As a parent of an ADHD teen, I feel I’m always reminding my son of the importance of being flexible when there’s a change of plans. Each morning, before our boys walk out the door, we talk about what’s happening after school. It’s amazing how they look forward to their after school time! I really can’t blame them – they are “on” all day long and their afterschool time is their own to unwind and do as they please.
On the VERY rare days when there’s a change of plans, I’ve learned (and failed many a time) that it’s the delivery that matters when we need to communicate the need for flexibility in such circumstances. My teen with ADHD does not look on change of plans favorably, unless it benefits him…sound familiar? Others with ADHD thrive on last minute changes and love the excitement of it and are able to adapt, be flexible, and even creative, but not my son!
Therein lies the mystery of ADHD – it presents itself differently to all!
So, what to do when you know you’re responsible for throwing the curveball that just might send your loved one over the edge into a downward spiral of emotional angst and outburst?
You have to prime the pump!
Just like any transitions, be it physical or psychological, time is on your side! They need time to process and prepare for what they are about to hear and/or do. Do NOT just blurt out, “We are going to the grocery store and grab your car keys.” That’s a front row seat to a mega meltdown! Instead try these steps:
Give it a minute and ask them to tell you when they are prepared to hear what you are about to say. By doing this, you are showing your loved one respect and allowing them to control the timing of information shared with them.
When they are ready, share the change of plans. Remind them of the importance of being flexible in life and how plans change each day.
Acknowledge it’s not comfortable for them (when things change), but you are confident they are capable of being flexible and stepping up to the challenge.