One of the hardest things for most parents is following through with consequences. Parents have difficulty following through with consequences for several reasons. They forgot. They had no intention of ever following through (and the kid knows it). They choose a consequence that is unrealistic for them too do.
Jonathan Mendoza from Catholic Charities in Hawaii talking about the importance of Following Instructions and consequences for kids with ADHD. Children with ADHD struggle to connect their actions with positive or negative behavior, so parents need to focus on teaching cause and effect, and that’s done by rewarding good behavior or being consistent in following through with consequences.
When parents are consistent in rewarding behavior or following through with consequences, it helps a child connect their actions with the outcome. The behavior skill of Following Instructions is a great way to help a child learn how to connect their behavior to outcomes.
We recommend that when parents start teaching Following Instructions, they begin small. Give your child small tasks that they need to accomplish. If they finish the job, immediately give them a little reward. The reward can be things like words of praise, a hug or high five, a sticker, or a small piece of candy. If the child doesn’t follow the instruction, immediately give them a consequence. The consequence could be something like losing playtime or tablet time, earning an extra chore, or timeout. What rewards or consequences you give your child will be different as you know what will work best for your child and your situation.
When a child has mastered Following Instructions for little things, it is easier for them to do it with big things.
It can be hard to be consistent in giving consequences or rewards, but it will make such a difference in your family. When you are consistent your child views you as fair and someone they can trust.
To learn the behavior skills on Smarter Parenting visit: https://www.smarterparenting.com/lesson/
For more information about how Smarter Parenting uses the Teaching-Family Model, visit the episode podcast page on SmarterParenting.com https://www.smarterparenting.com/adhd-parenting-podcast/
If you are looking for specific help in knowing when to teach behavioral skills, sign up for a free 15-minute Parenting Coaching mini-session: https://club.smarterparenting.com/
This is episode 68. Let’s get started.
Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach For ADHD. Here to heal and elevate lives is your Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini.
Siope Kinikini: Hello. Hi. I hope everybody’s doing well. Super excited today. We are in Cincinnati at the Teaching-Family Conference. Right now I am with Jonathan Mendoza, who is with Catholic Charities. And he’s in the division with therapeutic foster care, so he works with children between the ages of three to 18, and from the lovely and wonderful state of Hawaii.
Jonathan Mendoza: Yay!
Siope Kinikini: Yay, Hawaii, right? Hawaii’s so great. Love Hawaii, and I hope someday to move there if I can ever afford it. We’re here to talk about the Teaching-Family Model and also about ADHD and how that goes. Can you tell us what you’ve done and how that worked out?
Jonathan Mendoza: Sure, absolutely. We have this little boy who’s with us. He is currently seven years old, but he was coming with us since he was four. And we worked with this sister along, for a couple of years, she stayed with us. But we provide respite for him and he does have ADHD. Unfortunately, he’s on a whole bunch of medication and it’s been switching back and forth. But the practical things that we do with him are really TFM (Teaching-Family Model), just trying to help him stay on task and follow an instruction. Those basic skills is the things that we’re trying to teach him.
Jonathan Mendoza: When he first came to us, he just didn’t want to be with us. He was adopted. He and his siblings are all adopted and I think there’s a lot of fetal alcohol syndrome or side effects from the parents that these children have suffered. But particularly with him, his speech is really difficult and his attention to. His ADHD is just super hyper. I mean, I take him to the store and I couldn’t get my shopping done because it was just not possible.
Jonathan Mendoza: He’d be pulling things off the shelf and it was just kind of challenging. So we’d have to give him some instructions and make a reward possible. If he could hold out for just 10 minutes in the store, he could get a little item. Which was still tough though. And we’d praise him throughout, but definitely giving him those instructions were key to really helping him to try and at least hold out for a while.
Siope Kinikini: That’s great. In working with him, you chose to do 10-minutes because I guess you were evaluating how he could do.
Jonathan Mendoza: Well, I said 10-minutes because the store, the length of the time I needed to just grab a few items, was approximately 10-minutes. But in our home, more like three minutes would be tops for him to do something in the early days. 30 seconds was long for him. So what we did was we got a little timer. You know those little timers you turn around, the sand goes down?
