“Raising a child with ADHD comes with uncommon challenges for both parent and child. Everyday simple tasks can be frustrating and maddening for everyone involved. Follow along as I share an insightful personal story of grace, hope, and a deeper understanding of what really goes on in the mind of a child with ADHD.”
For a child with ADHD, daily chores come with unique hurdles.
These aren’t physical hurdles. These are hurdles you can’t see. To look at a child with ADHD, you would never know the daily struggles they face. For the child that doesn’t have ADHD, completing a daily chore list is no big deal. But, for a child with ADHD, it’s a BIG DEAL! No, it’s climbing uphill pushing a boulder all the time, BIG DEAL!
Take for instance the following list:
- Feed the dog.
- Check on the cats and fill their dishes with food.
- Go down to the chicken coop; make sure the hens have fresh water and grain.
- Gather eggs.
Seems pretty straightforward. Right? Well, let’s dive in for a better understanding.
So, what does it really take for a child with ADHD to complete this list of chores?
My son, Austin (not his real name due to privacy) cheerfully put on his muck boots and dashed out the back door to begin his morning chores. I was busy in the kitchen getting lunches ready and finishing up the morning dishes. 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes go by…where is Austin?
It was getting close to the time we had to leave for school…he should be done by now! I went to the back door and looked out to find him kneeling down at the cross-fence gate looking intently at something in his hand.
I yelled out “Austin, what are you doing?” His head popped up and revealed a huge smile of delight and discovery.
“Look Mom! You gotta come here and see this beetle!” I yell out again, “AAAUSTIN!! Are you done with your chores?” The answer back is “No.”
“Oh, dear Lord, bless this child and keep me from losing it!” Shaking my head, I closed my eyes, exhaled through my nose, muttered something unladylike under my breath and thought “Seriously!…..AGAIN?!”
What happened?! How did things get so off course?
I’m gonna guess that if you have a child with ADHD you’ve experienced an event much like this with the same outcome. And you, no doubt, have asked yourself “What happened?” more times than you care to remember. It can be maddening. I get it!
Those are the questions I asked day, after day, after day. Until one day, shortly after that particular event when I began to see a direct correlation between the task request, the beetle, and the followthrough (or lack of).
Let me see if I can explain with this example…
Let’s say you ask your child to bring their dirty clothes to the laundry room. A straightforward request—Right? Well…Yes and No. A lot of interesting things keep them from completing this task.
Along the way from the kitchen to the laundry room, there’s a labyrinth of delightful and fascinating things that vie for their attention.
HEY, there’s a cool looking stain on the carpet in the hallway—stop and check it out. The dog barks. WHAT WAS THAT?! Go to the window to peek out at the dog. The kitty brushes past their leg—stop and cuddle the kitty.
You yell out…”Are you getting your dirty clothes?”
Eventually, with some prompting, they make their way to the bedroom, pick up a dirty shirt and WOW! There is a pile of toys underneath! To your child, it’s as if the toys have an audible voice and are screaming “Hey, look here! Let’s play!”
You, on the other hand, are patiently waiting in the laundry room for your child to arrive. Too much time has passed and you’re wondering what’s taking so long?
It was such a simple request!
Simple to you, but for the child with ADHD, it’s a daunting daily, sometimes minute to minute struggle to stay focused. I get that you may already know that. But here’s something you may not realize.
Your child wants to follow directions. They want to be obedient. And more importantly, they want to follow through with the task too. Yes! You heard me right, they want to complete the task at hand. It’s just that their ADHD keeps getting in the way.
A personal understanding of a child with ADHD.
Children are curious by nature and can become easily distracted. That’s normal. The occasional derailment is to be expected. But for Austin, it was all the time or nearly all the time. That was the difference.
I saw first-hand the way he dealt with tasks. He would start off ready to attack the request and then become completely lost in the weeds a few minutes later. Time, after time, after time.
In Austin’s case, he was excited about everything. Life, nature, sounds, color, texture—anything that caught his eye or perked his ears. Like a magnet to steel, he gravitated toward nearly everything new and interesting around him. A sudden noise or a ‘shiny object’ of distraction would completely derail him from the task at hand.
Well, I have good news! And…some not-so-good but hope-filled news.
Let’s start with the good news.
First off, your child is not trying to get a rise out of you all the time. They don’t have some secret agenda to rattle your cage to get you frustrated. Just know that.
This inability to stay focused and complete a task is not an act of defiance nor is it deliberate. Be assured, it’s not directed at you.
Now for the not-so-good but hope-filled news.
The ADHD brain takes in and retains information differently than yours or mine. What I discovered is this—daily life for a child with ADHD is one huge diversion. I can’t say this enough…life is a gigantic diversion!
For example, information goes in, say…a request from mom to complete a task, and the request looks for a place to be retained or stored in the brain.
While it’s looking for a place to be stored, should a distracting piece of information, say…a shiny beetle appear, the initial piece of information or request becomes displaced or detoured temporarily. Affecting its ability to be recalled. Consequently, there is no follow-through once the distraction hijacks the request. And with no follow-through, ultimately…the beetle wins.
That’s not an excuse, it’s just reality.
You and I might be able to refocus on what we initially set out to do and ignore the interruption, but for the ADHD brain, this takes a Herculean effort. An effort such as this is beyond what they can handle on their own.
They’ll need you to help them.
So, let me offer these words of encouragement.
Maybe you’re feeling that because things are the way they are that you have to accept them as they are. That somehow change isn’t possible. Well, from personal experience with my son, I can tell you that is simply not true. Every day doesn’t have to be a struggle for you and your ADHD child.
There are ways to retrain the ADHD brain. Including ways to help your child regain focus, stay on task, calm themselves and exhibit self-control.
I know, because my son is living proof. And I absolutely believe, as a parent…
You may not realize it but you have all the tools you need to help your ADHD child. With a little guidance, and working closely with your child you can help them modify and adjust their behavior.
And because you know your child better than anyone else, you will be the one that can make this possible.
So I want to encourage you to NOT accept things as they are. You have options and choices. And, above all, you are in charge of creating the positive changes that will make a difference for your ADHD child.
At this point, you may be wondering where to begin.
It’s easy. Take a few minutes to read 6 Ways You Can Help Your ADHD Child Today.
These insights will lay the groundwork for understanding ADHD and can help you build the foundation you’ll need to work more effectively with your child.
Then subscribe to Making Motherhood Manageable Newsletter to receive the latest posts on parenting and managing a busy home.
Let’s start making motherhood (and ADHD) a little more manageable.