On ADHD: Parent to Parent – Honor your child’s individuality while seeking solutions to challenges you face every day.
ADHD is a complex disorder that affects both individuals and their families greatly. There’s so much to know about ADHD that you might wonder just what it is that your child really needs from you. While there’s no one right way to deal with the problems you may face, you may find ideas that will work for you from other parents who have faced similar situations. These three articles offer down-to-earth and practical approaches that honor your child’s individuality while acknowledging the very real challenges in your family life.
One treasure offers 85 – Yes, ‘85 Important Facts about Raising a Child with ADHD.’ And you’re likely to use every one of them. Why? Because:
“…You will need help Face it: Everything is easier when there are people to help you.
Yes, you will be judged – This is why it’s important to surround yourself with people who understand you and who accept your child as he is.
Several ADHD kids have other problems – Whether we’re talking about learning issues, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, or problems in the autism spectrum, all these things can be tagged to an ADHD diagnostic.”
A healthy life hygiene is of utmost importance
Chips + chocolate at 10PM = catastrophe.
Lower your expectations It won’t hurt as much. No one is perfect.
Yes, having a routine is very, very important If you never liked routine, you’ll learn to love it. Your sanity depends on it…”
By Eloïse Beaulé from “FamilleTDAH,” a French-Canadian blog that talks about the daily life of a family with three children affected with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Translated by Lauren Berkley
You think your kids don’t notice when you forget what they’re going through and lose your patience with them? ‘What my Son with ADHD would Like Grownups to Know’ records what Heather LeRoss finally understood what it meant to her son to have ADHD. He had more than a few things to say, but here’s a sample.
“I want people to know I feel like they don’t like how I am. I want Daddy to know I am not stupid and it hurts my feelings when he says, ‘Are you dumb?’ I want you to know I don’t like it when you yell.”
“I just want it to stop. The yelling, comparing me to other kids that are ‘normal.’ How people tense up sometimes when I just walk into the room. I want people to say I am nice and funny and good at drawing. And not follow it with, ‘If only he could focus like that in other areas.’ I just want to feel like it’s OK to be me.”
Dealing with ADHD isn’t easy. But others have gone before and are willing to share their experiences and expertise. You can survive the challenge, but don’t go it alone. If you can, join a support group. Make friends with fellow parents you meet at school or in the Doctor or therapist’s office. If these avenues aren’t possible, follow reputable websites, blogs, social media or join an on-line organization that will keep you informed and offer encouragement. Your goal is to let your child know that they are loved and that they are worthy – That it’s okay to just be themselves.
Yesterday, my husband, Duane, and I celebrated 29 years of marriage. I would like to say it was all blissful, but I’d be lying and I’m a terrible liar. (Not the anniversary! That was wonderful! I mean the 29 years of marriage!)
Until Duane received his diagnosis of ADHD in 1996, neither of us knew what the problem was. Duane and I struggled with dividing household chores (the struggle was not in dividing them, I did it all despite his best efforts and promises to do better), with our finances and the added pressures of Duane’s frequent job changes as he became bored with or lost his jobs. Under so much pressure, we fought… a lot. Duane’s impatience and emotional outbreaks affected our relationship and his relationship with our daughters. The entire family was dysfunctional.
After his diagnosis, Duane began his journey toward embracing the positive and overcoming the negative aspects of his ADHD. Duane and my youngest daughter, as is quite common, received their ADHD diagnosis around the same time – Kyrie was diagnosed first and as we read about her situation, light bulbs went on about Duane’s struggles. And while only Duane and my youngest were diagnosed, I think of us as a family with ADHD. We could only solve this problem working together, and so this was as much my journey as theirs.
Today, as an ADHD coach, when I work with an adult ADHDer, some of our biggest challenges are with the spouse. And I get it. Been there, done that! Being a member of a family with ADHD can be exhausting, nerve-wracking and absolutely frustrating. And I think what I found most frustrating is that I thought I had no control over anything. Once I learned that there were some things I could do to make life with ADHD better for all of us, the building process began and the frustration diminished.
