Studies on children with ADD/LD who have grown into successful adults list a variety of characteristics and skills that are essential. They boil down to three essentials
1. Positive self-esteem
2. Effective support systems
3. Skills to set goals and cope with emotions.
In this post, let’s focus on the first element, positive self esteem.
Positive self-esteem —
Positive self-esteem involves self-awareness and self acceptance including one’s ADD/LD. This involves appreciating and being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses and being accepting of both. It involves having the belief that one is capable and can solve and handle whatever problems come our way.
As a result of this basic belief, one also is persistent. One does not give up, one keeps trying.
A positive self-image can be trained. It requires a positive environment with lots of encouragement. It also requires the chance to succeed or fail and the encouragement to recover from mistakes
Effective support systems —
Effective support systems refers to the people in our lives who encourage us when we are down. It also involves people who help us compensate for our weaknesses or disabilities. This is the classic disorganized ADHD husband with an organized wife or the disorganized ADHD businessman with an organized secretary. Having these systems in place and knowing when to utilize them are important aspects of becoming a successful adult.
Skills to set goals and cope with emotions —
Children with ADD/LD need to learn how to set goals. That tendency for an ADD/LD child is to be overwhelmed by tasks. Whether it is a school term paper or cleaning the garage, they tend to have difficulties with setting appropriate goals, breaking these down on the subgoals and accomplishing the little bit at a time they need to feel successful.
They tend to look at it all as one big undifferentiated task and get overwhelmed. It’s vitally important that they are trained in breaking big projects down into little tasks. It’s also important that they learn to take credit for accomplishing little tasks. ADD/LD kids tend to be negative about themselves and their abilities. That is one of the reasons they tend to give up too easily. It takes conscious training to overcome this.
Coping with emotions involves the basics of stress management. One has to be aware of one’s responses to stress, be able to monitor them and have appropriate coping strategies. ADD/LD kids tend to not be aware of their emotions and tend to not have appropriate ways to cope with these emotions. Therefore, they tend to ping off the walls and then explode usually in anger. Awareness of emotions can be trained in. With young children, it initially involves the parent recognizing and identifying the child’s emotion. The parent also models acceptance and indicates appropriate coping strategies.
These are the basics of the three main goals for the parent of an ADD/LD child. Helping your child develop a positive self-image, both helping him develop and being part of his support system and coaching in the skills of goal setting and coping with stress and frustration. Keeping these in mind at all times will keep you an effective parent who will raise a successful adult.