Siope Kinikini: Yeah.
Jonathan Mendoza: So they got three, two and one-minute kind. So we got the one-minute timer. We’d have him sit in the chair and he’d turn it around and as soon as that last grain of sand would touch, it was like, “All done.” We timed it with the one-minute timer and that was helpful to let him see that he’s in timeout. But later as he got older, we moved up to the three-minute timer. For a while it was hard. It was hard. But I think those timers, that’s tangible. He can feel, he could see it. He knew. Because if he had to look at the watch or the clock it would be distracting. Too many things. But that little timer, the sand timer, it was something that we found was working really well him. And it was for a different colors so it worked really nice.
Siope Kinikini: Man, that’s a great idea. I’m sure there are a lot of parents out there who are dealing with the inattentive child with ADHD, and then to come up with something colorful and playful that they can actually pay attention to, right? How did you guys decide on using a timer?
Jonathan Mendoza: Well saw them at a dollar store. She bought these packets of them and they were like one, three and five minutes, just different ones. So I was like, “This is perfect for him.” So we found that, and it was great colors, very colorful and bright. So we used it and now it’s something that we use in our home for particularly him. Right?
Siope Kinikini: Yeah, right.
Jonathan Mendoza: So it works well.
Siope Kinikini: That’s great. For the parents out there, what are some additional skills that you have used? Following Instructions definitely was, was an important one. Did you start off with big instructions or small instruction?
Jonathan Mendoza: No, for him it was small. We would have him come over and the first thing to do, because he wanted to get on the tablet, this four-year-old, and he could run a tablet. I’m telling you. So before we could even do that, he wanted internet and password and we’re like, “No, no, you need to do your chores first.” So we’d bring him outside and we’d get a little water pot to go water all the plants. And that was his chore, just go water all the plants. And we’d talk and check-in with him. And that would be the instruction. “Before you do your iPad, let’s go do your chore of watering the plants.”
Jonathan Mendoza: So he would like that. Then he’d get into the spray bottle. So then we spend like 10-minutes with him doing the chore. Then when he was done, “Okay, now you can go ahead and spend some time on the iPad.” So by him following through, and check back, he’s done, okay. So that was the small steps in Following Instructions. “Before you get to do that, I want you to do all the plants and then let us know when you’re done.” And then that’d be great Following Instructions.
Siope Kinikini: It’s almost like you were planning out what he could do in the time period without making him feel overwhelmed and.
Jonathan Mendoza: Oh, yeah. Something we know he would be able to complete and be successful in it, it’s not too long. And he enjoyed it. And next thing you know, he wants to play water. But no, we had to just, let’s just stick to the task and get the water done. Because once he got introduced to the spray bottle, he wanted to keep filling it up and spray more. I was like, “No, no, you’re done with your chore now.” So redirecting. But that one, he got it pretty good. He did well. Yeah, he thrived in that area.
Siope Kinikini: That’s wonderful. You know, that is a super helpful tip for parents, is that be sure that you’re giving them instructions that the kids can actually do.
Jonathan Mendoza: Absolutely. They have to be successful at it. Because if it’s too difficult, it’s just too much. Something that they can do in a short amount of time, especially for his young age, it was really helpful that he complete it.
Siope Kinikini: When do you know to move it to something more difficult? So let’s say that you give your child this task and they’re able to do it and they’re doing it for like three weeks or four weeks without a problem. Do you increase the difficulty or do you keep it the same?
Jonathan Mendoza: Well, we would try him out on other things or, like the Accepting No would be the next thing because he would want to water the plants. So we said, “No, that’s enough.” Then he’d get mad and or he’d just want to continue. So then, “Okay, right now you’re not Accepting a No Answer. You need to look at us and just say okay and not argue.” We’re still working on that. For him, his development is kind of challenged. But he definitely got that Following Instructions, kind of mastered. But again, it depends on what it’s for. If it’s something that he really wants, he just might not follow through with that skill. But there are times he uses the Accepting No steps too. He’ll look and he’ll say, “Okay” and “Good job.” But I think slowly with the basic skills, Accepting No and Following Instructions, he’s pretty much doing okay.