Here’s what I did to fix Duane:
First, I changed my mindset. I realized that I wasn’t the only one suffering in the family. I know Duane had it worse than me – he was living it 24/7. He wanted to be a better partner and a more patient father. Our daughters suffered too. They saw their parents constantly worried, fighting or impatient. Kyrie struggled with her ADHD and learning disabilities, and our oldest daughter, Jennifer, felt neglected as all our efforts were directed at helping Kyrie and Duane. Duane wasn’t the only one who had some work to do, I did too. As parents, we feel for our children and would do anything to make their hurt stop, after all they didn’t ask for this. Oddly enough, we don’t always feel the same empathy towards our spouses with ADHD (even though they didn’t ask for it either!) I let go of my martyrdom and embraced empowerment, realizing that at any given moment, people do the best they can with what they know at the time.
I learned all I could about ADHD. I didn’t just learn so I could help my daughter (which as a mother, I would do without question) but also for my husband. The more I knew, the more empowered I felt. I read books, listened to webinars and went to conferences on ADHD. Attending our first ADDA Conference as a couple was a life-changing event. We both learned so much, met other people coping successfully with what we were going through and left empowered.
I became part of the solution. Duane struggles with several aspects of ADHD, but the worst is his short-term memory, which IS an ADHD problem. So why was I asking him to do things or to pick things up at the store when he didn’t have a pen and paper or his PDA to take notes? I also often asked him to help when he was tired or distracted. How likely was that to turn into a positive situation? It was only when I was willing to let go of the way things were done and turn responsibility over to Duane that we began to make progress. He told me he’d take over certain tasks… if he could do it his way. He took over the grocery shopping. I offered my help if he needed it (secretly thinking we’d probably starve to death waiting for Duane!) To my surprise, he created his own system for doing it (don’t ever tell him I said this, but it’s much more efficient than the way I did it!) and we’ve never looked back.
I took care of myself. I lowered my standards on things that didn’t really matter much, especially in the beginning. So what if I didn’t clean the house EVERY week and cook ALL my meals from scratch? Instead of chasing dust bunnies, I spent time with friends to relax and return to my family a lot more ready to laugh as freak out at the wacky situations most ADHD families encounter regularly.
The most important thing I did was to notice any positive changes. As Duane began to work with his physician and his coach, I avoided nagging about what wasn’t yet addressed – change takes time – and made sure to notice what was moving in the right direction. And I was sure to let him know how much I appreciated it.
There are several other things we did to improve life as an ADHD family. We learned to communicate better how we felt rather than blaming, and we shared our dreams and aspirations. We started dating again; no, we didn’t have much money back then, but using Duane’s vivid imagination, we found fun things to do that cost little or no money. We didn’t get bogged down by social norms of gender roles and what constitutes woman’s work and man’s work, opting instead to take on the jobs around the house that we were better at or liked more.
We even created our own secret language to use discretely in public (I could provide Duane with cues to appropriate behavior in social situations, for example. And he could signal when he couldn’t take another minute of the 47 family members sharing a cabin in the woods for Christmas anymore and needed a break for some peace and quiet.)
And so now 29 years later, here we are still married, and much, much happier. We laugh a lot more and fight a lot less. I can safely say that Duane is my best friend and I, his. Was it easy? Absolutely not, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together and I know it was definitely worth it.
By Linda Walker. Linda Walker, PCC, B. Admin., is a certified ADHD Coach who helps adults with ADHD overcome the special challenges of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) they encounter at home and in the workplace. She is the creator of The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses, a training program for adults with ADHD and the author of With Time to Spare. http://www.CoachLindaWalker.com Originally Posted May 7, 2013 http://coachlindawalker.com/heres-how-i-fixed-my-adhd-husband/
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.
