“I don’t understand. Why can’t you do better?”
That question. We phrase the comments several different ways, asked them in many tones of voice, but they still carry the same message. You’re not living up to my expectations. Many of us heard it when we were children from the adults around us. We may have even said it to our own children. It’s a question that’s hard to get rid of but so unhelpful. It’s a question that’s pretty near impossible to deliver with a smile.
“I don’t understand. Why didn’t you turn in that assignment?”
After all, our parents knew us and we know our children. We’ve heard the questions that they ask. We've picked up the books that they read. We've seen the IQ score on the report. We've marveled at some comment that shows a greater maturity and insight than we thought was in that young head. They should be able to do better.
“I don’t understand. Didn’t you listen to the teacher when they told you what to do?”
ADHD throws a real monkey wrench in the works. It’s now hard to tell what’s done “on purpose” and what’s done “because of the ADHD.” We are looking for reasons to explain behavior that makes no sense. We believe if we could only find the reason, we could find the single solution. The reality is that there may be no single reason and no single solution. In fact, there may be no perfect combination of solutions at all, rather a need to accept what is and learn how to adapt.
“I don’t understand……….”
When our children are born we may not realize it, but we have built-in expectations. Those include expectations of health, behavior, and achievement among other things. ADHD wrecks many of those expectations. One of the hardest but most important things to do is to smile at a child in the face of wrecked expectations with the intent to make new ones. It may hurt to smile in that moment, but it can make all the difference in the way a child feels about him or herself. It can provide needed encouragement to pick everything up and try again.
“Thank you for telling me about the missing assignments. It’s going to be alright. Let’s sit down and make a plan to get them finished over the next few days.”
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