Ever have one of those “I QUIT” days? Me too! ADHD parenting frustration is common. Read on to learn what to do when you’re overwhelmed.
As the parent of an ADHD child, wanting to quit comes with the territory. Where’s that training manual? Who’s going to be your “big sister” or “big brother” to show you the ropes? And on top of that, you’re engaged in an unpopular activity. I mean, when there are still people debating whether ADHD even exists, you know you’ve got a tough road ahead.
Some days, it all comes to a head and floods your brain and your heart:
- “Everybody else is doing a much better job!”
- “I can’t manage that much!”
- “Nothing I do works! I’ve tried everything!”
- “I just need to accept that it will always be this way.”
- “I’m a failure as a parent.”
- “I gave my child ADHD and now it’s payback time.”
Hitting a wall is common. You are not alone. But things don’t have to stay this way forever and ever. There is help. Let me share 3 tips with you that I use with my clients:
1. Remember that your negative thoughts are not facts, they’re judgments
Parents with ADHD children can sink into believing that what we’re feeling today is the truth and that what we felt yesterday, despite proof of our competence and, even, greatness, does not count anymore. “I may have been a genius yesterday, but today I’m a loser and that’s the real truth. The other day was just a fluke.”
This isn’t true. It’s not the way life works. It’s not the way anyone’s life works.
Thoughts like these are negative judgments about ourselves. I teach my clients that instead of saying things like, “I don’t think I’ll ever have time to finish my project” or “I feel like a loser” (which isn’t really a feeling/emotion if you think about it!), tell the truth: “I judge that I won’t have time to finish my project, but I don’t know that for sure,” or “Right now I’m judging that I’m a loser, but I don’t know that for sure.”
Client Hanna was taught to be a perfectionist and, when she couldn’t be perfect (or even close) she sank into despair, repeating that she was a horrible parent, that she couldn’t do it anymore, that her ex-husband was right and he should take the kids. As an outsider to the situation I had the perspective she needed to remind her that 1) this was a pattern of behavior that happened whenever she hadn’t taken time to herself after dropping off the kids at school, and 2) I was here to help make things easier and that we could talk right then.
Over time, Hanna was able to develop skills to parent better and to manage her negative thoughts more effectively as well.
2. Find your champions
There are all kinds of online forums for parents of ADHD children. Parents chat about their struggles and other parents tell them to hang in there. That’s nice as far as it goes, but I worry that parents may grow dependent on the “struggle” paradigm. Who are the people that raise your spirits? Who uplifts you? Look among your friends and see who will boost your energy when you’re down. Likewise, there are people in our lives who discourage us. Don’t bother looking for approval from them. Make a list of those people who encourage you and those who discourage you. Buddy up to the encouragers and stay away from the discouragers.
We all need people we can count on to cheer us on. I know who mine are and I spend more time with them than with other people because I want a joyful life not a life of struggle. I’ve struggled for years and it’s just terrible. I’m good and overcoming my struggles but I don’t want to have to overcome stuff for the rest of my life. It’s exhausting! Where’s the fun?
Client Jake was struggling with his son, Bryan. He was a sweetheart but smart enough and curious enough to try all sorts of things, like lighting a can of Easy-Off oven spray on fire! I’ve been there – my brain wants to know “what if…” to my own detriment at times! One of Jake’s friends told him there was something wrong with Bryan, that he was a behavior problem and needed to be hospitalized! Jake was discouraged. Instead, I told him to “Bryan-proof” the house. You can’t take away an ADHD child’s curiosity but you can manage at, at least at home, by creating an environment that encourages only safe curiosity. While friends were ready to commit Bryan to one institution or another, I had a more uplifting solution. That’s what I do, as an ADHD family coach – I offer solutions that uplift and accommodate each individual family or client.
3. Don’t spend all your care and attention on others; treat yourself to some of your great love and kindness!
Those “I QUIT” messages come from anxiety, nerves, fear of the unknown. As such, treat yourself kindly not brutally. ADHD parents are some of the most compassionate people in the world. Also the fiercest! But, often, all that fierce compassion is directed toward protecting and supporting your ADHD child. How about directing it at supporting yourself? You deserve it!
When you’re around friends or family who are feeling nervous, confused, or fearful, you’re often the first one to uplift them, give them a hug, or reassure them that you’re not giving up on them. And yet, do you “hug” yourself? Somehow we think it’s frivolous to do things for ourselves when there are people who are “REALLY” suffering.
When you’re feeling anxious, it’s okay to say, “I’m working my butt off for this family, and I need a little time off!” Everyone will be happier (EVERYONE) if you take some time for yourself. A parent that nurtures his/her own sanity is a good example to set for the kiddos.
- Take a bath
- Use some balancing essential oils
- Do some art work
- Journal your thoughts
- Take a walk or go for a run
- Go to yoga class
- Take a nap!
- Read a book
- Listen to some uplifting music
- Eat something healthy; it may be that you have some low blood sugar going on.
- Call your champions
Client Sue learned to manage her resentment and overwhelm by blessing those people who were bugging her. She would say, “Bless him” or “Bless her” or “I should be more understanding.” I asked her, who’s blessing you? What if you say, “Bless me”? Or how about giving yourself that understanding that you offer to others? She started out blessing the other person and herself at the same time. Eventually, she was able to identify her moments of overwhelm, say, “Bless him/her,” AND go do something kind and nurturing for herself.
“I QUIT” moments are completely normal
These “I QUIT” moments are completely normal, and feeling overwhelmed is what happens when we attempt to do something or be something that we’ve never done or been before. It also happens when we have had a bad experience with the activity or thought. The brain IS elastic though. Your children may always have ADHD but you can change the way your brain deals with the ADHD. These three tips, when practiced on a regular basis, will help make ADHD parenting less frustrating and more manageable.
Print out this post so you can refer to it when life starts weighing you down.
Share with us: What is your go-to solution for dealing with “I QUIT” moments? Just scroll down to comment!
Copyright 2016 Margit Crane/Yafa Luria. All Rights Reserved
What I’ve learned about ADHD is that, without a treatment plan (medication is a treatment, not a treatment plan), ADHD children (and their families) can suffer into adulthood, feeling disoriented, unfocused, discouraged, and hopeless. It breaks my heart to see people who have no idea how wonderful they are, so my mission is to nurture and guide a generation of ADHD teens (and the parents who love them!) so that they can be the leaders, the creators, the great thinkers that they are destined to be.
So what about that nagging concern?
— Or go to the ADHD Family Coaching page, for information about the complementary phone consultation and the “Brilliance Consultation”