Sustaining focus is a major obstacle for ADHD kids, and let’s face it, ADHD adults! Teaching our children to use systems and structures can help them stay on track and complete everyday activities more effectively. Homework, for instance, is a daily struggle for many families.
Our Values are who we are at our core, they’re what we stand for, what gives our life meaning. They offer a lens, a framework for looking at our selves and the choices we make in our lives.
I often like to say that if you were on a deserted island, your values are those things that would still be important to you. For example, I have a value around community and connection. It’s critically important to me. If I were deserted on an island, I would find a way to organize the fish, or the shells, or something so that I would feel like I am a part of something larger than myself. Connection gives my life meaning. It is a deeply held value of mine.
A relationship of trust tells our kids it’s ok to be themselves, to mess up, to try, to fail, to succeed – because we will be there with our love unconditionally. It is critical that we foster this connection for our kids’ sake – and our own.
Despite the fact that scientists’ understanding of ADHD has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 1-2 decades, this condition remains an enigma to most of us. In the day-to-day struggle, we parents still find ourselves asking the same questions repeatedly:•“What were you thinking?”
•“Why did you do that?”
•“Why isn’t this done yet?”
But with all the new science, isn’t there a way to help parents of children with ADHD get through the day?
You walk into your favorite coffee shop for a cup – black, no cream, no sugar. You’re trying to rein in your calorie intake. But then you spot them. Fresh, warm chocolate chip cookies. The aroma is wafting towards you, enticing with its promise of comfort. But no! You turn your eyes away. You check your email. You look at the person in front of you in line and make up a story about her to pass the time. You do everything you can think of to resist temptation, get your coffee (ok, just a little cream), and leave. Congratulations! Your executive functions have helped you use self control.
Working memory is our internal Post-it note, the place where we hold information temporarily before we take action or move it to long-term storage. It’s where we put phone numbers before we can dial them; it’s where we keep our ideas while having a conversation, and numbers when doing mental arithmetic.
Working memory is also where kids and adults with ADHD experience significant challenge. If your child knows every line of Toy Story or X-Men but can’t remember where he put his baseball glove a minute ago, you are not alone! This is a very common, and often frustrating, issue for ADHD families. How can systems and structures help?
Some tasks, like driving, become automatic when we master them. When you’re 16, every turn of the wheel requires conscious thought (or should!). Once you learn, you go on autopilot unless something jars you – a car in the wrong lane, a dog running into the road, a police cruiser in your rearview mirror when you’re going 60mph in a 50mph zone.
Well, parenting is not an automatic task! We can’t go on autopilot, especially when our kids have ADHD. Something is always jarring us – a meltdown, a bad report card, a 10-minute worksheet that turns into an evening-long struggle. We always have to be “on,” and it’s exhausting. How can we give ourselves a break?
As parents, we all have dreams for our children – visions of what they will do, be, and accomplish in life. Our dreams are based on our hopes – and there is nothing wrong with that! Our expectations, on the other hand, should be firmly grounded in reality. When setting guidelines for your child, whether for chores, homework, or behavior, ask yourself two important questions:
- What can my child do now?
- How can I challenge her to get to the next level?
Your relationship with your child began long before pregnancy or adoption: you envisioned what it would be like, you dreamed and you planned, imagining a healthy, smiling child who can easily navigate any challenges life may present. You didn’t imagine a child with special needs.
As a parent of a child with special needs, whether ADHD or something else, it is natural to have conflicting feelings about it. These feelings are normal. You might feel optimism and pride on the one hand, but you might also feel frustration, confusion, and even guilt on the other.
In fact, conflicting feelings about a change in our expectations and plans is the very definition of grief.
Sounds crazy, right? I mean, we’re always telling our kids that there are no stupid questions, and they should ask for help. And that’s true — most of the time.
But sometimes, our kids’ questions (and ours) are not born of curiosity. They are coming from anxiety. Usually, it’s one of two scenarios:
Inspiring Innovation, a blog by Meron Bareket created to inspire worldwide entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, learn from the experts, and turn ideas into reality, was kind enough to collaborate with me and conduct an interview about my journey with ADHD.
In episode 42 of the Inspiring Innovation Podcast, Meron conducts questions that allow me to open up and share my honest experiences. I begin to discuss how I went through the first ten years of raising my children with undiagnosed ADHD, along with the hardships that followed and surrounded our everyday life. As the conversation progresses, I continue to take a glimpse at the emotions inside the Taylor-Klaus home, and the answers I sought out in order to find balance and harmony for my loved ones and the place we like to call home.
