2-Part Series: A Blueprint for Raising Kids with ADHD

Part Two

A child with ADHD receives two negative interactions per minute. 

Mind-boggling, right? As parents, we get so focused on wanting our kids to behave and correcting their daily wrong-doings that we don’t always think about the effect it has on our children. The negativity surrounding ADHD can be overwhelming. You try to do your best to be a good parent. But, parenting ADHD almost requires more than good, we have to be great. (No pressure, right?) Hey, I get it, Mom and Dad. You juggle a lot.

Like, a lot…a lot.

Then you collapse at the end of the day from the heavy emotions. Why does ADHD parenting require so much more? Because it isn’t just a focus thing, that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Our job as parents is more than just scheduling doctor’s appointments and meeting with teachers. You have fires to put out as you try to make sense of it all. Are you ready for the challenge? It’s not easy. This blueprint will give you an idea of what ADHD parenting involves. Some of you will be nodding your head in agreement because you live this on the daily, others just strapping on their seat belts for this journey will likely be thinking…WHAT?!? Hang in there, I promise, it gets easier.

In no specific order, Moms and Dads of kids with ADHD juggle:

Distraction  Kids with ADHD are like a television. They are easily distracted, often changing channels.

Sensory overload Meltdowns are often the result of things being too loud, too bright, too hot, etc.

Emotional immaturity Kids with ADHD are often 2-3 years emotionally behind their peers.

Homework struggles Sitting for long periods of time can be difficult during homework due to distraction.

Sleep Issues Settling an ADHD brain isn’t easy, often keeping the child awake for hours at bedtime.

Friendships Establishing & maintaining friendships is difficult for kids who stand out due to high energy.

Power struggles Kids tend to argue as a result of their brain seeking activity.

Anxiety Kids with ADHD can also suffer from anxiety and or OCD.

High energy Self-explanatory, but ADHD means lots of energy to burn off & not enough time in the day.

Medication (if you choose) Meds can be a successful form of treatment, though some bring side effects.

Appetite Medications often suppress a child’s appetite, causing concern for parents and weight loss for the child.

School 504/IEP’s Children can struggle to keep up in the classroom or have behavioral needs that may qualify for assistance in school.

Public Ignorance Everyone has an opinion. And some speak uninformed opinions for all to hear.

Family seesaw effect Siblings get neglected by default, or arguing with a spouse/partner over parenting decisions.

Meltdowns Emotions can unravel and often don’t match the situation. Little things for adults can be big things for kids with ADHD. (See sensory.)

Interruptions ADHD means kids are impulsive & often interrupt conversations, not recognizing social cues in the moment.

Lying Kids who lie are often fibbing to cover up impulsive decisions/guilt.

Impulsive Kids with ADHD live in a ‘NOW’ world, not thinking of consequences. They live in the moment, and act impulsively.

That’s a lot, yes?

So, someone please tell me why parents aren’t nominated for some sort of an award? I can see it now…

‘I would like to thank the Academy, and all the parents who offered me unwanted advice in the grocery store.’

No? Okay, fine. The point is, parenting a child with ADHD is no easy feat, but it IS doable. For married couples, single parents, grandparents who are raising kids all over again, it can be done. If you’re drowning in all of it, hear me loud and clear:

YOU can do this.

One of the biggest mistakes parents make with kids who have ADHD is they rely on traditional discipline. Tactics that don’t bring results are repeated day in and day out and then parents wonder why it doesn’t work. Worse? They repeat the process all over again. I know, because we did the very same thing in my family. And we did this for 9 looooooooooong years. Want an example?

My son would touch everything in the store. Even after repeated warnings to stop, he touched anyway. I was convinced he was being disrespectful and ignoring me. (He clearly heard me, right?) We would ask why he chose not to listen? (In reality, he didn’t CHOOSE to not listen.) He would respond, ‘I don’t know.’ We would tell him to sit in his room until he could provide an answer. And he never had one. He never had an answer because he had NO IDEA why he did what he did. And his parents had NO IDEA what we were doing.

Parents of the Year.

But, we changed all that. You can, too! I couldn’t take just ‘getting through the day’ anymore. I wanted a better quality of life for my family. I wanted to understand my son and how to help him function at his best. I loved him, but there were times I didn’t like him and that made me feel empty inside. Then our second son was diagnosed and we were all over the place. I knew that no change=no progress.

