Tag Archives: Parenting

What to Do When the Medication Wears Off

“No matter how helpful medication can be, there are going to be times and situations where our kids need our guidance and support, something medication cannot provide.”By Parent coach Dianne Dempster

Statistics indicate that roughly two-thirds of all children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are taking some sort of medication. For some families, medication is a godsend: kids are better able to focus, to manage their emotions and moods, to stay on task. In fact, family life is so transformed that one of the most common challenges we hear from those parents is what to do when the medication isn’t working! This frequently comes up either at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day once the medication has worn off.

Pharmaceutical companies have tried to address this over the years, with long-acting medications, extended doses, and patches you can put on before your child wakes up in the morning.  For many of us, those solutions fall short. We want our kids to have some time during the day free from the common side effects of stimulant medication, like sleeplessness & reduced appetite. So what do you do when you can’t rely on medication?

Start by checking with your child’s prescribing medical practitioner.  Be sure that your child’s prescription is providing the right level of support. As kids grow and mature, their dosage may need to be adjusted. After that, there are three areas I’d recommend you focus some effort:

  1. Activate the brain: While stimulant medications can be very effective in helping the ADHD brain to focus, they aren’t the only solution. Many parents have found other solutions that are helpful, particularly in filling in the “gap” periods.
  2. Take care of yourself:  We often refer to mornings and afternoons as “the witching hours” because they tend to be more difficult times of day for parents. They are tough, not just because our kids’ medication is wearing off (or hasn’t started), but also because they are challenging times for us.  You may not be a morning person, or you may put in long hours and be tired and hungry at the end of a day.  What can you do?
  3. Plan ahead: Pay attention, or even keep a log, to determine when the problem times are for your child – and for you. Plan accordingly.
  • Exercise: Have your child go for a run or play for a while before starting homework. Take a break from homework every 20 minutes and do some jumping jacks or have a tickle fight. In the morning before school, take a walk to get the brain up and going quicker.
  • Nutrition: Making sure that the brain has enough water and nutrients as your child goes through the day. Have your kids eat protein at every meal, and put out healthy snacks to tie them over through homework until dinner.  Manage sugar ups & downs if your kid is sensitive, and explore other supplements that support brain health.
  • Sleep: Easy for me to say, but try to make sure your child has enough sleep each night.  That goes for you as well!
  • Other “brain” stuff: There is a lot of information out there about other brain supports, like meditation, brain training, and neuro-feedback. Be sure to do your research to find solutions that are safe and well-tested.  
  • Twelve-step programs have a tool to help you remember to:  H. A. L. T. Avoid intense parenting moments whenYOU are Hungry,  Angry, Lonely, or Tired. 
  • Know what your triggers are, take a time out when you get triggered or stressed out in helping your child, and try to make sure you are well-rested and well-fed.
  • It may make sense to work on a big project first thing on Saturday, when the brain is fresh (and the medication is active), rather than doing it after school.
  • Many teachers will be willing to give you a full week’s worth of assignments in advance, particularly if your child has a 504/IEP in place.
  • Get yourself ready before you wake your kids to make the mornings go a little smoother.
  • Divide chores into chunks and do a few at a time, rather than trying to fit the all into a Saturday.

The reality is that for many of us, medication can be a huge support, but it isn’t designed to be a panacea. Conscious parenting requires that we understand the limits and put supports in place, both for our kids and for ourselves. No matter how helpful medication can be, there are going to be times and situations where our kids need our guidance and support, something medication cannot provide.

 

One more thing. For those of you who cannot or choose not to medicate your child for ADHD, thanks for sticking with this article.  These ideas may be even more helpful for you. After all, you might consider the whole day “the witching hour!”

 

By Dianne Dempster – Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com and is reproduced with permission of ImpactADHD™– Source

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How is ADHD Treated? Psychotherapy and Parent Strategies

Psychotherapy

Different types of psychotherapy are used for ADHD. Behavioral therapy aims to help a child change his or her behavior. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working through emotionally difficult events. Behavioral therapy also teaches a child how to monitor his or her own behavior. Learning to give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking before acting, is another goal of behavioral therapy. Parents and teachers also can give positive or negative feedback for certain behaviors. In addition, clear rules, chore lists, and other structured routines can help a child control his or her behavior.

Therapists may teach children social skills, such as how to wait their turn, share toys, ask for help, or respond to teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and the tone of voice in others, and how to respond appropriately can also be part of social skills training.

How can parents help?

Children with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents and teachers to reach their full potential and to succeed in school. Before a child is diagnosed, frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within a family. Parents and children may need special help to overcome bad feelings. Mental health professionals can educate parents about ADHD and how it impacts a family. They also will help the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.

