They say that timing is everything. This is exceptionally true when communicating with your child with ADHD. The first rule is to not argue with them in the middle of an argument, or even afterward. They would merely see this as nagging or scolding. When communicating to your child, the environment should be peaceful, and all involved parties should be present. This includes you, your child with ADHD, and your spouse or your other kids. Begin the discussion by asking everyone about how they feel towards the constant arguments. At the end of the discussion, everyone should pretty much agree on these three ideas:
1. Listening is important.
Interruptions are very common in arguments, but let your kid know that these interruptions are not healthy. Make use of verbal and nonverbal cues whenever your kid would interrupt you in the middle of a heated argument. You can say, “please let me finish talking first, and then you will have your turn to speak.” Some children are more receptive to non-verbal cues than words, just make sure that you and your child agree on these non-verbal cues. Some examples would be the peace sign, or holding up three fingers. Better yet, involve your child in coming up with the gesture.
2.We can agree to disagree.
Explain to your kid that it is okay to disagree on certain topics, such as favorite ice cream flavors or political candidates. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and we need to respect that. While it may be healthy to discuss one another’s opinions, there is no need to fight over them. Encourage healthy discussions at home so that your child can apply these when in school. Let your child know that his or her opinions matter, and that people can love each other in spite of conflicting opinions.
3. Mom and Dad are the bosses.
Kids need to know who is in charge, and, more importantly, they need to respect who is in charge. Help them understand that, as parents, you are responsible for their health and wellness, and thus all your decisions are made to look out for them. As long as you are around, you are the boss. Explain to your kids that, while they may not like your decisions, they will have to deal with it, much like when they grow up and start working. They may not like their own bosses, but, at the end of the day, they will still have to do as they say.
The importance of listening, respecting other’s opinions, and following who is in charge – these are three things that you need to instill in your child with ADHD to develop healthy communication with them.