Why “Think Before You Act” is Terrible Advice
“Think before you act” sounds like reasonable advice, but for a child with ADHD it is worthless. Why? The volume on their internal dialog is turned down too low. What parents should do instead is encourage their child to stop and actively try to hear their brain coach. Here’s how.
Why “Think Before You Act” is Not Helpful
“Think before you act” is useless advice for kids with ADHD, particularly kids with an impulsive profile. Why? Their inner dialog — what I call their “brain coach” — is not audible. If you’re not hearing your inner dialog say, “Stop!” you’re going to keep blurting and interrupting.
What to Say Instead
Tell your child, “Listen to what your brain coach is trying to tell you.” By saying this, you are encouraging them to become more aware of their inner dialog — and, ultimately, to heed it. This concept of language as part of executive functioning has been left out of the ADHD dialog — in part because ADHD is considered a mental health issue when really it is a learning issue.
So keep in mind that your son or daughter is going to say things impulsively, blurt things out, and interrupt. This will get better with age, but it’s never going to be perfect and that’s OK. Teaching them to be more mindful of their brain coach is the best way to coach them forward.
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW FOR MORE ADHD ADVICE FOR PARENTS
“Think Before You Act:” Next Steps
1. Read This: What Mothers and Fathers Misunderstand About ADHD
2. Essential: 5 Pieces of ADHD Advice Every Parent Should Hear
3. Read This: 10 Hard (But Essential) Truths for Dads of Boys with ADHD
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Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the facilitator of the ADHD Dude Facebook Group and YouTube channel.