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Parent Tips > Special Needs & Disabilities > ADD, ADHD

Scotts Valley Library Introduces Special Needs Resource Center

Thanks to a grant from the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Scotts Valley Library will house a collection of books and materials for the special needs community.  Available starting June 2, the collection includes reference books, legal manuals, videos and DVDs either purchased as part of the grant or donated. Conditions addressed in the Special Needs Resource Center collection include Autism, ADD, ADHD, Tourette's Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Visual Impairment, Pervasive Developmental Delays, Dyspraxia, Bipoloar disorder, sensory processing disorders, Down Syndrome, Anxiety, Depression and OCD.


Parents, educators and individuals with special needs throughout the Santa Cruz Public Library System will be able to access these resources, which will be housed at the Scotts Valley Library. Internationally known therapist, author and lecturer Michelle Garcia Winner donated copies of all the publications produced by her company, Social Thinking Publishing. Available resources include addressing legal rights for those with disabilities, obtaining appropriate educational placement, dealing with siblings of a special needs child and much more.


The Special Needs Resource Collection is being made available through a $15,000 grant written by Elizabeth Walch, president of the Friends of the Library - Scotts Valley Chapter.

"We are so pleased that the library's commitment to providing resources and education to the community now includes the special needs community," said Elizabeth.  "We hope to obtain a similar grant next year so that we can continue to build on the Special Needs Resource Collection and do even more community outreach in support of our school system."


For more information on the Special Needs Resource Center, please go the Scotts Valley Library web site at

10 Signs that the Parent-Child Boundary Is Blurred

Submitted By: Dr. David Swanson, Psy.D.


(Products/Books) HelpMyKidisDrivingMeCrazy.jpgYou would love to think that your kids not only love you, but also like you-that they think you're "cool" and consider you a friend. The problem is, when you blur the line between being your child's parent and being his friend, your child is likely to use a manipulative technique I call "Forging the Friendship" in order to get what he wants.

Forging the Friendship is the strategy with which your child tries to turn you into his friend, thereby breaking down the power structure that should exist. When you revert from parent to friend, it's much harder for you to say no.


Children who employ this manipulative strategy are understandably unaware of the dysfunction between themselves and their parents. They may fall into this role because they take emotional care of a parent or because the parent shares inappropriate information with them, such as details of a dispute with a spouse, or financial worries.


In my practice, divorced parents are most at risk for blurred parent-child boundaries for several reasons: (1) they fear losing their child's respect or love; (2) they don't want to be viewed as the "bad" parent, or (3) they're lonely and in need of a friend or confidant.

Psychologists call a child who is forced to take on the responsibilities of her parent or caregiver a "parentified child."


Here are 10 signs to watch out for:

1. Parent and child sleeping in the same bed.

2. A child actively defying his parent or using such inappropriate language as, "Oh please, you're only saying that because he's here. You know when we get home, you're not going to follow through."

3. A child referring to his parent as "cool."

4. A child who behaves as though he is much more adult-like than is age appropriate, or uses language such as "those kids" when referring to peers.

5. Children saying their parents "let me get away with whatever I want."

6. Children reporting their parents are easy to manipulate.

7. Parents reporting that they often need permission from their child.

8. Parents setting few or no limits or boundaries.

9. Parents wanting to have fun with their child but never imposing consequences for inappropriate behavior, lest they "ruin the time they spend together."

10. Parents seeking advice and guidance from their child in such a way that places the child in the caretaker role.


Do you have a parentified child? Here are some ways to reestablish your authority. If your child badgers you for more information, say, about what led to your divorce or how much money you make, simply tell her it's not an appropriate topic of conversation. If you normally go to your child for comfort after a bad day, or when you're feeling lonely or depressed, make an effort to seek help and solace from someone outside the house-a friend, counselor, or family member. Remember, also, that it's perfectly okay to tell your child that you've made some parenting mistakes, but from here forward there will be new rules and limits. Be prepared for emotional pushback. If your child tells you you're not cool anymore and you're acting like a parent, accept this as a



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David Swanson, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in children and teens suffering from ADHD, oppositional and defiant behavior, anxiety, depression, and social problems. His new book is Help! My Kid Is Driving Me Crazy: The 17 Ways Kids Manipulate Their Parents and What You Can Do About It (Perigee, Sept. 2009). You can learn more about him at


How to Parent an Oppositional Child

Submitted By: Dr. David Swanson, Psy.D.


