This week I’ve had the opportunity to speak on 3 different occasions about Non Violent Communication; a conversational style that I really like. It requires a big effort to really delve into its profound meaning in order to use it properly, but the rewards are plenty. It represents a very useful tool for communication in various settings. I recommend reading it. The author is Marshall Rosenberg.
In this post I would like to focus on US: as parents, leaders of our families, so that we may again reflect on how we speak to our children.
If we sometimes perceive incomprehensible reactions from them when we try to communicate with them, I suggest we start asking ourselves these questions:
Have we spoken in a correct tone of voice? Have we used the words that we had anticipated? What exactly did we want to say? Remember that our dear ADHD’s have developed the extreme ability to drive us to our limits in a matter of micro-seconds, and consequently we might begin with a speech that doesn’t make any sense at all; after we think about it later… Or at least, this is what could happen to me. You can probably remember a moment in a day where it seemed that our children were waiting for us with the sole purpose of driving us crazy. Most of the time, I just crawl into myself and the worst part is that at the end of the day I feel a deep sadness.
I was thinking that I needed to approach our conversations ( family) with a completely different mind set and that, perhaps it would be a good idea to stick to a set of phrases to use as “templates” in a quasi automatic mode when I notice that I start to lose my temper.
This may seem like an express recipie (among other things, I don´t want to write a post that´s too long), but I would rather dwell on a few thoughts and encourage us to use them:
I made a mistake (or ‘I was wrong’)
I´m not sure
I don´t know
Will you help me? (or ’I need help ‘)
Could you please explain this better? (or ‘I’m not sure I understood this correctly’)
What do you think? or what do you suggest? or what would you do?
As leaders in our homes, we feel more comfortable giving out orders and assuming that our kids will obey. But, we should know by now that ADHD’s do not listen, do not retain, do not execute, and they make us angry. There is no way for trust to survive in this environment. We have to continue to build upon what we have achieved the day before.
It is true that we are parents and we are adults. That doesn’t mean we should impose everything. We have to be able to choose our battles.
When faced with an unexpected reaction, we are not expected to know the answer. Theoretically this is easily remedied. Let us then look for a solution. First, having declared that we are incompetent, feeling vulnerable and ignorant, we must not settle a situation with a comment such as: (‘because I said so’, ‘because that´s the way it is, so,..’) These types of comments eventually pave the way towards a poor relationship with our ADHD´s… They seem the easy way out and are hard to resist using.
Today I read a sentence that I really liked: “When you become a parent, you get the diploma first and then you do the course work afterwards.” That’s it. So we shouldn’t be expected to know everything.
So why then do we have these questions hidden away for when we need them:?
1. – We are role models for our children (yes, I´m still on the same road). Do we want them to admit to it when they make mistakes, or not say anything and have them remain in an unproductive and harmful attitude?
Remember that their ‘why’s’ do not exist. Better to instill behaviors that will help them in their future …
2. – We have to keep a learner’s attitude. We can not know everything as parents. And even less if they are ADHD’s. Those of us lucky enough to have received an early and accurate diagnosis can know what to expect, which does not mean that we know everything. Let’s not forget that the disorder evolves differently for each child.
3. – The underlying theme of this post is about the happiness and success of our children. The following questions are very powerful for creating self-esteem, helping them in their thoughts, and preparing them to be independent. Asking them: ‘What do you think?’, ‘Would you please explain this better?’ or ‘What would you suggest?, we are not declaring our ignorance. We’re trying to give them wings. We show them that we care about their ideas, opinions and perspectives.
4. – We are building an environment of trust, where it is possible (because it is real) not having all the answers. Being constantly confronted with a know-it-all is not pleasant. This attitude usually inhibits, limits and moves them further away from our objective. I do not want that.
As leaders, we may sometimes have the right answers, thanks to our experience or skills. And when that is not the case, let’s be curious, turn on our senses, our intuition, and let’s be useful and important for our dear children.
I wish you all the best.