“Can we start having a weekly family meeting?” my seven-year-old asked me? “We can talk about what’s on the calendar, who we need to pray for, and how everybody’s doing.” I recognized this request as a need for a child with ADHD to have better communication about what was going on around her. So we sat down, created an agenda and scheduled a time. Before the meeting, I created a Family Meeting bin with dry erase markers, prizes for Bible verses, and a few other helpful items, laminated our agenda, and picked up to small dry erase boards to display the weekly memory verse and prayer requests. We’ve taken breaks from these meetings from time to time, and we’ve had to adjust them as the kids have gotten older, but over the years, having regular family meetings has helped us be intentional about communicating schedules, expectations, and connecting on a deeper level. And it’s a great way to incorporate reminders in a variety of ways for different learning styles to ensure better retention of the things we are trying to teach our children.
God used a variety of reminders to teach His people as well. He gave them the tabernacle to remind them who they were to worship, the tablets of stone, the arc of the covenant and all of their sacrifices and rituals to remind them of the laws he had set up for them. Ultimately, He gave them Jesus and simplified the laws to loving God and loving others (see Matthew 22:37-40). He gave us the Lord’s supper (communion) as a symbol of the sacrifice Jesus made for us and He gave us each other and His Word as reminders of how to love Him and love others well. The Bible is filled practically from cover to cover with examples of how God reminds us what He is teaching us.
How can we as parents use this example to help our children with ADHD learn to love God and love others? In an overstimulating world, where distracting and conflicting information is all around them, kids with poor executive functioning need lots of reminders. Here are your steps towards flourishing for this week:
Communicate expectations in a variety of ways. Verbal reminders, visual reminders, creating songs or chants, lists, family meetings to assess progress, and asking children to repeat expectations back to you are all wonderful ways to give your kids reminders.
Communicate expectations at strategic times. If you can anticipate situations where unwanted behaviors will pop up, remind your kids of the expectations ahead of time (like going to the grocery store or restaurant). And, as you notice your child being tempted or beginning to give in to temptation, remind them of the expectations and consequences.
Be sure you’re not just telling your kids how you don’t want them to behave, but also giving them alternatives. Most unwanted behaviors are children’s poor attempts to communicate something, so try to remind them how they can appropriately communicate what they want. Young children may need you to ask them some questions to help identify what they are trying to communicate.
The content found on Flourishing Family Coaching’s website and blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding ADHD, anxiety, depression or any other medical conditions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.