Do you have an argumentative, short-tempered child who is quick to blame others and is easily annoyed? These are characteristics of what I call an "oppositional child." The psychological diagnosis is "oppositional defiant disorder," and its key clinical features, as listed in the DSM-IV, are:
1. Often loses temper.
2. Often argues with adults.
3. Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules.
4. Often deliberately annoys people.
5. Often blames others for own mistakes or misbehavior.
6. Often is touchy or easily annoyed by others.
7. Often is angry and resentful.
8. Often is spiteful or vindictive.


Notice the word often. Every child displays some of these traits some of the time. But if your child is often oppositional, your parenting skills have probably been tested to the limits many times.


When dealing with an oppositional child, any situation can become a crisis. There doesn't have to be a rational reason. Many parents I work with make statements like, "I don't know what happened. First he said he wanted to go to his friend's house, then he said he wanted to have his friend come here. I told him he needed to make up his mind, and then he totally blew up."


The oppositional child tells you a lot about how he is feeling through his behavior. The problem is that you don't get any warning-you only get the chaos.


The first piece of advice I have is this: You need professional help if you are raising a child who is extremely and often oppositional. You can make the changes I am about to suggest, but be aware that the oppositional child is the most difficult child to raise. If you have an oppositional child, you and your family are at heightened risk for anxiety, physical abuse, divorce, and substance abuse. I strongly suggest intervention for families living with an oppositional child.


Although the oppositional child is one of the toughest parenting challenges, there are things you can do to decrease the frequency with which you will be subjected to your child's use of manipulative strategies. Below are 10 proactive parenting measures I recommend.


1. Choose your battles wisely. Sometimes it's beneficial to simply walk away, especially if your child has you in a trap you can't possibly get out of.
2. Always avoid power struggles. Power struggles are distractions from the issue at hand.
3. Develop your ability to appear calm when faced with frustration. Watching you fall apart is gratifying to children, and shows them they have gained the upper hand.
4. Develop and maintain a consistent environment. Devise an itinerary for the day, and adhere to it. Create routines and rituals-such as focusing on homework as soon as the child gets home. Such habitual practices diminish power struggles.
5. Develop your ability to predict difficult times and situational triggers for your child. Plan ahead for tough situations so you can maintain calm and integrity when they erupt. For example, if getting a child ready for school is routinely a struggle with Mom, have Dad do it instead.
6. Develop plans to deal with inappropriate behaviors before your child engages in them (and post these plans in the home). Oppositional children are quick to pick up on-and exploit-parents' inconsistent responses and behaviors. Determine consequences ahead of time and always enforce them.
7. Work on changing only one or two behaviors at a time. Be patient. If you are always focusing on the behavior of the day, your child will feel overwhelmed and criticized. Instead, have a talk with him, tell him the one or two behaviors that you will be focusing on, and then do just that. Praise him when he does well. When he is 80 to 90 percent responsive in those areas, have another talk with him and set two more behavioral goals.
8. Use responsibilities to reward your child. Giving your child the privilege of having power and control over her own environment will help here want to earn this privilege. Responsibility equals reward.
9. Seek out social support. Social interaction is a clear antidote to parenting stress.
10. Take time off from parenting. Vacations are a great way to replenish your parental battery. Find someone to watch the kids and head out of town.


Granted, the oppositional child is a difficult challenge. Try some of the solutions above, but if they don't work, don't despair. It may be beyond your immediate skills. If so, get help from an expert in oppositional defiant disorder.


* * * * *
David Swanson, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in children and teens suffering from ADHD, oppositional and defiant behavior, anxiety, depression, and social problems. His new book is Help! My Kid Is Driving Me Crazy: The 17 Ways Kids Manipulate Their Parents and What You Can Do About It (Perigee, Sept. 2009). You can learn more about him at



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