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I’m Using My Words, Too!

After reading that kids with ADHD sometimes have trouble interpreting social cues, I considered how that might apply for Natalie.

Help Children with ADHD Make Friends and Build Social Skills

I recently wrote about encouraging kids with ADHD to “use their words” to communicate feelings. I’ve learned that “using my words” is the best way to communicate my feelings to Natalie, too.

After reading that kids with ADHD sometimes have trouble interpreting social cues, I tried to consider various contexts in which that concept might apply for Natalie. One scenario I came up with was those times when I become frustrated, then angry, when Natalie doesn’t listen to and follow my directions.

Here’s an example. I’m sure this will come as a big surprise to other parents of kids with ADHD, but almost every morning, getting Natalie to get ready for school is a struggle. Nat starts playing with Legos, or coloring pictures, and redirecting her to eat breakfast, put on clothes…you know the drill…involves repeating directions zillions of times, trying to force eye contact, turning off the TV to remove a distraction, and on and on and on.

The more Natalie ignores me, the more frustrated I become. My voice gets firmer. Then louder. My face turns red. My eyebrows scrunch together. I start to slam stuff — my brush on the counter, a drawer, my feet on the stairs.

My 12-year-old, Aaron, would get the picture, in no time, from just these social cues. Mom’s getting upset. I’d better listen. But not Natalie. She’s either oblivious, or she doesn’t care. Assuming she doesn’t care will just make me madder! I’d rather choose to believe that she’s just not getting it!

So, I use my words. “Natalie,” I’ll say. “I’m starting to feel really frustrated. I asked you to put your clothes on. Please put them on now.” Or, “I’m getting angry. I don’t like feeling angry. I like it when you get ready nicely so I don’t have to be crabby with you.”

I think it helps. I think Natalie “gets” my words better than she “gets” my body language.

Hmm, what a concept! Maybe I should try that with my husband, too!