Friday, July 19, 2013

Hurry Up!

Dear Goodjoan,

I have a child with an attention issue. Generally it's not a problem, I've learned to adapt to her 'speed' at various tasks, but one thing that still drives me slightly bonkers is that she will NOT GET IN THE CAR!  It's not that she doesn't want to go in the car, or go out, in fact she's usually very eager to go where we are going! She seems to think that she's moving pretty fast but she has to stop and look at every rock, every ant, some clouds, every dog hair stuck to the car upholstery, the interesting weave of the fabric on the car seat get the idea.  When I suggest she keep going, or look at that later, she gets mad and tells me she IS hurrying!  Normally, I leave plenty of time to get to the car, but some days, like when it's raining, or when we're late, I'd kinda like to move her along a bit faster without creating a scene that stops the whole procession in it's tracks! I know you have a child with ADD. How did you deal with things like this?

I found the ideal solution for this problem completely by accident! Many year ago, I had started a work at home type job and one of the company samples in my starter kit was a kid friendly stop watch. Before I could get it out of the box, my oldest, who was probably 2 at the time was interested in it. I explained what it did and he immediately wanted me to time him doing various things!  How fast could he run across the yard?  How long did it take him to count to 10? I saw the benefits of this right away and turned almost everything into a game. How fast could he run to the mailbox and back 5 times? (to tire him out!) How sloowly could he walk to that tree and back? (So I could sit down for a minute!) How quickly could he put away his toys? (he cleans!) How long could he go without talking? (do I need to explain this to anyone with a 2 year old?) How quickly could he put on his pajamas?  One time I even tried to see if I could time how long it took him to go to sleep but he insisted on popping up every 10 seconds to ask "How long has it been now?" but hey, you can't win them all!  Not everything was a manipulative way to speed him up, but when so many things were a fun game with the timer, I don't think he realized when I was using it as a way to hurry him on those pokey days!  I kept that stopwatch in my diaper bag for YEARS!  Get a stopwatch and ask your daughter how fast she can get in her carseat!  Then the next time, remind her of her 'score' and see if she can beat it!  Time yourself getting into the car and see if she can do it faster than you. When you get home and have time, let her use the stopwatch to time how long it takes that ant to crawl over that rock!  Or how long it takes her to read 3 books. Not everything has to be a race.

Remember, don't encourage her to move at a speed that is dangerous, just a little quicker. You want her in the car and not smacked into it because she ran so fast she couldn't stop! And you want her safely buckled, not racing so fast she doesn't get latched properly!  Time her going up stairs or uphill but not down! One is a game, the other is an emergency room co-pay!

Best of all, remember to try not to get too frustrated.  If you are really stressed out, use that timer to make yourself count to 10!  :)  My ADD kid was a handful, but is now the most creative person I know! He's outgrown much of his dilly dallying and now I can see how what used to be aggravating 'attention problems' has grown into a unique view of the world and a fantastic eye for art and design!  He sees light and dark, and motion and form in a way that I simply cannot!  When he talks to me about a picture he's drawing, he points out shading and colors that I didn't notice. I mean, I see them, but not the way he does. The other day he went on for probably 30 minutes in the car about the color saturation and shape of clouds. I had noticed the clouds. I thought they were pretty that day, quite fluffy and poofy.  I don't think I could think up 3 minutes of monologue describing them other than that, he had 30! 30 minutes, non stop, in classic ADD fashion, but the way he was describing the sky made me glad he was the kid that couldn't help but stop and stare at an interesting rock :) I saw a rock. I wonder what he saw?

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