Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 6

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This will be the final post in this series. If you have not already, please read the previous chapters to get an in-depth view of each category. Also feel free to go back and look over the skills, it takes time and practice to hone them.

This post is gonna be short and sweet! The links for the previous articles are above and you can reach out to me or your therapist with questions.

I started this series with the intent to spread some love, understanding, and skills to parents like myself out there who are trying their best. Even though this series is geared towards being a parent of a defiant child, these skills can be applied to many aspects of life and to other kids who you have close connections to.

There are lots of helpful books out there, but I’d like to share the one’s we found to be most useful to us.

  • Mindful Mantras: This is a group of 8 books total (they may have added more since then) and we love them! My son loves to read them out loud himself too. They are simple, encouraging, and have a different defined message clearly implied from the title.
  • Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda: This is one I found to even be helpful for me. It keeps mindfulness simple and explains it in a way everyone can understand.
  • Angry Octopus: This one is extremely helpful to teach kids that they are in control of their bodies and it shows them how to do that through progressive relaxation that is both engaging and relaxing. It also has a fun journaling/coloring book with prompts geared towards getting feelings out and relaxation.

I hope that you gained some insightful tips on this journey with me! Until next time, be well!

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 5-It Takes a Village

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” means so many things to me. But for the purpose of this article we’ll focus on the direct hands involved in your child’s life. These could be parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, babysitters, grandparents, counselors, teachers, sports leaders, religious leaders, and so so many more. The people who are directly partaking in the development and growth of your child.

In this chapter I’ll be discussing how to include other adults in the changes that you are making for your child’s life structure. If you are new here and haven’t read up on the previous chapters in this series, please do so! The links are provided below for each.

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Integrating other adults in your child’s new plan can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You are the parent and you hold a majority of the power when it comes to decisions about your child’s needs.

When we implemented the ticket system we didn’t include the school in it right away. We mastered it at home first, made it a consistent daily part of our lives and then, when it became apparent an additional tool was needed at school to help modify negative behaviors, we brought in tickets to be given to our son after successful parts of the day.

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We broke up the day into 3 separate categories: beginning, at recess, and after recess. He could earn a ticket during each portion as long as he kept safe hands and feet, kept his saliva to himself, and had listening ears. It was hugely successful.

This strategy can be easily started at a daycare or grandparents house or any other facility that you may use for your child care. The tickets must retain their currency though, so don’t allow anyone to get too ticket happy. The child must do the work to earn the reward.

Sometimes you will come across an adult who does not use the system when they are around your child, whether it be difference of opinion or down-right sabotage of the situation, my point is it does happen. You need to be prepared for those times.

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Remember boundaries from the previous chapters? This is one of those times you set your boundaries and you stick to them with this other adult, regardless of who they may be in your life. You are allowed boundaries and deserve respect as a parent (and a person) to decide what works best for you and your child.

If you are working with a professional and making safe, effective changes and someone else comes in with their own idea of what should be going on, don’t hesitate to yeet them out the door (politely but assertively, of course).

This is not only important for yourself, but also for your child to see that when you set a boundary you expect it to be followed and that you produce real consequences when it is not.

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It’s important to remember that if you do come across an adult who doesn’t agree with your parenting technique: be kind, be assertive, and move on. You don’t need to waste energy and focus on this. Most of the adults in your child’s life will likely see the benefit of making certain changes and be totally on board with all that’s required to keep it going.

It’s also worth noting that having these other adults involved with your child is very important for your kiddo. If you are the only one laying down new laws, it can start to feel like a dictatorship to some kids (especially defiant ones). But when there are other grown-ups saying and doing the same things as you, your child starts to see this is just how the world is and they adapt to it.

It can really make all the difference having a supportive team on your side while rearing your kid. And kids benefit from having all that much more love in their lives!

The next chapter will be the last in this series! Stay tuned

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 4-Deep Breathing and Other Tools

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

Holy heck it’s been awhile since my last post! Needless to say, life got rather crazy there for a little bit but that’s a story for another time . Without further ado, let’s get into it and back on track!

If you haven’t read the first parts in this series here are the links:

This post is going to focus on tools/skills to be used in the heat of the moment. These are helpful for adults to learn themselves and teach to kids. These also work best when you the adult are doing these with your own emotions and stressful moments.

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By far one of the most helpful skills we utilize (with ourselves and our sons) is deep breathing. We use it when the energy is too high and the kids are bouncing off the walls; when any of us are getting upset and starting to loose our patience; and we use it in both the calm down corner and time-out.

I have to say it’s extremely gratifying to hear your kiddo using their deep breathing exercises (that they used to fight you on) all on their own while they are seated in the calm down corner or on time-out. We had that success roughly a year into working with our counselor and implementing these tactics, which seems like a long time when you’re in the thick of it but looking back, that year flew by quickly.

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There’s a ton of variations on how to do deep breathing and make it fun for kids (your counselor may have some books that make it fun too! See Chapter 6 for some we used) but our kiddo likes the “snake breathing” the best. You take a slow deep belly breath in through the nose then you breath out making a “SSSSSS” sound while keeping your breath controlled and steady. Do this at least 3 times, I find 5+ is best, and see who can make the sound the longest!

