22 September 2018

Pathological Demand Avoidance- Non-Negotiable Behaviour - PART 3

Choosing Your Non - Negotiables

So by now, you’ve hopefully read the previous two posts:

Hopefully by this point you have learnt a few things that are important to the overall goal of reducing anxiety and that your language needs to change when speaking to an highly anxious child in order for them to be able to follow hidden instructions or comply with demands that are necessary to living a fulfilled, happy and safe life. You’ve learnt that by changing your language you child will feel less dictated to which will hopefully allow their anxiety levels to decrease to a much more manageable scale whereby they’re able to feel a little more in control of their own lives and be more approachable, more resilient, and most importantly less stressed and a LOT more happy. 

Secondly, I talked aboutDoes It Really Matter?’ Ignoring the small issues that arise that aren’t high on your list of changeable behaviours so that you can concentrate on 2-3 major ones that needed to change because of heath or safety reasons, like their personal care skills, or violence. I spoke of the importance of letting everything else go because it was necessary for the child to realise that your low demand approach and your language direction was going to be a consistent and reasonable change that would eventually become normality for them and they would begin to trust that actually they could make their own choices and they could be in control of their lives by making the right choices. This would also teach them the crucial part to this new strategy which is the end goal, that your Non - Negotiable behaviour rules could be followed as a result of the low demand environment and language change that had taken place. 

Having a low demand environment for an anxious child will slowly but surely allow them to comply with the things that you simply cannot let go.

Our Non - Negotiable rules and the reasons why we picked them. 

1 - No Violence. EVER. This includes self - injurious behaviours although theres no consequences for this but a lot of Love and understanding instead. 

When Lola was three years old her sister Connie - Mai was born. This was the worst time of our lives and it should have been something we cherished and remembered for all of the right reasons, instead of all the wrong ones. When I look back on those days I feel relief that we’ve made it this far and we have only had ONE majorly serious incident where Connie had to have an operation on her finger nail as it was slammed in the bedroom door. From that day on I knew that things desperately needed to change so that I was able to keep my other children safe and for Lola to be able to find joy in life and not be angry, and distanced and frustrated 100% of the time. This is why no violence is tolerated and will always be my most important non - negotiable.

2 - She MUST brush her teeth at least ONCE a day. 

Lola has had some difficulties with her teeth, some problems from not brushing properly or regularly. Other problems are due to her delay in development and her teeth not forming properly. When my children were younger they were never allowed sweets and chocolates daily. They were also never really allowed juice on a regular basis. I told people that until they were old enough and responsible enough to CHOOSE to brush their teeth regularly and properly, then and only then could they choose what they ate or drank. Of course as Stanley got older and more independent we became more relaxed about his boundaries on Chocolates and juices and so naturally without even realising it, they were all eating what they wanted. This needed to change because the demand of brushing teeth, the sensory issues that go along with it like the foaming of the paste, the taste and smell made things pretty difficult and we needed to introduce this as a Non - negotiable. The consequences for this are choice based. She can choose to brush her teeth and have no dietary restriction or we simply do not buy it or she isn’t allowed it. 

Sure she sometimes resists, and sometimes it causes a meltdown, however once we’ve passed the worst of the introduction then it gets better. She is in control because as she has chosen to brush her teeth she can also choose what she wants to eat. And THAT is the beauty, because although it sounds like a reward based approach, we actually reverse the reward. So when the first two steps are taken and achieved you can eventually tweak this into a way thats more manageable, so instead of giving the cake or sweet as a reward, you allow the cake or sweet, but only on the condition that teeth are brushed after. If teeth aren’t brushed after then Lola knows that the next time she asks she will have to brush her teeth before or she wont get it.

This whole approach HAS to be determined by your child and how they can cope going forward with all the changes. It has been a long road here for us, like I said previously there is no magic wand. Things DID get worse before they got better but they DID get better and that is why I want to share our story. On a whole at the moment, and the boat hasn’t been rocked yet, she is in a GOOD place. I am so proud of her and how she now manages a non-negotiable. 

Next week I am going to write about when and how you can start to increase the demands and change non-negotiable rules and sum up the whole series of blogs and elaborate on our change in language and the types of behaviours we ignore or the instructions we leave out as they aren’t necessary in order to create a low demand, low anxiety household for Lola to be the awesome little girl she is growing in to. 

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