Why won’t my child with ADHD learn from their mistakes?

You have a child living with ADHD who has difficulty learning from their mistakes, yes?

Does that same child struggle to learn from successes?
A child resistant to doing something they’ve done successfully in the past like it was the first time.

So what the heck is going on here, huh? It’s called the Zeigarnik Effect (Your guess is as good as mine on the pronunciation).

It refers to a phenomenon of human memory in which tasks considered completed are forgotten more easily. Whereas uncompleted tasks tend to stay in the mind and create tension.

I knew one young man who developed sleep problems and it turned out he was fixated on the sound of a dripping faucet. “It’s not supposed to do that,” and in his anxious mind the house wasn’t safe until everything was as it should be. They fixed the faucet.

It’s hard to learn from mistakes you can’t remember making isn’t it? In your child’s mind it’s done, over, they don’t want to talk about it. Their brain knows exactly what to do with that info – DUMP!

Same with successes. It was hard enough to do it this time and they hope they never have to do it again – DUMP!

Now to add insult to injury. Folks with ADHD frequently have a working memory problem. In that they have difficulty recalling what they already understand and know how to do. This includes info on what they don’t want to do again and what they want to duplicate.

In my case I have extremely poor working memory. I need help remembering what I know by being asked questions. The question is like executing a Google search in my brain. Very helpful.

A straight forward solution is in order here so here’s one to get you started – journaling. Keeping a log works too. A simple recording of completed tasks/accomplishments (wins) and unresolved issues (not yets).

If its in writing it’s easier to track and recall because it’s out of your brain which is unreliable.

When it comes to recording unresolved issues, we aren’t calling them “problems”, “bad things”, crises or anything of the sort.

Those are emotional projections upon the event 
that cloud judgment, 
trigger fight or flight 
and kick your resourcefulness square in the cajones.

Let’s work to neutralize the feelings of catastrophe by calling them “unresolved issues”.

With them listed you can plan their resolution one at a time.

Taking action to solve the problem does wonders for reducing anxiety. Give it a go.

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