We often do this right before bedtime, and it helps set the mood and mind for the next steps (usually lullabies) of the nightly routine.

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The other tool we used was the S.T.O.P skill. It’s ultimately an acronym for: S-Stop what you’re doing, stop engaging, stop moving, just STOP. T-Take a step back, both mentally and physically, to pull yourself out of the situation and get out of your emotional state. O-Observe, how you are feeling, how others are feeling around you, put yourself in their shoes and try to see how they are experiencing this interaction. P-Plan what your next step is now that you have removed yourself from the heat of the moment, gotten some perspective, and seen the situation from all sides.

For our son this was some pretty advanced stuff and he worked with it like a champ. The reality is, we just introduced this skill to him to start the process of learning and practicing it. Because that’s what this is all about! We all have heard “practice makes perfect” but there is no such thing as perfection, it’s an illusion. I prefer “practice makes permanent”. The more you do something the better you know it and how to do it and are more likely to do it in the future.

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Sometimes there are outbursts that my son has where I just kinda have to to let him come down on his own. His therapist described it as “letting the train get through the tunnel” and once he’s able to see the light on the other side and rejoin the rest of us, I’m then able to use the skills above or talk about how he got to that high level of anger or whatever other feeling he was having. We usually end this discussion with a hug it out session .

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your kid….is nothing. And it’s not doing nothing and acting like you don’t care. You’re doing nothing while still being available; you’re giving them space (and respecting their individual needs) while keeping the boundaries in place and showing that you are consistent and can be counted on to be there once they chill out and need a hug or snugs.

What’s your go to skill for calming yourself or your little one down? Tell me about it in the comments.

Next time: Parenting a Person With ADHD: It Takes a Village

Dealing With Those Hard Days

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

I’m gonna start this post off with a trigger warning. It’s not regarding violence or addiction but this subject I’m about to broach can be a really sensitive one for some. I strongly feel this is a conversation we need to be having more often and normalizing, both within ourselves and with our peers. It needs to be a conversation without judgement and with lots of room for grace and understanding. I ask that we practice kindness to yourselves and others.

There are some days when I don’t like my son. This is a hard feeling to have as a parent, and it’s even harder to talk about. I love my child, I jump through hoops frequently to give him what he needs…but it doesn’t change that some days he acts like an asshat and is hard to be around. This topic usually sends most people running for the hills when brought up in casual conversation. Whether it be they are scared to discuss it with others, or scared to admit that they’ve had these feelings themselves; we as parents still need to address this turmoil inside that some of us face.

If I tell you that while growing up there were days I didn’t like my mom, you wouldn’t blink an eye; most people struggled with parental relationships as a youth. Some of us still do as adults.

So why is it such taboo if it’s the other way around?

Why are we, as parents, left to feel guilty when we don’t want to hang out with the screaming jerk-face that just happens to be our off-spring? If it was any other jerk-face behaving that way people would be telling us to get the heck away from them!

But for some inexplicable reason the tables turn when the culprit is someone you’ve had a hand in creating and/or raising. The funny thing is though-WE DON’T CHOOSE OUR KIDS! We don’t choose who they are from birth and we don’t get to choose who they become. Certainly, we have the job of guiding them down better paths but we are not the one’s in the drivers seat, much as we may want to be sometimes.

Yet somehow we allow others to convince us that if only we did this thing instead of that, then everything would have ended up perfect for our child. We tell ourselves “I should have done this better, I should have handled that differently” and while yes there is always room to improve, we are forgetting the reality every parent faces: that children don’t come with an instruction manual, and even if they did each child would require their own version. They are all different people. They are all unique and individual.

What works for calming my eldest right now, will likely not work for my littlest when he gets to crossing that same bridge. And how my littlest knows I love him is different than how my eldest receives my love. Both wants snuggles when they are sick; both are busy and active on a constant basis. But each has a very different relationship with me. I love them equally, and that is with my whole heart; however what they need from me as a parent is varied and different. It is unique and individual, just like them.

So although we cannot choose who are children are or will become, we CAN choose to love and accept them as they are. I make that choice, everyday. Because love is a choice, it is work and commitment. Regardless of the attitude or behaviors being thrown my way, I do my best to remind each of my boys that they are loved and wanted and they are special, to the world and to me. Even on days when I don’t like being around them, I still love them with my whole heart. And I let them know it.

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 3-The Calm Down Corner *Plus Bonus Craft!*

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This is chapter 3 of the series Parenting a Person With ADHD. If you haven’t already, please read the prologue, chapter 1, and chapter 2 so you are up to speed on the information.

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Creating a calm down corner was one of my favorite things about the changes we made. We specifically made the calm down toys ourselves so it became a craft, rather than a chore or forced activity. It put a positive spin on a calming place and set the tone for how we wanted the area to function. It was also a good bonding activity for myself and my son to do together.

