LISTEN To Your ADHD Child (You’ll Learn A Lot)

My forthcoming book Finally Focused: The Breakthrough Natural Treatment Plan for ADHD (Harmony, May 2017), is itself mostly focused on individualized, non-drug treatments for ADHD children and adults. Treatments that address the underlying causes of ADHD, helping to balance an imbalanced brain. Treatments like magnesium, probiotics and better sleep.

But Finally Focused is also focused on parents. Because study after study shows that how a parent behaves toward a child with ADHD-the attitudes and strategies the parents brings to bear to control symptoms-is one of the most important factors in how an ADHD child behaves.

And among the best of those strategies is listening to your ADHD child. (Out of curiosity, I Googled the phrases “listening to your ADHD child” and “listen to your ADHD child”-and got two hits. You read that right: not two thousand, not two hundred-two. That showed me how underutilized this approach is.)

If you’re the parent of an ADHD child, you know that your kid has great strengths and talents-including the insight to help you understand how to best parent your child! If you tap into your child’s intuitive and creative energy by listening, your child can help you help him or her.

And as I just said, the best way to do that is by listening to your child and responding positively. When I meet with a child alone and listen, the child is often able to articulate the exact information his parents need.

As I explain in Finally Focused, I might ask, “What do you need to help you study better? And the child might tell me that he studies best in the dining room, with loud music playing. But his parents might have already decided that he’s best off studying in his bedroom without any “distractions.” Bottom line: What you think is best for your child might not match what he has already figured out is best for him (or her).

A recent study in the medical journal ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (Galloway H, December 22, 2016), shows just how different parental perception and an ADHD child’s actual life can be. UK scientists reviewed 13 studies that examined how ADHD children and their parents “rated” the child’s quality of life (QOL), which consists of factors like how the child gets along with family and friends, how they’re doing at school, and their emotional well-being. In most of the studies, parents rated their child’s QOL lower than the ADHD child his or her own. Bottom line: If you want to know how your child is doing, don’t guess-ask your child! Here’s one way to do just that that has worked well for many parents…

A Four-Part Listening Exercise

Here’s the “Listening Exercise” I describe in Finally Focused, in Chapter 13, “Parenting-Plus: Key Strategies for Better Behavior”…

First, find the place where you think your child would be the most comfortable talking. It might be the kitchen, the car, a coffee shop, the bedroom, the backyard. Anywhere is okay. In fact, walking and talking might be better for your child than sitting and talking.

Next, explain to your child that you want to ask him or her a few questions.

Third, ask your questions. They should focus on what you really want and need to know about controlling your child’s symptoms. You can ask about home, school, friends-anything.

Finally, don’t respond while your child is talking. Yes, if your child is very young he or she may need some gentle encouragement. But if you become defensive, projecting concerns about anything your child is telling you, he or she will shut down.

The goal of the exercise: Letting your child guide you to the best possible understanding of how he (or she) interacts with the world, and what he needs to function at his best.

I recommend making these “listening times” a regular event. Once a week is best, at a minimum. More is fine. And if you regularly listen to your ADHD child, I think you’ll by amazed at what your child tells you, and how helpful that information is.

For focus and full potential,

James Greenblatt, MD

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *