“I promise! I’ll do better this semester!”
Ah, school + ADHD. We’re so often at a loss to help our kids. We don’t understand why we can’t get more support from school personnel. We don’t understand what’s so hard about getting a worksheet completed. We’re angry that our child or teen can, apparently, study for a long time, and still get a C or a D on a quiz or test. So when our beloved child earnestly says “I’ll do better this semester,” we breathe a sigh of relief.
And what about, “OK, I’ll check with the teacher tomorrow,” or “I’ll have time later,” or “This will only take 30 minutes.”
We want to believe them because, WHY WOULD THEY LIE? But these aren’t lies, they’re promises they made to you and to themselves that they just can’t keep.
Is it willfulness? Is it ADHD? Does my child lack willpower?
That promise to “do better this semester” is made sincerely, with clear intention and desire. The issue is that many ADHD students are challenged by delayed executive function development, and simply don’t have the internal resources to get the job done.
When you’re missing skills like planning, time management, understanding cause and effect, and organization, it’s nearly impossible to make a promise this big because what you’re really saying is, “I will change the way my brain responds simply by willing it really a lot.” That’s not how brains work. And it’s not a matter of having the knowledge: your child could read up on organization and still not be able to do it because change is slow, change takes time, change requires consistency.
Brains need to be encouraged, directed, taught, and even prodded in order to change and adjust to even a fervent intention to be good, do better, or change.
If nothing changes, nothing changes
I know you want to support your child and to encourage his or her enthusiasm, but unless your child is great at school work, chances are that this promise will inadvertently be broken and will create more tension and disappointment.
You know that nagging, yelling, and lecturing don’t work but you don’t know any other way to light a fire under your kid’s rear end! Plus, broken promises can really damage children’s self-esteem and make them feel like strangers to themselves. I remember feeling that way myself and that’s a tough feeling to overcome.
This is where coaching comes in, whether it’s hiring a coach to work directly with your family or to take a class to learn how to coach your child yourself.
No more disappointments!
Understanding the difference between Capability and Capacity is step one.
Then, when your child proclaims, “I’m going to do better,” you can respond, “That’s awesome. Here are some cool things we can do to make it easier for you.” Creating a supportive physical and emotional environment is crucial. Check out these two videos:
- Creating a Supportive Physical Environment for ADHD Kids
- How to Support Your ADHD Child’s Emotional Health?
Copyright 2017 Yafa Crane Luria All Rights Reserved
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