Dr. Schembri on ADHD
April 8th, 2020
As a psychologist for over 40 years, I see repeated presentations of the same problem. The parent asks, “how do I get my child to listen to me?” Now here is what happens: mother tells child to “go upstairs, close the window in my room, get me a pen, tell your sister that I will be home later, and get your coat...we’re going to the store.”
Now the child comes down and has only a pen in his hand. The mother looks and sees no coat. She asks, “what happened, where is your coat and did you tell your sister?” All questions are answered with a no. Mother rolls her eyes upward, the child sees this of course and feels like a failure. This is the script that happens over, and over again to children with ADHD.
Failure leads to low self-esteem, which leads to depression, which leads to in some cases suicidal ideation, etc.
An ADHD child cannot hold onto multiple tasks. So, if a parent gives him or her this multi-task demand, she is setting him/her up for failure. When this happens once, it is recoverable. However, when it happens many times throughout out a child’s life, it is destructive and creates disaster. The child thinks the following thoughts:
- “I can't do anything right.”
- “I am no good.”
- “What’s the use of trying?”
Here's the solution: Give one task at a time, so you do not set the child up for failure. Then, acknowledge the success with praise. And don’t over do it. The child will know that you are patronizing him or her. False praise will be the message.
How to avoid impulsive behavior from a child with ADHD. You will not believe the answer. So simple. Hint: How do you break up a fight?