My son is the most amazing person I know. He’s smart, kind and creative. He can spend hours drawing amazing comic books and often gets teary eyed at the end of sad movies. My favorite thing about my kiddo is he is always down for a hug or cuddle puddle. My dude has so many amazing qualities but also suffers from ADHD. Anyone with a child who struggles with ADHD can tell you some days are much harder than others.
It is common knowledge that ADHD causes issues with focusing (whether it’s hyper focusing on one thing or the inability to focus at all). A lesser known, yet common, struggle for ADHD kids (and sometimes kids without ADHD) is the ability to productively express how they are feeling. In my house, big feelings are often accompanied with loud harsh words or what we call “blowing our lid.” Our big feelings can reach a fast-boiling point and just explode words out of our mouth. These words are never thought through and can often be harsh and unkind. We know we don’t mean to say what we are saying in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately, out in the real world there are no take backs. Once those words leave our mouths, the consequences of what we say quickly follow.
As a parent who is constantly learning patience and understanding (and often failing), I have a simple yet effective tool to help my family practice productive communication. We call it our “reset button.” This simple technique has saved both my son and me from being our own worst enemies. It is simple; whenever a big feeling comes and unprocessed words come out of our mouth, the other person simply says “reset!” We take a breath, we process what we want to say, and then we talk productively. It’s not magic by any means, but it works for us almost every time.
Usually when I hit the reset button for my kid, I say something like “Hey dude, those are some big feelings you have and I hear what you are saying. Let’s reset so I can help you help you”. When my son hits the reset button for me it’s usually “MOM! RESET!” and I have to stop, gather up all my anxiety and anything else that may be affecting my mood, take that breath, then say what I need to say to my kid. It doesn’t stop him from getting consequences for his actions, but it does change how I communicate those consequences and helps him understand better why he is in trouble and what he can do different in the future.
In my short experience as a parent, I have learned kids are parrots disguised as little humans. Obviously not literal parrots but they copy everything they see. My goal with the “reset button” is to show my kid we are all people constantly trying to grow and better ourselves and the best way for that to happen is to look within. He sees that I too have to stop and think about what I want to say and how I want to say it. A little reset and a dash of empathy go a long way.