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™
“Image courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva.com
Effective time management skills are essential to all adults and children. From scheduling and managing after school activities, to homework, to chores… oh, and your life, too!! Day-to-day demands can become overwhelming and create an atmosphere of constant stress. Who doesn’t want a calmer more efficient morning, a less hectic afternoon, and a more peaceful bedtime? By managing your own time wisely and modeling that for your children, you and your family can experience a more orderly, less stressful day. By becoming proactive in how you approach time you can make a noticeable and systemic difference in the in your life and the lives of your family members.
Many of you already know the “How To’s” of Time Management, yet you still struggle today. The heart of the issue for many goes beyond practical advice. Once we run through some of the valuable systems for keeping track of our lives we can focus on the deeper issue of how we choose to spend our time.
Part 1 – Valuable Systems are the Keys to Good Time Management
In each aspect of Time Management discussed here, I encourage you to have a dual focus. One is on the content – the brass tacks of what needs to be done. The second is on the process. This has to do with HOW you choose to implement what needs to be done. The small picture vs. the big picture. Keep in mind that your goal in parenting is to develop children who are independent, confident and resilient. I encourage you to involve your child in the process of what you are doing as much as possible so that they may also begin to emulate the process you go through to decide how to manage time.
Experiment! There are new types of calendars created all the time. Check out iCal on the Mac. Google also makes a calendar that you can share (google.com/calendar)
Use different colors for different people.
Be sure there is ample room to write appointments
Block out realistic time frames directly on your calendar. Consider how long to get the children ready, driving time, waiting time, etc.
Perhaps circle total time needed for an event.
Consider writing yourself a note on a date sometime before any event that you need prep time for. This will to give you a heads up that the date is approaching. If you use a PDA or computer calendar you might set an alarm for some time in advance.
Here is where we begin our modeling for our children.
For Young Children
The purpose here is to help children understand the structure of a week and a month. Let them see how time flows and certain events repeat. Empower them to look forward to plans independently. You can have one calendar for each child, or one for the family to share.
You can make a calendar together with stickers, colors, etc. Dry erase boards with permanent marker for the days of the week work great.
Use different color markers for each child.
Stickers and/or different color markers give a visual view of their activities and family events.
For Older Children and Teens
Once a child is actively using an agenda book in school it’s a great tool to help them see school as part of their lives. Help them develop the skill of having a central area for their planning. This will give them a greater sense of control and independence as they grow.
Help them incorporate their weekly activities, doctors’ appointments, social plans, etc. right in their agenda book.
Remind them that they must consult with you before putting any plans in their agenda book to make sure there are no conflicts with you and so you can put the plans in your calendar as well.
Teens might enjoy using their computer or phone for their calendar. Encourage them to experiment in developing their own style of organizing and managing their time.
Get organized the night before
Review calendar for the next day to anticipate needs, activities
Look at the weather report and pick out clothes
Pack up backpack
Have cell phone by charger
Write any notes of last minute things for the morning (lunch from the fridge, etc.)
Straighten up room
We can all get lost in our work or play. Having an external reminder that it is time to transition can make it easier to relax and be fully engaged in the current task at hand. Timers are also a great device to help children concretize the passage of time.
Set the alarm on your computer to remind you of appointments.
Kitchen timers are great for helping children transition. Set the timer for the time remaining before dinner or homework time. Let the timer be the reminder – not you. Let them learn to set it as their own reminder when they take breaks for homework.
Purchase a watch with a built-in alarm.
Use your cell phone alarm. It can be set to any ringtone.
5. Staging Area
Here is a helpful tip I learned long ago. Never leave a room to put something elsewhere until you are sure that’s the only thing that needs to leave the room.
Have a spot in each bedroom and one or more in your kitchen for transitions. This is where you will place anything that needs to leave the room next time you exit.