Siope Kinikini: It’s kind of this progression thing and really there’s always something to work on. So you work on following the instruction. You had mentioned in the store, helping him follow through with that. The timer, super helpful. And then you’re continually moving on to other things like language now.
Jonathan Mendoza: Right. On top of the ADHD, he’s on the autism spectrum too, so there’s a little more stuff that we’re trying to deal with with him too. But I think I found a lot what helps is wearing him down. We go in our yard and throw the ball and run and run and run and then calm him down a little bit so we can kind of talk a little bit more. Otherwise, he’s got too much energy.
Siope Kinikini: That’s been a common theme that we’ve heard with ADHD, is to be sure that kids are active. And they have routines, but there is set time for them to run around and experience the world outside of technology in a way so they can get some of that energy out. So that’s great advice.
Jonathan Mendoza: Yeah. One other thing too, we found that was helpful. We limit the time on that tablet. And then, when he first came to the house, we had LEGOs, cards. He didn’t want to play any of that. He just wanted the electronic tablet. So we said, “Well, you already spent some time there, let’s,” So I would have to start the LEGOs. And then once he got into it, we noticed a few weeks later when he came, he started initiating it himself. And that was really good because before that it was always electronic. He wanted to do something on YouTube. Look up something on the tablet or have a password or do the game with the Wii. So we were trying to get him to use his hand-eye coordination with building stuff and maybe shuffling a deck of cards, and just things that we’re working on besides electronics.
Siope Kinikini: I think that that’s an important thing for parents to realize because sometimes the electronics teach us to be inattentive because the way that they’re made is actually to make a scroll or move or whatever, where the real world doesn’t function like that. You know?
Jonathan Mendoza: True, true.
Siope Kinikini: I mean, the real world requires patience and time and focus and technology is kind of the flip of that. It’s like, what’s the shiny thing?
Jonathan Mendoza: Right. So there’s got to be some balance.
Siope Kinikini: There’s got to be some balance in there. Absolutely got to be some balance. That’s wonderful. What would you say to parents who are in the store, for example, with their child, and they’re super frustrated? Because it sounds like you were there. You were.
Jonathan Mendoza: Oh yeah, it still happens. This past week, I can remember. So what he does is, I say. Because he’s kind of big now. He’s seven. So I said, “I think I need to put you in the wagon.” He goes, “No, I’m a big boy. I don’t need to go sit in there.” I was like, “Okay, so you need to just help me with my list, and then later on you can get your final item.” But during that he’s still kind of looking at things, distracted, and he wants to ride on the side of the wagon, underneath the wagon, climb and everything. He wants to push it. So we got to let them have their feelings. They’re going to be themselves. But I think it just takes a lot of patience and redirecting.
Jonathan Mendoza: And I think as adults, I found that, “Okay, I need to have a certain goal. It’s not the time to browse every aisle and look for shopping. I need to just get what I need to get and get out of there and make sure I reward him for whatever it was.” So I would definitely have a goal and try to see if you can give him an instruction. And if he follows through, reward it before you leave the store. And if it’s not happening, maybe leave the store and say, “You know what? We’re going to go.” And then he’s like, “No, one more chance. One more chance.” So sometimes you got to call them on their bluff and say, “Okay, I’ll give you one more chance. But once we leave the store, you leave the wagon, leave the store, get in the car and you go home.”
Jonathan Mendoza: And that’s a teaching opportunity right there. And when you show him you mean business, “Hey, you know what? We were at the store, so maybe tomorrow or the next time we can try again. But you need to listen on the first time.” So maybe make it a teaching experience to where you know. Just plan to not get your groceries and call your wife and say, “Hey, it didn’t work, so you got to go get it because I’m heading home already. He’s in timeout with his his little timer,” or whatever. So I think just trying to make it a teaching opportunity.
Siope Kinikini: Yeah. It’s almost as if sometimes the tasks that we want to get done in our lives are more.
Jonathan Mendoza: It needs to wait.
Siope Kinikini: Yeah. I know for me, I’m like, “Oh, I need to do this or this and this and this.” And we forget that they are teaching opportunities that if we hold our ground, then children will learn.