Parenting skills training helps parents learn how to use a system of rewards and consequences to change a child’s behavior. Parents are taught to give immediate and positive feedback for behaviors they want to encourage, and ignore or redirect behaviors they want to discourage. In some cases, the use of “time-outs” may be used when the child’s behavior gets out of control. In a time-out, the child is removed from the upsetting situation and sits alone for a short time to calm down.

Parents are also encouraged to share a pleasant or relaxing activity with the child, to notice and point out what the child does well, and to praise the child’s strengths and abilities. They may also learn to structure situations in more positive ways. For example, they may restrict the number of playmates to one or two, so that their child does not become overstimulated. Or, if the child has trouble completing tasks, parents can help their child divide large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Also, parents may benefit from learning stress-management techniques to increase their own ability to deal with frustration, so that they can respond calmly to their child’s behavior.

Sometimes, the whole family may need therapy. Therapists can help family members find better ways to handle disruptive behaviors and to encourage behavior changes. Finally, support groups help parents and families connect with others who have similar problems and concerns. Groups typically meet regularly to share frustrations and successes, to exchange information about recommended specialists and strategies, and to talk with experts.

Tips to Help Kids Stay Organized and Follow Directions

Schedule. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Keep the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen. Write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.

Organize everyday items. Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.

Use homework and notebook organizers. Use organizers for school material and supplies. Stress to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books.

Be clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.

Give praise or rewards when rules are followed. Children with ADHD often receive and expect criticism. Look for good behavior, and praise it.

 

 

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Four Things Every Successful Super-Mom (and Dad) Knows!

4 Things Every Successful Super-Mom

By Diane Dempster

About once a week my kids accuse me of being ADD. I’m not, actually, but they see the challenges I have managing the details of life, and it can look A LOT like the things I’m coaching them to manage.

Besides, it’s fun to razz Mom a little.

After listening to one of our guest experts recently, I’ve discovered the truth. I suffer from:

STRESSED OUT SUPERMOM SYNDROME! 

Being the grown-up in the family with the most executive function can be a challenge on the best of days. Add to that single parenting, menopause, full-time job (ok, more than full time), and mostly it can be exhausting. Personally, I have complete compassion for the other moms out there who add their own ADHD to the mix – hats off to you girls!

For the most part, I wear my elevated executive function status like a badge of honor. I’ve got it – all!

Seriously, there are days that I handle things seamlessly, bopping from here to there, with a smile on my face, and a task list in my hand.

But on other days, the balls are dropping so quickly that I can’t even remember the ones I’ve missed. I can hear myself muttering expletives, or worse yet, yelling them at my kids! The challenge comes when I realize that the ratio of “got it” days to “oh crap” days is not in my favor.

In reality, how we handle dropping balls is about biology. How well our brain operates under life’s stressors is directly correlated with our stress level and attitude. It’s not all that different from our kids and their ADD – a stressed out, overwhelmed brain simply can’t function at optimal capacity.

So what’s the solution? Something I call:

Simple Self Care for Super-Moms! 

Taking care of yourself isn’t all that hard, and doesn’t take that much time or investment. It can make a huge difference in terms of how you are able to manage your life, and the lives of your family.

Here are my four simple steps:

  • Manage Triggers Consciously – Know what sets you off – pushes your buttons – and find ways to sidestep them if you can. This requires letting go of some things, or delegating others (or getting some coaching around specific triggers, which, by the way, was my salvation!) Learn about the threat cycle and practice the steps religiously when you do get triggered.
  • Do for You – A wise woman once told me that if you want your family to give you what you need – tell them what you want – or better yet, give it to yourself! Simply spending 30 – 60 minutes each week doing something just for you can be sufficient fuel to balance the most challenging weeks.
  • Practice Radical Compassion –We work with parents every day around having compassion for our kids and their ADD. It’s equally important that we do the same thing for ourselves. If you are able to see that everyone has best intentions and does the best that they can in the moment, including you, then supporting yourself on the rough days becomes easier. Ultimately, it requires letting go of the “should,” not taking things personally, and seeing setbacks as opportunities to learn and adjust, rather than mistakes or “failures.”
  • Let Go of Resentment – This is often the hardest because it is so intertwined with the others. We get triggered by the idea that we “have” to do everything; we get resentful that we don’t have time for ourselves; and instead of having compassion for our family members and what they are capable of, we get frustrated that they aren’t doing more. All of these are completely normal and appropriate reactions.

AND your reaction is a big part of what is STRESSING YOU OUT!

