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

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?