Warning: Contents May Be Explosive
“Honey, wash your hands for dinner.” It seemed like such a simple request. It was not, and neither were the dozens of other daily transitions that, when lacking proper warning, sent my daughter into a rage. Until we came up with a better way.
I’ve been in a few car accidents. Most offered a terrifying split second of warning — just enough time to brace myself for impact.
The most terrifying and bewildering, though, was the time I glanced in my rearview mirror at the exact moment the utility truck came crashing into my car’s backside. No warning; no second to catch my breath. When it was over, my head was fuzzy and I didn’t understand why nothing looked the same anymore.
That’s not unlike how I feel when I ask my daughter to transition to a new activity and she’s clearly, vocally not ready.
If I ask her to wash her hands for dinner while she’s engrossed in a book, the resulting explosion of emotions leaves me breathless and fuzzy headed, confused as to why everything is suddenly so chaotic.
But the solution to my problem is so simple.
It’s so obvious.
I don’t know how I missed it!
She just needs time.
She needs time to mentally shift gears so she can gain control of her speeding brain — and brake before she destroys a perfectly happy afternoon.
All kids hate to transition, but it’s especially hard for a child with ADHD who’s in hyperfocus mode. When she’s in her “zone,” she’s committed, dedicated, and focused. To have someone come and yank her out of that place is disconcerting at best, traumatic at worst.
How would I like it if someone rudely yanked me away a project, job, or chore just as I hit my stride?
Oh wait. That actually happens every day. I’m a parent.
But expecting my kids, especially my kid with ADHD, to happily oblige my request to end screen time and start a chore? No wonder it’s World War III every afternoon.
With such a simple solution, I can’t believe it took me so long to figure it out. I’ve wasted years trying to perfect the frustrating “technique” of demanding she stop what she’s doing whenever I suddenly need her.
All I have to do is give a verbal warning with a clear deadline. (A visual timer works wonders, too.)
“When you finish that page, please wash your hands for dinner.”
“Finish taking your turn in the game, and then help me set the table.”
“Take one more scooter ride down the street, and come inside to finish your homework.”
It means I have to pause what I’m doing to pay attention to what she’s doing. And that’s a good thing. We make eye contact. We interact. We negotiate. We work in harmony.
I like being less of a dictator. It feels good.
And she likes it, too.
Now, if I could just figure out how to banish the post-TV-show bad moods…