They say, “out of the mouths of babes come gems”. That was certainly true when I asked my son Silas to help me with one of my first ADHD Awareness events. His assignment: Make a list of things you wish I had known about you and your ADHD earlier. What he mined from that task was so profound that I have asked Silas to present it in each of my parent training seminars since.
Think of it as a roadmap for interacting with your child during those challenging times.
I’m not a robot.
I don’t come pre-programmed to do everything right. Take the time to teach me and then give me time to learn. Even then, I still won’t be perfect every time.
Make sure I know how to do what you are asking.
Tell me what I should be doing instead of focusing on what I am doing wrong. When Mom coached me in baseball she never said, “Don’t miss the ball”. Instead, she told me “Hold the bat this way,” and “Stand with your feet like this,” and finally “Hit the ball”.
Even with all that coaching, there were still times I missed the ball. But no matter what it looked like from the dugout, I was always trying my best. I never struck out on purpose.
Punishing me for things I can’t control only makes me mad at you.
Just like I didn’t go to the plate and strike out on purpose, I don’t go to school wanting to fail a test or get distracted during teaching time. Having to suffer the natural consequences of those miscues really is bad enough. You piling more consequences on me won’t really accomplish anything good. I should be punished if I break a rule or endanger myself or someone else, but not because I wasn’t able to do something.
Tell, don’t yell.
If you need to discipline me or correct my behavior, don’t yell at me. If you do, I won’t “hear” what you are saying. My mind will just go blank. In fact, I will do anything and say anything to make you stop yelling.
It’s like when kids play rap or heavy metal music. All parents hear is noise and they can’t understand the lyrics.
I am motivated more by a positive tone.
When you ask me to do something or want me to change my behavior, I am more likely to do what you say if you tell me in a positive tone. I mean you don’t scream “I LOVE YOU!”
Also, parents and kids are not motivated by the same things.
I need to hear the good things.
When you have ADHD, you get negative feedback ALL DAY LONG. If I come home and hear the same negative things, I will start to think I am a “bad kid” – and I don’t want to be a bad kid. I need to hear “It’s ok. You’re learning. You’re getting better”. I need a reason to keep trying.