What do you think of when I say “instant gratification”?
Winning a board game?
Well, instant gratification is indeed all that, and more. People with ADD have slightly less of a problem with it than those with ADHD. ADHDers thrive on it, and they have a real battle processing the concept of delayed gratification.
Blah blah blah fishpaste.
If you parent an ADHDer, or teach them, you’ve heard that before.
So why is instant gratification, or the inability to wait, a problem?
Well, for one thing, an ADHDer can very seldom see the point of studying. All that time spent poring over books and tests and attending lectures. For what?! A piece of paper!??! An “A” on a test?! The only person who gets excited about that is mom or dad!
School is boring! Studying is boring. Doing well at school takes a lot of work for long term rewards. It means homework and revision for tests and spending time doing something other than playing PS2 or a sport they love.
PS2 and computer games, by the way, are a form of instant gratification for ADHDers. It’s a couple of hours play for a win or a loss- an instant result. You want to know why they can focus on their computer games for hours when they can’t revise for exams- instant gratification is why.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to motivate someone like that to do well at school!??!?!
An ADHDer is unable to inhibit or delay their response to stimuli. They battle to temper their reactions, so if they think something is funny they will laugh- out loud and loudly! That’s not necessarily a problem per se, but when a family is out in public, a child screaming with laughter can make people stare. Their behaviour is deemed inappropriate and they don’t learn how to adapt their behaviour in different situations- their reactions will be the same no matter where they are or who they are with.
In terms of instant gratification- “It’s funny so I laugh. It’s annoying so I shout.” Partly due to this, they come across as overly emotional or over sensitive.
How does this problem affect the way you parent?
Well, have you ever tried to ground your ADHDer for something he or she did wrong? Have you perhaps taken away a favourite toy, PC game or CD for a prolonged period of time? How effective was it? How long did it take for your ADHDer to clean forget they ever owned that particular toy/ CD/ PC game? How long were they grounded before they found something interesting to do?
Not very effective was it.
Why? Because for an ADHDer, it’s long term. Punishments for ADHDers needs to be quick and effective. It needs to be “instant” or they will have forgotten why they are being punished.
Here’s an example: You find your ADHDer has taken money out of your wallet. Instead of deducting it off his pocket money when he gets some again- by which time he will have forgotten what he did- go to a pawn shop together the next day, after he has selected one of his own DVDs or CDs, and exchange them for cash which makes up for what he took from you.
The punishment is almost instant and your child will remember why he’s being punished.
It’s more than a little daunting don’t you think?
Try to keep issues like this in mind before you judge someone whose child seems to be behaving like a lunatic in a shopping mall or a restaurant.
Bear in mind that there may be other issues affecting the way a woman handles a child who throws a temper tantrum in a Hypermarket aisle.
And please, if you have an ADHDer in your family with whom you will be spending time over the festive season, try not to point fingers too harshly when they seem to over react to what appears to be a harmless situation.