Calm Down Corner Craft

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We did 2 different themed bottles: one with water and oil and glitter; the other with water, water absorbing polymer beads, and glitter. For both, the water was colored with food dye. My son picked the colors of glitter and water because it’s important to include your child throughout the process of making changes in the household. That way they feel like their voice is still being heard and they are able to exert some control. Allowing him choices in a controlled setting shows him he does have power over his choices, which is a skill in and of itself!

Directions: add your water to the bottles then color it, shake with lid on to mix. Fill the bottles with water about half way for the oil one and 3/4 for the other. Add your glitter to each bottle. We did about 2 Tbsp in each, but add as much or as little as you like. Then add your oil to the one bottle and your polymer beads to the other. For the oil bottle leave a little bit of space for air. For the polymer beads add 5 at a time and allow to fully absorb the water. We ultimately added like 20 beads and topped off the water once we were done. Then use the super glue on the inside screw threads of each lid, tighten the lids on and allow to dry per manufacturer instructions before you play with them.

We keep these bottles in the calm down corner and they are only allowed to be played with if you are there. It helps to keep them feeling “special” while you’re in the calm down corner.

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We also hung up some pages from his therapist, like a thermometer of how high your emotion was that landed you in the calm down corner and of the S.T.O.P. skill (I’ll do a post about that soon). Here’s a different emotion chart that helps kids learn what emotion they are feeling.

The other big factor about the calm down corner is that it’s chosen by the child. We offer our son the option to go to the calm down corner when we see him beginning to get upset. He chooses to go of his own free will or not. If he doesn’t go, he usually gets more upset and makes choices that land him in time-out….which is by our appointing, not his.

This little action of letting kids pick their own consequence goes a long way. Plus it teaches children how to start self regulating their own emotions (which is a challenge for most kids, let alone one’s with behavioral struggles). When they are in the calm down corner, they decide when they are ready to come back to the activity at hand.

Occasionally (and when starting out) you’ll have to send them back because they weren’t actually ready to return to the activity at hand; they’re still too wound up but that’s just part of the process-it becomes sort of a natural consequence.

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Also, time-outs are used as a last resort and a no tolerance tool. Meaning that if my child does something that is absolutely unacceptable-like hitting, spitting, back-talking, breaking or throwing things, ect-he gets put directly to time-out and I decide for how long. We keep the rule of 1 minute per year of age starting at 2 years and that seems to work fine for us.

For most kids, you can explain briefly why they are there and that you will get them when their time is done. For my child I have to say nothing, any talking with him becomes a form of engagement in his eyes. I don’t want to reinforce that he gets my attention while in time-out so he gets the silent treatment or the one phrase treatment. “Go to time-out”, I say it once. If he squawks, I go put him to the garage which is right next to our time-out area.

This works like a sort of reset button for him, similar to the calm down corner. He decides when he’s ready to come back in and finish his time-out but if he keeps making poor choices he’ll keep being sent to the garage. It then gets put on him to manage his emotions to get out of time-out. Same thing for when he used to try to leave time-out; I physically and silently go get him and put him back. For as many times as it takes…..I’m glad he doesn’t do that anymore. The garage upgrade seemed to fix that.

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Retraining kids on what is expected and tolerated is tough work. But the right tools and planning can make it a lot smoother. Giving them the opportunity to try again with a calming environment they can go to helps them to seek out space when they need it and redirect their our emotions in a positive way.

Next time on Parenting a Person With ADHD: Deep Breathing and Other Tools

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 2-Reward System

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This is the 2nd chapter in the series “Parenting a Person With ADHD”. If you have not already, please read the prologue here and chapter 1 here.

Now onto the reward system and the correct way to do positive reinforcement. Because yes there is a wrong way…in fact I’d say there’s lots of wrong ways.

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When we first tried positive reinforcement we did the typical sticker chart but we really didn’t have a true set system, let alone a successful one. Some thing we did implement (that was terribly wrong, at least for our kid) was taking the stickers back if he earned a negative consequence from poor choices. This was confusing for him because the positive choices he made weren’t getting fully rewarded and instead were getting wiped out by negative choices. So the focus still ended up on the negative, not the positive. On top of this, the rewards weren’t the most tangible or as instant as he needed at the time. He needed to be able to have literally instant results. A lot of kids who struggle with defiance need this approach as well.

When we started seeing the counselor, she had us use tickets (you could also use marbles, hence the photo ) that he gets to put into a jar and he can use them to earn prizes. The important part here is that the tickets need to have currency for the kid! They have to feel valuable to the kid in order to be effective. That value comes from the prizes or rewards they can get using the tickets or marbles!

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The prizes we did initially were coupons (homemade or bought, either are great, one is simpler ) with things like “Have a pajama day” or ” You pick dinner” or “Get out of one chore”. At one point, we opted to make an actual prize box that our kiddo picked items from, but it didn’t seem as motivating for him. Currently he uses his tickets for screen time and other special to him things: watch his favorite show, use his tablet, go to the park, choose a family activity or game night. He still enjoys the coupons for special occasions or once in a blue moon.

For older kids they can use their tickets for trips or treats such as a trip to the ice cream parlor or the beach or for a slumber party (if you do those) or whatever else they enjoy and is feasible for you to give/do consistently. Alone time with you can also be a reward they earn; they pick the activity for you both to enjoy and use however many tickets to do said activity.

