Life with an Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) child definitely has its ups and downs. One moment things are all falling into line, everyone is happy and your family is like a well oiled machine, then next moment the world is falling apart. You can try to predict and plan for every scenario that may set them off, but it is impossible. The only thing you can do is plan on how you will deal with it.
The last time the ‘world fell apart’, we were in Sudbury with my sister at our favourite restaurant. We had had late nights, too much sugar (what are aunts for!) and were confined to the car for the 5 hour drive. We were all exhausted and hungry and felt we deserved a meal out.
I don’t really know what happened. Maybe it was that he didn’t get to sit beside my nephew, maybe it was busy, noisy atmosphere or maybe he was overtired, but whatever it was a meltdown began. It was slow at first. It began with increased fidgeting, which led to him spilling his water. Then it progressed to fights over what he was and wasn’t allowed to have to drink. The final straw was a misunderstanding regarding the appropriate size nachos (snack vs regular) for an 11 year old. His voice raised, his face got red and he began wrapping his sweater around his neck. I knew we had to leave before he blew.
It doesn’t matter whether we are at home, in the car or in a public place, when my son is ready to blow, he blows. I have come to realize it is a part of who he is and how he deals with his ADHD. As a mom, it can feel frustrating not being able to control the situation and feel like a parenting failure when it happens in public. What you have to learn is that it is how you deal with it and the skills you give your child deal with those feelings, that will decided how big of an explosion it will be.
The past 2 years, since we were finally diagnosed with ADHD, has been a huge learning experience. We began with daily explosions and fights. It was draining on him, draining on me and emotionally devastating. Eventually, I had to come to the realization that I had to accept that it was going to happen, and help him navigate through these experiences. After a lot of trial and error, here are some solutions we have discovered:
- My son needs to evacuate the situation. Whether that means go to his room at home or the van in public, he needs to be moved to a neutral solution in order to regain control.
- Breathing exercises are very important, especially if the attack is anxiety induced. Reminding him to stop, close his eyes and take 3 deep breaths can help to lower his agitation.
- As the Mom, I had to realize that it wasn’t a maleficent behavior, but rather one he couldn’t control. I had to learn to keep calm and not raise my voice, or else it would add fuel to the fire.
- Schedules are the most important part of our life. Going to bed at the same time, eating healthy and limiting video games tend to lead to fewer outbursts.
- The best way to prevent an explosion (if caught early) is distraction. My son loves being helpful. Giving him a job to do or another task can sometime divert a disaster!
There are so many different layers to ADHD. Not every child reacts the same, shows the same symptoms or is set off by the same triggers. It really comes down to trial an error to discover what works for your family dynamics and child’s personality!
If you have some tips and tricks that help you survive parenting an ADHD child, please share them here!!
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