As an ADHD parent, you probably spend a lot of time and energy mastering the art of ‘helping your ADHD child survive school.’ As parents, we do everything we can to help our children get through each school year, right? But then what? Are they ready for the next step?
What are you doing to help your child or teen master the skills necessary to transition out of elementary school, middle school, high school or college – and ultimately enter the workforce? Are you empowering your child or teen to develop the necessary skills?
ADHDer’s are ALWAYS interrupting people. It’s an extremely common, albeit annoying, symptom of ADHD. There are many things coming into play at the same time – impulsiveness, difficulty with working memory, boredom, enthusiasm, quick-thinking (rightly or wrongly anticipating what the other person is going to say).
So what’s the parent (or spouse) of a child with ADHD to do? We don’t want to be correcting them ALL the time, but we want to finish a sentence!
My 12 year old son gave me a gift this morning before school – the best parenting paycheck, ever! It was unsolicited, and came from the heart. He said, simply, “thanks, Mom, for everything you do for us. I’m not just kissing up. Really, thanks.”
Yeah, I know, right?! Wow.
Now my son is no Eddie Haskel, and he’s not a particularly earnest kid. He’s generally witty, a bit sarcastic, and a straight-talker. So it’s not like he’s given to frequent bouts of gratitude, or anything – though I will admit that he’s an affectionate kid, still comfortable with snuggling at bedtime and holding my hand on occasion (shocking, I know!).
Do you have a tendency to “bleed before you’re cut”? In other words, does the worry-er in you seem to have a life of her own? With simple problems, do you tend to jump right out of the realm of reality and into a world of worry? Like you might lose your hand from a rare infection after a simple paper-cut?
January is Get Organized Month!
If your family struggles with ADHD, there’s a good chance you’re also struggling with disorganization. Your disorganization might show up as piles of papers, cluttered rooms, losing things, running late, forgetting tasks, or never getting around to what’s most important. However disorganization shows up for you, you might want to find support to help you understand it, work through it and get past it.
Creating change can be like taking a slow-boat to China – it doesn’t happen overnight. The challenge is… when we want to make changes to improve our children’s lives, we want to see results immediately!
Systems and structures help us tame the chaos of life with ADHD, bringing order to our homes and more confidence and happiness to our lives. Easier said than done, isn’t it? For systems and structures to work, you have to put them in place! That can be tricky, especially when children are older. Whether we’re talking about morning checklists, a hand gesture to delay attention-seeking behaviors, or code words to facilitate communication, how do you do it? How do you increase the likelihood that systems will be used and effective in helping the whole family cope with ADHD’s challenges?
Sure, it’s easy for me to say. Your child has a chronic medical condition that makes self-management quite difficult. How on earth is s/he going to become an independent adult? How can I tell you to have no fear?
Because fear doesn’t serve you or your child. It doesn’t build towards success, or open possibility.
Breakfast starts our metabolic clock and gives us the energy and clarity to conquer the world – or at least make it to work on time. To make sure you get vital nutrients on busy mornings:
• When you’re preparing your kids’ lunches, make an extra sandwich. Eat in the car or at work, as you’re easing into your email.
• Drink your breakfast. You don’t have to give up that first cup of coffee, but instead of reaching for a second, try a shake or smoothie. There are a variety of products on the market that offer protein, calcium, fruits, and veggies for on-the-go nutrition.
• Make your own protein shakes using soy or whey. Look online for recipes and make a week’s-worth every Sunday night.
Boosting your metabolism, jumpstarting your brain, and maybe even tightening your belt a notch – that’s worth a few minutes of your time every day!
In some ways, things are not much different in 2014 than in 2013. A parent with ADHD still needs support and encouragement, especially since the chances remain great that they will have a child with ADHD. A child with ADHD still needs parents who can create a home and school experience that readies them for a less-than-ADD-friendly society. The diagnostic criteria have changed a bit, but the ADHD hallmark symptoms still reign in one variety or another: inattention/distractibility and hyperactivity/impulsivity. And these symptoms collide with many aspects of what we call “getting organized,” a mega-skill central to living a life of quality in modern America.
You don’t have time. You don’t have the money. You shouldn’t splurge. Recognize this voice? It tries to convince you that massage is a frivolous indulgence. And it usually wins. It has conquered me once or twice, or a thousand times. But this year, I chose not to listen. I found an online deal that was too hard to pass up – and, for once, I didn’t say no! I purchased 12 massages, one per month. Why? Because I deserve it.
Massage inspires those of us for whom “touch” is a primary language. It detoxifies, rejuvenates, and refreshes the body – the ultimate act of self-care. Try your own online deal, visit a day spa, spend an hour in the massage chair at the mall, or bribe your child for a few minutes of soft, loving pressure on your shoulders. Think about how you can incorporate massage into your life. You deserve it.
