Want better conversations with your child or teen with ADHD? Use the WAIT-Now Method

Do you ever say something to your son or daughter with ADHD and wish you could take it back? Most parents feel this way at one time or another. Sometimes, especially when raising teens, I’ve imagined a cartoon bubble of my words and wish I could suck them back into my mouth just a few seconds after it’s already too late. That’s why I created the WAIT-Now Method to help take that needed pause when you’re triggered.  Instead of blowing your cool and regretting it later, you’ll say something appropriate and feel good about yourself too.

The WAIT-Now Method stands for “Why Am I Talking Now?” Rather than give into your automatic response in a tense or uncomfortable situation with your kids, you PAUSE by actively telling yourself to WAIT.  This is part of the STOP in my STOP, THINK, ACT technique but it’s geared directly to what you say. Notice what you are saying to your child or teen, how are they responding and where the conversation is headed. If it’s going downhill, pause your talking and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What am I saying? Ask yourself if you are actually communicating what you want to be. If you are, great–keep going. If you aren’t, then stop. Take a few deep breaths and pause. Reflect on what you really want to saying, edit your words and try again.
  2. How are my words being received? Notice how your son or daughter is responding. Their body language and their comments are giving you valuable information about the effectiveness of your words and whether or not you need to change direction.
  3. Why am I invested in saying these things? Identify your goals in this conversation. Are you engaged in clarifying a direction, are you giving them helpful feedback, are you trying to keep them safe? Why you are talking to them directly affects how you talk to them.
  4. Could I listen more and talk less? Sometimes we fill in uncomfortable gaps or anxious moments with words. Open spaces in conversations with kids give them time to reflect on what you’re telling them and think about what they want to say in return.

This takes time to learn and practice makes progress. Be kind to yourself when you see that cartoon bubble, regroup and try again next time. To give yourself a useful reminder, write WAIT NOW on a post-it and put it on your refrigerator!