How many times have we given our children with ADHD instructions (some of them really simple in our opinion) and we’ve only gotten a laconic ‘ok’, or ‘just a moment!’ or a question like ‘does it have to be now? ‘. Too many, isnt’it?
The first thing that pops into our minds, even though we are well aware of our child’s situation is that they are lazy and / or cheeky. After a while, and since we do live with them, we could understand that such responses may be due, among other things, to:
– They’ve already forgotten the task: even though they had the firmest intention of doing it. (“you are barefoot, go get your shoes’ … and come back barefoot but with something else in their hand … or do not come back at all, having been distracted with something along the way.)
– The request is unclear. If several requests are included in a single instruction it might be really hard for them to remember all of what was asked of them: (take the dog for a walk, and by the way, take out the trash on your way out and don’t forget that the main front door is to be locked).
The truth is that, in the end, they always try to avoid as many chores as they can get away with ‘it’s not my turn’, or ‘I don’t understand why this must be done’. And as they get older, these reactions are carried on through school, with friends and in some cases at work. This behavior will become a habit even if this disorder is gone.
This is one factor that makes communication and building good relationship between family members or a team very difficult.
Leaders sometimes have brilliant people with recognized talent on their teams, who sometimes seem to lose their skills and postpone the execution of their responsibilities and as a result, delay or jeopardize the success of the project they are involved in. These people are important assets. It’s essential to analyze the reason of this type of behavior.
As parents, I think that we should go a little further too. What is happening in our child’s mind that makes them postpone what we have asked them to do? How difficult it is for us to take time to look at this under another perspective and understand … (why isn’t my child able to store the toys she is no longer playing with? Or polish and put away her shoes in the closet? or prepare her backpack only with the material needed for the next day? Or empty the dishwasher?)
What normally happens is that our ADHD children have a deep sense of frustration because they usually will not know where to start, how to prioritize in their mind and in their actions. They are easily distracted, feel disorganized, and become increasingly anxious. This is like a big snowballl coming towards them! The only solution is postponement, or, let’s be modern, procrastination: delaying as much as possible in time…
– Do they behave like this when the task is perceived as long, complex and / or too complicated?
– Or when they think it’s boring, an un-interesting?
– Or when they think they’re going to fail. For ex: exams … I prefer to finish as soon as possible… I’ll do it again some other time.)
What can we do as parents?
– Maybe, we should take the task to be performed and separate it into different parts or steps (ex: to empty the dishwasher: first the top and then the bottom). It is very important to learn and to understand the concept of medium and long term, in order to mitigate their imperious need of ‘right now’.
– Fix a maximum execution time. Many ADHD’s work best when there is a deadline to fulfill.
– If they do not see the sense of what they have to do, let’s try to show the fun side (pairs of socks sorted by color, size …), the value in the task…
– We can also limit the distractions, providing a quiet moment or place.
– Let’s be positive. Positive thinking is a powerful tool. Let’s use it. (This is going to be beautiful, I guess it will look good, you will feel content and happy).
Sure, you might say, but this is going to take a lot of time and energy! Yes, I agree.
Okay, then I’ll begin with a few things that are pending and urgent (that do not need effort or concentration, that can be done in a minute, that I need to get rid off, that my manager asked me to do …. blah blah blah) and then I’ll join my son / daughter.
OOPS! I’m procrastinating myself and I didn’t even know it!