For a child who’s diagnosed with ADHD-inattentive, school is all consuming for the entire family. Evening life in a typical school week is a series of doing exactly what needs to be done for tomorrow.
At times when the next test, regular homework and upcoming project comes close to overwhelming, it’s easy to overlook passing on certain life skills. In hindsight, I can say we did some things better than others, so I hope what we suffered through or merely survived can help you figure out what works at your house.
While household chores teach children a variety of life skills, I didn’t require chores for most of the school year due to the mad dash to get homework done. (I made this decision sometime during middle school years.)
For summer breaks, I would insist on their help with varying results. Since I was usually the one in charge of meals, I asked them to plan and prepare a meal. When one child was in charge of cooking, the other two would be in charge of cleaning the kitchen.
Their meal choices often depended heavily on convenience foods, but I decided dinner was dinner, and asking for healthier choices could escalate into a battle I didn’t want.
Now that two out of three children live in apartments at university, they actually ask for culinary advice and instruction. Despite their early cooking experiments with hot dogs and boxed macaroni and cheese, they prefer food closer to its original form today.
In response to their questions, I put together a few “go-to” recipes for them that they genuinely seem to appreciate. You might want to try How to Cook Everything, which teaches the basics about food, utensils, cooking, and so forth.
Boy Scouts for our son, Edison provided some good lessons in responsibility. One example is when each small group of 4 or 5 boys would plan their menus for a camping weekend, shop for what was needed and once on the trail, prepare and eat the food. At age 13, Edison’s menu for the weekend looked something like this: dry cereal, a few pieces of fruit, sandwiches and Cup O’ Noodles.
In other words – they leaned toward easy to prepare entrees that weren’t so filling once they were outdoors. The leaders, on the other hand, prepared their knapsacks well with meats and vegetables.
One new helper (a mom) felt pity for the boys who had consumed more than half of their food before they had reached the second day of the weekend. “Couldn’t we cut these steaks and share?”
One of the veteran leaders objected. “This is how they learn to prepare better the next time.”
Don’t think the leaders were cruel. They provided simpler fare (Beans? Rice?) to make sure the boys didn’t collapse from hunger, but rescuing them with a steak dinner teaches that someone else will bail you out if you don’t plan. That’s a dangerous value to reinforce.
The same philosophy carried over for packing as well. They had been given a list – and they knew what to pack. Should they choose not to pack what was called for, they suffered the consequences.
Letting a kid fail in small ways like these is a good lesson. After the camp-out, they come home to a dry bed and a good meal. Their discomfort is temporary – but hopefully sticks in their memory the next time they’re making preparations.
Sometimes a young adult with ADHD inattentive tendencies may not think through to the consequences of their decisions. Talking about or coaching them through certain ones can help them enormously.
We’re going to talk about some more life skills in an upcoming post. What are some of the things that you think are important? Share them below, or on our Facebook page.
Eventually, we’d like to compile a list. Hey – maybe that should be on the list: how to make a list. 🙂