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I think most parents would agree they want their children to be successful, whatever that may look like to each of us. However raising a person with ADHD comes with it’s own set of challenges on top of those that are already standard struggles for parents. There’s the disorganization, difficulty with time management, distractibility, defiance, and of course emotions getting “too big” and causing a meltdown.
These are some key points we utilize in our household to help manage some of those symptoms.
Make charts for daily tasks
This is probably my most favorite go to. This is what got me off my son’s back and gave us both some room for peace. He likes that I’m not reminding him to get his clothes on because it’s been 15 minutes and he’s still just dinking around on the floor with his jammies half off; I like that all I have to say is “Go do your list” and he does! Quite successfully and quickly no less. We keep on him about time management and got him a watch and regularly use kitchen timers as needed to help him understand what 5 minutes actually feels like. He also knows that he doesn’t get to move onto anything else more fun until his list is done and he will be redirected back to the list as many times as it takes. Me being able to say 4 words helps with not engaging him too much because that just becomes fuel for his defiance. Lists have done a lot for my household. He actually has 3 lists; one for morning, one after school, and one evening. They each have there own set of things and I made them in order to help him learn how to manage that later in life (you don’t get your shoes and jacket on until you’ve gotten dressed sorta thing) as I see him struggle with it currently. You can check out what all are on those lists here!
Plan ahead and do ahead
This ties into the list ☝. Mornings are rough for everybody not just our family, but if he/we don’t do stuff the night before we will NOT make it out of the house on time. Part of my son’s list entails him to get stuff done ahead of time for the next day; i.e. laying his clothes out, making his lunch, prepping his backpack, planning for anything he needs to bring to school, ect. This also sets the tone for the evening and helps wind him down prior to bedtime. We’ve essentially created a very productive routine that tells his body “Hey it’s time to chill, bedtime is soon”.
Always allow an extra 15 minutes, better early everyday than late
I’m a type-A personality so not only do I live for organization, I feel my body tearing itself apart if I am late anywhere. Now because my darling child will occasionally have meltdowns in the morning while all the goings on are happening, I have opted to get him up a wee bit earlier so that it is now on him and less on me. By that I mean if we have extra time (because he didn’t loose his $#*!) then he can spend a little bit of time watching TV or playing with LEGOS or pillow fighting his younger brother. This helps ease my mind and helps take the stress off both of us and it’s literally only 15 minutes! This can also be applied to other functions. Kid hates going to the doctor? Just give yourself that 15 minute grace period. So what if you have to wait in the car or sit on the bench outside calmly while they scream. Let ’em. It doesn’t bother you until you allow it to.
Find a compromise for a task that is a struggle
My son hates making his bed. Like cries and tells me “You’re the worst mom ever” when I ask him to do this. And hey, I get it! He doesn’t like to struggle or feel unaccomplished and fitted sheets are the perfect storm for that, even as an adult (I haven’t told him yet that they don’t go away 😂). So we compromise. I help him with his bed and he helps me with my bed, or some other chore I’d like his assistance on. It has us working together as a team to achieve a goal, he gets the practice and gains some confidence and then he gets introduced to another chore and the theory “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine”. You meet him in the middle and he will kinda be forced to do the same if he wants the help. But skills still have to be used! No whining or being rude or I walk out and remind him when he’s ready he can come get me. And I wait until he is actually ready-not that half sneaky smile pouty face ready. Good ole’ manipulation attempts *sigh*.
Schedule down time and self reflection time
This one is something we still are working on. He finally seems eager to do this and gets excited about it on his list. I got him a gratitude journal awhile back and so far he really enjoys it. This one is geared for younger kiddos but they certainly have lots to choose from for all ages. I liked this one because it was simple, straightforward, and still had room for drawing about your day. Meditation is slooooowly coming along. I really love meditation myself but he doesn’t like to be still for so long (hmmm 6 year old with ADHD, can’t imagine why). However he DOES enjoy progressive relaxation in book form at bedtime. This is the book we use here. He feels like he’s just getting a story read to him and he gets to move his muscles a bit but it’s actually helping him to gain self awareness and control over his body. Plus its extremely calming. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend doing so. It’s beneficial for all ages.
Daily outside time, regardless of weather
This is huge for people with mental health conditions and frankly for ALL people. We need nature. I notice a night and day difference in my kid if he hasn’t been able to play outside. It’s centering for him, as it is for me. Even if he’s not “doing” anything in particular, just being in the fresh air and hearing the birds and feeling the wind helps his brain have multiple things to do with itself and thus calms him. I also feel it’s important to get your kids used to all types of weather. I believe it helps them become more resilient, because some days are crumby and some days are shiny but all days exist and you can make them into better days if you choose to.
“One task at a time”
This one comes straight out of his therapists mouth. And it seems so simple but sometimes I think we all need that reminder. When he’s trying to eat a snack and play on his tablet and talk to grandma on the phone or watch his favorite show, I remind him “One thing at a time, you need to pick one”. This also helps him learn prioritizing, which is the most important or what do I actually want to do right now. It helps him slow down and think in a world that gets so caught up with do, do, do!
Weekly clean outs for room, locker, backpack
I am ashamed to say I let this one drop recently. I put it on his list and thought he was doing it completely! Until I happened to put something in his backpack for his teacher and found pencil shavings, pencils, an opened sharpener, and his empty pencil box in there….So I helped him clean it out, no biggy. Until I tried to put the pencil box in the front pocket and found….FOOD! Old food from at least 2 weeks prior 😝. There was a SB&J (S is for sunbutter) with the butter smeared around the inside of the pocket, and carrots that luckily weren’t growing a biology experiment, and stale pretzels. Thank goodness there wasn’t a funky smell yet! I had him clean out that particular pocket solo. Now I check on a daily that this task gets done so there’s no surprises. We also go through his room with him roughly once a week. I don’t usually put my foot down in his room as long as stuff is where it belongs but he likes to stash stuff under his bed. Including trash…and food. We’re working on it…
Responsibility in the household living duties
I may refer to chores as such on here since that’s what most people know them as but at home I prefer to use the term “living duties”. Why? Well because everyone who lives has duties unto themselves and the other members of their household. You like to eat? You learn how to cook and wash dishes. You like to be clean? You learn how to wash yourself properly and do laundry. Plus members of the family might throw a fuss if your personal fragrance is emanating from you at 3 feet away. I am a firm believer and supporter that my kids will one day leave the house and not come home for mama to wash their clothes. And I’ll be damned if my boys think it will become their partners responsibility. No. It’s on them, they need to know how to take care of themselves. And myself and my husband will be the ones to teach them. Make no mistake these baby birds don’t have instinct, they need skills before they can fly. That’s what I’m here for. I intend for my kids to know how to cook, clean, launder, sew, iron, fix, repair, wash, dry, screw, and unscrew just about everything for themselves by the time they are ready to leave my nest. It’s my responsibility as their parent to provide them the tools and skills they need to succeed and the knowledge of where to find the information if they don’t know it.
What are some things that work for your child to be successful?