Communication with your ADHD child, could it be better?
As parents we can all relate about the fact that our children don’t listen to us, however when you really think about it, are you listening to them?
We all know that listening is the key to all great communication although, with our loved ones we can very easily fall into the assumption trap. We just assume we know what they are going to say, and I can tell you in my experience as a parent, I often fall into this trap. I just assume I know what my son is going to say when I ask him a question and a lot of the time, I am wrong. He often surprises me with responses that I don’t expect.
So how do we get our children to communicate with us effectively and it is a win win for us both?
In a world that involves ADHD, it can be very frustrating for both the child living with it and for us as parents. We are not just working with a child who isn’t listening or doing what they are asked to do, but we also have all the ADHD traits which are getting in our way.
When we speak to our children, think about your mood, are you frustrated, are you anxious about a situation? You might be running late for work and you need to move now so you are in a state of frustration with your child because they are not moving as quickly as you would like them to. You also may be anxious about what your boss is going to say when you walk in the door late for the third time this week!
What mood are your children in when this is happening, maybe they are frustrated too because they can’t find a shoe for about the fifth time this week and they are anxious because you are now yelling at them for losing that shoe again and at the same time you are pushing to get them out the door.
A very familiar scenario for most of us.
So how do we make our communication with our children better and get more from them overall, not just for this scenario?
- Firstly, take a breath. If you find a situation escalating take a minute to pause and recompose yourself. You may be running late for work and don’t feel that you can take that break, but trust me if you pause and recompose then you are likely to get that time back ten-fold as you will be calmer and able to address the situation better.
- Think about what you would say to a friend that may speak to you like you speak to your child while you are angry. They probably wouldn’t be that happy with you at all. This is a helpful thing to remember when you are starting to escalate with your child. Personally, I find this helps the most to keep me calm.
- Don’t assume you think you know what your child is going to answer you. Pause and listen to what they have to say. Hear their argument, they will appreciate you more for taking the time to hear them, not just assume their response.
- Know what you want to walk away with from of the conversation. This will help you determine the way the conversation is going.
- Mirror what you hear from them. Summarise what they have said to you and they will have confidence that you are listening to them.
- Empathise with them, understand their point of view, be it right or wrong this is their reality and what they believe. You can correct them later. We all know that kids with ADHD can get stuck in what they believe.
- Don’t interrupt them, let them speak and then you speak.
The key to good communication with our children, or anyone for that matter is that you need to be pro-active not re-active to the situation. Stop and ask yourself how you are reacting.
None of us are perfect and we all get into “battle zones” with our children at some point in time, but the key is to reflect and identify how things could have been handled better and bring that in next time.
Now, lets bring on that effective communication.
Until next time, continue doing a great job!