As a parent it can be difficult to ride this ADHD Parenting roller coaster with your kids. Yes, all of this is hard on me, but, really, I hate to see either of my kids suffer.
I know we parents of ADHD’ers work really hard to make things easier for our kids. We take them to countless appointments, advocate for them at school, spend time researching the latest trends, all while loving them through outbursts, complications with friends, and the ups and downs of their many and varied emotional states.
On this blog, I write about what’s working for us. But it would not be fair of me to leave out the not so great times – because we definitely have those too.
So, I’ve compiled a few of my best ADHD Parenting tips that get me thru the rough patches. What do you do when you are overwhelmed with your adhd child? I hope you can put one of these in your pocket and take it out when you need it.
So what do I do to get through the tough times?
Call My Listening Partner
A listening partner is someone who will listen without judgement, offer help, if asked and lend a fresh perspective to your predicament.
It helps me immensely to just tell someone what is happening, even if it’s the 10th time we’ve talked about the same, darn, thing.
My listening partner knows me well and helps me to view the situation from a different lens. We inevitably find something to chuckle about and I’m back to feeling able to handle the next thing.
Calling my listening partner is my first line of defense. I am someone who feels deeply rejuvenated by sharing my story. Talking it out helps me to …
Stay Positive and Enjoy the Ride
Humans are wired to be negative-for survival reasons, so it takes some work to look on the bright side.
I make a conscious effort to keep looking for the good stuff – and it’s there. Even on the toughest of days, there are moments to grab onto.
What we focus on expands. So when I stop and make note of these moments of calm, grace, joy, or hilarity, they really do seem to multiply. My kids are an enormous gift to me and to the world!!
We have been loving The Big Life Journal – Teen Edition this summer. It does take some effort to get my boys to sit and work on it, but I sit with them and spend 5 to 10 minutes on a few pages and the mood is always better when we are done. Learning to have a growth mindset is a skill that will serve them for their entire lives.
Decipher the communication behind the behavior
This may be the most challenging tip for adhd parents.
Our society is so quick to look at a child’s behavior and label them as stubborn, lazy, defiant, or rude.
When things get tough, I remember that behavior is communication and dig deep to figure out what is trying to be said. For us, that’s revisiting The Explosive Child and doing some collaborative problem solving.
I am firm believer in the adage, “Kids can do well when they can” (Thanks Ross Greene!) Poor behavior is simply their way of communicating.
When things are rough, I know my kids are having a hard, time, too.
Neither of my kids are great, yet, at expressing what is bothering them. It comes out as anger, mean words, or defiance.
I have learned over the years that this is my signal to get quiet and listen, give us all some space to cool down, but keep hanging around for when IT finally does come out. ” I’m scared about…….” or “I’m nervous about…..”
There is always something else behind the behavior. Always.
Realize this is hard for my kids, too
Acknowledging this stage in my kids’ lives is just as difficult for them as being a toddler. Did you know middle schoolers grow and change as much as they did from birth to 2?
Both of my kids have an awareness of their struggles and it can make them feel really bad about themselves.
My compassion for them has to be really obvious and transparent. They need to know someone is on their side – all the time.
Being a kinder, gentler mom at these times can be a struggle, but being a soft, loving place for them to fall is so helpful to us all. Which brings us to….
Take care of myself
I’m still working on this.
Realizing that self care does not mean pedicures and spa days has been a big one for me.
I prefer long walks in nature, a day(okay, an hour or two) to myself to putter around my house in silence or some time to paint or draw.
As moms (and dads!) we have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves in order for us to take care of our kids.
Duh, right? We all know this, but, doing it is another thing.
Having a kid who struggles means it’s that much more important to be our best for them.
I want to be a model of self-care for my boys. Then, they can see first hand, how vital it is to find and do things that make you happy.
Look for progress
As with most things in life, parenting has many different seasons. We may go through a rough patch that lasts an hour, a day, maybe even a week. But we do get past it, every time.
“This too, shall pass,” as my father always says.
When things are tough, I can look back over the year and see improvement – lots of it. We are moving in the right direction – perhaps not as fast as I’d like, but we will all get thru this. and be better for it in the end.
I often read through our ADHD Story and see just how far we’ve come.
I see progress in my own parenting.
