Why People with ADHD Struggle in Relationships

For many, February is the month of love. We focus on the people we care about and find ways to express our feelings. Perhaps you are in a relationship as an adult with ADHD. Or you are in a relationship with someone who has ADHD. You may even be a parent trying to help your ADHD child with friendships. All of these situations can be very challenging.

Children with attention challenges generally struggle with keeping friends. They are not always able to pick up social cues that allow them to have successful friendships. For instance, your child with ADHD may say something to hurt another child’s feelings, but lacks the attention to see the sadness on the other child’s face. Therefore your child has no idea he has offended someone. No learning takes place and this behavior continues. Before you know it, your child is coming home complaining that he does not have any friends. And he has no idea why or how to fix it. He simply thinks everyone is against him.

Happy children sledding at winter time. Group of children spending a nice time in winter.

Play Attention, a cognitive feedback based program, has an activity that directly addresses teaching social skills[1]. Through a series of attention enhanced activities, a child or an adult can start simply by focusing on a blank card. Once the student is fully attentive, the card will be completely exposed. If the student loses attention, the card begins to disappear. Once the student is fully attentive, the expression on a person’s face is seen. The student must match the feeling associated with the expression. For example, the picture may be of a little girl smiling with three word choices: happy, sad, angry. The steps get incrementally more challenging and will eventually teach the student how to respond if a person has a certain expression on his/her face.

While simplistic at the onset, teaching social skills takes foundational practice. Teaching an ADHD child to slow down long enough to actually see the expression on another’s face is the start.

What happens to those of us who were not taught social skills as a child? Many struggle with relationships as an adult as a result. Whether you are the person with ADHD, or you’re in a relationship with someone with ADHD, you are bound to face many challenges.

Attitude Magazine recently ran an article, “10+ ADD Relationship Tools for Lasting Love[2],” which explores the tools needed to have a loving relationship with someone struggling with attention issues. In this article author, Jonathan Halverstadt, states that in the beginning there are “strong and wonderful feelings — but you need much more to make an ADD relationship[3] last.” Instead of falling into an “all you need is love” scenario, Halverstadt offers suggestions for your relationship “tool box.”

One of the first things that he explores is managing the symptoms. In the relationship, the ADHD person must take ownership of the symptoms and actively manage them. Many of the skills he talks about are addressed with the Play Attention[4] program.

If you are a parent, or an adult, or love someone who struggles with attention, I encourage you to attend an informational webinar[5]. The webinar is FREE and your questions and concerns about ADHD relationships will be addressed.

 

[1] http://www.playattention.com/social-skills/

[2] http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/7504.html

[3] http://www.additudemag.com/topic/adult-add-adhd/friends-relationships.html

[4] http://www.playattention.com/adults/

[5] http://www.playattention.com/speed-webinar/

What You Can Learn From a Marshmallow

What you can learn from a marshmallow.

– It will change your life!

It’s an age old dilemma; we stare at a plate of chocolate chip cookies after eating just one. We know well that’s all we should eat, but the impulse kicks in and we have another. And another.  Science tells us how this lack of control will affect us long-term, and it’s not just about your waistline.

Impulsive behaviors are often associated with children and adults with autism or ADHD. At times, they lack self-control. Impulsiveness is simply acting without forethought. There is no cause-and-effect rationale with impulsivity; in most instances, this population does not understand the consequences of their impulsive behaviors. The importance of developing self-control or self-regulation has been studied for more than 50 years.

In the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel from Stanford University did an experiment on delayed gratification – the ability to fend off the impulse to eat another cookie. In his study, the Marshmallow Experiment, Mischel offered preschool children one marshmallow that they could eat immediately. However, he also instructed them if they waited for a little while, he would give them a second marshmallow. This video shows the agony some of these preschoolers went through as they sat alone in a room when having to decide to eat the one marshmallow staring them in the face or wait to reap the rewards of a second marshmallow.

The children used different strategies; some imagined the marshmallow was only a cloud; others distracted themselves by covering their eyes or turning away. They delayed gratification for 15 minutes and earned their second marshmallow.

The preschoolers were followed for many years thereafter. Researchers found that those who were able delay gratification had far better long-term outcomes compared with peers who immediately devoured the marshmallow in less than a minute:

  • They were significantly less likely to have problems with behavior.
  • Far less likely to develop drug addiction.
  • Far less likely to develop obesity by the time they were in high school.
  • The gratification-delayers also scored an average of 210 points higher on the SAT.

While these outcomes are significant, delayed gratification, in essence, planning for longer-term goals also has practical value. We would like to teach our children to save money for college, save for a new car, or insurance for that car.

Socially, we also want them to make good decisions with careful consideration. This involves everything from what they eat, who they date, and what they try when alone with their friends.

So, it’s incredibly important to teach this skill for every child, but how can we help a child or adult with ADHD or autism learn how to delay gratification?

Modeling the behavior you desire from your child is an important first step. If you tend act impulsively around your child, they are likely to see that behavior as acceptable and not attempt to control it. If you practice a calmer, more planned approach to life, you’ll set a great example.

Because most impulsive people are not aware that they are doing anything wrong, the first step is to create awareness. Strategies can be implemented once awareness has been developed.

The behavior-shaping component in the Play Attention program brings concrete awareness to people who want to understand how to control these impulsive behaviors. We specialize in teaching this behavior and welcome you to attend a webinar to see how this clinically proven method works to teach self-regulation.

More (and somewhat comical) videos of the Marshmallow Experiment:

Mature Marshmallow Experiment

Your attention experts are at www.playattention.com. 800.788.6786.