Input Required

I had a friend ask for ideas, I’m generalizing here for anyone it might help.

Kiddo asks parent for proprioceptive input.

Parent either can’t or can only offer some input.

Kiddo can’t handle the refusal – they already are disregulated and needing input, so they escalate.

My suggestions came from my experience:

1 One, it’s ok to have boundaries, and the less someone respects your boundaries, the bigger the boundaries have to be.

I’ve described it like the following distance when driving – if someone in front of you or behind you is tailgaiting, you need a larger following distance. That way if the person in front crashes from tailgaiting you have time to brake. If the person behind is too close then you also need time to brake slowly so they don’t hit you like they would if you had to stop suddenly.

What this looks like is stopping your kiddo farther away and asking them to slow down and ask first. If they are too disregulated to respect the boundaries, then you know to take action to protect yourself and help them get regulated. For example my personal bubble with the kiddo is my head and my back, if he wants to go behind me he has to ask, and if he wants to touch my face he has to ask, and if he wants to give me a hug, he doesn’t have to ask unless he’s trying to come up behind me.

2 Two, if they are asking for input you can’t give, try to give them or help them get the input they need. I’ll offer “squeezies” – a big bear hug, “squishies” – squishing the kiddo between me and a counter/wall/etc. or “jumpies” – holding hands and the kiddo jumps while pushing down on my hands, similar to holding a gym bar or pushing down on a counter or table and jumping.

In this case kiddo wanted what we call “shoulder bup” – sitting on shoulders. The two alternatives I thought of was doing a piggy back and then leaning against the wall to take some of the weight off or doing the shoulder bup with leaning back so that most of the kiddo’s weight ends up on the back of the seat if available.

If those aren’t options, a headstand or handstand might help or the other types of input mentioned. Another one we like is “Timber!” where they call that and you are a tree that then falls down on them – usually sitting side by side and leaning into them.

Do overs – Practice the pause

Talking with How to ADHD folks about impulsivity and not having the ability to pause, I was asked what I meant when I said:

You have to practice the pause to develop it. ​If you never do, you’ll never have it.

I use “do overs” because the first step is being able to notice when you do it. So if I say something impulsively and realize after, I come back and ask for a do over. ​So they say the same thing again, I pause, make sure I understand (repeat in my own words or ask questions) and then speak. We also use “raise hand when you have something you want to say” instead of blurting it out – so you can signal to the person you have a question or response and they can pause or wrap up sooner. And now we’re trying finger to lips or chin if we’re still talking but pausing to think, finger to ear to remember that we’re listening and to raise a hand before speaking.

You need to build/reinforce the neural pathways by practicing and roleplay is a great way to do so.

Having friends who are willing and able to hold you accountable and help you catch yourself can speed up the process. We also use code phrases like “yes dear” – which we never say except when the other person is being unreasonable and anything else is likely to upset them more.