Supporting Your ADHD Child
Here’s the DSM-V description of ADHD, in part:
ADHD is characterized by a pattern of behavior, present in multiple settings (e.g., school and home), that can result in performance issues in social, educational, or work settings. As in DSM-IV, symptoms will be divided into two categories of inattention and hyperactivity and impulsivity that include behaviors like failure to pay close attention to details, difficulty organizing tasks and activities, excessive talking, fidgeting, or an inability to remain seated in appropriate situations.
What is important is that it doesn’t state that ADHD kids are destructive or defiant. Yet, many of us think that that’s part of the diagnosis (think how often the word “troublemaker” is used to describe people with ADHD).
So what IS the cause of misbehavior in ADHD kids?
It’s possible that there’s a co-occurring diagnosis that hasn’t been made yet. Your child may have ADHD + Autism, ADHD + Bipolar Disorder, ADHD + Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD + Sensory Processing Disorder.
It’s possible (if not probable) that your child needs to be parented differently. I’m not saying you’re doing a bad job. I’m not like that. I’m saying that parenting an ADHD is different than parenting other children and that to parent your uniquely wonderful child, we often find that changes need to be made.
And, probably, your child is frustrated, confused, and scared and just doesn’t know what to do. Keep this in mind as I share my closely-guarded (and not-so-closely-guarded) secrets to really supporting your ADHD child.
1. Your child isn’t a troublemaker. Your child is a wonderful ball of joy and brilliance and frustration and fear. If you stop treating your child as a troublemaker and start asking yourself, “What is my child afraid of?” and “What is frustrating my child?” you’ll get more traction and better results.
For example, when your children won’t do his/her homework, ask yourself, “Does homework support joy or brilliance?” And, if not, then it must be frustrating to do it. “How can I make this less fearful for my child?” And you can ask, “What would make this easier, given that this is something you have to do/need to do/have been assigned/have made a commitment to do?”
An angry child is a frightened child. Remember that. And a frightened child isn’t ready to take on the tasks of someone his/her age. This child will need more guidance: from you, from a coach, from a therapist, from another relative.
2. You need a treatment plan, not just a treatment. A treatment is, for example, using an essential oil that is supposed to focus a person, or getting a prescription for a medication, or finding a good behavior plan. Treatments don’t work for ADHD (or for nearly anything else if you think about it). A person with ADHD needs a treatment plan – a range of interventions and solutions that will support body, mind, and soul.
For example, one client I work with (16 year old girl) has the following treatment plan:
–Exercise (a lot)
–Little sugar, no gluten
–Two massages a month
Another client (14 year old boy) has the following treatment plan:
–reduced gluten and dairy
–Essential oils daily
–Acupuncture once a month
And yet another client (9 year old boy) has the following plan:
–Omega 3 supplements
–Natural supplements prescribed by a Naturopathic doctor
–Daily quiet time (just him and his thoughts)
–Technology free parts of the day and a tech-free day once a week
–Low sugar, no gluten, no dairy
We are sensitive and need to be supported with a net not just a tow line!
3. Medication, when it works, is awesome. It doesn’t always work but when it does, it’s awesome. It feels like you’re a better version of yourself, like there was a piece missing and now it’s back in place. I know it’s a chemical and that “Big Pharma” is just trying to get more money, but meds sometimes work and when they do, we are grateful for them. Putting your child on medication is a tough decision but stating outright that you will never put your child on medication may be doing him or her a huge disservice, particularly if he or she is unhappy about life or about him/herself. Do you know how long it takes to undo that kind of thinking?? Decades, if ever. (PS – I recommend going to a naturopathic doctor as opposed to an M.D. A Naturopath can help a broader system of challenges and can prescribe meds and/or natural supplements).
4. Create family time in which you are all thinking and talking. Create a family ritual for family time. For example, you can eat dinner and talk about what went well that day. Or you can create a “I need help with…” ritual, or an “I’m grateful” ritual. It doesn’t have to be dinner time and it can be more than once a day. You might want to start and end the day with a prayer, some hugging and snuggling, or even some time sitting outside looking at the sun rise and set. When everyone takes time to slow down, so will your child.
5. Be self-reflective. Look, no one is perfect. In fact, in my opinion, most of us can’t do very much without getting help from other people. That doesn’t mean you need help in every area of your life but there are areas you need help. It’s what happens when we’re human. Stop thinking of yourself as self-sufficient and like that’s a good thing. Chances are you’re not very self-sufficient if you’re miserable or stressed, even if you think other people are the cause of your stress and drama-filled life.
I had a client that just made me sad for her kids. She would repeatedly tell me that she was an expert on ADHD, that she was the only normal one in the family, and that she couldn’t follow the rules we had laid out together because the changes weren’t fast enough. (Even though, as an expert, she should have known that quick changes are horrible for people with ADHD).
There was no self-reflection in what she said. It was all about how great she is and how not-as-great everyone else is. She criticized her husband and her kids but would not look at how she might be contributing to the drama as well. I don’t know what you call that, but I wouldn’t call it good parenting.
Instead of looking at your ADHD children as behavior problems (which really won’t contribute to any long-lasting improvements), think of them as needing some intensive care. Your family needs intensive care. If your child were in a car accident and in the hospital, would you be thinking of whether his homework is done? Your child’s behavior is a symptom of a larger glitch. The problem isn’t the homework not getting done, the back talk, or the lack of responsibility. The problem is that what you’re doing isn’t working for that child and all the nagging in the world won’t change that. You need a different approach. You need new resources. You need support. And I can help.
— Get your burning questions answered in THIS WEEK! Schedule a free 50-minute Phone Consultation. ADHD can knock a family out. Find out what your family needs to live a more peaceful and drama-free ADHD life. No judgment, no hype.
Copyright 2015, Margit Crane/YAFA Luria. All Rights Reserved.