Setting appropriate expectations

This topic contains 11 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Elaine – 10 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #59709


    I often hear the advice, “meet your child where he/she is” to help in setting expectations for things like daily tasks, homework, chores, self care, etc. With an ADHD child, how do you know what that appropriate level is: am I looking for what he/she actually does consistently without any reminders? or with only a few reminders? Or, what he/she is capable of doing because it’s happened on occasion? And what are some age-appropriate ways (for teens) to scaffold these behaviors so ultimately they become automatic?

  • #59730


    When we talk about meeting kids where they are, it’s about providing opportunities to succeed. Your expectations should be where your child can succeed with reasonable accommodations. In addition, you should be working on teaching lagging skills, coping mechanisms, etc., to improve where they are (if it’s developmentally behind). In general, kids with ADHD are 2-3 years behind their peers in many developmental skills.

    For teens, it’s about providing the information and tools, and then stepping back and letting them implement independently. Of course, you’re waiting in the wings to support if they need it and when it’s welcome. So, the parent is constructing the scaffolding based on their child’s needs, and standing by to be sure it works without fail. Then the child is using the scaffolding as a tool to achieve and succeed. Does that make sense?

    Really getting to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses intimately is the first step to making all of this happen.

    Inside Your Teen’s ADHD Mind

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

  • #59918


    I expect my 2 ADHD kids to do anything a regular kid would and my regular kid does. But without reminders? Ahaha ha. In my dreams! They eventually graduate to digital reminders they create but that takes a loooong time.

  • #59944


    We often say, “meet your kids where they are, and raise the bar from there.” It’s going to be very different, depending on the skills you’re looking at, assuming a 3-5 year lag in SOME areas (that’s our understanding of the most recent research). If there’s something your child is doing consistently with few or no reminders (about 80% of the time), you can see that as a level of (relative 🙂 competence and move on to Take Aim on something else. If it’s only happened on occasion, it might be a great place to Take Aim –perhaps the goal would start with increasing the frequency, and eventually getting it to an area of competence.

    As for age-appropriate ways (for teens) to scaffold these behaviors? Most essential is to focus on one thing at a time, and communicate clearly with each other — so your teen is clear about what is his/her responsibility, and what you’re scaffolding (for now). Try not to “pile on” too many things.

    For example, at the beginning of the school year, it might be enough for your child to be getting back into the swing of waking up, getting ready, and getting out of the door on time. You might negotiate something like: “I know you’re working on getting your morning routine down, and you’re doing great, by the way! If you want, I’ll feed the dogs for you for the first two weeks of school while you’re getting your systems in place, and then you can add that job back in. How does that sound to you?” THat way you’re communicating openly, keeping the clear expectation that your teen is expected to get back to his/her job, and still acknowledging the teen’s focus and rewarding the progress.

    Let me know if that helps, or if you need more. We teach a lot about how to Create Systems & Structures that Work Effectively — it’s not exactly complicated, but it does take time :)!

  • #59947


    Great comments and suggestions. Morning routine is definitely a good place to focus… it’s day 6 of school and she’s missed the bus the past 2 days. Haven’t found what works yet, but we’ll keep plugging away. Thank you!

  • #59948


    Morning routine is still a really BIG area — try to target in even more. What’s the biggest obstacle? Waking up? Getting out of Bed? Brushing/washing/etc? Eating? Try to narrow in on ONE aspect of getting from the pillow to the bus-stop :)! Look for baby-steps of progress, one area at a time. As you can imagine, we cover this topic a LOT — you can search “morning” on our website and get a number of specific articles to address this issue.

  • #60038

    Pick your battles. Allow them to fail from time to time. As and ADHD adult with 1 ADHD child learn to recognize and deal with the truly high impact behaviors one at a time. This will help everyone get a win while reducing everyone’s stress. Let go of the low impact areas. We gave our child their room and one big shelf in the kitchen. We let it go. It’s a low impact life thing.

    The object of allowing them failures is forced them to own their ADHD behavior and the consequences of that behavior. It also takes the battle out of being “about” the parents and being “about” them.

    As there is no cure for ADHD developing life skills for living in the non-ADHD world is paramount. I am 60 years old and continue working with this challenge of operating within our non-ADHD world.

  • #60049


    Thanks! Picking battles is good advice and one I could do better at. Regarding morning routine: Getting out of bed is the toughest part of the morning routine…but I know she’s capable of doing it because she did it at summer camp for 3 weeks every morning. There she was having fun and her peers were getting up as well. But at home on school days, there is zero motivation for getting up. She doesn’t like school. She doesn’t get good sleep. Getting up is definitely one of those necessary life skills, but it’s hard to convince a sleepy 16-year-old of that.

  • #60052

    Ahhh — you can’t CONVINCE a 16 year old of ANYTHING. The key is motivation — what CAN she figure out that will motivate her? It’s up to her, not you (though you can help) — but truly, right now she has no motivation, no buy-in. So start by asking her, what’s in it for her? She’s not going to do it because its a necessary life skill :).

    • #60065

      As an ADHD adult I will share some items from my experiences. In the long term difficulty waking up is a feature, at least for me and for my ADHD child. This remains a very undesirable feature for me until this very day.

      For those of us that are ADHD school is getting locked in little boxes all day 5 days a week with expectations to sit still, behave then assimilate information from people droning on and on and on day after day, week after week, year after. This is and continues to be a built in fail for the ADHD part of me. This remains a very undesirable feature for me until this very day.

      One of the very hard lessons I learned as a parent is understanding how to communicate information to my children in a way that they can process then make effective use of information. I never found a way to succeed in this area in the entire spectrum of parenting. My coping skill was to pick my battles. I remind myself EVERYDAY that parenting is a farming process. The fix approach failed for me. We will lose battles, be in it to win the war.

      Recognize their successes then initiate positive actions when they succeed. Some of the ADHD features are very positive. Develop the positive features, find positive ways to cope with the negative ones.

  • #60059


    Hmmm. Without reminders. I don’t have ADHD. I am employed in an occupation that requires excellent organizational skills. I RARELY do ANYTHING without a reminder. I have a reminder (alarm) to wake up in the morning. My stomach reminds me to cook. I use a calendar to remind me of appointments. My point is no one lives without reminders and teens are no different. Have your child set some reminders on the cell phone. Then set a reward for each time she does it without your intervention. I learned that for ADHD rewards must be immediate, so find what she likes and make it immediate, even if it’s just verbal. For instance, saying “Good job, you just earned…”. For my son it is earning his allowance. I give a bonus for a perfect week.

  • #60069

    Daniel — I appreciate your transparency. I struggled for years until I discovered coaching, and I have to say that the coach-approach, as we call it at ImpactADHD, has made an ENORMOUS difference for me, and for thousands of families. It’s a shift in mindset — and the impact is shockingly effective, really empowering kids to become independent!

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