The dilemma for those of us who are raising or educating students with ADHD or Asperger’s is this: At what point do you step in, take control and resolve a problematic situation? And, at what point do you step back and help your child work it out on their own? There are those who would argue that students will learn what to do if we just step back and let them “sink or swim”. But, as I pointed out in Part One of this article, students with ADHD or Asperger’s have Executive Functioning deficits, and that answer is not the solution.
Depending on the circumstances, there are instances where our students can’t “swim on their own” and we need to step in and take control of the situation. There are other instances where they will need to be explicitly taught “how to swim”, and then supported in their efforts until they are able to “swim on their own”.
In Part One, I discussed the circumstances in which it is appropriate to step in, take control and resolve the situation. In this portion of the article, I’ll discuss when to step back and how to help your child or students learn to resolve problems on their own. Let me begin by taking you through a few examples.
When my oldest daughter called in tears to say that she was ready to quit her job and my youngest daughter called in a panic because she had lost a folder that contained important papers, the circumstances were such that I had a choice … and I chose not to rescue either one of them.
Let me preface this by saying that, had I been faced with these issues several years ago, I would have responded very differently from the way I did.
I would have gotten angry with my youngest daughter, despite her request that I not do so. I would have lectured her about how she needed to be more responsible with her things. And I would have been drawn into the drama of the situation, rushing off to FedEx so that she would receive the back-up copies that I had in my files the next day.
I would have panicked when my oldest daughter suggested that she might quit her job, and I would have given her every conceivable reason why that would be a foolish move on her part.
But, I’ve come a long way since then, and I’ve learned a lot over the years. So instead, I chose to coach each of my daughters through the challenges they were facing, asking them a series of powerful questions that enabled them to work through their problems on their own. In the end, the problems were resolved with a minimal amount of drama, and each of my daughters learned so much more from the experience than if I had handled it the way I used to.
Below are just a few examples of the types of questions that can have a powerful effect on your child’s or student’s life and his or her ability to cope with challenging situations. Be sure to ask these questions without leading, prompting or interrupting. Suspend any assumptions and then be sure to listen to the answers.
1. What would you like to accomplish? How do you see it happening? What are the potential obstacles and how can you overcome them?
2. What are your thoughts? Your concerns?
3. What’s most important to you in this situation and why?
4. What would you like to see improved? What’s getting in the way? How can you change that?
5. Can you help me understand that a little better?
If you’re confused as to how to implement these suggestions, or if you feel your child would be resistant to engage with you in the process, you could probably benefit from some assistance. CLICK HERE or go to http://www.sailinstitute.com/website/contact/ to contact me for a complimentary consultation.