Parents FAQ

Q1. I am worried the school will call, as they did before treatment, demanding I take my child home. I just cannot take off any more time from my work if he is suspended. What can I do?

A. Your son has only just returned full time to school and I am sure you are worried he may be under the microscope due to his difficulties previously, but let us not forget his progress. It is possible there may be a regression so let’s plan for that. What can you put in place should this happen? Can you talk to your employer should you need to leave work suddenly? Can someone in your family cover for you? Do you have neighbors or friends you can rely upon in an emergency? See Case Example.

– Jane Bourke, Coordinator, Bell Transitional Care Team

 

Q2. My child can be set off by the smallest of things, how do I handle this?

A. Change is very difficult for our sensitive children. It is important to reflect on what these challenges are in order to be prepared for them. Also try to look for the cues before escalation. What are the physical features that might show beforehand? Try to keep in mind that your reaction plays a part in the resolution; staying calm, patient and reassuring can off set a bigger outburst.

– Jane Bourke, Coordinator, Bell Transitional Care Team

 

Q3. Homework is the biggest, single issue for us. We get into power struggles and a tantrum ensues. How can we handle this better?

A. As hard as it is, try to keep in mind that this small amount of time for an elementary child who has spent all day in school is really hard. The child may be tired and frustrated from the day, like you, and may need a break. Has there been enough time to decompress from school? Have you had snack time, and possibly some physical activity beforehand? If yes, then let the child vent for a short period (only a few minutes) while you listen. Then calmly but firmly say, “let’s get this done, and then you can go and play.” The child may test you, but after a while should relax and do the work. Should the work be too hard, do what can be done and write in the agenda to the teacher of the difficulty your child had with the work.

– Jane Bourke, Coordinator, Bell Transitional Care Team

 

Q4. I am not sure I want my child continuing with medication. I read conflicting information about its benefits and I worry about long-term side effects. What should we do?

A. This is a discussion you should have with your pediatrician as he or she is in the best place to answer your queries. What you want for your child is the best possible scenario for success. If the medication helps increase focus and reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity, it may help with building self esteem for success. The medication use now does not necessarily mean it will need to be life long. Case example...

– Jane Bourke, Coordinator, Bell Transitional Care Team

 

Q5. We have an IEP at school but the recommendations do not get implemented. How can we get the support my child needs and that has been recommended by the school?

N.B. IEP stands for “Individualized Education Plan.” An IEP is put into place to adapt to the individual needs of a child, addressing limitations and possible interventions. In Quebec, IEPs also seek to address behaviour, social life and family life in addition to academic performance.

A. Has there been a meeting with you and your child’s school principal and/or other school professionals around your child’s IEP? It can be frustrating for all involved when the child’s needs are documented, but the funding for the school to implement them is not there. Firstly we need to see if the resources are available in your school. Then if so, when will they be delivered to your child? If they are not available we need to look at resources outside the school to help your child. There are agencies, associations and volunteer groups that can be looked to. Case example…

– Jane Bourke, Coordinator, Bell Transitional Care Team

 

Q6. Mornings are the most difficult times of the day. No matter how many times I ask my child to be ready he is not; and I end up screaming and losing it. What can we do to make it smoother?

A. Mornings are difficult in any household, let alone one where there is a difficulty with organization. You need to communicate your expectations to your child. Talk about the schedule and include your child in planning where reasonably possible. Set clothes out and pack the school bag the previous night. Put toys away so there is less distraction in the morning. Allow a certain amount of time for waking (that will depend upon your child’s biological clock; some take longer than others). After the allowed time, call out that it is time to dress and come to the kitchen for breakfast. If there is no response, say calmly but firmly that it is time to eat and that in “x” amount of time the school bus will arrive. Should this not work, look to what is getting in the way. Is it others in the household? Are there distractions in the room? Tiredness? Lack of focus? Oppositional behavior? If you feel you can pinpoint the challenge, you can target that behavior.

– Jane Bourke, Coordinator, Bell Transitional Care Team

 

Q7. I get emotionally exhausted at having to be vigilant and to stay on top of things. I sometimes feel I am not up to the challenge and I worry I will lose it.

A. Most parents worry at times about doing the right things. There is no question that having a child with ADHD, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or other mental health challenges places extraordinary demands on a parent. It is important that you recognize these demands and take the necessary steps to keep yourself healthy and fit to keep going. It may be a long road until independence, so plan ahead where possible. Schedule breaks, especially if you are a single parent. Should you have family or reliable neighbors or friends you can count on, use them to give yourself a break. Try to schedule time for fun so that each of you does not feel as though you are the disciplinarian all the time. Also take time to reflect on the accomplishments you and your child have achieved over time. You may be overlooking the progress each of you has made in maintaining the gains. This can support you through the less successful times. Case example…

– Jane Bourke, Coordinator, Bell Transitional Care Team

 

Q8. Should I send my child on the school outing? Is she ready?

A. You are the best judge as to if your child is ready. As long as the school has not notified you otherwise you should trust in what they are seeing at school and her readiness to handle a field trip. Should you be worried about your child’s safety discuss it with the school. Volunteering your time for the trip is an option to oversee her should you not be confident. Also prior to the trip discuss with your child the expectations you have for her, and to anticipate for any experiences.

– Jane Bourke, Coordinator, Bell Transitional Care Team

 

Q9. It is so difficult when my child defies me and throws out lines like “you can’t stop me!” What do I do then, I feel so powerless?

A. There is no question that hearing “you can’t stop me” triggers us in differing ways. Firstly one needs to take a broader look at what is happening in the home. If you are co-parenting are the two of you working together and giving the same messages to your child? Has there been consistent authority in the home? Defiant children will push our buttons, but our response is important so escalation does not occur. Staying calm and composed with a firm voice while being consistent will give a desired message. Looking to what has happened previous to the incident may put it in context. Has the child had something happen at school? Is he angry over something? Validating a child’s feelings can help to lessen the negative feelings for them, while allowing the parent to keep his/her authority.

– Jane Bourke, Coordinator, Bell Transitional Care Team