Dial Up The Mature-O-Meter

The Healthy Family Connections Podcast

Episode 110 · Duration: 00:9:51

Dial Up The Mature-O-Meter

Dial Up The Mature-O-Meter

What do you do when your teenager believes that you want to control him and enjoy taking things away from him? 

And if you have a question you’d like me to address on this podcast, don’t be shy, we’ll all benefit from your question so come on over to my website, neildbrown.com and enter it there today.

 And if during this month of June, your question is selected, or you leave a review of HFC on iTunes, we’ll send you a free copy of my book, Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle. Of course, be sure to email me your address so we can get that to you.

Today we’re hearing from Joanne from Phoenix AZ.

Joanne writes:

My ADHD 14 year old son is wearing me out.  During the school year he is almost impossible to keep on task, particularly with his homework.  Nowadays, homework is done on a tablet so if he is doing homework or watching YouTube videos is impossible to stay on top of.

Privileges such as having money and permission to go for pizza with his friends, Xbox are always being revoked.  Then he gets upset and we point out he did it to himself and he just can’t get off of the idea that we’re controlling him and just like taking things away.

Now that summer is here, he doesn’t have homework, but we can fight about screen time, basic hygiene including brushing teeth, nutrition, cleaning his room, etc.  Taking privileges away isn’t working.  I know we’re in a control battle, but what can I do?  I can’t change how he thinks about us!

Thanks, Joanne

Introducing the Mature-O-Meter

ADHD kids can mature more slowly and build their executive function skills more slowly.  And a control battle will only delay his maturing.  When kids are in control battles, they work on their fighting and resistance rather than managing responsibilities and growing up.  I want to offer you a tool that can promote the concept of your teenager being in control and not a victim of their parent’s control.  I call it the Mature-O-Meter and Joanne, I’ll introduce it to you by role-playing you talking with your son. I’ll call him Bo.

First of all, do immediate short-term things to build a positive relationship with your son.  For instance, make pizza together maybe have a friend of his over to enjoy it.  Or go to the skate park with him and video him skating.  In other words, do some things that clearly says, "I enjoy you and support you." 

Then when you’ve got some good energy going together, you can talk with him ideally while he’s enjoying some food that he likes so he’ll stay put.

Mom- Bo why is it important for children and teenagers to have parents?

Bo- To make us do stuff and buy us things.

Mom- That’s not exactly right.  It’s to help you learn and grow so that you will eventually be able to make yourself do stuff and buy yourself things.

Bo- I could do that now, I just don’t want to. 

Mom- And that’s the point. To be able to function well as an adult, you need to be able to manage responsibilities, frustration, disappointment, whether you want to or not.  It’s our job to help you get those skills, and it’s the kid’s job to learn them. Then we would control and place structure less and less and you would use self-control and responsibility on your own, more and more.

To be able to function well as an adult, you need to be able to manage responsibilities, frustration, disappointment, whether you want to or not. It’s our job to help you get those skills, and it’s the kid’s job to learn them.Click To Tweet

Bo- I don’t think I’m ever going to want to do homework. 

Mom- That could change.  You could want to do it because you want to have it out of the way and not worry about it.  You could want to do it because you want or need a good grade.  You could want to do it because you’re interested in the subject.  You could want to do it because you have pride in your work.  If you put your mind to learning how to take care of responsibilities, you’ll get better and better at it and like it more and more.  But you have to change your attitude first.

Bo- I don’t believe it.  Even if I had a good attitude and could do it on my own, you and Dad would still want me to do it your way.  How would you know I’m ready?

Mom- You are actually letting us know how much structure you need all the time. Parents are very tuned into their kids and based on how their child or teen acts it makes parents confident and comfortable with how they’re doing, or worried or uncomfortable about how they’re doing.  You can imagine a round meter in the middle of our foreheads; as our view of your maturity goes up, the dial moves clockwise to the right and as our view of your maturity level goes down, the dial moves counterclockwise to the left.  As you turn the dial to the left, we view your ability to manage responsibilities and privileges as low. 

When you fight and argue to get a privilege, ironically the dial turns down and you are seen as less mature and less ready for privileges.  When you accept a limit and work with us on it, the dial moves clockwise and privileges are more likely to be granted.  It’s hard enough for Dad and I to run our lives and we don’t want to be in charge of yours.  But for now, you’re 14 and we love you and want to support you in growing your maturity over the next few years.  As you get better at self-management, parental-management goes down.  So you keep working at dialing up the mature-o-meter, and we’ll keep working at supporting your independence and the privileges that come with it. 

How To Use the Mature-O-Meter to Prevent Control Battles 

Having had that conversation Joanne, now you can simply refer to the Mature-O-Meter.  When he’s putting all his effort into resistance and fighting, put your finger up in front of your forehead and point it to his left, and say, notice which way you’re dialing the Mature-O-Meter.

I hope this helps Joanne.  Middle school and early high school can be tough with ADHD kids.  Stay positive, help them and you find victories, keep your sense of humor, and don’t get caught up in control battles.  The Mature-O-Meter can be a tool you use to keep them knowing they’re making their own choices.  I like it because it’s a fun silly way of getting across an important concept.

The Mature-O-Meter concept while fun and silly, explains a critical concept and it empowers kids to learn, move forward, earn privileges and end control battles and that’s a lot of good stuff.Click To Tweet Give it a try and let me know how it works out.

If now through this month of June you leave a review of HFC on iTunes or your question is selected for our podcast, we’ll send you a free copy of my book, Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle.  Be sure to email me your name and address so we can get that to you. 

And I really mean it when I say, please, take care of yourselves; you need it, you deserve it, you’re worth it.  Bye for now.

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