Help Your Complex Kids Become More Independent - ImpactADHD®

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Help Your Complex Kids Become More Independent (especially in the mornings)

Welcome to Tea & Tips, where we respond to burning questions from parents and educators -- taking aim on one topic at a time, guiding you to improve communication, confidence and calm.

Transcript:

Diane:
We had at least two questions that came in that were both very similar and we summarized them for you, but they are really about helping kids become more independent. They go something like this: how do I get my child to get through their routines without any parent intervention?

Elaine:
So more specifically, ready? One of the questions was, “how do I get my child to manage himself and accomplish everything he needs to do in the morning, on time, and get out the door without any parental prompting?”

Diane:
So we don't mean to laugh. If this is your question, it's a very real question. And it's a real question because, ultimately, what we want is our kids to become completely independent. But we're seeing where they are right now, and we want them to be way over there.

Elaine:
And it doesn't really matter what age this child is, it's still not a realistic expectation.

Diane:
Right, at least not overnight, right? So, the first piece of it, which is shifting expectations and knowing that we're going to take this a step at a time, and they're going to become more independent and more independent and more independent; instead of, "I want them to be completely independent and on time and finish everything and me not have to do anything." It may be that the parent really needs this because they're having a hard time in the morning or they've got other things that need to be done, and so there's some urgency on the parent's part. So, how do we focus on it?

Elaine:
Well, the place to start is to Take Aim. It's to start choosing one area that you really want to focus on that you really want to see some change. So, instead of every aspect of a morning routine, for example, you might choose getting out of bed, or getting clothes on by a certain time, or eating breakfast. Choose one area where you're asking your child to become more independent and take that on, and you're going to continue to scaffold and remind in the other areas. But choose one place where you both agree, "Okay, this one is yours to handle and I'm going to stay out of it and let you do it more independently."

Diane:
And what you said was, "both agree." A lot of times you might want to start with something that they really want you out of their stuff. It's like, "I like my room. If I'm in my room, let me do my own thing, or if I'm in the bathroom, let me do my own thing, but you want to start with one particular area, and remember that it's not about getting to independence, it's getting more independent. It may be seven reminders instead of 14 reminders. It may be that you still are the time clock and you're still keeping the list of things. "Hey, did you do this? Hey, did you do that? What's next?" There's roles that you can play that are less in charge but are helping your child to climb that ladder to independence.

Elaine:
Right, so I'm remembering a strategy we used when my kids were younger and we were struggling with morning issues. Instead of saying, "It's 7:32 or 6:32," and stressing everybody out with what time it was, we came up with a deal as a family where, at a certain time, Dad would come with a weather report for the day. "The weather today is going to be..." So, everybody knew when that happened roughly what time it was and it got everybody, sort of, on the same page without directing them. So, bringing everybody into the process can make a really big difference, as well.

Diane:
I want to go back to shifting expectations, I don't want to be a Debbie Downer, but the reality is that for a lot of us, it's going to take some time to get our kids to be at a place where they're really independent. I've got kids who are emerging adults and there are pieces of the process that they really are still having a hard doing completely independently.

Elaine:
We do an entire module on this, almost an hour and a half on this in Sanity School®. There's a lot involved with shifting expectations and it's a fundamental tool to be able to really help the kids learn to manage.

Diane:
Shift the expectations, Take Aim, particularly if you can find something where kids are interested in becoming more independent, and focus on increasing the independence one step at a time.

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