Be cautious with how large you make the goals. They need to be attainable in a small amount of time when starting out (like 5 or 10 tickets for a prize) and you can slowly increase the number of tickets needed as time goes on and your child’s skills improve. You want them working for those rewards, not having them handed out like candy on Halloween.

It’s also important to really give tickets for EVERY positive thing you see your child doing in the beginning. “I noticed you stayed calm when it was time to go, here’s a ticket” or if you’re not there yet “You did a great job keeping your hands and feet to yourself when you were upset” or, my personal favorite “Thank you for not peeing your pants while on time-out, you made a good choice. Here’s your ticket”.

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Yes I’ve said every single one of these and more. So. Many. More. Eventually you will get to the point where you work on specific things you want your child to do differently. Like brushing teeth without yelling, or listening the first time (I still have my hopes up for this one), or not talking back. As time goes by they will have to work harder to earn the tickets to get the prizes. Just start small and find the positive, no matter how little it may be.

Next time on Parenting a Person With ADHD: The Calm Down Corner

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 1-Ignoring The Negative

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This is the 2nd part in my new series “Parenting a Person With ADHD”.

In the prologue, I went over how we as a family got to where we are today and briefly discussed some of the tools we used. In this chapter I will be going over in detail the first tool: ignoring the negative nonsense.

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To actively ignore someone takes skill, patience, and practice. To actively ignore your own offspring while they are attempting, very hard, to REGAIN your attention….well that takes the above things and some direct, frequent support. Either from someone who’s been through it or a professional skilled in managing cases like this. Someone whom can give you reassurance. Because this one skill is probably one of the most important and effective.

We started living by the rule: if it wasn’t hurting someone or something, and wouldn’t lead to undesired behaviors later, it could be ignored.

To achieve this can sometimes be tricky. There’s a lot of behaviors/actions that fall into a grey area. I’ve found the easiest way to sort out some of those in between things was to ask ourselves “Is this an actual problem or do I just have a problem with him doing this?”. For example, he used to love being upside down on the couch. I had to readjust myself and learn to be ok with him having his legs up in the air. My only rule was his legs had to be still-no kicking or squirming as that becomes dangerous to others. Now, he doesn’t sit like that anymore. I let it go, and so did he.

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You may be familiar with the saying you get more of what you pay attention to and that is quite true. Especially for a child with ADHD who is defiant and/or has ODD. They like to know they can get a rise out of you, it gives them a sense of control in a world where they have very little control. They like being in control (I don’t blame them, so do most of us) and have a hard time when they are not. Ensue melt down.

The way to break this cycle is to take your own control back…by not giving into the cycle in the first place. When you actively ignore your child’s negative behavior they will (eventually) see they no longer effect your mood/actions with how they choose to act. So they will stop, because the norm has changed. Then they will learn to re-set their brain into active choice making rather than instant response.

Now, keep in mind this will take time. Sometimes a long time. And you cannot, I repeat CAN NOT, give up anywhere in the middle of this transition period. Otherwise you will have just reinforced all over again that they can get a rise out of you, and it will be that much harder to get them, and yourself, to make lasting and meaningful change. This is really a time when consistency counts.

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This is usually the most exhausting part of parenting a defiant child for many. You don’t have room for many mistakes and you don’t have the luxury to throw in the towel. For our son we still have to do this every so often! He’ll be turning 7 this year and we started this when he was 5, just to give you an idea of the road ahead. But he rarely ever needs this now, and he never throws fits like he used to. But the reality of raising a person with ODD or defiant ADHD is that these issues will never fully go away; these skills will always be needed.

Stay tuned for the next chapter: Reward System

Parenting a Person with ADHD/ODD and Anxiety

This post likely contains affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy here and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

When I held my son for the first time I new it was going to be an adventurous journey to raise him. However I never expected the 3 year old him to be hitting walls, slamming doors, physically fighting us, and yelling louder than I thought humanly possible. I blamed it on the poor examples at his daycare (he was fine until he moved to the 3 year old’s room and came across some VERY out of control examples). We even moved schools to follow a teacher we really loved…who ended up not being his classroom teacher.

But things started to get worse. He was biting (and being bitten) and spitting at his classmates and teachers. One day I went to take him to daycare and he started crying, begging me not to leave him there. I was devastated. During the conference with the director and teacher, his teacher informed us that she had to “Bear Hug” him two separate times when he would just not cooperate and she felt he would hurt himself or others. This was the first time I had heard anything about this situation occurring and needless to say, I was livid at the lack of transparency from a professional childcare agency. We pulled him out that very day.

After 2 other day cares, countless issues and getting no where with the advice the “child care professionals”(they may have a degree but I don’t see any clinical practice going on in these places) had given us, we decided to keep him home until kindergarten. There were multiple factors leading up to this decision but it seemed like the best option: keep him home and try to undo all the damage done while he’d been in daycare. Which meant I left my career to become a stay at home mom…while having a complicated pregnancy and a child who constantly defied me. Oh man do I not miss those days. Any time I would ask him to do something, anything!, he turned into a tiny dragon with a big furious temper. So naturally I suited up in my battle armor and put him on time-out….endlessly….and to no avail. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, but I couldn’t just do nothing! I kept asking myself over and over…

Why is this happening? What am I doing wrong? I’m following what the articles and people are saying to do but it’s just making things worse!