When they get married, most moms and dads—especially moms—have a certain idea of what they hope their family life will be like. Often they imagine pleasant scenes of family togetherness. The children will play and enjoy one another. Mom and dad will get a kick out of the kids’ activities, and take pleasure in one another’s reactions. They will feel family unity, warmth and joy.
Then, along came ADHD. These little bits of imagined interpersonal heaven did not seem to materialize as often as expected. The brief patches that did occur were often marred by anticipatory anxiety, or shattered by angry explosions.
About 31 million of us skip breakfast – and 31 million of us need to break this habit! Mornings are hectic, and time is a luxury that is scarce, especially in ADHD families. But Mom was right: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Turns out science agrees. The brain needs energy to operate effectively. If you’re not a “morning person,” consider fueling appropriately and see what changes for you! Your body needs those nutrients, too: if you go 16 hours (say from 8PM until lunch) without food, you go into starvation mode. Your metabolism shifts; you burn fewer calories and start to store fat at a higher rate. Breakfast is the only meal you should eat, even if you’re not hungry. Your body – and mind – will thank you. More than likely, so will your family. Much like our kids, hungry parents tend to be grumpy parents!
“Believing in people before they have proved themselves is the key to motivating people to reach their potential.” -John C. Maxwell
The hardest time to “prove” yourself is when you have doubt, when you’re not really sure if you can. It’s difficult to see the possibilities – either for ourselves or our families. On the flip side, nothing is more confidence-inspiring than certainty. When I’m sure that my child can tackle a new hurdle, it’s contagious. She is able to see that possibility too, for herself, and in herself. The truth is, while it’s important for all of us to believe in ourselves, it helps — a LOT — for someone else to believe in us as well! If you want to Empower Success in your family, start by believing its possible, and sharing that belief. Success will follow — just as certainly as your certainty that its possible!
We all want to be a calm and confident parent, but we don’t always feel that way. Life’s busy-ness, combined with our kids’ erratic behaviors, can make us feel ready to pop.
So here’s the tip: Act As If. Act as if you’re calm and easy-going. Act as if there’s plenty of time to get it all done. Act as if this wacky, erratic child of yours is going to grow up to be an amazing adult! You’ll be surprised at how that simple shift in approach can open up new possibilities.
Still not convinced? Look at it this way. Act As If is a positive spin on “fake it ‘til you make it.”
Pause and breathe: these simple behaviors can restore calm and redirect negativity. Hitting “Pause” during stressful, emotional, or intense moments has the power to diffuse even the most difficult situations.
After the stunning death of Cory Monteith, an US magazine article quoted a source, which said, “He was not a typical addict…He was the nicest, sweetest guy.” What a dangerous, dangerous statement. There is no such thing as a “typical” addict. The truth is, our kids, no matter how sweet and nice and talented and special they are, can end up on that path. That’s the reality, one that is even more frightening for parents of high-risk ADHD kids. Cory Monteith’s death is heartbreaking – and it is a wakeup call that it’s time for parents to start talking.
Protein is an essential building block of health. There are at least two reasons why eating protein is an effective self-care tip:
- It builds muscle. As a parent, you need all the strength you can get! It’s like the steel reinforcements in a building; you want to make sure your support structure is secure.
- It’s a long-lasting energy source. A piece of fruit may keep you going for an hour. A serving of protein can power your body, and mind, for 3-4 hours.
ADHD is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, and we know that it runs in families. It is, they say, as inheritable as height . It stands to reason, therefore, that if a young person with ADHD struggles to communicate, then the parents have probably had a lifetime of similar struggles.
Have you ever been in a situation where your kid took 3 hours to do 10 minutes of homework? I have!
Our tendency is to try to push them through the work, to focus on getting it done. But what they might really need more than that is to stop.
Here’s my challenge to you: for one week, try to avoid correcting your child.
I know, hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing – kids with ADHD are constantly being re-directed, by everyone around them. Friends, teachers, parents – half the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it. It becomes natural to make simple corrections.
The issues faced by girls with ADHD are clearly very different from those of typical elementary school-aged boys with the disorder. In order to help a girl with ADHD, it is critical to understand these issues. The key to successful outcomes is often found in the understanding and support girls receive at home. To better understand your daughter, and to learn what you can do to help her thrive despite her ADHD, read on.
Ok, I know that the prevailing wisdom is to put down our cell phones, model limits and look our kids in the eyes. Absolutely agree. But I also say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
Once our kids learn to tell time, the next step is to teach them time management. Help them understand how long things take, and how to balance tasks and schedules.
