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?
Stress and parenting. It’s like peanut butter and jelly! Add ADHD, and you are all too familiar with those times when you start over-thinking, overreacting, over-doing, and become short-tempered, restless, and ready to run for it! Stress has struck again. You want to teach your kids to manage their emotions and resolve conflicts; now it’s time to walk the talk.
Stress is your body’s way of protecting you. When it works, it helps you stay focused and alert, slamming on the brakes to avoid an accident, or putting a turbo boost in your step to help you run from danger – or towards it, if it’s coming for your kid!
Music is a super-food, providing us the sustenance we need to stay whole. For our kids, it offers order and structure, and relieves stress, anxiety, chronic pain, and depression. For us, if it can provide 3-4 minutes of sanity at a time!
I’m as guilty as the next one of buying into the myth that “there’s not enough time” to…exercise, go to yoga class, take care of myself…fill in the blank!
But I had an “aha!” this week when a colleague said to me, “I don’t have time to do yoga. I barely have time to breathe!” Seriously?! My response was a moment of brilliance, if I do say so myself . I channeled my former yoga-teacher-self and said, “Of course you do. Every Breath is a mini-yoga class.” And so it is.
Take a conscious inhale. Slow and steady, breathing in through your nose. Pause, just for a brief moment. And then release gently, exhaling through your nose (more relaxing) or mouth (more releasing). Pause, again.
And there you have it. A 3 second yoga class, always at your fingertips – or, at least, at the end of each breath!
“The greatest gift you can give yourself, and your child with ADHD, is to acknowledge that ADHD is one of those bumps on your parenting journey that requires course-correction. It’s not a barrier, but it calls for careful navigation.” ETK
When we get stuck with old ideas about how something “should” be, or how a child “should” behave, it can make managing ADHD harder than it needs to be. Of course, we parents are human, and we feel strangely comfortable with our “shoulds” – so much of our own lives are all too often dictated by expectations set for us from the outside world.
Our challenge is to shift our expectations from what we thought it “should” be like to raise our children, to accept things for how they are. We must establish expectations that are appropriate to our current circumstances.
Sometimes we tell our kids that we don’t believe in them, even when we think we’re telling them we do. It’s crazy, but when we talk about our fears, or our concerns, our kids often get the message that we don’t have faith in them.
Take a negative report card, for example.
First, we want to say that we did not write this. We do not know who did, but if you do, PLEASE, let’s give credit where it is due. Because truly, it’s brilliant wisdom. Today’s Self Care Tip is brought to you courtesy of … the internet. One of those meandering emails that gets passed from inbox to inbox. And it’s pure genius. Love, Elaine & Diane
“A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’ She fooled them all.
“How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile.
Money is not the most important thing in the world to you. As a parent, your child’s health probably tops that list. But money touches almost everything that is important in your life. And when you have kids with ADHD and other health challenges, money often becomes an important factor in your decision-making – even though you wish it didn’t.
When there are money problems, everything else feels harder. How you manage your money impacts the choices you have available to you, and the decisions you are able to make around managing your child’s health and education.
As a parent, you know you wear many hats – leader, teacher, counselor,disciplinarian, playmate, confidante and more. But you may not have thought about one critical role that you engage in every day– the role of Financial Manager.
When out at a restaurant, one of the biggest up-sells is the beverage. It’s the first thing the server asks. It’s almost as if we’re conditioned to order a drink, even if we’re not thirsty. Here are 7 good reasons to order water, instead:
- It’s hard to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Why not let someone help make it easier by bringing it to you?!
- Drinks at a restaurant are unreasonably expensive and can surprisingly increase the cost of a meal.
- Most drinks we order are either full of sugar or artificial chemicals, neither of which are great for us.
You gotta love our impulsive, distracted kids. So often, their first answer to us isn’t always “fact.” Typically, they don’t mean to be dishonest, they are just answering fast to get on to the next exciting thing (or to get us off their back). So they say the first thing that pops into their head. They’re not exactly processing the information.
Many of us suffer from Super-Mom disease. We feel like we should be able to “do it all ourselves,” whatever it may be. Worse, we are sure that it’s “just easier if I do it myself.”
This tends to set us up for exhaustion and frustration. We try to do everything ourselves so that we don’t “bother” anyone, or we grow increasingly resentful as we start to feel put-upon. With the exception of killing bugs or repairing the roof, we Super-Moms are really bad at asking for help.
Asking for help is a great leadership skill, and important for parents to master and model. When we ask for help we:
After the birth of my first child, I started working on a book with a friend loosely titled, “What You Didn’t Expect When you were Expecting.” I mean, things were going along so well until…
The babies were born, and it was nothing like we expected.
Where were those Hallmark commercials we planned for? The flowing white night gowns and the smiling babies, cooing and giggling and hitting every developmental milestone right on cue?
Parenting, it turns out, is not for the feint of heart. It is a tough job with long hours, and minimal wage. There are lots of rewards, of course, but they are hard won, and often short lived.
In the 20 years I’ve spent advocating for children and families with ADHD, I’ve identified one common denominator that stands behind every child’s success: a mother (or dad) who has been an incredible advocate for her child.
