Creating Conflict to Avoid Conflict…Compensation for ADD and ADHD

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol/
Image courtesy of Michal Marcol/

One of the most common themes from my clients is the idea of accepting responsibility for one’s actions. Having ADHD myself, I find this to be very difficult. This has nothing to do with being right or wrong; it more has to do with compensation. ADD/ADHD can manifest itself in a variety of ways. When we have a bad moment or struggle, the easiest way to deal with these situations is to change the channel. Turn the focus to something else besides the matter at hand.

A perfect example of this is when the parents of my teenage clients battle over homework. The teenagers will attempt to turn the argument into anything else instead of the topic at hand. I will hear things like my parents are driving me nuts all the time or the teacher didn’t tell me about the assignment. While I am not saying these may not be totally true, the bottom line is that the individual’s homework wasn’t completed. That has to be the focus.

In situations like these, especially when the young learner becomes belligerent towards his/her parents, I advise parents to make it about the matter at hand. It’s really easy to get engaged in one of these moments. I do understand that it’s not easy; we all go on the defensive. But the key is to rise above it and stay the course. When the ADD/ADHD individual gets off the topic, keep redirecting the conversation back to the original question. Let’s revisit the battle over homework completion. When confronted with this problem, the young learner starts screaming about not getting enough privacy to complete work. I advise the parents of this type of client to respond with…what does this have to do with you not completing your homework? Don’t escalate the situation, just stay on topic. Trust me, and many of you know this first hand, the client will try everything under the sun to make the argument about everything else; you just have to force the conversation to stay on topic. Once it becomes about something else, the ADD/ADHD individual identified an ineffective compensation strategy.

Most of the clients I see have moved way past this stage. The younger ADD/ADHD client continues to use this strategy to get out of things. For my adult clients, they continue to struggle in relationships and work. Fixing this process isn’t easy. But it can be done. It starts with seeking an effective professional intervention to refocus the conversation. What do I mean by this ?  Working with a qualified therapist or ADD/ADHD coach is a place to start. Keep in mind that working with a professional isn’t always easy; it requires commitment and the ability to hear things that may make you feel uncomfortable. The best professionals aren’t there to reinforce your incorrect actions; he or she will help you better understand how to improve your functioning. If this sounds like the right step, I would talk with different professionals and identify the right fit for your needs. It’s important that you feel totally comfortable with the person.

Please enjoy a video on this subject.


For more helpful tips an suggestions, please check out my ADHD Guru podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio. You can also find me on Twitter (@adhdguru) and Instagram (@adhdguru). Feel free to email me at [email protected] or call 877.398.ADHD (2343) with any additional questions.

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