As many of you know, I have two children with ADHD. One is inattentive and one is combined type ADHD. They are as different as night and day, chalk and cheese and hot and cold, . The combined type child is a fairly typical combined type ADHD kid. He is hyperactive, impulsive, extroverted, very social, lives in the moment, is not a worrier but is also not very reflective and can be pretty oppositional, combative and difficult.
The inattentive ADD son is also pretty typical of the inattentive type of ADHD. He is socially awkward, can be hypoactive, tends to be wary and is a worrier. On the other hand, this son is highly reflective, thinks a lot about consequences and is never oppositional or combative.
At first blush it would seem that the combined type child would be really difficult to parent and the inattentive child easier. Parenting is never easy and I would say that they are both easy and difficult to discipline but they are easy and difficult for completely different reasons.
As I am sure you have guessed the combined type child will argue with us. If we say fast, he will say slow, if we say yes, he will say no and if you say walk, he is sure to run. Kind of a pain, right? Sure, but the inattentive son sometimes does not move at all no matter what you say. They both get themselves into trouble though. One for being too aggressive and hyperactive and the other for being too passive and inactive.
What make the disciplining of the combined type sometimes easier than the disciplining of the inattentive child is that the combined type kid has lots of stuff that he loves to do. Even more importantly he really loves to do these things. Because he loves these activities so much, we have an arsenal of punishments that we can propose to him. These include
· No sleepovers
· No Laser tag
· No sports
· No paintball
· No movies
· No screen time
The threat of removing these activites, because he loves them, motivate him to behave.
The inattentive son hates movies (too loud), laser tag (too fast), paintball (too violent), sleepovers (ruins his sleep habits) and sports (too uncoordinated). He does like screen time but as you can see, our punishment choices are kind of limited when it comes to motivating and disciplining our inattentive son. To make matters even worse, he is not very passionate about much so even removing screen time does not always have the impact that you would hope. He is pretty happy to sit in his room, lost in his "own private Idaho", doing nothing at all.
Given that inattentive kids can be perfectly happy in “Time Out", what is a parent to do when disciplining and motivation are in order? My next posts will give you suggestions for addressing these problems.