Sometimes it just breaks your heart to be a parent, doesn’t it? I mean, it can feel like torture, watching, waiting, hoping. This must be true for all parents, but I think it elevates to a higher level with parents of kids with ADHD.
The Benefits of ADHD
All 3 of my children have ADHD. When they were diagnosed, my reaction was not typical. Because I’m an expert in the field and I have ADHD myself, I was actually excited. I know that ADHD is as much a marker of talent as it is a potential problem, and I know the problems can be taken care of.
It should be really simple: I ask you to do something, and you do it! But with ADHD kids – all kids, actually — it is more complex than that. Ask and ye shall receive – not really! You have to work at it. Leadership experts have identified five essential elements for helping individuals accomplish goals. How can we apply these to parenting our ADHD children?
Ah, the infamous, never-ending to-do list. You may have a great structure in place to help you manage work and life. Or, you may be like me! Keeping a list can be overwhelming. It seems like everything ends up there, and the to-do list becomes a wish list!
What is the DSM 5 and why should you care? We invited Dr. Mark Bertin to try to answer this question. In this article, Dr. Bertin explains significant changes in how ADHD is classified and identified. It’s complicated, but worth taking the time to read and understand!
In an ongoing attempt to accurately describe diagnoses in the field of child development and psychiatry, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was recently revised. Regarding ADHD, improved identification and understanding of its cause could go a long way to clarifying common public misperceptions. Issues such as apparent over-diagnosis in certain communities, and medication misuse, incite provocative headlines that often undermine care for people actually living with ADHD.
Our brain is a muscle, and it needs exercise. Meditation is just that: an exercise of focus, a form of brain training that has been shown to increase our ability to concentrate and pay attention, even when we are not being quiet. Slowing down our brain typically slows down the rest of us. Meditation lowers our heart rate and cortisol levels, which, helps us manage stress, get more sleep, and reduce physical tension.
Take a 20 second vacation. When you’re bogged down in the day-to-day, you may need a reminder that there is a big, beautiful world beyond the car, laundry room, or office. We can reconnect with that world in different ways. Try finding a picture that inspires you – maybe it’s a photo of someone you love, or a place you dream of visiting.
Spending 10-15 minutes each day in silence can boost mental, physical, and spiritual health. While reading quietly and praying are both valuable tools, quiet time involves simply sitting and focusing on nothing, or on something small enough to capture our full attention, like the flame of a candle.
Some days, I am a mocha latte with an extra shot of espresso! Have you noticed that some foods make you feel refreshed and energized, while others drain your reserves? How does food make you feel?
When working with parents of children with ADD/ADHD I often get asked two questions that I put in the “not so helpful” category. These questions won’t help your children manage their diagnosis better, nor will they make your family run more smoothly in any way. Energetically, though, they will box you into a really negative framework, a way of looking at things that will make it more difficult for you to parent your children in a healthy way.
Two Questions to Stop Asking:
“I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.” -Unknown
We all have people who push our buttons – but we don’t have to participate! Our buttons are the things that make us angry or upset, that cause a strong negative reaction. Button pushing is not about the pusher, but the pushed. No one can make you feel anything, and you are in complete control. So, how can you change your reaction?
You’re distracted, fatigued, and crabby. It could be that you are deficient in vitamin-G. This is what scientists are beginning to call time outside, or in green space. Vitamin-G works wonders with ADHD kids – but right now, we’re just talking about you.
It’s the Start of the Week! Managing priorities and minimizing distractions can make the difference between a productive week, and one spent spinning in circles. Take 10 minutes today for one small organizing step. You could make a list of all the home projects that are rattling around in your head, or create a dinner menu for the week. Just start to capture whatever has been weighing on you the most.
Did you know that optimism is linked to better mental and physical health, and increased longevity? Well, gratitude can actually help you enjoy those extra years! Gratitude is a perspective, a way of looking at things with appreciation. It guides you to see what is working, instead of what is not.How can you adopt an attitude of gratitude?
- Celebrate “Thanksgiving” once a week. At dinner one night, ask each family member talk about what s/he is grateful for.
- Tape up a piece of paper for each family member, and encourage everyone to write or draw what they love or admire about that person.
- At the end of the day, write down three things for which you are thankful. A gratitude journal makes fantastic reading for a “rainy” day.
- Write “Thank you!” on post-its or cards and put them around the house to show your family – and yourself – how much you appreciate your life with them.
- Say “thank you” for the little things your family members do, even if they’re expected to. You might surprise your child when you thank him for unloading the dishwasher, but it will certainly be a pleasant surprise!
By the way, we are grateful for you. Thanks for being part of our community!