And it continued to get worse, until we hunted down a mental health professional. By that I mean a counselor. One who specialized not only in “problem” aneurotypical children but the only one in our state who was trained and actively using CPP (Child Parent Psychotherapy). I found her on my own; not through a referral, not through my child’s pediatrician office, BY. MY. SELF. I did the leg work. And I found that incredibly frustrating and…well just wrong!

Why hadn’t my son’s doctor sent us to therapy from the get go when we came to him with problems? To his credit he sent a developmental pediatrician referral but we wouldn’t get in there until over a year later for our first appointment! We needed help now before my child seriously hurt someone, which he very nearly did when he kicked a child in the head at school! Yes that really happened. I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

Also why had NONE of the day cares given us a name, ANY name of someone who could help us deal with our child’s issues? Are they not in the position to write down a name and number and say “I think this person might be able to help”. They are in the field of child development so what the hell? Even the school counselor in kindergarten had questionable methods. “Throw them in the trash can” referring to my son’s emotional upset in an attempt to teach him to let things go….I still roll my eyes thinking about her saying that. I felt so alone trying to find help for my son, and for myself.

What I learned, the hard way, was this:

  • I will always need to be the advocate for my child, it’s my responsibility to push the bolder (sometimes up-hill) towards the goal
  • I don’t have to push that boulder alone, nor should I!

Finding my son a specialized counselor was literally LIFE SAVING. She gave me my sanity back and tools of how to deal with my child when he was being defiant. She was the one who figured out he not only had ADHD but ODD and a sprinkle of anxiety to top it all off. She helped me to understand where my son was at mentally when he was in the midst’s of a large fit….he was hurting, he was lost, and he was scared. He didn’t understand what was happening to him and he didn’t know how to handle those really big emotions rolling around inside of him, let alone actually being in a state to talk about those emotions. I learned how to help him through those scenarios in the way that HE needed me to, not how I thought he needed me to.

Our counselor also helped me to recognize and deal with my own past traumas, such as my son’s biological father being abusive and the sort of coping mechanisms I was auto-piloting to when handling my son. I came to realize that his behavior was essentially triggering me because it was so similar to my ex’s behavior. Yaaa…that’s about as fun as it sounds..

So what tools did we gain and how did we apply them in real life?

  • We (husband and myself) actively ignored the negative nonsense
  • We swapped our sticker chart for tickets and made a reward system using those tickets
  • We saved time-outs for those severe outbursts and created a calm down corner with special toys
  • We used deep breathing A LOT, and everyone participates-even the baby!
  • We had the school join in with the tickets for a seamless continuation of the reward system

Over the next few weeks I will be going in depth into each of the tools listed above, explaining how we practice them in our home and what changes we’ve seen after implementing them.

I can say though, if you told me 2 years ago that my son would now be making friends, not hurting others at school, and keeping his temper controlled at home…I would have laughed you straight in the face. I didn’t think that we would be where we are now. I certainly didn’t believe we could have gotten here so soon! But with proper guidance and some serious will power, we achieved a level of functionality that I hope my son will be able to keep going for his whole life.

Stay tuned for the next episode in the series “Parenting A Person”.

6 Holistic Ways I Help My Hyperactive Child Calm Down

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

Evenings in ADHD households tend to be well…kind of wild. I don’t know why but there’s some sort of common phenomenon with kids who have this condition. They get a crazy second wind just as it becomes time to wind down for the day. This is very true in our household as well; roughly 5pm my little dude will start to turn rambunctious: running, jumping on the couch, trying to pillow fight EVERY body, and just generally squirreling around. All of this is simply not allowed in the house because it only escalates things with him.

I’ve had to implement some regular go-to tactics to help him ease into the evening routine. I can say that even if you only do ONE a night, it will make your life a lot easier! Check out the list below.

  • Calming tea

I’m a big fan of tea and surprisingly both my boys also really love this comforting drink! My son’s favorite so far is this Lavender Chamomile blend, it’s light and fragrant and a good way to introduce kids to tea if yours is new to it. They also have a probiotic formula too! Taking the time to sip some tea also helps to slow down and mindful practices.

  • Mindfulness

Another great way to practice mindfulness and to keep calm is by reading. We enjoy this book “Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda” quite a bit in our home. It explains how to be mindful in a very easy to understand way so it’s great for beginners (including adult beginners).

  • Aromatherapy

I invested in diffusers early on, knowing how much of a difference aromatherapy makes in health. I have one in most of the rooms of our house including both boys bedrooms. The baby has the larger one, while my big guy has this smaller one. After you fill it to the specified amount with distilled water, add a 3-5 drops of essential oils. You can do lavender or make your own blend using a few different calming kinds. I personally love the blends Serene and Solace from this oil set. I add 3 drops of each, turn on the diffuser before story-time or songs, and let it work its magic. He always says it smells so nice and I can visibly watch him start to melt into the bed. It’s GREAT! If I can’t do anything else on this list, I will always make sure to do this! It makes the biggest impact on my son’s energy levels by far.

