Kids with ADHD go through life hearing vastly more negative messages than their peers.
Just think of the cumulative effect of all of those messages. Think of the long-term impact it has when they continually learn to think of themselves as damaged or apart or unable to focus.
Our words matter and so do the emotions behind them. Throughout my career and in my experience as a parent, I have learned that positive reinforcement is the best policy in the classroom. Encouragement and praise are too often withheld from our kids when they are trying their best and doing everything right.
How often do our kids hear words of affirmation from their teachers?
“I like how your eyes on me, showing that you are ready to listen.”
“I’m proud of all the hard work you have put into this assignment.”
Such words matter and for reasons that go well beyond rhetoric. There is a lot of discussion in the broader culture about the “participation trophy” mentality that showers what is seen as unwarranted praise. But the fact is that our kids are still developing; they need encouragement and praise to know they are on the right track.
It’s certainly critical in the classroom as we consider how many hours a day our kids spend with their teachers. But there’s much that parents can do as well to reinforce these positive messages at home.
We can also mention the power of positive reinforcement to our child’s teacher at parent-teacher conferences. Most teachers are doing their best to manage large classrooms and may not have proper training for how to work with ADHD children. Try to form partnerships with them and share your insights on how to best work with your child to allow their talents to fully bloom.
How do you reinforce positive messages and encouraging support to your child? Have you enlisted your child’s teacher as a partner in this work?