Recently I was asked by a friend to participate in a Whatsapp support group for mothers of children with ADHD. The group is a safe space for Moms to be vulnerable, share, and give and receive support, resources, validation, and love. I wear two hats in this group both as an experienced mother and as an ADHD professional. I am honored to participate in this group because what I am gaining from being part of this group of inspiring mothers is a lot more than I can possibly give in return. One exercise we do is to share an experience or quality about our child for which we are grateful, at the start and end of each day. Here are a few examples:
“I’m grateful that my daughter slept through the night or at least didn’t knock on the door.”
“I am grateful that my son used words to express his anger at his sister.”
“ I am grateful for the warm good night hug and kiss my son gave me last night”
“ I am grateful that my daughter woke up and took a shower right away without being asked.”
If you are a parent, of a neurotypical (a child without ADHD brain-wiring) perhaps these statements may seem unremarkable.
However, the power of this exercise lies in becoming aware, noticing, and acknowledging for ourselves and our child all the good that our children are already doing, however small.
As my favorite instructor, David Giwerc, the founder of the ADD Coaching Academy often says, “What we pay attention to grows.” If we focus on what’s wrong, we will notice more of it. Consequently, we as parents will grow more frustrated, angry, and even despair. Our children will inevitably absorb our negative energy. Our feelings of negativity translate to shame, embarrassment, rejection, and poor self-esteem for our child. Unfortunately, in such a dejected emotional state it becomes even more challenging for our child to behave in the way we desire, creating a vicious negative spiral. On the other hand, if we pause, pay attention, and acknowledge the positive that we see, we empower our children and ourselves. Fueled by our praise, our children repeat the positive behavior.
As parents, focusing on the good makes us more joyful and appreciative and transforms not only us as parents but also the atmosphere in our homes.
We have a choice. We have the power to find the good or to dwell on the bad. We have the ability to share with our kids what they are doing well and build their self-image and create a happier home. The choice is ours and the effects are profound. Choose wisely because what you pay attention to grows.
P.S. Try this powerful exercise for your other children, yourself, your spouse, or even your difficult coworker and watch as what you pay attention to grows!