Finding a way to be “ok” with the situation, even seeing how much it helps your kids that you are carrying a heavier load, can actually help decrease how much the situation stresses you out.  Being a super-mom isn’t a bad thing, and it isn’t necessarily a good thing either. Finding a way to support yourself in being the kind of mom you want to be is what is important. Spend some time looking at how you’re managing and supporting your own life, and take some simple steps forward. Ultimately, it will make thing better for the whole family.

 

By Diane Dempster. Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com and is reproduced with permission of ImpactADHD™

 

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Why I Choose to Medicate my ADHD Child

 " I know that he feels better about himself and his life when he feels more productive and connected, and when things are less of a struggle."By Parent coach Diane Dempster

The pros and cons of medicating ADHD kids is a hot topic that weighs heavy on the minds of our clients and other parents. It’s been on my mind, lately, too. Here’s my perspective and my story.

My story:

I generally take a holistic approach when it comes to my family’s health.  We prefer to eat organic whenever possible, and I tend to choose more holistic remedies for managing illness.

In third grade, when my son was first diagnosed with ADHD, I was adamant that I would not medicate him. Even though I had been working in healthcare for many years, the idea of putting an 8 year old on a maintenance medication seemed extreme. I was convinced I would find an alternative, something other than what I assumed was a “brain-numbing” medication that I was convinced would turn my fun-loving daydreamer of a kid into a zombie.

Our Pediatrician was a saint. She was eternally patient with me, wanting to support my wishes. When I asked, she held firm on her perspective that medications have been proven to help most kids. Unless ruled out for some other clinical reason, she considered medication to be “best practice” for ADHD treatment.

At some point in the process, after hours of research and hair pulling, something she said to me stuck hard. “It’s clear that you want to do all you can for your son to help him be more successful. What if medication could work for him, but you weren’t willing to try it? Yes, there are potentially side effects, but typically they are not significant. He can always stop taking it if it doesn’t work, or the side effects are a problem.”

As a coach, we encourage our parents to use their values as a barometer for decision-making. Looking back, the values that were most important in helping me make my decision were: dedication to family, being responsible, striving for excellence, and being well educated.

I knew that I could always have my son stop taking the medication; but, if he never tried it, I wouldn’t really know if it would help him or not. Bottom line: I was committed to doing whatever I could to help my son. For me, that meant letting him try the medication and see what happened.

We were fortunate. The process of finding a medication “fit” was easy for us. The first medication we tried worked quite well, and its effects appeared instantly. He was like a new kid, literally, in a matter of hours. His side effects were mild and manageable. After that first week, I never looked back. It was clear to me that I had done the right thing for my son.

My son is now a teenager. Sometimes we end up in conversations about whether or not he has to take his pills, particularly when he’s not in school. He knows that they help, but sometimes he thinks that he would be better off not taking them. Ultimately he doesn’t like to feel “different.” That’s a big deal for most teens. I have compassion for how he feels. I also hold fast to the house rule that he take his medication (most of the time).

Here’s why I choose to medicate my ADHD son:

  • For my son: He has a neurobiological disorder of the brain, and medication definitely helps his brain to focus and to work more efficiently. If he had diabetes, I would never question whether or not to put him on insulin if he was an appropriate candidate.
  • For me: To be honest, it makes my life easier when he takes his medication. Being a parent of a special needs kid is more than challenging. It’s often overwhelming and highly stressful. Having a child that is a little more focused and a little less emotional takes some pressure off. It helps to support me in staying out of crisis mode, and in being more of the parent I know I want to be. It also helps me feel like I’m doing all I can to help him be successful. Yes, we can debate what it means to be successful, but that is a whole other blog.
  • For the other people in his life: Like it or not, society rewards people for “fitting in.” If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of beating your own drum. I am also a realist. My parents always told me, “you attract more flies with honey.” I want my son to be attractive.

Ultimately everything comes back to my son. I know that he feels better about himself and his life when he feels more productive and connected, and when things are less of a struggle. He may not always remember this – after all, he is a kid with ADHD — so I get to be his mirror. When he is an adult, he’ll be able to make his own decisions. For now, while he is still under my direct care, I get the added bonus of knowing that I’ve made a powerful choice to support my ADHD kid!

 

Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com and is reproduced with permission of ImpactADHD™ Why I Choose to Medicate my Child by Diane Dempster

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Getting Rid of the Gremlins

Gremlin saphatthachat fdpParents,  Silence your inner critics by Dianne Dempster

Gremlins – we all have them. What are they and why do they make or lives so miserable?

No, I’m not talking about our kids (though I’m sure we all have choice names for them at times.) Gremlins are those voices in our head that tell us, in one way or another, that we aren’t good enough. Some people refer to them as the inner-critic, or negative self-talk. No matter what you call them, they are troublesome at best, and for many people down-right paralyzing!

