Balance between motivation and creating entitlement

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  • #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


    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.

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