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  • Writer's pictureHaley

Fostering Growth: An Occupational Therapist's Insights into Parenting a Child Pathological Demand Avoidance

As the owner of a pediatric occupational therapist clinic,  I'm eager to share reflections on navigating the intricate path of parenting a child with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). Join me on this journey as we dive into strategies that nurture growth, solve anxieties, and lay the foundation for trust and collaboration with you and your child. 


Pathological Demand Avoidance and Anxiety:


Understanding Resistance:

When met with resistance from a child with PDA, it's crucial to interpret it as an expression of anxiety rather than defiance. This distinction is fundamental for approaching the situation with empathy and efficacy.


Identifying Anxiety Triggers:

Children with PDA often grapple with anxiety triggered by requests and expectations. This dance of resistance is born out of a fear of losing control, not an act of defiance against authority. Recognizing these triggers is pivotal for tailoring effective strategies.


Tailoring Strategies for Trust-Building:


Empowering Collaborative Control:

Every child, especially those with PDA, is unique. Empowering them with a collaborative sense of control over their actions in a secure environment emerges as a vital strategy for fostering trust.


Adapting Strategies to Individual Needs:

The severity of PDA varies, demanding a flexible approach to strategies. Adaptability allows us to cater to the changing comfort levels and anxieties of the child, ensuring a personalized and effective intervention.


Interpreting Behavior:

In the world of occupational therapy, behavior operates as a language. When faced with resistance, it's time to step back and evaluate the balance between guidance and expectations. The main objective is to create an environment where the child feels secure and supported in his/her personal journey towards growth. 


Guiding as a Trusted Partner:


Cultivating Working Partnerships:

Children with PDA must view the therapist as a working partner, not a director, which can be hard. The journey involves relinquishing control, even when it feels scary, to become a trusted guide.


Navigating Through Fear:

Releasing control is a formidable challenge for these children, as it risks their sense of self and triggers fear. Yet, as anxiety diminishes, growth commences. Establishing an atmosphere of safety, acceptance, and competence encourages exploration and development.


The Path to Progress:


Encouraging Self-Initiation:

As the therapist lets go of some control, the child's ability to be independent and find their path becomes paramount. This approach lays the groundwork for children participating under their own control and engaging in collaborative endeavors. This is vital for them to grow up and become independent adults.


Building a Supportive Network:

Navigating the path of occupational therapy for a child with PDA requires a supportive community. Seek guidance and camaraderie from like-minded professionals, joining groups and networks dedicated to this shared journey.


Your Experiences are Invaluable:


Sharing the Therapeutic Journey:

Parents, your experiences are a treasure trove of insights. Share your victories, challenges, and how you navigated the delicate equilibrium of trust and collaboration. Explore its potential impact on your child's journey. Reach out to Life Touch Therapy, or follow us on Instagram for guidance and discover the transformative power of occupational therapy!

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