We tend to take on so much, and play so many roles. It’s hard to be a successful parent, partner, employee, boss, and friend. It’s even harder to play those roles well with a little voice in our heads that notices everything that doesn’t go as planned and tells us that things probably won’t work out anyway.

So where do these voices come from, and how do we get rid of them? (Or, do we?)
Our gremlins (yes we typically have more than one!) usually come from some real or perceived threat we experienced in the past. Perhaps you wanted to be accepted to a group as a teen and found you had to behave in a certain way for inclusion. Or maybe you experienced a very embarrassing situation. Your gremlins are “trying to” protect you from future rejection and discomfort. The threat seems so real that the voices tend to over-generalize. They get involved in aspects of our lives where they aren’t needed.

So what can you do to keep gremlins from getting in the way?

1) Notice it:

Pay attention to situations when the voices show up. Is it with particular people? Are you trying something new? Is it when you are being particularly brave? What threat is the voice trying to protect you from? What message is it sending?

2) Name it:

Call it what it is. Say to yourself, “that’s my perfectionist gremlin” or “that’s the voice in my head that doesn’t want me to be embarrassed.” You might even choose to name it. (Mine is named “Roz,” and Elaine’s is named “Prudence.”)

3) Own it:

Acknowledge that sometimes there is real value in having an intuitive voice making sure that you are safe. You might even take a moment to be grateful.

4) Choose:

Figure out if the voice is helping or hurting the current situation. Make a choice as to whether or not to listen. We have all had friends and family give us unsolicited or unwelcome advice that we have chosen to ignore. If the gremlin’s words are NOT helpful, don’t heed them. If you need to shut them up, try telling them, “ Thanks so much for sharing, but I’ve got this one covered!” Note: this may not make them go away, but typically can give us enough room to move forward and begin to regain momentum.

You may want to teach some of this “gremlin-talk” to your kids, too. Gremlins start creeping in at pretty young ages. Your kids are starting to create defenses that are valuable but can get in the way of forward progress and success. Remember these voices are a normal part of being human, and can definitely be helpful avoiding real threats. It’s just a matter of being aware enough to know when to listen, and when to tell them to “mind their own business.”

Return to ADD freeSources – Getting Rid of the Gremlins

 

Dianne Dempster – Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com and is reproduced with permission of ImpactADHD™

  •  For more about “Taming your Gremlins,” see the book by Rick Carson or visit his website.

 

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Video Strategies for Children and Teens

Your “Presence” Parent Coaching Tip from Elaine Taylor-Klaus of ImpactADHD.com – Nothing matters more than honestly “being present” and interacting with your child with loving attention and conversation. (1 1/2 minutes)



ADHD Help: Adventure into the ADD Brain
– Overcoming chaos. Explains why ADHD kids have such a great need for order, routines and control over their environment. From Chaos to Calm (2 1/2 minutes)

Changing “Deviant” Behavior You’ve come a long way baby. Or have we? Video clip created from an “educational” film who’s purpose was to change the behavior of teenage girls who did not meet proper behavior standards of the day. Always running late, being messy or otherwise disorganized and interrupting others is seen as “deviant.” Uses shame as a motivating force for changing those “bad habits.” (2 minutes)

ADHD Help: Positive Discipline the Celebrate ADHD Way Follow through on your promises to withhold a treat for poor behavior! (1.25 minutes)

What Is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy? (PCIT) 1 ½ minute video on this effective style of Parent Training – From the Child Mind Institute. Parents and children together learn techniques to rein in behavior.

Therapy Series from ehow.com

How to Manage ADHD Behavior – 1 ½ minutes – Includes transcript
How to Help a Child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder – 1 ½ minutes- Includes transcript
Teaching Kids Anger Management – 2 minutes with transcript

The Focus Vlog: 5 Tips that Lead to Complete FOCUS and/or the Conquering of ADD/ ADHD (Series of Video Blogs – Student Videos run about 5 minutes each)

How to procrastinate like a Pro (2 minutes) Good for high school or college age

Kids in the House with Edward Hallowell, M.D. – Explaining ADHD to Kids is just one of forty-seven short videos with Hallowell, a specialist in ADHD and other learning differences. Deals with diagnosis, navigating medication and the power of connection. (Note: Must be a member of Kids in the House to access more than 1 video, but membership is free.)

ADHD section on Kids in the House Over 80 short videos from specialists on all aspects of ADHD in children. (As noted above, you must become a member to watch more than 1 – FREE)

Video Contest by Totally ADD – And the winner is….Donna Bland with her ADHD song,
“Get your Kid Diagnosed!”

The ADHD 'Get Your Kid Diagnosed' Song from ADHDAwarenessWeek on Vimeo.