Social rigidity: My 9yr old girl has... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Social rigidity


My 9yr old girl has taken a turn in the last six months. She has always struggled with social rigidity but it seems to be getting worse. It’s the same scenario happening over and over. She tries to control play (literally control every detail), things don’t go her way, and she loses it. The controlling has gotten worse and worse. I am starting to avoid social situations with her and dread vacations. She has worked with her therapist on these issues and I’ve had so many conversations with her I have no tricks or tools left.

Anyone dealing with something similar? Any advice?

10 Replies

My son is now 15. Games have always been a drama in our family. For us it seems ridiculous that the 15 year old has to win at all costs even with the now 10 year old sister. He is interested in playing games still with the younger ones (probably the 30% lag in social skill development as described by Russell Barkeley). He always needs to be engaged in something so it would be great if he could manage this but unfortunately it often ends in tears in our house and I often discourage the kids from playing which doesn't seem right. So yes, we have dealt with this for years with siblings and vacations are not a holiday as we have to manage this. We have preferenced avoiding screens, but have taken the pain of this. It would have been easier to have let him do video games in a sense, but I'm sure he'd have a full blown addiction.

In terms of advice, one Psychologist suggested using video with the child to highlight points in time that work well and those that don't during an activity. We never did follow this advice, nor sought ongoing therapy due to cost, lack of local services at the time and time to fit in managing work and family life. I would go back to the therapist and describe your concerns. I always thought family therapy would have been better, to work with the siblings and therapist and us. I hope someone else has some good advice for you.

Oh I can relate so much to your description of your daughter! You could be describing my 7 year old son. No matter how we pep talk or role play before hand he inevitably starts arguing and becoming frustrated if things don’t go exactly his way. I wish I had advice but we are not making any headway on this and play dates are so stressful! I CAN offer you empathy and support. You are not alone although it feels pretty lonely.

Learning is very slow going not only in this area, but in many areas, but it is possible. It takes persistence, patience, modeling correct behavior and time. We have weekly family game activities and we rotate who chooses the activity. I have sons with ADHD and also RAD (reactive attachment disorder) which means playing games can be rough when these kids are all about taking control, not having fun. I have to show them that games really are about having fun, whether you win or loose.

Last night during our family game time my two boys who are the ones who usually mope or get super angry actually had fun. There were no insults, melt-downs, or problems during the game. These times do happen, but they only happen when we keep on creating opportunities for them.

And yes, it can be really hard to crack open that game and sit down at the table when you're pretty sure it isn't going to end well. There's still that chance that your child will surprise you and there's still that learning opportunity you're giving them time and time again which you hope will help them if not now, then in their future. One step at a time.

We can do this!

Is she on meds? Sometimes......and this is me i have 5 children and 3 are on meds 2 only take them 17yr feels he don't need it but his productivity shows other wise......they all have adhd school has been at times the worse being a single mom due to incarnation and death of they fathers I had gotten phone calls from ALL their teachers in one day! I found that praying with my children and having faith that the Lord will fix it has given me PEACE durning these young years in thier life. We can go threw things but having peace while we figure out a solution is priceless. She's at the age were she understands what is going on you have done everything you can think of to help her. Sometimes we have to say well hunny because of the way you act we can't go here or you can't go to Sarah birthday party. Tell her she's not always going to be like this but she has to try a little harder to understand that she has to be nice. Is she the only child? She really might not know how to play. So you might have to invite some realitves...(kids) over and (YALL) play board games as a family. I hate it exspeically with my 17yr old but sometimes we have to re teach our children. Good luck

I agree with the question of treatment with ADHD medication. Another possibility is anxiety or an obsessive compulsive tendency. Consider discussing the behavior and its origin/trigger with the treating doctor.

Wait, is this ADHD behavior?!

My younger daughter is 8, and scripts out her pretend play to the point where she spends more time directing than actually playing. She freaks out if her friends want to play in a different way than her. She can't cope when something goes differently than how she expected.

We had a ton of trouble with her when she was around 4-5. We took her to a psychologist who diagnosed her as ODD. We did Parent Child Interaction Therapy. Things got way better for a while, but now we are having more trouble.

Is it possible that these are ADHD behaviors?

My husband and older daughter are in process of finally getting formal ADHD diagnoses. I didn't consider my younger one, too.

(Sorry to be of no help, but I read your post and my jaw dropped.)

K8rtot in reply to Mama_Maehem

I assume it is ADHD behavior. She was diagnosed as ADHD + Anxiety and ODD was never flagged. Frankly, she does not seem ODD until the play situation arises.

Mama_Maehem in reply to K8rtot

It is so difficult with how these things are all linked. Anxiety, ADHD, ODD, OCD, ASD, Depression... alphabet soup!

Now I'm wondering if I'll have to get my younger daughter tested for ADHD.

Sounds much like anxiety. My daughter has ADHD and anxiety. She's not a mopey, sad, or shy kid. She is extremely outgoing, desperately desires friendship, yet tends to turn off other kids with her intensity, need to control everything, and lack of empathy for others (she only sees how things affect her). She has many other manifestations of her anxiety, but her lack of soci skills is partly the ADHD and part anxiety. A low dose of antianxiety medicine helped with some aspects, but other apects will take years of work. We've tried group therapy for social skills training but she was too disruptive for the other kids. Having the other kids parents understand the challenges and work with you helps tremendously.

We have a lot of this social rigidity with our 8 year old (combined type ADHD). He talks to his counselor about it and she is wonderful. But i still believe both counselor and the psychologist who assessed him underestimate how much the social behavior is a problem among other kids. He’s a sometimes stubborn with us parents, but with adults he can be a super well behaved little man. Adults cater to him, find him cute, and adjust to all his cranky or selfish behaviors with ease. Kids hate it, and he can be awful to them—controlling, pushy, aggressive, or totally dismissive (grabbing the toys that interest him and tuning out the other kid who they belong to). He has no regular friends, just people we arrange for him to be around through various activities.

We sent him to a one week social skills day camp this summer. They had a rule everyone had to try all the activities but then they could do their own thing if they wanted to. He just said nope and sat in the corner for the first couple of days. By the end he participated. We’re working on finding a social skills group. It’s a pain to take him to all these meetings and appointments when overall he’s a really bright and high functioning kid. But he’s going to need repetition and repetition with other kids, not just adults, before this is going to stick and he starts getting invited back places or getting invited anywhere with other kids period.

Hope this helps at all!

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