Parenting a Child With ADD/ADHD & Executive Functioning Concerns…Being Too Sympathetic

Having ADD, ADHD or Executive Functioning deficits isn’t easy. While it may not be debilitating on the surface, it certainly can hamper an individual. A regular theme from my clients is the lack of understanding and compassion from families, peers, work colleagues and schools.

But are we asking too much of others? Does it get to a point where we have to recognize the world doesn’t feel sorry for us? This is an interesting dilemma facing many of my younger clients’ parents. Where does one draw the line?

While I certainly think it is important to be supportive of the ones we care about, feeling sorry or enabling an individual is counterproductive. As a parent, I would do anything for my children. But I also recognize that if I do not have expectations it becomes easier for things to slip through the cracks. For example, my son refused to drink out of a sippy-cup. Finally, after countless battles, my wife and I decided it was time for sippy-cup boot-camp. We took his bottle away and put two sippy-cups in front of him during dinner. I would like to report he was calm and collected, but I’d be lying. After around an hour and a half of screaming, yelling and demanding his bottle, he picked up the sippy-cup and hasn’t touched a bottle since that day. We set an expectation and our son met it.

Why am I telling you this story? Because it is important not to feel sorry for your child. I knew my son was thirsty, but I also knew that in the long-run he needed to learn how to drink from a cup. It wasn’t a matter of ability it was a matter of being enabled. The bottle was easy for him, the sippy-cup presented him with a challenge.

I tell parents it’s important that they hold his or her child to a higher standard. While things are difficult, they are not impossible. When you are sympathetic first before anything else, the desire for improvement isn’t a priority. I worked with one family that enabled their child so much that he stopped going to school. He knew what card to play with his parents and they sympathized with his problems. When I shared my concerns with the parents, they fired me for my lack of understanding. As it turns out, I’ve heard from the family recently and their son continues to have concerns. While I do not say this because I feel redeemed, I say that sympathy isn’t going to help make a child any stronger. Being empathetic and sympathetic are two completely different things. Create an enabling world for a child and being more successful will be difficult. Create a world with expectations and your child will grow up understanding how to be successful.

The statement about may sound a little harsh, but I am the person I am today because of expectations. I have ADHD and Executive Functioning deficits, but it doesn’t stop me from being successful. And when I have my moments, others do not sympathize with my plight in life.

Please follow me on Twitter at ADHDEFCoach and Facebook. For more information on my work, check out www.carrolledu.com and www.iepexperts.com. Feel free to email me at jonathan@adhdefcoach.com if you have any additional questions.

Comments

  1. There is value in holding a child to a higher standard, so long as it his or her standard. Holding a child to a higher standard that is our standard is a process that should be entered into very mindfully. i.e. Kids learn to drink from cups. It can happen in spite of us, or because of us, but the real value for the child lies in it happening because he owned the timing. A metaphor for everything that happens after that!

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