Parents, change your mindset. Learn what makes your child tick, the strategies needed to reduce the chaos, the triggers to avoid, how to diffuse emotional meltdowns, all of this, and create the life you deserve.

Instead of putting out fires on repeat, prevent them. Manage them with ease when things get heated. My oldest knows we are a different family today. During a recent emotional moment for him, I remained calm. So calm that my son paused and said, ‘I appreciate you not blowing up. When you stay calm, it keeps me from getting all worked up like I used to.’ I love these moments because they are tiny victories for us both. Your family deserves this. Your child deserves this. Stop spinning your wheels and learn how to help your child in the comfort of your own home.

Join others, like Carrie, in learning effective ADHD parenting strategies that will change your family with my new course

ADHD Superparents Academy!

It’s the course I wish I had years ago when I desperately wanted answers and didn’t know where to turn. This course allows you to step inside your child’s mind, see why they do what they do and covers parenting strategies that work!

‘Deborah, I want to thank you for your parenting tips. Every single one has relevant advice that actually works! Because the tips are given as small changes, I can change that little part of how I parent. You are awesome!’
~Carrie, an ADHD Superparent

I’ve helped over 300 parents improve the dynamics in their home by making some tweaks and changes to how they parent. I gathered the same strategies I used to improve my family in one convenient place & invite you to join me in taking a step toward reducing the chaos in your home! Grab the Earlybird Pricing and Bonuses before they expire in 7 Days!

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Labels are for jeans: Parenting kids with ADHD

Going to admit to something I’m not proud of. Most definitely a parenting fail.

My son text me from school one day to say one of his teachers asked for his parents phone number and I would be getting a call soon. My response:

‘What did you do?’

My son insisted he had not caused any problems, in fact, he was adamant about it. I should have believed him, but I wasn’t convinced. After all, what teacher asks for a parents phone number unless they want to voice a complaint? It’s not like teachers have the time to drop everything they’re doing to phone a mom or dad and brag about their kid. Right?

WRONG.

His teacher ended up texting instead of making a phone call, sending a whopping 3-paragraphs of glowing praise for what a great kid we were raising. That’s right, PRAISE. Not only was he not in trouble, he was being commended! What kind of message did I send my son in those four little words ‘What did you do?’ That he was ‘that kid.’ That kid who caused trouble. Here I was doubting his honesty over the reason behind the teacher’s message, yet he was busy making his father and I proud. As in, sobbing-Mom proud. His teacher used words like:

Leader
Fine young man
Dedication
Commitment
Perseverance
Resilience
Humility
Strength
Excellent role model

Cue the tears rolling down my face. I read the message at least 12 times over. It’s what every parent wants to hear. We long for the day that someone who isn’t a blood relative tells us that our kid is going places. Pretty sure that means we didn’t totally screw up this thing called parenthood.

Still, my words were assuming and had poor timing.

This kid has come a long way since the days when his desk was shoved next to the chalkboard in first grade because he couldn’t stay on task. Since the time in 4th grade when I picked him up from a sleepover and thanked his friend’s mom with the usual ‘Hope he behaved for you,’ but was met with a blank stare because she was unable to agree. Since the time when we would literally trip over our own feet trying to get out of the mall because our son was overstimulated and melting down more than two pounds of butter on a 90-degree day.

My son is not THAT kid.

He is a leader, a fine young man, an excellent role model. He’s a kid who makes his parents proud, who learned how to present himself in public, how to invest in friendships, how to commit to hard work and enjoy the positive results. Struggles we endured early were no indication of what we could expect years down the road.

Learn from my mistakes, parents. Don’t believe the label. Because that’s all it is.

Your child is so much more. And if we box kids in and expect little from them due to a brain difference called ADHD, we limit their opportunities. Labels are for jeans, and even when those fit too snug, we can cut them off. No one knows a size 10 from a size 6, right? The kid who isn’t fitting a certain mold right now is certainly not destined to be the school dropout. Let me tell you why I know this to be true.

