To the Mom With the ADHD Child
I don’t usually write super personal posts. I prefer to do research and give my readers as much information, tips and inspiration as I can. I LOVE to make people smile. Recently I saw a post on Facebook from a frazzled mother begging for someone to tell her that her ADHD child would grow up to be a productive, well adjusted adult. I have ADHD. I also have 2 boys with ADHD, so I figured I would share a little insight to help all of the moms out there pulling their hair out.
Before I get started with practical tips to help you out, I want to reassure you, your child will be okay. Having ADHD as a child is miserable, but having ADHD as an adult can actually be an asset. As long as you learn to manage the energy and focus the energy on the good, you will be great.
As a child, you need to sit still and focus through hours of school, then you come home and have to sit still through hours of homework and then sit through dinner. This is a recipe for disaster for someone with ADHD. We need to MOVE. We need breaks in our focus and we need to answer at least a few of the random questions running through our heads. Young children do not understand how to verbalize this, and they understand even less how to manage it. This makes for frustrated teachers, frustrated parents and frustrated children.
As an adult, your responsibilities are entirely different. You need to be able to wear many hats, to switch focus many times a day, and to run around for most of the day. Adults need to be able to get our work done, take care of children, keep the house in some semblance of order and make our spouse a priority. Somewhere in there we also have to stuff in exercise and taking care of ourselves. For someone with ADHD, this is an environment they thrive in.
Honestly most of my adult life I have had at least 2 jobs. Right now I have a full-time job as a railroad signalman, I write this blog, I just finished a book and plan on having a riding lesson journal and a mystery novel out by the end of the year. I participate in one large mastermind group, one small mastermind and the ladies circle at my church. Many people say “how do you get it all done?!?!” the answer is ADHD. I have too much energy, the ability to switch focus quickly and I have learned how to manage my brain for maximum effectiveness. (Well most of the time anyway!)
Real Life Tips
My children have different degrees of ADHD, and between the three of us we have come up with some pretty good ways to manage our ADHD, becoming productive members of society and students with 4.0 averages. In full disclosure, it took me till I was 35 and went back to college. Thankfully my children figured out by their high school years.
The Homework Battle
“Sit there until it is done!” my dad bellowed at me again. I stared down at the page, in 4 hours I had barely been able to finish 4 problems. Guess I will be here all night, I thought with a sigh. Then my brain went back to planning the layout of the barn I would build when I grew up.
This was the scene in my house 5 days a week for many school years. My parents sitting me at a desk and telling me to stay there until it was done. It wasn’t until 7th grade when a very good teacher talked my parents into trying something different. ADHD was not an official thing when I was a kid, but this teacher recognized my constant fidgeting and high energy and asked my parents to try a different tactic. She told them to send me outside to play first, then ask me to do my homework. It worked. Just by burning off some extra energy I was able to focus better.
Here are some of the things that have helped one or all of us.
- Get some exercise first. Sports, hiking, running, playing tag and pillow fights can all be used to burn off some energy before asking your child to concentrate.
- Break it up. Either by time or number of problems. Something like complete these 15 math problems correctly and then you get 10 minutes of play. If your kids are young (under 12) PLAY! Make it fun. Put your socks on and see who can slide the farthest across the hardwoods, have a dance party or have a mini Top Chef challenge. Do this for a week and the homework gets done, and you all sleep better.
- Be Okay with Movement. My youngest and I are pacers. If we are on the phone, we are usually pacing in circles in the house somewhere. This drives my husband crazy but living with a house full of people with ADHD he has learned to accept it. Accepting that movement is a natural part of your child’s personality will keep everyone happier.
- Answer the Questions. Occasionally our brain gets stuck, we have heard some strange question or seen something that piqued our interest, and we can not get it out of our heads. Help your child by teaching them to research. Books, Google, and libraries are all wonderful resources to someone with ADHD.
- Give them a small notebook. If they are old enough to write, give them a small notebook. Tell them if they start to lose focus, write down the new topic that has invaded their brain in the notebook so they can come back to it later. Sometimes just that few minutes to take a few notes on the new topic can refocus them.
The Bedtime Battle
Similar to the homework battle, the bedtime battle can be attributed to too much energy and a brain that is still whirring like crazy. Some days they go to bed like angels, some days the demon invades. I was a demon on more days than I would care to admit and bedtime can still be a tough thing for me and my boys. We don’t always have the answers but here are some of the things that help us.
- Hot tea or hot chocolate. Both help to promote relaxation.
- Brain Dumps. Grab a journal and dump every thought that comes into my head for 15 minutes.
- PJs right before bed. Putting your PJs on right before bed gives the body a physical signal that it is time to go to bed. This one will take a little while to work, but it will help. So no hanging out in PJs unless it is time to go to bed.
- Reading before bed. Reading can be a great way to relax your child’s brain. If your child can’t read yet, read to them, if they are learning you read a page and let your child read a page.
- Create a short routine. Remember kids with ADHD have trouble focusing, so a routine can help, but only if you keep it short.
Give Yourself and Your Child Grace
I am not going to lie, even if you find some great ways to help your child, there are still going to be days you want to pull your hair out. On the bad days, give yourself and your child a little grace. No child will be perfect every day, no parent will be perfect every day. Give yourself a break, do the best you can and everyone will survive.
A Blessing and A Curse
ADHD has been both a blessing and a curse in my life. It allows me to switch my focus between many things and gives me plenty of energy to get it all done. I will never have a desk job, I will never sit through a movie without doing something else at the same time but I have learned to embrace the good and accept the bad.
The one question I get asked more than any other is “How do you get so much done” the answer: I have ADHD and I know how to use it.
If you have found some things to help your child manage their ADHD please leave them in the comments to help all the other moms out there facing similar issues.