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Friday, October 14, 2016

Your ADHD child

One active, adorable little boy! 
A good friend asked me for advice on how to help her ADHD 7 year old boy.  Having been through the experience (and lived to tell about it!), I thought it would be a good article for Momcoach.  Here goes…

My dear friend,
I know how you’ve struggled with Chris over the years and how frustrated you are with his inability to focus, learn and obey.  He is a sweet child and it’s obvious he wants to learn how to control his body and mind.  His inability to sit still and do his schoolwork or follow directions isn’t his fault…nor is it your fault.  It’s just part of who he is.  So, no blaming!

Let’s start with his physical environment-
Children with attention deficit disorders need two things…order and routine.  An orderly home brings a feeling of peace and comfort to every member of the family but especially for your overly active child.   He doesn’t need additional stimulation from his environment!  As a mother, that is something you can do that will make a big difference in his behavior.  If necessary, declutter and simplify your home and especially his room and belongings.  Make it easier for him to succeed.  

And routines…I’m not talking about strict, military-type rules and regulations.  Routines are just a framework for your day.  I always kept mine simple yet flexible in case something came up that needed to be addressed.  All kids feel more comfortable knowing what to expect each day…like they know they’ll get up sometime around 7 am (or whatever), dress and have breakfast around 8 am, clean their room and be ready for schoolwork by 9 am.   Then, schoolwork from 9-11 am (for homeschoolers), a walk or exercise of some sort followed by lunch at noon.  And so on…
Which reminds me – The one thing that kept me sane was a quiet time for the kids after lunch.  In order to be a good mom, I had to take care of me.  By structuring the day so the kids had quiet time (or nap time for the little ones) for about 2 hours in the middle of the day, it made it possible for me to either take a nap also (if it had been a rough night) or work on a project that I enjoyed doing or read or do whatever I wanted.  I will have to take care of yourself!

So you have a clean, orderly house and have reasonable routines.  Already you have made a difference in your child’s life.  He knows what to expect each day and he isn’t overstimulated by chaos or clutter.  What next? 

Learn how to communicate effectively with him.  Because he has trouble focusing, he probably doesn’t respond to directions very well.  You can make it easier for him.  First, make eye contact and get his attention.  Make sure his focus is on you.  Don’t repeat yourself over and over again or yell.  He will just learn how to tune you out.  Remember, he has a legitimate disorder that makes it difficult to process and focus.  You have to treat him in a way that will result in success.  Have I said that before?  That’s because it’s so important – you want him to succeed and you have to learn how to help him achieve that success.  It’s as much about you as it is about him.  It might be inconvenient for you to stop what you’re doing to help him follow a direction but it is part of developing good communication skills and also learning work habits.  An example – say you want Chris to clean up his room.  Do you say, “Go clean your room.”?  Probably not.  How about saying, “Chris, I want you to pick up your dirty clothes and put them in the hamper now.”  And then, “Chris, put your toys in their bins.”  For a child who reads, sometimes writing out a list is helpful to remind him what is expected in cleaning his room.  You could give him a card that lists the 5 things you expect for his room to be clean.  Now he doesn’t have to remember everything but can check off finished chores on his list.  You get the idea.

Now, about schoolwork…as much as possible, cut out distractions! If that means making him a special, quiet corner of the family room for him to work, do it!  If that means no background TV noises or music, that’s ok.  Expect him to have a short attention span.  It’s amazing how much can be learned in a short period of time.  Don’t worry about him not being able to sit for half hour at a time.  Many adults have a hard time sitting still too!  Break up the learning into manageable bits.  Try to find ways to make learning “real”.   Ask for his help counting cans in the pantry.  Have him help you make a grocery list.  Have him read signs when you’re driving.  Learning should be a way of life, not a series of workbooks and texts.  Be positive!  Praise his efforts!   

I am probably overwhelming you right now.  One more thing…consistency.   That’s right, you need to be consistent in the way you treat Chris and your other children.  Chris needs to know what to expect from you.  He is trying to figure out his world and you can help him by consistently following through on the things you tell him, and the things you do.  

To sum this all up…
Order and routine.
Effective communication.
Eliminate distractions.

While you cannot control Chris or any other child, you have complete control over you.  The way you act, the things you do and say, the things you accept and the things you will not tolerate, all help your little guy make sense of his world.  He needs your love, your time and your patience.  Maybe I should have devoted a paragraph on patience.  Change doesn’t happen overnight.  Sometimes it takes only days but some things might take years but however long it takes, it’s worth it.  Trust me, I know.  :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Gone in a flash!

Periodically I buy a large round roast to use for several meals.  I trim it, put it in the crock pot, sprinkle a package of Liptons Onion Soup mix over the top and add about one cup of water.  Covered and cooked for 5-6 hours on high and I end up with tender, lightly seasoned meat.  One roast usually makes enough meat for at least 6 meals.  Some gets shredded, some is cut up into chunks, some sliced and some left in a hunk for a pot roast.  Then I put everything into zip lock freezer bags and freeze until I'm ready to use it.

Today was one of those roast-cooking days.  I went to Costco and picked up a 5 pound slab of meat.  After cooking it, I decided it was one of the best roasts I've ever made...tender and easily shredded but not dry.  I used some of it to make broccoli stir-fry for dinner tonight and it was perfect! 