Have your children pick a spot in their room to place their backpacks, school projects, items they need for afterschool activities, etc. Help them develop the habit of placing these items here at night before they go to bed. Having everything in one spot when it’s time to leave will make the morning less hectic for all.
6. To Do lists and reminder notes
For some, the To Do list can be an out of control random scattering of papers. For others it takes on a life of its own as reorganizing and rewriting it becomes a To Do item as well. Still others just avoid To Do lists altogether. Here are some ideas that might help you better manage the process of keeping things in order.
If you are someone who uses a computer regularly, consider using it to manage your To Do list. iCal on the Mac has spot for To Do’s with the ability to set alarms or emails as reminders for specific times. It also allows you to sort based on date or priority.
If not… Try to keep one main pad where you are the most – for many that is the kitchen. Have that pad look different than other pads in the house and save it only for YOUR To Do list.
Consider having a date or date range attached to any item that is not immediate. This will prevent it from blending in to an endless list of things to do.
If your list becomes overwhelming, consider a breakaway list of things to focus on JUST THIS WEEK. Then each week you can pull from your master list and not have all those other items starring you in the face.
Choose a regular time to review your list if it becomes lengthy. For many, nighttime is when the activity has settled and the mind is clear. This is often the perfect time to evaluate and perhaps rewrite your To Do list.
Keep a notepad by your bed to jot down things you need or hope to get done. This is NOT the To Do list – transfer these to your main list the next day. Give your children a special pad for their nightstand and teach them to jot down plans they hope to make or things the need to remember for school.
Place reminder notes in the SAME spot you have designated as your transition area for when you leave a room.
Remember, if you can develop the habit of having a few consistent spots you always look at you are less likely to forget important things. A little later in this article I will focus more on the deeper meaning of To Do lists…
The more activities you do that are predictable, the easier it is to remember and make sure they are done. Like traditions and rituals, routines have a way of calming and comforting, as they are a regular part of our lives.
Choose the same day each week for errands: groceries on Monday, dry cleaners on Wednesday, etc.
Request the same appointment day and time when setting up routine visits such as dental, medication check-ins, counseling, coaching.
For annual and bi-annual events such as physicals, changing Air Conditioner filters, changing smoke detector batteries, choose a month that generally works for you and write a To Do a few weeks prior in your Calendar for scheduling.
Set up a pattern for household chores for everyone. Alternate children’s chores based on the month they are born or something similar. Ex. The child born on odd number month takes out the trash and gets the front seat on odd months; the other child sets the table and feeds the dog.
Keep your grocery-shopping list in the same place all the time and encourage family members to write their requests on the list themselves.
For some people, especially those who spend a great deal of time on the computer, tending to emails can be both time consuming and distracting.
Turn off that “ping”. I learned this one from the late Randy Pausch. That “Ding” every time you receive a new email has the power to pull you away from other work you might be engaged in. By turning off the sound, you regain your control over when you choose to check your emails.
Remove yourself from emails as often as possible. At the bottom of marketing emails, there is usually an “unsubscribe” link. The moments it will take you to do this are nothing compared to the time you will spend deleting their emails each and every time – not to mention the one’s for the companies they sell your email address to.
New ideas are great, but too many of them at once can create chaos and take up much of your time. Try to implement new ideas one at a time. Be sure that the change is a good choice for you and your family. Just because a time management idea works for a friend or neighbor does not mean it will work for you. You may be wasting more time trying to fit yourself into a system that is not right for you!
Remember that each family member has a different learning style and different level of comprehension. What is right for you may not be right for everyone in your family. I love iCal and use it with my daughter. I “invite” her to her doctor appointments, etc. and she “invites” me to let me know about her work schedule. My son, however, hates to have to look at the calendar on the computer. He recognizes that being connected to it too often distracts him.
Learning to manage your time is a process. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. When starting a new plan, praise and encourage your children on all levels of success as they get used to the process. Try to involve your children in the in the decision-making process as much as possible. Solicit their assistance and input as you plan your new strategies.