9 Suggestions for Non-ADHD Dad and mom to Inspire Your Entire Household
Families with children with ADHD often find that one (or both!) Parent also has ADHD. And when that happens, non-ADHD adult partners need to motivate everyone in the family and create routines that make family life easier. It can be exhausting. Plus, you may end up feeling like the bad guy in the family. Here are some great ways to transform family members and enjoy family life with ADHD:
1. Understand your limits
ADHD symptoms and behaviors belong to the person with ADHD, not you. When trying to make changes in your family, try not to accept responsibility for the changes others should make. If you ask your husband or child to do something, keep reminding or nagging them about meeting deadlines, or generally running their lives, you are actually disrupting their ability to make decisions about what to do. Change comes from within … so don’t try to create it from the outside.
2. Encouragement works better than scolding
While you can’t force another to change, you can be an influence. Think back to times when you were inspired to change. What do you remember? Chances are, the inspiration is something that bubbled up from within … and that it was encouraged and supported by at least one other important figure in your life. Study after study shows that positive reinforcement is a stronger motivator than negative reinforcement. Use this knowledge to your advantage and try to positively empower your partner or child as they move in a productive direction.
3. Focus on the person’s performance, not the person
Make sure your significant other – both your children and other adults – understand that you love and accept them … even if you fear that they may not perform certain tasks in a way that you please.
4. Do your research and get support
Your family doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. There is a lot of information available on how to change behavior in ADHD. Cognitive behavioral therapy, coaching, and parenting training have proven to be effective additions to drug therapy. There are specific organizational and communication techniques that work for people with ADHD (and their partners). There is strong evidence that the vast majority of people who choose treatment for their ADHD can find significant relief from symptoms. As soon as symptoms subside by about 50%, significant behavioral changes follow. Use the expertise of others to your advantage.
5. Understand ADHD in relationships
ADHD symptoms promote very specific interaction patterns in marriage and parent-child relationships. Knowing what these patterns are can lead to a dramatic improvement in your life, which can set the stage for motivational change for the whole family, ADHD and non-ADHD members alike.
6. Put relationships first
Non-ADHD adults are often very efficient. But her quest to keep everyone’s life in order (since her ADHD partners and ADHD children are not as efficient as she is) can lead to a dreary family life. Instead of spending all of your time together focusing on the next task that needs getting done, remember to put relationships first. The benevolence that results can help support an ADHD partner or child’s openness to the hard work it takes to develop new habits.
7. Get buy-in buy
Change happens when a person with ADHD decides to make it a reality. This means that the role of non-ADHD partners is that of supplicant rather than instructor. Non-ADHD partners may think they know the best way to get things done. This is actually irrelevant if the person with ADHD is not interested in listening to this idea. Instead, non-ADHD partners must stand up for what they want in a very respectful way and not dictate what will happen. It is important to always remain respectful of both spouses and children and to listen carefully (open-minded) to the ideas and feelings an ADHD person expresses. This puts you on the same team and increases the chances that your partner or child will be interested in working with you to figure out how to make important changes.
8. Don’t assume that your way is the best
The minds of people with ADHD work very differently than without. Don’t assume that something that works for you will also work for an ADHD partner or child.
9. Think marathon, don’t sprint
Treating ADHD symptoms is a lifelong endeavor for most who have ADHD. Some days just get better than others. Keep smiling and try to put things into perspective when faced with a surprise. Your ability to be flexible will help those who try to motivate you in your family to remain optimistic and ready to accept anything.
Whether you are a parent with or without ADHD, these nine tips will help you manage and motivate your family to work together as a team.