  • Journaling

This has been mentioned in my other posts about successful skills for kids with ADHD and briefly mentioned in my son’s daily lists. It falls into a similar category as mindfulness and we usually alternate between the two through out the week, but for older kids you might be able to achieve doing both on a nightly basis. I find as they get older, the journaling becomes a great tool for getting out those inner thoughts and feelings that sometimes are difficult to verbally discuss. It helps to get those emotions in order so that they can process them, and heal if needed, before moving on. We dedicate about 15 minutes for journaling time and this is the one my kiddo is currently using. And if your child isn’t big on writing, here’s some pretty awesome coloring books to get creativity flowing out and zen vibes in.

  • Lullaby

It may seem a little old fashioned or worn down but this is the ONLY thing that guarantees my kid gets to sleep without fail every time. Everything above helps to ease his busy-ness but if he’s struggling to actually go to sleep, I sing him a few songs and he’s set until morning. It’s also a time that just he and I make for each other; it’s a nice and peaceful way to finish off the day. If you’re musically challenged (no shame) this CD by Jewel is one of our favorites. It’s played in both my boys nurseries so it’s very sentimental to me and my husband.

  • Meditation

I’ll be honest this is one we don’t do very often right now. It’s extremely difficult for him to lay down and listen to guided meditation when he’s so full of energy at the end of the day. But he DOES love meditation in book form! This book focuses on a multi-muscle relaxation technique but it feels more like a game to a kid. It’s story-time, meditation, and bodily control all in one! Also, YouTube has a ton of great free guided meditation videos for those kiddos who are ready for the challenge!

All of these items on this list are things we do at bedtime as part of our daily routine but you can (and should!) absolutely do them at any time of day when your little needs to chill out or unwind.

Are there any things you do at home that aren’t on this list?

My Son’s Daily List’s

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

My older son has a rough time taking direction well (you can read about why here). That being said, we’ve had to come up with some creative ways to get around this. One of the best ways we’ve found so far is making a list of the tasks he needs to accomplish. And it’s not just one list but three: morning, afterschool, and evening. I’ll get into the details of each below. Here’s some of the other tactics we use at home to help our son be successful.

Each list has the daily tasks that need to get done at that time of day written down under the corresponding time frame. So brushing teeth is under both the morning and evening columns, while cleaning out backpack is only in the afterschool column. In addition to this, I put a sort of open category in the afterschool section for an extra chore. Its important to me that my kids participate in household duties that are more than just their self-care duties. I want them to have realistic expectations of what life is like both on their own and in a family of their own or with roommates.

The additional chore is something of my choosing and is typically stuff he’s done many times and something he can confidently do solo. If it’s ever a new chore, I will do it with him a few times to help him feel comfortable. Then I yeet him to the wind because he is one who will learn best if he solves problems on his own with supervision and support as he needs it, but without interference.

Now without further ado here’s the lists in chronological order

  • MORNING
  1. Get dressed
  2. Take pill
  3. Comb/Style Hair
  4. Brush Teeth
  5. Wash Face
  6. Sunscreen/Chapstick
  7. Fill Water Bottle
  8. Gather Backpack, Lunch, & Water Bottle
  9. Eat Breakfast if not already done so
  10. Shoes & Jacket
  • AFTER SCHOOL
  1. Clean Out Car
  2. Hang Jacket/Shoes Away
  3. Empty Backpack
  4. Clean Lunch Bag
  5. Wash Hands
  6. Take Out Compost & Recycle
  7. Help Mom With Chores
  • EVENING
  1. Make Lunch
  2. Shower
  3. PJs
  4. Clothes For Tomorrow
  5. Take Pill
  6. Read/Meditate/Journal
  7. Brush Teeth
  8. Wash Face/Chapstick
  9. Go Potty
  10. Songs/Stories & Bedtime

As you can see these are really just daily living self care sort of tasks. But my son will NOT do them unless prompted and WILL throw a fit when told to do them one by one. So now all we have to say is “Go do your list” and he does. At first it was an adjustment but in less than a week he was going to do some of the tasks without me even having to say anything. It helps him (and me) stay on a routine too, which is really important for most kids but especially those who are aneurotypical.

My son is almost 7 and is able to read well. But prior to this we did a chart with hand drawn pictures, cut half the page in wide strips that could be folded over, and Velcro tabs to create an interactive type of chart that could be flapped open or closed depending on if the task was completed in the AM or the PM. If all the tabs were closed, it meant he had done everything he needed to in the AM. If they were all open it meant the same but for the PM. This worked great when he was in preschool and even into kindergarten. I also labeled all the pictures so he would learn what the words meant.

Having these lists has made our household a whole lot calmer. My son doesn’t feel like I nag at him and I don’t feel like he’s ignoring me anymore (at least when it comes to this). It’s allowed us to regain the peace in our relationship that we were so craving.

What are some of the things you use for your kiddo to help them?