Then it happened.  I transferred the roast into a 13 X 9 inch pyrex baking dish to cool in the refrigerator.  As I was moving it onto the shelf, the refrigerator door started closing and the dish slipped out of my hand, landing with a loud shattering crash on the kitchen floor!  Glass, meat and juices scattered everywhere!  For one tiny brief second, I though about trying to save some of the meat.  NO WAY.  It was gone.  Sigh...

Sometimes, our best efforts to save money and save time disappear in a flash.  Just glad no one got cut.  I'll be more careful next time!

Friday, February 6, 2015

A cure for the winter blahs

 Today is a cold, wet, dreary day. The kind of day where the kids have to be indoors and everyone is restless and going crazy.  What's a poor mother to do?
Let's have a party!
Why, throw a Happy Unbirthday Party, of course!  Who needs a reason to have a party?  Run to your closest Dollar Store and pick up a few party supplies (banners, balloons,
plates, napkins, table cloths, even some cheap favors).  Make or buy brightly colored cupcakes.  Sing "Happy Unbirthday to you"!  Plan a couple of games or pick out a fun DVD to watch.  Turn the doldrums into an unexpected celebration! 
Sometimes we all just need to relax and have fun and what better time to do that than a cold winter day?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Correction not criticism

Little imp!  :)
Because no one is perfect (not you nor your children), you can be assured that your children will misbehave.  It's part of their growing up process...learning to control their impulses, learning what is appropriate, learning right and wrong. 

As a mother, you are learning and growing too which sometimes leads to unpleasant confrontations and criticisms.  Those are emotional reactions, not especially helpful in dealing with a misbehaving child or teenager.  Instead of criticizing. let's aim at correction.

When you respond emotionally, your child is going to respond the same way and that is only going to escalate emotions, not solve a problem.  What you want from your child is for him to know what he did wrong and come up with more appropriate ways to act.  You want him to correct his behavior.

Can you respond to a whinny child calmly?  Can you talk with your belligerent teenager quietly and  without overreacting?  That, my dear friend, is your challenge.  You already know that you can't change someone else, you can only change yourself.  But the good thing is that by changing yourself, you often cause someone else to change which is what you wanted all along.  It's a win-win situation. 

The key is correction, not criticism.

Monday, February 2, 2015

You can do something!

My son posted this quote this morning and I liked it so much I made a sign of it.

Being a mom can feel so overwhelming, it's hard to know what to do first.  The best thing to do is just do something!  It's amazing what can be done in 10 or 15 minutes.  You don't really need a large block of time to do many things.  Usually the annoying tasks that we have to do regularly are fairly quick to accomplish.  Take advantage of those small blocks of time and just do it!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Warning - serious topic

A tragic news article prompted me to write today.  A 29 year old mother couldn't stand hearing her young babies and toddler crying so she tried to kill them.  Now the mother is in jail facing attempted murder charges and her three little children (aged 2 and twins 6 months old) are fighting for their lives.

You think, "How could this happen?"  "What could have been done to prevent it?"

The vast majority of mothers (and fathers) would never dream of hurting their children, no matter how frustrated they are. Yet, periodically there are stories like the one above that are sobering reminders that coping strategies must be taught to parents, especially vulnerable ones.

Young children cry.  No doubt about it.  Babies cry.  They cry because that's the only way they know how to communicate.  They cry because they are tired or hungry or need a diaper change, or are too hot or too cold, or are getting sick, or teething, or in other discomfort.  During sleep they might have had a frightening dream or been startled by some noise.  Sometimes, they cry for no apparent reason.

To cope with a crying baby, consider the following -
1. Babies feel tenseness in people around them.  If their crying makes you tense and anxious, they very possibly might cry more.  Try to remain calm and soothing.  No shouting or yelling!
2. Check for the obvious reasons for the crying.  Feet and hands cold?  Cover them.  Baby sweating? She's too hot.  Remove some layers.  Change diaper.  If baby is young, try feeding him.  Check for signs of discomfort.
3. If all the above fails, soothe baby with quiet, gentle words and put her gently back in her crib and close the door. 
4. If your baby seems like she is in pain, call the pediatrician, even in the middle of the night.  All doctors that I know have answering services that can help you determine whether your baby's symptoms are urgent or can wait until morning.
5. Periodically check on her but try to avoid disturbing her.  Yes, you are not going to get very much sleep but remind yourself that this stage of your child's life is a short one. 

If you find yourself unable to remain calm and get increasingly frustrated, even angry, you need to discuss this with your doctor immediately.  She can help you with additional coping strategies.  You might be suffering from a severe form of postpartum depression.

You need to schedule an appointment with your baby's doctor also to rule out possible physical reasons for her distress.

Having a "safe" person (a friend or family member) available to call when you are at your wits end, will help you calm down and think rationally.  Talk with someone you trust and ask him or her to be that safe person for you.

If your feelings intensify, put your crying baby in her crib and close the door. Then call your safe person or the doctor.  Do not give in to impulsive actions. 

Make sure your husband, babysitters and other care givers know what to do if they feel overwhelmed by your baby's crying. Teach them if necessary.

No one likes to hear a baby cry but it's a fact of life that they do.  If you are unable to cope with your children for whatever reason, you must find help.  It's possible to learn the strategies that will help you be a calmer mother and learn how to handle your own emotions in a healthy way.

Every innocent young baby deserves to be safe and loved.