When your complex kid says to you, I can't - what is your first reaction? Do you let out a heavy sigh, stomp off, and do it yourself . . . or say something like this . . . we have been over this before a million times . . . why can't you get this? Or, how about this one - you say the same instructions over again but this time louder - maybe even yelling?
Yes, yes, we have all definitely been there before - frustrated, tired or running late . . . again! We just want/need our kid to "get it" or "learn faster" or "take responsibility" - you get the gist.
Whether it's a chore (well, maybe not chores - lol), school work or learning a new game or sport, kids will naturally want to do well - so, if you hear them say. "I can't", or they avoid trying something, many times, it's because the task may be too overwhelming or developmentally they just may not be ready yet.
"When it is obvious that
the goals cannot be reached,
Don't adjust the goals,
Adjust the action steps! "
Our goal as parents is to nurture independence - we want to help our kids become independent by setting them up for success so they can begin to take ownership of their own lives. So how do we do this???
Here are 5 Ways to change I CAN'T to I CAN:
1. Get Curious - Yup, you heard me right, start asking them questions. What about _____ is so hard for you? Tell me what's going on? What support/help do you need? What would you do? Many times our kids are frustrated yet don't know HOW to express what is frustrating them or holding them back. When you start taking a coach approach to parenting your child and asking open ended questions, a wealth of helpful information can be revealed, and many times your child will figure out a solution that works best for him/her.
2. Re-Evaluate - Once you have more information from your child about what is holding them back, you can then start to adjust the task, situation or goal to be more attainable. (Yes, this also works for spouses and employees - lol.) Remember, complex kids tend to struggle with Executive Function (an overall term used for skills relating to organization and self-management) so take this into consideration when re-evaluating - always assume your child has the best intension. Again, the end goal is to help set your child up for success, so meet them where they are, communicate clearly and focus on the process, not the results.
3. The Right Motivation - Complex kids in particular can have a real hard time accomplishing tasks that are not interesting to them . . . they just get bored! When this occurs, an effective way to motivate is with immediate rewards. The reward needs to be something that is attractive to your child and, preferably, that he/she picks - they definitely have to have buy-in.
Here are some examples:
Is this making sense? Use your imagination and make sure you get your child's input and have them make their list of rewards. Your end goal here is for them to eventually make the connection and notice what drives and motivates them and use this knowledge to motivate them to succeed in life. Yeah!
4. Positive Re-Enforcement - Focus on your child's effort and let them realize how they were responsible for their own success. An example would be saying something like this:
5. Systems and/or Structures - A great way for your child to become more self-sufficient is to help them develop a System or Structure to put in place to help them accomplish a task, reach a goal or work through a process. An example of a System would be developing a check list for their morning routine. An example of a Structure could be something like setting up a "house policy" like whoever breaks the seal on the dishwasher has to put the clean dishes away or all laundry needs to be taken to the laundry room on Friday and sorted to be washed. Systems and Structures are most effective when they are created once the previous areas have been addressed and effectively utilized. You may have to try a few different systems to see what works best for your child and family. Don't forget to change and tweak your systems regularly - you want them to stay relevant and interesting to your kid.
Utilizing these principles can make a big difference in your child's journey to success and increase your sanity! Start out small and pick just one problem you'd like to work on. Work through the list above and observe the positive changes you see . . . and, I bet you'll start hearing the words, "Mom, I can!" or "Mom, I did it!", along with a big smile - oh, how we Moms love a smile from our kids!
Impact ADHD, Sanity School for Parents - to find out more information check out their website: www.impactadhd.com.
When parents struggle to find ways to manage and help their complex kids it can be frustrating, stressful and downfight exhausting!