ADHD When We Can Just Say, "No!"Author: Peggy Aauyeung
The time has surely come for those of us cast into the oftentimes challenging role of parents and teachers to take back our own self-respect and rights as responsible adults. We must not be afraid of the children entrusted to our care. There are times when indeed, we just need to say, "No!"
As a long time teacher, mother and grandmother, I am more than ever convinced that a large number of children diagnosed with active ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, are not always in need of ‘time outs' and other negotiated behavior deals which only sink us all down to the level of game board cronies or frustrated, impatient babysitters.
I recently overheard one of my third grade students bragging to his friends about his ‘serious 'conference consisting of the school principal, both parents, a psychologist, and his teacher concerning his unruly and oftentimes disrespectful classroom behavior. "Oh boy, did I fool them, I can do what I want and they decided I'm going to get a time out when I get home. They said that a punishment will make me behave even worse and then I won't feel good about myself. I can't wait! When I have time outs I don't have to clean my room. I even get a reward for not kicking the door! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Yes, that's what we do. We negotiate with our children. Aren't making deals and negotiation tactics arranged so that both parties get what they want out of the transaction? What exactly are we getting from negotiating with our kids? Are we teaching them responsibility, self-control, and personal accountability? Don't we have the confidence in our own maturity, increasing wisdom, and experience to know what has the best chance of working? Is it really a time out, cancelled play date, no screen time or fewer cookies after dinner which brings home the message that certain behaviors are off limits?
We need to take back our positions and stand firmly on adult turf. The line in the sand is not the line in the sandbox. We all know that children are not compliant, totally submissive mannequins who will obey all of our reasonable requests and advice. They must come to the realization on their own that good behavior is ultimately advantageous for their own personal wellbeing and successful navigation of life's vicissitudes. They need to experience the ramifications and humbling reality of the word, "no." Life sometimes doesn't go according to our wishes, and we ‘don't always get what we want.'
Remember the slogan of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No!" campaign against drug use? It was about as straightforward as it gets. When we are no longer afraid to tell our kids, "No" and stick by it, our children will get the resounding message that, "Yes, we can take care of you and help you to make good decisions and control your own behavior. There are boundaries we will not let you cross. We love you."
When our children are bent on bad behavior toward themselves, society, or others, and we say and mean, " No,"we will all have a better society consisting of more wholesome individuals. There are times when the word, "No," is just a better way to get to a future, "Yes."