Balance between motivation and creating entitlement

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Parents Behavior & Discipline Balance between motivation and creating entitlement

Viewing 3 reply threads
  • Author
    • #81953

      I have read many articles online pushing positive motivation for kids and saying that consequences don’t work. I just read this (a paraphrase): Sometimes you have to let natural consequences happen, but just make sure the consequence is actually motivating.

      I get that some people really don’t learn from their mistakes. I know a few adults with ADHD for whom that is certainly true. But I do know that my kids aren’t totally unable to learn from consequences. And yet, we are cautioned that consequences can discourage them.

      I see a problem with this: at some point, the ADHD kids in a family and the non-ADHD kids in a family will start to say, “what do I get if I do it?” or “what do I get after I’m done?” It’s gonna create some entitlement, and I do not want to feed that monster. Their future spouse and children will not thank me for that.

      So how do we strike that balance?

    • #82003
      Penny Williams

      You’re right… it has to be a balance. Consequences in the realm of punishments don’t typically work for kids with ADHD, because they don’t address and improve the reason the behavior happened in the first place. For instance, a child with ADHD crumples up his math worksheet and says he won’t do the homework. You could punish him for that, but the same behavior will happen again next time he experiences the same trigger. Instead, be a detective and determine WHY he isn’t willing to do the math worksheet. Is it too overwhelming? Does he feel like it will take “forever” due to poor awareness of time? Is he still overwrought and exhausted from school? Is he hungry? Does he has an undiagnosed learning disability that makes it more difficult? Are his siblings and friends playing while he’s having to do homework? There are many reasons why this could be happening, but punishment won’t resolve any of them.

      Does that make sense?

      Plus, the ADHD brain is motivated by interest and urgency, but NOT importance, like a neurotypical brain.

      Secrets of Your ADHD Brain

      This article outlines a great approach to behavior issues:

      Time for Plan B? 10 Tips for Dealing with an Explosive Child

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #82106

      Yes, I understand the difference between punishments vs consequences, as well as the differences between consequences and problems solving. And I am familiar with the interest/urgency motivation. And that is exactly my question – how do we help them not think that they don’t have to ever do things that aren’t fun?

      I suppose it just comes down to being frank with them – “things have to be done, so let’s find a way to accomplish it. Can we turn the job into a game that will get it done quickly? Or… Let’s do this hard thing for x number of minutes at a time, then take a break, then come back to it. I will help you.” (Etc)

      We currently have ADHD adults in our extended family who refuse to do anything that isn’t fun except work at a job. And they get angry if you suggest they should help around the house or mow the yard. They also get angry when there are consequences to things, like not mowing the yard – when the city fines them for the jungle and the neighbors complain. THAT is what I’m trying to avoid.

      I know they have genuine struggles. I’m just trying to give them a lens to see world they will go into – unpleasant things and boring things are still going to be expected of them. If they learn from how I deal with them that it all has to have a happy reward, then that sets them up to fail. Maybe it’s semantics in a way – ok, I don’t give them a reward each time, but I help them find a way to get it done in a less boring way.

      It just got to me, that piece – giving me permission to use natural consequences, but make sure it actually motivates? That seems like very poor, poor advice when we not only have to teach them coping skills but to also develop their character.

      • #82252
        Penny Williams

        The interest/urgency motivation isn’t a choice. It’s their brain. They don’t think that they don’t have to do things that aren’t fun, they just struggle with the skills to get those things done, because it’s not inherent in their biology.

        You’re exactly right on turning things into a game or finding a way to make them interesting. It’s all about using strengths and interests to overcome some weaknesses.

        Natural consequences are a part of life and they are totally appropriate. But kids with developmental disabilities aren’t always able to act on the lesson of a natural consequence at a future date. It also has to be about addressing lagging skills and solving the problems that are at the root of the behaviors.

        ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #82021

      I never have understood the argument that “consequences don’t work”. Consequences are simply the results we get from taking an action. Consequences show cause and effect, which is how the world works–no matter what we do (cause), there are results/consequences (effect); and they can be either good or bad results:

      You don’t put your bike in the garage at night, it gets stolen. You do extra chores, you get a bonus in your allowance. You leave your gym clothes at home, you lose participation points. You get a B average, we pay your car insurance. You spend all your allowance the day after you get it, you don’t have any money to spend til the next allowance day. You contribute to the family (chores, etc.), you get to go on family vacations. You don’t pass your classes, you can’t graduate on time. You don’t register your vehicle, you get pulled over and get an expensive ticket. You don’t pay your rent, you get evicted. These are all natural/logical consequences. Are they ‘discouraging’? Yes, but that’s good! It’s a good thing for kids to learn “when I take certain actions, certain (bad/uncomfortable/unpleasant) things happen. If I want different results, I have to take different actions. That’s where motivation comes from—an internal desire to want different results and to be willing to take different actions to get those different results.

      I think that we do kids a real disservice by not allowing natural/logical consequences to happen (like when we shield them or rescue them). Kids who do not learn that whatever they choose to do has consequences/results (good or bad) become adults who take no responsibility for their lives and feel entitled to that same kind of protection, bailing out, etc.

      It’s true that when kids have ADHD or other executive functioning challenges, it might take a lot of repetition, and it may require a lot of your guidance in terms of pointing out the cause and effect to them, but I do believe they will eventually get it, and be better adults for it.

      Joyce Mabe, Parenting Coach for parents of teens with ADHD, school counselor, mom of adult son with ADHD

Viewing 3 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.