Jonathan Mendoza: Well, one thing that is a reward for him is when he comes to my house, we have a big yard, an acre. So I have a ride-on lawnmower and he loves that. So as soon as he goes, “Lawnmower, lawnmower.” I go, “Yes, we’re going to do the lawnmower, but as soon as he doe isn’t listen, “Okay, no lawnmower.” And even though this is the day I was supposed to lawnmower. It’s sunny and my time. I have to say, “You know what, boy? I told you not to start it. And you came on and you ran and you jumped in. You started it without … So you know what? Today, no lawnmower.” And he’s so sad. He says, “One more chance?” Sorry. Sorry. I was like, “I wanted to lawnmower the yard with you, but because you did not listen and you started it. Why is it not good to start?” “Dangerous.” “Right. So no lawnmower today. Say, ‘Bye, lawnmower.'”
Jonathan Mendoza: And we’d walk away and I’d be like, “Oh, I wanted to do my chore.” But again, it’s a teaching opportunity, and if we don’t use these opportunities to really teach them and show them our rationale and then follow through, they’re not going to learn. So the very next day he ran to the lawnmower. He didn’t start it. He was like, “I’m waiting. I’m waiting.” So he knew. But it was a little rainy, but, oh, wow.
Siope Kinikini: Oh, wow.
Jonathan Mendoza: I could lawnmower in the rain. And he learned a lesson. This time, he didn’t turn the key without me.
Siope Kinikini: Yeah. What I love about that is that every opportunity is a teaching opportunity. I mean, even in a negative way. And sometimes it will be uncomfortable for your schedule and what you want to do, but that’s a teaching opportunity for your kid.
Jonathan Mendoza: Make the most of it.
Siope Kinikini: You got to make the most of it.
Jonathan Mendoza: That’s the best time to find those rationales. Right?
Siope Kinikini: Right.
Jonathan Mendoza: “Does that make sense?” “Yes.” “Okay. We can go do the lawnmower now.”
Siope Kinikini: Right, right. Oh, that’s fantastic. I love that. I love that. There are a lot of parents that struggle with these feelings of frustration. It’s funny because I had seen a meme with two cats and one of the cats. The top is this cat that’s laying on the beach and really comfortable, getting a suntan, and it says, “Most parents at the beach.” And then below that is this cat. And the cat is like. The eyes are super huge and he’s freaking out. And then the caption under that is, “Me watching my ADHD child at the beach.”
Jonathan Mendoza: Exactly, right?
Siope Kinikini: You know what I mean? Other people are super calm, but you’re like.
Jonathan Mendoza: You’re like on edge.
Siope Kinikini: You’re on edge the whole time.
Jonathan Mendoza: You got to be right there.
Siope Kinikini: You got to be right there. Do you have any words of wisdom to. What words of encouragement can you give to parents who are like the second cat or like, “We’re going in public now. I just don’t. Ah!”
Jonathan Mendoza: Challenging times will arise and it will pass. And that was a thing that was said this morning. It will pass. We’re the adults. What can we teach? What can we learn? How can we make the most of these opportunities? And if it’s very, very difficult then maybe we just need to step back, take a break and make sure we refresh ourselves so we can take it to the next moment.
Siope Kinikini: Yeah. That’s fantastic. Great advice from the beautiful state of Hawaii.
Jonathan Mendoza: Yeah. You got to come to Hawaii and enjoy the sunshine.
Siope Kinikini: I know, right?
Jonathan Mendoza: Get in the ocean. It’s healing.
Siope Kinikini: I want to ride your lawnmower. That’s what I want to do.
Jonathan Mendoza: Yeah, you come over and do my lawn.
Siope Kinikini: I will do it.
Jonathan Mendoza: As long as you don’t start it before I get there.
Siope Kinikini: Exactly, right.
Jonathan Mendoza: All right. There you go.
Siope Kinikini: I’ll have a consequence. Anyways, we want to thank Jonathan for being here with us and please share this podcast with family and friends and also leave us a rating if you’re listening on any of the podcast platforms that we are available on. And we will see you again next week. You can find your transcript of this though, on the Smarter Parenting websites. So I will talk to you later. Thanks, Jonathan.
Jonathan Mendoza: All right. You’re welcome. Aloha.
Siope Kinikini: Aloha.
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