The ADD Label

Step Three: Assess Your Child's Experience
Step three is an ongoing process that requires that your child look within himself in the context of the experiences. How does your child feel about his self-concept? Did the exercise lead to any changes in the family's perceptions of themselves?

Bobby's family experiences:

  1. Bobby: I learned that it feels good to do something physical once in a while, and dumb as it seems, you can at least see you have done something.
  2. Bobby: It was strange that once I got into it, I could think better after digging for a while. I got some pretty good ideas while I was working.
  3. Bobby's father: I did not like digging, but I liked the activity with my family. We had some fun.
  4. Bobby's mother: I liked getting my hands in the dirt, and for the first time we were doing something together.
  5. Bobby's sister: I thought it was cool, and I could see how this was more fun than I thought it was going to be.
It is helpful to discuss what positive behaviors or attitude changes became visible to the group. These can be valuable for validation, especially since someone with ADD rarely gets positive support. Some of Bobby's family's thoughts about each:
  1. Bobby: I saw my family trying to help me instead of preaching at me.
  2. Bobby's father: I saw Bobby want to give up a time or two, but he kept at it. I was proud of him.
  3. Bobby's mother: Bobby worked hard, and he tried. That is all that I asked--that he would try.
  4. Bobby's sister: I was surprised that Bobby did it, and he seemed to appreciate me pitching in. That made me feel good. So I appreciated him back.
The critical accomplishment is not that your child digs a good ditch or likes the book, but that he recognizes that there is a process involved in doing instead of stagnating.

A Special Note About Failure
The major complaint I hear from kids, especially teenagers, with ADD is that everyone focuses on the failures, and they already know about the failures. The worst things a parent can say to a kid who screwed up is: "Look at what damage you have done. Do you see what you have done? You have wrecked your mother's car." Of course he sees what he has done. He desperately needs you to tell him what to do next. He is a child, after all.

Instead of waiting for the next teacher visit or counseling session, begin working now with your child on the three-step action plan. Choose one activity and focus on how it feels.


From The ADD Answer: How to Help Your Child Now by Frank Lawlis, M.D. Copyright 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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