Normal Is Overrated

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

Today I watched a Pixar Short titled “Float” with my son. I’ll give a brief description so *spoiler alert*. It’s the tale about a father and his little boy, who is quite special. The child is able to float in the air, completely of his own accord. At first, the father is amazed and just looks at his child in wonderment; then he sees neighbors and rushes to hide his boys gift. Of course that doesn’t pan out and he ends up hiding inside the house with his child. I’ll end my recap there, you can check out the film for yourself on YouTube but what started as a whimsical lil’ clip I was sharing with my eldest kiddo turned into a very personal realization moment.

After the film itself ended, they posted “Dedicated with love and understanding to all families with children deemed different”*. Reading that was almost like a forehead slap. It made me go back in my mind and replay all the moments that other characters were staring and glaring at the boy and his dad, and the dad is apologetically chasing after his child only to end up yelling “Why can’t you be normal!”* in desperation. How they spent a lot of time indoors more or less hiding from society and the dad has to prep the kid before they can even go out for a walk.

It made me wonder…have I ever felt that way about my child?

I already knew my answer…

It’s hard not to feel shame saying this but yes I have wished my child was “normal”, I have wished my child was simpler and easier to handle. I don’t mean to, but I am guilty of comparing my son to other children in his age group and even family members. It never feels good to say that I have done those things; all I can do is give myself grace and always do better each day. This got me to thinking “What the hell is normal anyway? Why do so many people (if not most) want to be considered normal?”

Like, real talk. Tell me if this sounds familiar: it’s good to stand out-but not too much. You should be yourself and authentic-as long as you still fit into the “norm” and aren’t too far off that spectrum. You can have fun and be silly-but don’t look crazy or sloppy. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve certainly felt those pressures in my daily life. We all want to fit in, that’s part of human nature. But this notion of “normal” is something intangible. Normal can and does mean SO many things! What’s normal for one may be way weird for another. We as humans seem so adamant on putting ourselves and others into pre-packaged boxes. Then, how do we prevent it happening (and doing it) to our children?

Acceptance. Accepting our children exactly as they are and learning to see the beauty in the conditions they may have. Letting them just BE; be themselves and be free. At the end of the film the father accepts his son for who he is and enjoys him as he is. No pressure, no chains or ropes, just pure love. Here’s the kicker though, everyone is staring! I thought this was really important because in typical films we usually see everyone accept the outcast, but here it was just the son and father having their moment; and the dad stopped caring what other people thought. Which brings me to my second realization.

Don’t let the opinions of others get inside your head, especially with your child.

It’s hard to do and can be kind of a gray area because you want to listen to professional advice and make adjustments where needed when working on behavioral issues. But if you let those facts and knowledge through while keeping opinions out, I feel like that is key. People can have their opinions. They can also have them to themselves and it’s ok (in fact it’s good) for you to tell them so. I know firsthand how hard that can be, and how people can take it the wrong way but that’s on them-not you. Plus professionals don’t usually take things personally.

You have a right to keep as clear a head as possible when being a parent, and if that means telling family members, friends, or otherwise “Thanks but we know what works for us” then by golly, more power to ya! Raising a person is hard enough without dodging all the crap that others think you should do.

I was really impressed by this little film. It got my heart and mind stirring. I hope you will take the time to check it out and see if you can gain something from it as well.

My Child Also Has ODD

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

Because why not!? Hahahahaaaaaaa*laughing turns to crying*

I’m kidding. I’m fine, seriously. But yeah, at one point I was dreading this diagnosis. We already suspected ADHD to be a factor but it just wasn’t accounting for ALL of the push back we were receiving. When we finally got into a psychiatrist he said something along the lines of “Oh yeah it definitely looks like he’s got ODD as well” and I just….sorta felt my heart sink and my stomach drop.

I hate that even I got caught up in the stigma a diagnosis can create, but I knew from all of the reading and research I had done that ODD was what I call a heavy diagnosis. It’s typically not given easily by practitioners and usually coincides with ADHD or…conduct disorder. The latter of which can be dangerous. Thankfully, our son didn’t have conduct disorder and his counselor chalks that up to us being so involved during his early years and working with him on a constant basis to get through those really rough patches. My gray hairs would have to agree!

So he has ODD….now what?

Well there is a chance (however slim it may be) that he will outgrow the ODD symptoms. Experts say by roughly age 8, this could occur. We still have a little over a year to reach that bench mark and I have high hopes! He’s come a long way with the therapy and medication, and he seems to be calming down and handling his anger a lot more productively. Everyday I see more and more improvements in his self-regulation skills. He does a lot of it on his own too which is just so gratifying. I have to say I am very proud of all the personal growth he’s done in such a brief period of time .

So the plan is we continue medication, we continue therapies (we’re gonna give equine therapy a go next!), and we continue to build upon lifestyle improvers like mediation, self-reflection, journaling, and seeking life outside of screen-time (because screen-time makes his symptoms worse). Maybe in a year or so he’ll need less medication, or none at all, to help him manage his symptoms. Maybe he’ll need the same dose or more. Either way I’m ok with whatever comes because we will handle it together, as a family.

