Encouraging Responsibility in Children with ADHD
Posted by: Teacher ia | on January 1, 2013
Another topic covered during the ADHD Support group meetings tackled “Encouraging Responsibility” to children with ADHD. Based from our actual discussion during the meeting, it appears that the list does not apply only to children but can also be used by adults as well.
The list given to the participants during the said support group meeting is quite long. Special Education Philippines will post and summarize the list in parts so as not to overwhelm our readers here with information. There will be three topics covered for the topic on “Encouraging Responsibility” namely:
1. A child with ADHD needs frequent redirection
2. Tips to Encourage a Child to be Responsible
3. Tips for Positive Communication
To begin with let’s start with the first topic: “A child with ADHD needs frequent redirection”
1. Constant reminders can easily become nagging and negative talk.
As a loving parent, it is only natural that we want to shield our child from harm. However, our concern can be mistaken as hovering and nagging.
How do you know if you’re nagging already?
Well, for me its when the misbehavior persists even when you have reminded your child several times. This only means that your child is not listening anymore. If the goal of the reminder is to help him remember then its not doing a good job if your child has develop a way to shut down all his hearing faculties because he considers you a nagger. I will tell you a strategy of mine to avoid nagging. Let’s say I want my child to clean his bag. I’ve reminded him in the morning but before I leave his room I will tell him this. “I would probably repeat this instruction to you again. However, when I repeat this again I won’t be using my tender mother voice nor will I say it with a smile. I’d probably look stern, use my high-pitch voice and if I have to remind you several times by the end of the day after I have cooked, washed and cleaned the house for you and your father, I might even take away some of your privileges just to associate it with negative reinforcement. So you have two options how you want this day to end for all of us. Choose wisely.”
By the middle or even late within the day, that bag is not yet fixed but when he hears me going to his room you will hear hurried movements and pleas to not open the door yet as he tries to fix his bag (which takes him about 5 minutes). By the time I open the door, my child proudly exclaims “I remembered!” and I congratulate him for it. I have several behaviors that started that way where I myself served as the walking visual reminder to my child but you know what some of them actually turned into good habits already like fixing his bed when he wakes up in the morning and throwing his dirty clothes in the hamper. That’s why I know its possible to turn rules and reminders to habits. Just don’t overdo it.
2. Consider positive reinforcement that lifts self-esteem and gives long term results.
I can’t be sunshine bright and nice all the time. I get mad, frustrated and tired especially at the end of a long day. I say things that I wish I can take back but I also apologize and I take responsibility for them. It’s easy to read about positive reinforcement. Implementing them is a different story. But whenever possible try to not crush your child’s self-esteem. It may be crazy to think how you would do that after he has forgotten to bring his lunchbox again for the nth time and asks you to please bring the project to school because he forgot to after he worked on it in a rush the night before that. A man once told me, “You’re so patient.” I laughed and thought of how far I’ve come in developing my patience and just said “I’m a SPED teacher. It comes with the job”.
3. Discipline should encourage proper behavior, while still showing the child respect.
We don’t demand respect, we earn it. And in my experience, I find it easier to teach by example. If my child or student sees me doing what I teach them then they know its possible to do it because they see me actually doing it. However, if I have unrealistic expectations from them and sees me giving in to the same mistakes they commit, how can I expect them to believe me when I ask them to do something?
4. The key to helping your child make good decisions is to allow plenty of opportunity for practice.
In one of the scenes in the movie Evan Almighty, Morgan Freeman is a waiter named Al Mighty and he talks to actress Lauren Graham who plays the character, Joan Baxter. Al explains the meaning of prayers and opportunities to Mrs. Baxter. To explain the last key in this topic I would like to quote that conversation from the movie.
God: [posing as a waiter named Al Mighty] I love that story, Noah and the Ark. You know, a lot of people miss the point of that story. They think it’s about God’s wrath and anger. They love it when God gets angry.
Joan: What is the story about, then? The ark?
God: Well, I think it’s a love story about believing in each other. You know, the animals showed up in pairs. They stood by each other, side by side, just like Noah and his family. Everybody entered the ark side by side.
Joan: But my husband says God told him to do it. What do you do with that?
God: Sounds like an opportunity. Let me ask you something. If one prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If one prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other? Well, I got to run. A lot of people to serve. Enjoy. (Waves his arm and as he leaves Joan looks in shock to see her plate refilled without God having to leave and fill it)