We are not just mums. We are the most important people in the field of child-rearing, especially with children with ADHD.
When you have children, you have this idyllic vision of what life will be like. You think you’ll sit in the garden, and the kids will play nicely at your feet and do as they’re told.
And then you have your first child and you think, “oh my goodness, what’s happened here? Why is this child not responding to me?” And you get comments, “Don’t you discipline your children? You’re rubbish at parenting.” And you start to believe it yourself.
If you’re anything like me – and most of the other moms I know with complex lives – you tend to procrastinate on those critical appointments for yourself that you just “don’t have time for.” Except that “no time” is an excuse. It isn’t really true. You’re a parent – you can always make the time for what’s important.
That is, if you are important enough. Good news is that you are to your kid(s)! So make the time for your kids and take care of yourself! Get on the phone, or online, and schedule that appointment – the dentist, the GP, the gynecologist (or vasectomist) – whatever you know you’ve been putting off. You just found the time – after all, it’s important to your kid(s)!
You know what’s even more rejuvenating than Girls Night Out? A quality “Girls Night In!” There is something restorative about losing yourself in conversation, food and wine. Perhaps there was a time when a late night of dancing was actually energizing, despite the inevitable sleep-deprivation that would follow. Now – well, not so much.
When you are interacting with your kids, particularly during those more “intense” moments — a late assignment, a difficult morning, a broken house rule — it’s easy to fly off the cuff and react with urgency and intensity. You get angry, and it’s a natural response. Typically, when you make parenting decisions in these moments they aren’t fully rational, or they are over reactive. After the fact, you may find yourself regretting your actions.
How many times have you thought these things yourself about your child?
- He’s doing it to get attention.
- She’s trying to make me mad.
- He’s ignoring me.
- She’s being disrespectful, defiant and oppositional.
- He craves negative attention.
- She is being a jerk on purpose.
True confession: I’ve thought all those things about my own child. Hundreds of times. Probably more. And for a long time I believed them to be true. It seemed as if the behaviors my son exhibited were somehow intentional.
I’m not talking about the wiggly hyperactivity, or the instant switches in attention span, or the disorganization and the mess that followed him around. These I understood as part of his ADHD, just one of his several co-existing diagnoses. I’m talking about the other things he did: the defiant, disrespectful and rude reactions to simple requests, or the times I’d ask the same thing over and over again and he still wouldn’t do as I asked.
It hurt my feelings. I questioned my parenting skills. When I tried and tried to get him to stop doing all those things, every attempt made it worse. My husband and I started to research therapeutic schools and residential treatment programs — for a child who was not yet 10 years old!
But then things got better. Not overnight, and certainly not without effort. But much, much better.
Being a parent of an emerging teen is like flying a kite. It’s a constant dance of testing and trying independence, along with competing wills and priorities. The wind, the string, the pulling, the letting go. Our kids think they know what’s best. They want to be independent, but sometimes it doesn’t quite work the way they think it will, and they plummet.
This week, as my oldest starts high school. We are again in the midst of that dance.
Navigating the world of disabilities and education can be confusing. To ensure that parents are well prepared to make the most out of either IEP or 504 meetings with their children’s school, they’ll do best to consider the following 4 steps.*
a) Empower yourself by learning about the criteria for eligibility, either by reading on your own, consulting with an advocate, or taking a class.
This is important because an ADHD diagnosis does not automatically qualify your child for school eligibility for a 504 Plan or an IEP.
b) What are the major differences between 504 and Special Education (IEP)?
I didn’t write this quote, but I believe it’s probably one of my top 5 mottos for relationship success:
“Believing in people before they have proved themselves is the key to motivating people to reach their potential.” John C. Maxwell
Sometimes, when we get tired, or frustrated, or disappointed, or scared, it’s hard to see all the possibilities — either for ourselves or our family. Of course, that’s when we need to see them the most!
The hardest time to “prove” yourself is when you have doubt, when you’re not really sure if you can.
Are you married to ADHD? I am! And for the first 10 years, before we understood it, life with my husband was really stressful. Okay, so he was fun, smart, and playful — the life of the party. But oh, he was so unreliable, and he could be so irritable! I just didn’t know what to do! I knew I loved him, and that I wanted to make it work, but I didn’t know how.
I stuck with it because I knew that his intention was clear, that he wanted to be a partner to me, and I kept trying to figure out what was going on. When we finally grew to understand the ADHD, and I stopped blaming and started taking action, we learned to work together as a team.
Listening is an art. We hear people talk all day long, but actively listening to what they are saying – and what they are not saying – well, that’s a different story.
We all want to be heard – to feel that the people are listening to us. In fact, I’ve heard it said that being listened to feels so much like being loved, people can scarcely tell the difference.
So, how can you be a more effective listener with your children? Become aware of the 3 levels of listening, and try to make sure that you’re in Level 2 or 3 when you’re listening to your child. Level 1 is okay, too, but you don’t want to get stuck there!
As a success coach, parent and horse enthusiast, I see parallels between business, parenting and working with my horses. I like to use these “life lessons on horseback” to teach and coach about business leadership and parenting.
- Establishing and maintaining clear boundaries
- Understanding the needs of those you are leading
- Responding in a positive and consistent manner