“My child is so immature.” I hear it a lot from parents in my Coaching Discovery Sessions. It often comes at the end of their list of reasons for coming to coaching. “He is unorganized, she misses or forgets assignments, he doesn’t complete tasks, and MY CHILD IS SO IMMATURE!
Well, yes. Your ADHD child IS immature. That is exactly what ADHD is: a delayed maturity of the brain’s infrastructure including the parts used for executive functions* like attention and self-control. If your child is one of the youngest in his grade, he may appear even more immature.
Here is the encouraging news.
Your child’s brain is developing normally. It’s just developing at a slower rate. Some researchers say this development gap can be as much as 25%. So, when you think you are working with a 10-year-old, that child could be operating at the emotional or executive functioning level of an 8-year-old.
Your child can still exhibit a high degree of intelligence. In fact, most kids with ADHD rank very high on IQ tests (when they can sit down and finished them, lol). Don’t confuse a child’s abilities to understand complex academic problems and use high-level vocabulary in conversations with her ability to accept “no” as your answer to “Can I have ice cream for dinner?”
What you can do?
Stop comparing your child to other children, especially to siblings. Figure out where your child is today and work from there. If it is a life process he hasn’t mastered, break it down and re-teach it to him. If it is an inappropriate behavior, talk to her calmly and show her what a proper response looks and sounds like.
Reframe your perspective. When you feel your child is acting immature ask yourself, “How would a child 2 years younger act in this situation?” I am not advocating letting your child act inappropriately, I am asking you to check the level of “appropriateness” at which you are expecting them to act.
Be patient. On some level, your child is aware of the development gap. They realize they are getting in trouble when other kids aren’t. They realize they can’t do things that other kids can. They also realize they don’t seem to have any control over this. Encourage your child. Let them know their time for learning these things is coming and, until then, you will be there to help them any way you can.
Let me know what you think about this in the comments below.
*Executive functions are those special processes needed to accomplish a task. They include response inhibition, working memory, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, planning/prioritization, organization, time management, goal-directed persistence, flexibility, and metacognition.
When do they “catch up” with peers the same age?
Excellent question Shari!. The typical human brain completes its development at about age 25. So, kids like me are likely to complete our development somewhere between 25 and 30. In fact, I think this is when I learned I had to wait my turn, lol. Remember, the gap can be up to 25% but not all are that delayed. The good news is if you continue nurturing and teaching your child, they can find ways to manage around this delay and still perform at a high level. (Where teaching = finding what works best for them, not just you telling them what works for you.) Thank you for your question. I hope to hear from you again sometime.
What sort of executive function delays can be worked on with which therapies in public school with an iep?