Consistency and ADHD
To be sure, Life is hectic and unpredictable. It’s the reason ancient gods were created: “If we sacrifice a goat, perhaps the gods will bring rain, a good harvest, more money, health to my family.”
As parents, particularly as parents of ADHD children, we hope that the things we do will bring some stability to our kids lives. What I am suggesting is that instead of hoping for consistency, consistency becomes the core value. Let every decision run through the lens of consistency.
For ADHD kids and teens, Consistency is Love
Last year I asked parents following my Facebook page what they thought their ADHD kids needed most. Everybody had great answers, like love, acceptance, support, and resilience. These are all important, and they all take a back seat to Consistency.
Here’s why: Consistency addresses exactly the issues that people deal with growing up with ADHD. (ADHD adults struggle with this too, but I’m focusing on my peeps: Families with ADHD children and teens).
What are those issues?
1. Big hearts:
When you have a big heart, having it dragged this way and that is just exhausting. It really calls into question whether we’re being heard or seen. Big hearts need consistency in order to feel safe and secure, and connection and security are primary needs. (Check out my post on Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to gain an understanding of how trust and connection build executive function). We know that inconsistency builds mistrust. Just think of kids growing up with absentee parents or addicted parents, or foster kids shuttled from one family to the next. It’s hard to build attachment without consistency and without attachment, achievement becomes a distant dream. The amount of effort that it takes for a person with ADHD to build a safe world when the ground is constantly shifting, is never-ending. If you’ve ever been in an earthquake, you know the feeling. There are days and weeks and even months of aftershocks, and each aftershock brings new fears and re-triggers the trauma from the original quake.
2. Noisy brains:
When your brain is filled with information, you need to learn how to sift through all the content, filter out the extraneous noise, and focus on the good stuff. This takes quite a bit of skill. QUITE A BIT. This is not a skill that young people have. If we’re lucky, for those of us with ADHD, it comes in our late 20 or our 30s. Inconsistency requires us to draw in more information than is actually necessary. We know that new or surprising information is something to pay attention to, whereas consistency means we can relax our brains. If your child is living with inconsistency, he or she really has to pay attention at all times because it’s never clear which item is important and which isn’t. As a child, I’m already programmed to listen to you, but if I’m overloaded, I may have no choice but to tune out. Or act out. There just isn’t the brain capacity to take in all in.
3. Criticism and judgment from outside the family:
ADHD kids are often emotionally and mentally battered by criticism and judgment from all kinds of people. We’re confronted with false promises from marketers selling “ADHD cures,” as well as judgment and/or criticism from teachers, therapists, employers, friends and/or extended family. What we need when we get home is not more criticism, not more micro-managing, not more judgment or nagging. We need peace. We need to come home to something dependable, something that we can put our trust in, something that we know won’t try to blindside us. We need consistency to battle the naysayers and doubters that we encounter all the flipping time! If we can’t get that at home, where can we get it?
Consistency isn’t just a buzzword
For a child, teen, or adult with ADHD, consistency can mean the difference between chaos, confusion, frustration, anger, and clarity, calm, connection, and mutual respect. Which do you want in your home?
It is absolutely crucial that we let go of everything else and focus on consistency. Consistency is what makes everything else possible, be it better grades or better behavior.
Copyright 2018 Yafa Crane Luria All Rights Reserved
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