Miss Manners might have a bone to pick with me on this one, but I figured out one piece of the puzzle when it came to helping my elementary/pre-teen son get out the door and get to school – on time, and I’ve got to share it with you.
Admittedly, it was an unconventional solution. But sometimes those work best for our kids.
So here’s my true confession: I encouraged him to eat with his mouth open.
Okay, I know its controversial, and some of you may be horrified. But go with me here.
One characteristic of ADHD – a trait that can wear parents out faster than lightning – is incessant talking. Some kids are known for their constant chatter, and they think out-loud through verbal processing. Whether they are telling stories or narrating their activities, their motor-mouths are never idle. In his less generous moments, my husband privately referred to this lovely trait as “verbal diarrhea.”
Whatever you call it, many kids with ADHD are chatter-boxes. And if your child is one of these loquacious lads or ladies, you know how maddening it can be.
Even worse, it can slow everything down!
In the mornings, things tend to run on tight time frames, and with talkative kids, there may not be enough time for breakfast when their mouths are running full steam ahead.
So when our kid was happily (thankfully) chattering away, and we wanted to keep things moving, we finally learned to give him a simple direction: Eat with your mouth open.
I know, I know, it’s not exactly teaching the best etiquette (though I’m willing to bet that Miss Manners never raised a child with ADHD). And in our defense, we were clear with our son about why we were making the suggestion, and limited it to breakfast only. I mean, desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Those early morning witching hours before school definitely qualify as desperate times!
But here’s my promise. If you communicate your expectations clearly – that is, make allowances for the mornings that are clearly exceptions to the rule — you can actually encourage your child to chew while talking in order to keep things moving toward the bus stop or the car… and not end up with a cretan who can’t close his mouth when eating with grandparents or potential bosses!
Besides, you’re finally giving a direction your kids actually want to follow. After all, how many twelve-year old boys would be unhappy or unwilling to follow the direction to talk while eating, even if the goal is to get to school on time. Who knows, the reverse psychology of it may have long-lasting benefits!