Monday, March 10, 2014

Paying Attention to Our Kids

by Terry M. Dickson

Several weeks ago I watched a high school basketball game. When we got home from the game, my daughter, who is one of the cheerleaders, told me: “You didn’t seem to be watching us when did our cheers. You weren’t even watching me!”

The truth is that I was more interested in watching the game. I wanted our team to score more baskets than their opponent. I knew that this game really mattered; it would determine who goes to the playoffs. To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about watching the cheers on the sidelines.

Do we pay attention to our kids when they need it the most? Are we able to drop everything from our minds and concentrate on our kids when they need our attention and support?

As a parent with ADHD, I know what it is like to either be so hyperfocused on one thing or so cluttered with many thoughts that I miss golden opportunities to connect with the very people I love. Sometimes those opportunities are here and gone before we know it.

Here are ways you can pay more attention to your child(ren):

1. Do not multitask when spending time with your children. Put down everything else and focus completely on them.

2. Always keep your promises. If you tell them that you are going to spend a certain time with them, always follow through.

3. “Catch” your child doing something good and praise him or her for it.

4. Always make direct eye contact with your children so that they know they have your full attention.

5. Show your children that you are interested in learning more about their interests, even if it means listening to things that may not interest you.

6. Spend one-on-one time with each of your children every week.

7. Integrate time together with your child into your daily schedule. Allow the child to help you with certain tasks, such as shopping or putting stamps on envelopes.

8. Drop a note of praise for your child in his or her lunchbox.

9. Communicate how much you value your child and provide words of encouragement.

10. Talk about a topic of interest to both of you and the child’s feelings about it. When you provide an atmosphere of love and trust, he or she learns good communication skills.

Enjoy spending time with your kids!


Terry M. Dickson, MD, ACG, CPCC, is the founder and director of The Behavioral Medicine Clinic of NW Michigan that has served and supported children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD for over eleven years. He has been a principal study investigator for several clinical ADHD medication trials. A Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, he is a graduate of the ADD Coach Academy and the Coaches Training Institute. Diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, Dr. Dickson speaks regularly on ADHD and has been interviewed locally and nationally on radio, television, and CHADD’s Ask the Expert online. Dr. Dickson and his wife of 32 years have two teenage children, both of whom have ADHD.