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3 years ago, my son’s 8th grade teacher saw in him something he didn’t see in himself . He invited my son and our family to breakfast at school where students would be recognized for contributions in the classroom. I still remember my son’s response:

‘Mom, I can’t believe I got invited. This is for the smart kids.’

You know, the kids who literally show up, eat a soggy chicken patty sandwich and get straight A’s. Not judging, but that’s not what life is like in our home. We struggled for As and Bs in junior high. In high school, we occasionally struggle for C’s. Yet, my son’s teacher wasn’t thinking about labels when he sent out those invites. He wasn’t solely thinking about the straight A students. He was thinking about the student who works hard, gives 100% and may need a pat on the back to keep making those efforts in his classroom. He was thinking about MY kid. He was letting him know his work was not going unnoticed. This teacher gets it, and I instantly got a kid who walked a little taller, a little more sure of himself.

The teacher who didn’t get my kid?

That would be my son’s first grade instructor, the one who moved his desk away from his classmates. While visiting his room one day, I witnessed a young girl in her room shouting and refusing to follow directions, and the teacher said to me in disgust: ‘That’s what you call a behavioral disorder.‘ I’m sure the girl’s mother would have appreciated (sarcasm alert) the sharing of private information and the teacher’s lack of empathy toward her child. It was one of many red flags in our communications.

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As parents, we must shatter those preconceived notions about kids with ADHD. They are smart. They are leaders. They are role models. They have a brain difference, and sometimes those differences will be what sparks their creativity and sets them apart from the norm. I have a feeling these kids just might be teaching their parents a thing or two. We’re raising some strong-willed kids, no doubt. Your role in shaping their minds into believing they are capable of more than criticism, timeouts and desks at the chalkboard will strongly determine their self-worth and grit on their journey. The attitude you portray during your child’s early years in the midst of ADHD will gauge how they define their abilities.

Be proud of your child and find the good. That good is buried under impulsive decisions and a need to feel accepted.

Be THAT parent.

(And don’t forget to sign up for my FREE ADHD Superparents: Find the Good 3-Day Challenge and turn around your child’s behavior! It starts Monday!)

 

                                

Kids describe what it feels like to have ADHD

My husband shared something with me last week that was a bit unsettling. He had just gotten home from a quick business trip to North Carolina (he doesn’t usually travel) and when I asked if the process of flying and luggage and check-ins and plane delays was overwhelming, this was his response:

‘Actually, you know what went through my ADHD brain when I buckled my seatbelt? I remember thinking, if the plane goes down for any reason, I would be okay with that.’

Me: WHAAAAT?

Husband: ‘Hear me out, it’s not what you think. I’m just saying, the tornado in my brain would be over. I would no longer feel like I was always behind, always restless, always living life in reverse.‘ I was stunned.  He quickly followed up with ‘Obviously, I don’t WANT that. I would never want you or the boys to be in pain and experience that. It’s just, until you live with ADHD, one can never understand the constant mental exhaustion. The motor in your brain never turns off.

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If you’ve ever wondered what it literally feels like to have ADHD, well, there you have it. I appreciated my husband’s honesty. They were tough words to hear, yet woke me up a bit. I thought I had a good idea of what someone with ADHD endures, but the magnitude is much more than I imagined. How the thought of not having to THINK about anything (let alone 20 things) actually seemed like…a break. Some relief. It reminded me of my role in all of this: To be mindful of his journey at times when my patience grows thin. He carries a heavy load.

What about your kids? How would they describe their ADHD? I recently posed that question and received some interesting responses.

It’s like having all the tabs open on my iPad.

My thoughts get noisy.

It is too much to describe in one sentence.

My brain goes back and forth and makes me feel stupid.

I don’t know, it is just normal to me.

ADHD makes me feel tired all the time.

It means always being blamed for things I don’t really understand.

It means feeling different than others.

It means losing recess a lot.

It means I forget things all the time. I don’t like that I do that.

My brain is having a party.

The traffic controller is asleep at a busy intersection.

Honest descriptions from some innocent youth. Their attitude toward ADHD will eventually be what shapes how they view themselves, their self-worth. ADHD brings some good qualities, though they are easily overlooked due to the frustration it also creates. For parents, it means often repeating instructions, heightened emotions, possible problems in school, trouble sleeping, etc. But, the person who feels the most frustration? Your child. Chances are that he or she is often reprimanded by teachers, often losing privileges at home, maybe the last one picked for tag, you get the point. My husband’s words were a reminder to have empathy for the people we love and what they endure every hour, every day.

