Are you irritated by your kids’ disobedience or disrespect? Are you taking it personally when he doesn’t do what he’s been asked? If so, you are definitely not alone! There are 4 questions you can ask to coach yourself through the frustration — and learn not to take things so personally! In this case, the order is important:
- What are the messages I’m telling myself?
- How do they make me feel?
- How am I acting in response?
- WHAT ELSE could ALSO be true?
Here’s an example. If you ask your son to fold the laundry, and he responds, “I’ll do it later,” how do you tend to respond? What’s the message you tell yourself? Maybe it’s “he’s irresponsible,” or “he’ll never do it,” or “yeah, right!” You begin to feel like everything is on your shoulders. Now, you feel compelled to nag and remind him or he’ll never get it done. Sound familiar?
So, now ask yourself, what else is ALSO true about this situation? For example, it might also be true that he intends to do it, but since he has ADHD he might forget. Maybe if you can help him get clear on the time frame, it will make it easier for him to get it done. Instead of nagging, is it possible he might like a reminder?
With these new possibilities, your approach can actually shift. Instead of a snide comment in response to, “I’ll do it later,” you can say something like, “That’s great, kiddo. Thank you. When will you have it done?” If he answers with a specific time, acknowledge him (“Super! Thanks, I really appreciate that.”) Show gratitude, not surprise, for his response.
If not (“I don’t know, Mom, just later!”), then you can say, “well, I’d really like it done by X time — does that sound reasonable?” This gives him some control over the situation — timing is a great way to do that. Keep calm when conversing until you get a commitment from him with a specific time-frame, and possibly even a clear logical consequence if it’s not done. For example, “If you have it done by 5, I’ll take you to that store you wanted to go to; if not, I’m not going to be able to do that today — got it?”
Either way, remember to ask something to show that you’re on his team and you want to help, like saying, “is there anything you’d like me to do to help you? Would you like a reminder?”
These questions turn the attention away from feeling “slighted” or “disrespected,” and turn the attention back over to your child, who needs to learn strategies for remembering to get things done. He may resist your attempts at first, but if you stay matter-of-fact and keep your focus on positive communication with him, instead of on you (“he is being disrespectful to me, how dare he!”), you’ll start to see results in very short order.