I have so much more compassion for my son’s sensitivities and anxiety. We are letting my son set his boundaries with his comfort level , not where I think he should be for his chronological age, which leads us to……
Stop shoulding all over myself
I struggle all the time with thinking that because my boys are nearly teenagers they should be able to do this or that. They should be able to do their chores without being reminded, or brush their teeth well or put themselves to bed.
This kind of shoulding is so unproductive. My kids are who they are and are doing the best they can at any moment. ADHD is a developmental condition, so my kids fall behind their typically developing peers in some big ways.
Again, this is when I look for progress! Things are moving forward.
I need to honor my kids timeline. They are exactly where they need to be.
So, I’m looking at them still needing me as a gift – the gift of caring for them for a little bit longer.
Uncover my part in this
With years of therapy myself, I have learned to turn the finger back around and point it at myself.
What is my part in this?
How do my reactions to my sons’ behavior affect the outcome? How can I more positively affect the situation?
What childhood wounds do I have that might be contributing to this? How can I heal myself so that my child can be healed?
This is HUGE for me. the more I work on myself, the better it is for my family. Susy Parker, author of Saving Sarah and an ADHD mama,too, talks about this on her blog and podcast. Our children are here to teach us something…..they are our greatest gift.
We just need to slow down, take time and take a closer look at what our kid might be stirring up inourselves.
My own mother died when I was 4, leaving a huge wound that I covered up for most of my life. With the birth of my first son, it all came rushing in…the fear of losing someone close to me is immense. I am sure I passed this anxiety on to my son.
And as I heal myself, my son’s anxiety lessens. I am learning to have an enormous amount of compassion for the both of us – I need it as much as he does….
Have Compassion for Myself
I tell myself that this parenting gig is hard. Kids don’t come with rule books. Every parent faces challenges. I am doing the best I can at any moment. We all are.
Parenting is a journey full of ups and downs and lots of learning.
Yes, I’ve lost my sh%t when I wish I hadn’t.
The reality is, we are all human.
Having compassion for myself and acknowledging that I am not a perfect parent…no one is a perfect parent.
Make a deposit to the Karma Bank
Whenever I am feeling bad, I take the focus off myself and do something good for someone else.
This has been a practice of mine for years – way before kids and husband, even.
I bring coffee to my co-workers, pay for the next person in line at Starbucks, or hide a 5 dollar bill in the eggs at the grocery store.
It’s fun to surprise someone and make their day, no matter how small the gesture.
When I help someone else, I put my problems into perspective and it can be so incredibly healing. Everyone is struggling with something. Everyone.
I’ve made this a practice with my kids, too. We love to go to our local thrift store (where we are frequent shoppers, ourselves) and hide dollar bills inside books and shoes. It’s so fun to be sneaky with some goodness in mind!
Slow Down and Make Time for Connection
I find that when I make time to connect with my kids, the behaviors associated with ADHD diminish drastically and everyone has an easier time.
Has this been your experience, too?
ADHD kiddos may not experience connection with their peers or at school, so finding time to connect as a family or just one on one with your kiddo is so vital.
I know, I know, you’re busy.
But finding time to connect with your kid may be the one thing that they’ll remember 10 years from now.
We can’t have those great moments of connection with our kids unless we slow down.
Really slow down.
Our family has what others might see as a ridiculously early bedtime….we start the process at about 6:30. The kids take showers, brush teeth, sit for reflex movements, etc…..but it affords lots of face to face time with our kids.
It is one of the best times of the day and one I can count on – and my kids can count on.
This is a great time for conversations to start and important feelings to be expressed.
Bedtime has forever been part of our family rhythm that will continue as long as we can.
Where can you work a bit of regular connection into your day? Is it during a mealtime? Right after school? Or at bedtime, like us?
Stick to our ADHD diet
Sticking to an ADHD diet is our backbone. I can really tell when my kids are veering too much from our usual, healthy diet.
Their behavior and their sugar cravings let me know we’ve gotten off course.
So when things start to go south, I make sure we are eating super healthy food every chance we get. I can’t control the pizza parties at school, but I can make sure I help my kids pack a great lunch and serve lots of fruits and veggies at home.
I’m also uber vigilant about our supplements.
In our long journey with ADHD, I have seen countless examples of how food can affect my kids behaviors. As they get older and have to make decisions without me standing next to them, its evermore important to keep up our healthy routine at home. Modeling a behavior is the best way to affect their decisions!
We’d Love to hear from you!!!
Take a moment to comment about what you do to get through a rough patch of ADHD Parenting.
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