As they live life in reverse.

Take a moment today to observe your child closely and find the good. Be mindful of your role in their journey!

  

Teachers: Kids with ADHD Need THIS

When he can behave.’

Those were words spoken by my son’s first grade teacher years ago when I asked her when she planned to return his desk from the chalkboard back with his classmates. Her response told me two things.

  1. She doesn’t understand ADHD.
  2. She thinks he is choosing to not focus in the classroom.

This is a common problem headache for parents of kids with ADHD. Some parents in my ADHD Superparents private facebook community have admitted to lingering in their car when they arrive home from work to delay reading the dreaded negative remarks on their child’s behavioral report. It usually looks something like this:

  • Made noises.
  • Fidgeted at his desk.
  • Rolled around during circle time.
  • Interrupted instead of raising hand.
  • Loud and touching others.
  • Didn’t line up when asked.
  • Didn’t turn in homework.

It’s a note that leaves a parent feeling pretty defeated. Returning home with negative comments daily makes a child feel worse. Kids with ADHD aren’t sure why they do what they do, why they can’t sit still, why they KNOW what is expected but can’t seem to DO what is expected. They want to behave. They want to fit in. They want it more than their teacher, than their parents, than anything.

They want to feel worthy.

Don’t get me wrong, for those of us who haven’t had a memorable experience with our kids’ teachers, there are plenty of other teachers who DO get it. Teachers who know they play a role so important to a child’s confidence that they go beyond what is written in their job description. For me, that was my son’s 4th grade teacher.

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She suggested chewing gum for my son’s sensory issues/anxiety (it works!), gave him a heads up when a substitute planned to be in the room so we could prepare for the change, and positive redirects when he seemed off-task or chatty. Three years later, she is still his favorite teacher. You know why?

 She approached him as a person, not a number.

She met him where he was and responded to his needs. She recognized his struggles and never-ending worries that pierced through his ocean blue eyes. She showed him the way, rather than punishing him for not being able to do it on his own. I’m grateful for the time she invested in my son. For the hours teachers invest in all children, because they have an awesome responsibility.  Teachers spend their days shaping the minds of little ones. 

Many of us don’t have jobs with such purpose. And teachers who have a student with ADHD in their classroom have an even bigger job. That child needs their teacher to find the good. A nugget of something deep within that gives a child some self-worth. A reason to get up and attend school every day. Using negative reinforcement to teach a child who has ADHD sets them up to fail.  These are kids who won’t likely meet the typical school expectations. A teacher who gives these children the tools to succeed in school are doing something more than teaching.

They are meeting children where they are.

Doing this provides children a foundation for success, giving them encouragement and a game plan to learn acceptable behavior. Meeting a child with ADHD where they are puts them on a level playing field. It’s a chance to make strides and feel self-worth.

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For my son, his 1st grade teacher didn’t seem flexible about his difficulty sitting still. He fidgeted, daydreamed in class, often staring at the birds outside the window instead of participating during lessons. Mornings were difficult for my son to transition from a loud bus ride with no structure to quiet desk work. He arrived overstimulated, starting his day behind the start line of the race and spent his days playing catch-up.  If he didn’t complete his morning work, he was required to stay in at recess to finish. Recess being taken away is the worst outcome for kids with ADHD.

Kids with ADHD need recess like their parents need endless buckets of strong coffee.

Children need that release. Health experts say a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day plays a significant role in improving a child’s mood and focus. Teachers have reported that kids returning from a half-hour physical education class in school tend to focus more on lessons. So why is recess being used as punishment or time to make up work that wasn’t completed? These are kids who find it difficult to sit through a 45-minute family meal at a restaurant. Shouldn’t they have a 20-minute break at school to recharge?

Recess rant aside, we need teachers to embrace kids who are on a different path. Their destination is the same as others, they’re going to the same place, just not traveling the same roads.

Give them a roadmap for the journey and watch them grow.

Raising a child with ADHD means parents are also given an awesome responsibility. Read here about the ONE thing you should be doing.

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