Creating a Success Chart for Your Child with ADHD
A child with ADHD or other special needs may receive multiple negative messages about his or her behavior or even their personality during the course of a day. They may be reprimanded for being too loud, too energetic, or too impulsive. They may be given pejorative labels as well such as lazy, irresponsible, or even bad. It is no wonder that many children who have challenges are also at risk for developing self esteem issues.
One of the ways to help prevent your child from internalizing these negative messages is to balance them with positive ones. We aren’t talking about fake compliments here. We are talking about catching your child engaging in appropriate behavior or accomplishing a goal and providing descriptive praise. For example, if you child has completed their homework assignment you could say: “I really like the way you finished all your math problems without me having to tell you to start your homework.” Or if your child helps to clean up you could say, “I really appreciate your help cleaning off the table. Now we have more time to play a game together.”
In addition to verbal praise there are other ways to let your child know that he or she is doing a good job. One of these ways is to create what I call a “success chart.” And here is how to do it:
1. Take photos of your child engaged in good behavior or else working on or achieving a goal. For example you might take a picture of your child scoring a goal in soccer, working on an art project, or helping their sibling.
2. You can then tack these images onto a cork board in a place in your home which is visible to your child. Attach written messages to the photos such as “Great job on your art project” or “You are a good brother.”
3. If you don’t have room in your home for a bulletin board you can always make a scrapbook or even an on-line private blog for your child where you can describe their achievements and talents.
4. Encourage your child to participate in creating the success chart or scrapbook. Ask your child what they feel good about or proud of and include it in this visual representation.
5. You can also include any homework assignments or school papers with good grades, sports ribbons or awards, or positive notes from teachers.
We have implemented such a chart in our home for my son and it turned out to be not only helpful for my son but also for us as a family. Looking out for good behaviors and signs of progress reminds us to focus more upon the positive rather than dwell upon the negative stuff. Otherwise you might be unaware of your child’s improvements and strengths because you are not actively looking for them.
A visual chart of these successes reminds us to hang in there even on a bad day. Such a chart also communicates to your child that you are proud of him or her despite their challenges. Every child needs reminded that they are capable and have gifts and especially so for a child who may be told more often about their failures than their successes.
Now we would like to hear from you. What sorts of images would you include in such a success chart for your child? In what ways are you most proud of your child? Tell us your story. We would love to hear it.