Are you someone who has ODD or know someone who does? What has your journey been like? Leave a comment below.

How Do I Parent This Child?

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it. *language warning

As a parent, feeling confused on what to do next when handling your child’s outburst is rather common; I’m fairly certain we ALL experience this at one point or another in our parenting careers. However, this feeling comes along way more frequently when parenting a difficult child, and at a tenfold strength that usually brings along with it some form of anxiety or depression. Sometimes those confusing moments can feel like life or death choices…and the reality is that sometimes they are. For those parents struggling with children who are suicidal and/or hurting themselves, those moments of question can truly be the end of your own sanity. Feeling like you don’t know what to do next because you don’t know what your child will do next is the epitome of being caught between a rock and a hard place. People who don’t have kids, will hopefully never have to suffer this sort of turmoil; and I envy them for that. At times it seems like parenthood is akin to some form of self-torture.

If you have an aneurotypical child you’re probably already very accustomed to the push back and the manipulation tactics that can (and often DO) occur. By default, you are also likely accustomed to the confusion that takes place in your own mind. Literally: “What do I do next? Is this like the last time? Should I try what I read about in that book? Or maybe what his school counselor said? Do we need to call the police this time? Or am I just wasting their time? Will it cause more fighting? More anger? More defiance? Will I get hurt? Will my child get hurt?”, and these questions can be terrifying and the fear overwhelming. Especially in those moments. You’re just trying to be the best parent you can be to your kid, and that becomes all the more challenging when said child just doesn’t want to be parented.

I think one of the biggest struggles about this is that each situation ends up being unique. So what you used last week to stop him hitting the washing machine while on time out, may blow up in your face when he’s spitting on the washing machine today. On top of this most parenting experts agree that consistency, consistency, CONSISTENCY is the all around best policy. But how are you supposed to be consistent when things change practically daily with your child? One minute they’re excited and happy and the next they are having a meltdown and yelling some really awful things at you. How on Earth are you, the parent, the guide, the guardian, supposed to be consistent with the human embodiment of Russian Roulette?! Well, the answer is: there is no one right answer. And as a parent to a difficult kid, I can tell you hearing that….is fucking exhausting. And I mean like EX. HAUST. ING. We are spent, we are soooooo past done, we do not have the time nor the energy nor mental/spiritual/physical capacity to pursue all the thousand billion possible ways to get our kid to finally listen!

But the struggle doesn’t have to be so difficult. The trick with this is you take yourself out of the equation, you decline to continue the power struggle (because lets be real that’s what it’s become). You know your child, you know them well (probably better than you even realize), and you CAN solve the mystery that is their mind! It really truly helps to enlist the aid of a therapist that is trained specifically for what your child is dealing with; whether that be ADHD, trauma, bipolar, autism, or any other neurobehavioral condition. A therapist can give you an insight to your direct relationship with your kid that frankly my bloggy pages cannot. They can see the dynamic, they can see where adjustments may be needed and help you figure out just what those adjustments are. They have tools and ideas you would never have thought about (seriously it’s kinda amazing all the stuff out there now-a-days for mental health) and they know ways to help pay for those services if finances is a burden (I’ve been there, I feel you).

My point is: yes, it’s hard being a parent to someone who has complications and yes, sometimes you wanna just tear your hair out and yes, sometimes you really fear for everything (them, yourself, the rest of your family) but you don’t have to go it alone. There are people out in this world who care, GENUINELY CARE, about your wellbeing and your kids wellbeing and the wellbeing of everyone involved.

You deserve happiness and peace-so please, don’t be afraid or ashamed to say “I need help, and I’m ready to receive it”.

What’s your biggest parenting fear? No judgements, only understanding and love please.

This Is Me!

Hi! My name’s Mariah and I’d like to welcome you to my blog! There’s a little bit (or a lot a bit) of something here for everybody. While I started this blog as a way to reach out to other parents who have “difficult to parent kids”, I also really love being able to share some of my passions on here as well! So you’ll find some DIY, crafting, sewing, gardening, beauty/hair care, and travel on this site too.

I’ve included the links below for each category. You can also find these links on the home page. Go check ’em out!

Keep reading if you’d like to learn a little bit more about me.

So you may be surprised to hear I am actually a nurse by trade, not a blogger (is blogging even a trade??). I took a leave from my career during my last pregnancy just in time for the pandemic to hit when I was planning to go back to work…yay. With everything rather chaotic I found myself questioning the field I had chosen and the safety of being a healthcare worker. On top of that, childcare was not even an option at the time. So I became an official stay at home mom (I’d been in denial about this for awhile, not gonna lie). I started doing homeschool, which was really cool but just not what my kid needed. So when he started at a Waldorf charter I had a little more free time on my hands and wanted to start something new. Enter: this blog!

I have to say I’m surprised with how much of a creative outlet it is, not to mention it feels like I’m having an adult conversation even though it’s really just my inner monolog being poured out to the internet…eek! I’m really excited to see where this will go and what will change in a year from now!

Please feel free to reach out through comment or join the email list. I don’t spam and I probably won’t send emails more than a few times a month. Cheers!