Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On Popsicles and ADHD

Lessons I've obviously taught my children: open a Popsicle and throw the wrapper on the lawn; toss your clothes near, but not in, the hamper; and of course, leave cabinets and drawers ajar once you've found what you need. I don't recall actually teaching my kids these valuable skills, but clearly I've reinforced them, based on their consistency.

So how does a conscientious parent like myself, and a Professional Organizer to boot, raise children with naughty habits? Well, first of all, these aren't my kids - I'm describing the neighbors. OK, just kidding.

Kids break rules, and kids with ADHD break lots of rules; but it's not because they're naughty. It's because it's their job. They have to know what the rules are. ADHD children are known to thrive on boundaries, and when the boundaries are fuzzy, they'll push and push until the boundaries become more clear.

So how do we provide clear boundaries? I wish this news was earth shattering, but it's what we already know. Consistency, consistency, consistency. Do the same thing every time and your children will respond. If a consequence is warranted, make it swift and logical.

Back to that Popsicle. Your child tosses the wrapper on the ground, and you: place it in the trash can (it's easier to just do it myself!); call the child back to throw it away (swift and logical); call the child back to pick up the wrapper, and take away the Popsicle. Ouch! Painful lesson for the child, but, applied consistently, this swift, logical and firm approach will yield the quickest results.

Give your ADHD children what they're begging for: clear boundaries. Be consistent with them, and they'll be consistent with you. Consistency works on the neighbor kids, too!

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