Strategies to try at home
Choose your battles
- Have flexibility in your approach at home - is this worth a massive meltdown?
- But this is not the same as letting a person do what they like! Where a boundary is very important (for example to ensure the safety of themselves and others) it is important to reinforce the boundary.
Balance tolerance and demands
- Accept that some days their anxiety is so high they will struggle to accept most demands, even ones others might not view as a ‘demand’, so reduce pressure.
- On days where tolerance is higher try increasing demands.
Don’t take it personally
- The demand avoidance is caused by high anxiety levels due to a perceived loss of control, and strategies to avoid may be quite elaborate, and seem calculated and hurtful.
Treat every day as a fresh start
- Don’t let what happened yesterday drag over into today, it has no benefit to your child or yourself.
Support emotional wellbeing
- Find ways to help your child communicate in a comfortable way – text, writing a comment and posting in a special box, drawing. Emotional health is really important, but communication regarding emotions is often really hard for children with PDA. Find a way that suits them; ideally involve them in finding a solution, as this may be more acceptable than an idea introduced by you!
Recognise anxiety as the driver for avoidance
- Sometimes it may feel like your patience is wearing thin. Hard as it is at times please try and keep in mind that your child ‘can’t help won’t’ and that the behaviour results from their efforts to control their environment and therefore reduce their anxiety levels.
- Use a calm, even tone of voice, especially when they are demand avoiding.
- For example talk to a relative about something good your child has done while they are in earshot – may be more easily accepted than directly praising them.
Use indirect commands
- Try challenges – “Bet I can get my coat on before you!” or “Can you show me……..”
Try to make them feel useful
- “It would be really helpful if you could just……”
Pretend you don’t know / get it wrong
- For example, mis-read words in books, or ask them to show you how to do a certain task that you want them to do.
Offer limited choices – to give them SOME control
- “Do you want to start your homework at 3pm or 4pm?”
Using the 'when... then' philosophy
- “When you do your homework then you can play on your PC / XBox.”
If you have other tips then please post on our forum!