Communication is essential between all parents and children, but a child with ADHD may have even more trouble learning these skills and applying them in their personal lives. Taking extra time to work on these skills with your child can result in greater success for the child's entire life, both in personal pursuits and professional environments. So how can you model good communication behavior to a child with ADHD? Try these tips and tricks for talks with less frustration on both sides.
1. Develop Communication Prompts
Work with your child to find phrases to keep them focused on the conversation without upsetting them. For example, reminding them you need their attention in a neutral tone is better than getting upset and losing your temper when your child has trouble focusing. Some children may respond best to different phrases, and you may also need to change the phrases you use as your child grows up and becomes more sophisticated at communication.
2. Control Your Reactions
Children with ADHD have trouble reading non-verbal and subtle spoken clues that indicate how you feel at any moment. You may think you're clearly communicating your happiness with their success or your disappointment in their mistakes, but they may not be picking up on what you're expressing until you say it. This is why staying calm and speaking your mind is important when communicating with anyone with ADHD. Shouting and acting with anger will only hurt your child's feelings and make it harder for them to focus on what you're saying so they can change their behavior in the future.
3. Ask for a Response
When you're communicating an essential task or piece of information, ask your child to repeat it back to you a few times to verify they've heard and understood it. You can also ask questions about what you've told them so they have to rephrase their answers to verify they really understand and aren't just repeating the words. If nothing else, at least get a verbal response to anything you ask them to remember.
4. Keep Things Short
Shorter sentences and single pieces of information are far easier to digest for the child with ADHD. Instead of a complete list of tasks for the day, just ask your child to do the next most important thing, such as a single sheet of homework, or a task like getting the dog ready for a walk. Breaking everything down makes communication easier on both of you.