a nursing program. If she suceeds or fails, it is up to her, but she will always learn from her experiences and I can't or won't take that away from her.
Another daughter went her own way and moved out at 18 and into a terrible situation. She moved in with a drugie, became an unwed mother and lived on welfare. However, no matter where she was, I was. I made sure she also knew she wasn't alone and that she was loved. After her walk on the wild side, she came around. Seven years later she has graduated from college, gotten married and is a home owner with $16,000 in savings. She has vowed to never to live on welfare again.
BOTTOM LINE: BE CALM AND BE SUPPORTIVE FOR TOMMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY! Do not make excuses for your son's behavior and let him take ownerhsip of his problems. I am sure he will find his own solutions with a little help from his friend (you). He will be stronger because of his struggles.
Comment By : Kathy
my son was diagnoised with adhd and i'm trying to find a specialist here in my town (hattiesburg,Ms).can you tell me where i can go to find one?
Comment By : kristi
This messages are very encourageging for us parents. Now I know that I am not alone. I have been there for my son in the good and the bad times. Eventhough sometimes it seems that the fustration is going to drive me crazy. I LOVE my son and I know he Loves me too.
Good Luck and Be an encourgement to your kids!!