Tips for Living With an ADHD Child

Tips for Living With an ADHD Child

Tips for Living With an ADHD Child

If you’re just starting down the path yourself, tape them to your bathroom mirror and remember, you are never alone. 

Photo Credit: AbMoriarty Designs

When Lee was diagnosed with ADHD at seven years old, I had no idea what to do.  It felt like someone knocked the wind out of me, and I was flat on my butt.  But when I picked myself up to face the challenges that lay ahead, I found a lot of hope on my road of discovery.  Here are some of the tips that helped me cope through the years Lee grew from child to teenager.  If you’re just starting down the path yourself, tape them to your bathroom mirror and remember, you are never alone.  There is always a way to get up off the ground.

 

 

Go slow:  Don’t overload.  Bits and pieces.  One thing at a time.

Reflect back:  Your emotional reaction can increase your child’s anxiety.  Step back and listen, then respond.

Don’t compare:  Life with an ADHD child will be anything but typical…don’t compare to other peoples’ lives. 

Praise what your child can do, offer help with what she can’t.  Celebrate the things she did well that day.

Educate others so they understand your child.  Knowledge is power; ignorance fuels judgement. 

Remember?  How many times can you ask your child this question?  Instead, give your child a tip to remember or ask what tip he wants.

No one is perfect:  Mop up the mess or turn it into a game.  Reassure your child that life can get sloppy.  There’s no shame.

Acceptance:  Don’t be afraid to ask a teacher for changes.  Help them see your child’s brain is wired in a different way.

Go with the flow:  Life is a rollercoaster.  You will be caught off guard more times than not.  Enjoy the ride.

Take care of yourself.  Now that you’re armed with some tips to get through the day, take a deep breath, and look in the mirror. Put yourself first, even if it’s just for these few moments.  Close your eyes and think of something that brings a smile to your face.  Take this thought with you throughout your day.  You’ve got this!

 

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“Mommy, something happened.”  I turned from my laptop to see Lee, wrapped in her towel, water dripping from her bath in small puddles on the floor.  I held out my arms to her and noticed she was holding a lizard, clutched in her little fists.

I took a deep breath.  “What?” 

“I was training two lizards to ride on my boat in the bathtub and one got away.”  She started to sniffle. 

I groaned.  Lizards have made guest appearances crawling on our couches, hiding in the sliding glass door ruts, and slithering behind the beds.  Our cat padded into my office, licking his lips.  Lee’s eyes grew wide, and she gave a yelp.  The lizard flew out of her fists and in an arcing leap, the cat followed.  “Mommy, help!”    

It was just another day in my household, answering the call of the wild.

It all started in Kindergarten where Lee’s focus on catching a lizard was legendary.  But, in the classroom, she was unable to focus on words or numbers and was diagnosed with ADHD in first grade.  I learned that it is common for a child with ADHD, who has difficulty paying attention, to hyperfocus on her passion.  Unfortunately for this mom, who was squeamish about reptiles, Lee’s passion was lizards.

At first, the boys teased her, then they allowed her to chase with them.  By second grade, their egos were hurt.  They ridiculed her and gave her the sarcastic moniker, Lizard Queen.  But by third grade, the whole class was calling her any time a teacher needed a reptile out of the classroom.  No one could grab a lizard faster than Lee. 

She even trained our dog to spot lizards, and they went out hunting together every day after school.  I went along to keep an eye on them and found myself crawling on my stomach through rosemary bushes, like an army recruit.  Soon, the lizards were taking yoga class on her shirt…five at a time doing finger-flip downward dog and sun salutations.  I knew I had to find a place for her to pursue her passion, one that would keep her and the lizards safe. 

I enrolled her in nature camp up in the nearby mountains.  The first day I picked her up, the leader pulled me aside.  Oh no, I thought, she probably didn’t listen.  Probably wandered off the trail, lost in her endless quest for reptiles. 

The leader said, “Did you know that Lee has an extraordinary gift to notice things in nature?  She helped the other campers find lizards and frogs and identify snake tracks.  She’s a walking reptile encyclopedia!” 

I relaxed and smiled.  All that obsession with lizards had finally paid off. 

It is common for a child with ADHD, who has difficulty paying attention, to hyperfocus on her passion.  Trying to break it can be the worst part of your day.  If hyperfocus comes naturally to your child, like Lee, look for the positive in it and encourage it.  Your child’s hyperfocus can motivate her to pursue her dreams.

If you’re new to hyperfocus with your ADHD child, here are some good links to explore:

https://www.additudemag.com/understanding-adhd-hyperfocus/

https://childmind.org/article/hyperfocus-the-flip-side-of-adhd/

 

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