“GATHER AND GO”
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
I don’t know a lot about Mark Twain’s childhood, but I can imagine that he was a rebellious teen, a kid that likes to be in control, an ADHD or LD child. Maybe even a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder long before it had a name.
I often see parents in never ending battles and conflict with a child. Every day, I see first hand the stress that caused by those struggles. Family situations that are full of adversity and contentiousness often lead to disintegration of the parent- child relationship. The fighting is not what you signed up for, It certainly was not why you had children.
When I tell a parent to “gather and go”, I know that it sounds counter intuitive. With kids as difficult as these, how can we leave them to their own devices? Well, first you need to understand that I am not suggesting that a parent put his child in a room, lock her alone in there and let her fail. The “gathering” requires employment of strategies that can give your child structure and support. That support must not come via nagging, policing or harassing your child. Find others that can help support or direct your child. Most likely your child will listen to others better than they listen to you. As frustrating as that is, it is a normal part of life.
If you are dealing with a resistant child, “gathering” requires that reasonable goals and clear expectations be created and, of equal importance, you must provide an environment conducive to having your child attain those goals. Everyone wants to have control over their lives and having kids “buy into” doing things is imperative to them doing them.
Sit down and work with your child to create a schedule. Write it down and post it on the refrigerator or your child’s door. The schedule then becomes what tells your child what is next, not you yelling. Creating a written “to do” list is another way to “gather” and organize your expectations. Then “go” by texting the list to your child’s cell phone. With today’s kids attached to their cell phones like a body part, texting the list to your child’s cell phone makes it virtually impossible for a child to say” I didn’t know” or “you didn’t tell me”.
Lunchtime teacher help and homework clubs are excellent opportunities for a child to get support in a low-key, friendly environment. Tutors, coaches, trainers and therapists can all help to provide a positive learning environment for a child without her parent screaming and yelling about chores and homework.
“Gather and go” is not meant to sound easy. Raising kids is difficult, raising kids with ADHD and other challenges can be overwhelming. It is a full time job that is frequently frustrating and often demoralizing. Each family I work with as an ADHD /Executive Coach has the same goal: to help their child become a happy and independent adult. Although it sometimes may seem otherwise, applying and sticking to the “gather and go” framework will make that goal attainable, for every child.
JULIE BULITT, LCSW-C is a clinical social worker with a private practice in Olney Maryland. A mother of four, Julie focuses her practice in ADHD/Executive coaching and works extensively with adoptive families. Click here to find Julie in the JST Directory and how to connect with her.