Gabe Gab – How to ensure kids with ADHD don’t use it as an excuse.

I know that ADHD often gives Gabe an out or an excuse not to do something he should be doing.  Whether it is homework, chores, patiently waiting, or participating in an activity.  So how do you set up fair boundaries and not let the child use their ADHD as an excuse?

I think this all depends on your child.  For a long time Gabe needed an out.  He would get so worked up or excited and really did not know how to get himself out without some sort of outburst and it usually was with anger.  So for quite some time his teachers and Jay and I would excuse him from activities that might get him worked up or if it was a fun activity we might give him extra time so he didn’t feel cheated.  But as he is getting older, he needs to be held accountable for things just like other 8 yr old boys. 

This year if he gets worked-up at school and needs a break, he’s still responsible for all the reading and work he missed and he has to bring it home.  At home if he’s having a moment, he’s allowed to be excused but is still required to do the chore or finish his supper etc when he regroups.  We had tried this at home for several years and created hour-long stand-offs that got Gabe completely in the red and Jay and I in the red too.  That is not healthy for ANYBODY…  This year though, he’s getting it.  He understands what part each of us has as a family unit.  He’s understanding that school work is so he learns and not how fast anybody does it.  He’s doing chores and getting any missed work done.

This “enlightenment” so to say, didn’t come before hours of appt’s with his psychologist and MANY calm discussions It took some time for Gabe’s idea of fairness to be corrected since he thought it was fair for him to get out of stuff.  I think this is because he’d always been allowed more time, less chores, to skip out of activities for so long.  His idea of what was fair to HIM was actually unfair to everyone else. 

So what have I learned?

  • The rules are the same for every kid especially when they have a condition that doesn’t allow their minds to do something.
  • There comes a time when kids have to start doing what they previously were allowed to ‘get-out of’.  This time will be different for each kid.  But it will come when you start to have the suspicion that they are using it as an excuse.
  • When kids start having to do missed activities, it may require a lot of verbal explanation of why it’s fair.  You will probably get…  “It’s not fair because all the other kids did it in school and I couldn’t because of my ADHD.  Nobody else has homework, so I shouldn’t”.  Here his Dr and I had to explain that everyone has to learn and working at things is how we learn.  So are faster than others and some don’t need breaks but we still have to do the work.  Gabe started responding better when the teacher had all the assignments for the day written on the board when he came into class with the times they were going to do them.  It gave him a visual of what he had to do that day and if any of it wasn’t done, he had it for homework. 
  • PRAISING your child for completing tasks is a GREAT way to positively enforce getting things done. 



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