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By Elaine Taylor-Klaus (Parenting Coach, Co-Founder, ImpactADHD)
As parents, we tend to rely on the support of our “village” to help us raise our kids. We appreciate the give and take of a local support network. “Can I drop that off for you on my way home?” “Can you pick up this child for me?” It’s a kind of a dance. We learn to ask for help, and depend on each other.
But sometimes – all too often – your village doesn’t quite know what to do with your ADHD child, or with you. You find yourself bouncing from village to village, or sitting on the outside, looking for a way to fit in. Looking for a place for your child to feel understood, empowered or cherished. Sound familiar?
I WAS A VILLAGE HOPPER
For the first 10 years of my life as a parent, I tried one support network after another. I wanted other parents and schools to understand my children and their ADHD; but, truth be told, I didn’t really understand them that well, myself.
I mean, sure, I thought I did. But I didn’t fully grasp what I really needed to do, as a parent, to effectively support my children. It turns out, setting them up for a lifetime of success with ADHD requires a very different set of skills than just “regular-old-parenting.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I was doing my best to “treat” my children’s challenges with therapies and special programs. I was trying everything I could think of to help them. But I just didn’t know HOW to help them learn to MANAGE their ADHD.
And then, frankly, I lucked out. I accidentally learned the greatest secret of effective parenting for ADHD: THE CHANGES MY KIDS NEEDED MOST, STARTED WITH ME!
IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM. AT FIRST, ANYWAY.
When I started to learn the skills that would really help me manage MY fascinating, interesting and most-definitely ADHD children, a monumental change happened for my family. I learned to really understand the challenges my children were facing, and get strategies for coping and communicating more effectively – with everyone!
The results were pretty immediate. Less than a year into my journey, my then-9 year old child, with Dyslexia, anxiety & ADHD, actually said: “Thank you, mommy. Things are so much better around here.” I kid you not! I had become a much better parent to my ADHD children. And, truth be told, it wasn’t rocket science. I shifted my parenting to a coach-approach, including a solid diet of education & communication, and it made a world of difference!
I wish I could tell you that my husband immediately saw the wisdom of all that I was bringing to the family, and jumped right on the back of my band-wagon. Not so much – not right away. He eventually began to see what a difference the coach-approach was making in our kids’ lives, but he had been quite comfortable denying that ADHD (including his own) was largely responsible for the challenges we were facing, so he wasn’t in a hurry.
During that time, I learned another valuable lesson in family life with ADHD: all it takes is one parent to begin to turn the ship! Sure, it’s much easier when you’re both on board the same ship – or even in the same harbor. But it’s actually not critical. One parent can change the life of a child with ADHD. One parent can turn the tides.
THE GOOD NEWS? TAG, YOU’RE IT!
That one parent who makes the difference can be you.
But you will probably need support in order to do it.
In other words, you can be the one, but you’re not alone. Steven Jobs was the one. He didn’t do it alone.
Whatever else you believe about your “reality” right now – you might think it’s too late, or you need your spouse on board, or there’s just not enough money, or you’re not sure what to do or try – you can make a difference in how ADHD is managed in your family.
The choice is up to you!
You are part of a unique system of support here at TotallyADD.com. It’s like a “cyber-village” to get the education you need. So you’ve already taken the first step. But I want to encourage you to take the next step, to get training, along with coaching or therapy, to help you make real change for your family! Things will improve, dramatically, when you invest in yourself for the good of your child.
THAT’S WHAT I LEARNED. NOW IT’S WHAT I DO.
After searching for villages, I decided to create one. But like parenting, I couldn’t do it alone. With Diane Dempster, we created ImpactADHD.com, a parenting cyber-village, specifically for parents like ourselves, who want our kids with ADHD to thrive.
We support each other, and show parents how to take a coach-approach with their kids. We teach you strategies to help you manage in any challenging situation, and we encourage you to focus on the things that matter most of all, for you and your children. We help you really focus in on what you need to know to help your kids learn to master their ADHD. As Rick Green has said before, there’s lots you could learn about ADHD, the question is, what do you NEED to know?
Your child’s future is a wondrous world of opportunity. What village do you need – does your child need for you to have – to set her up for success? There is no need for you to wander, lost and alone. USE the village that understands and will support you and your family. And take advantage of that incredible give-and-take that happens when we parents lean on each other.
By Mark Bertin
He’s failing two classes again. The teacher keeps telling me he isn’t handing in his homework. I go through his bag and there are blank worksheets. He thinks they might be work he didn’t finish in class, but he says he doesn’t remember. I have no way of knowing. There’s a missing piece of communication somewhere. Who am I supposed to ask?
For most children, school requires more executive function skills than other parts of their life. For starters, they must control their activity level enough to sit still, and they must deal with their impulses while listening and waiting their turn. They need to focus on their teacher, blocking out distractions in the room—as well as internal distractions, like thoughts of the new toy waiting at home. They must find the ability to organize and process what they’ve heard, as well as to retrieve it, paraphrase it, and get it down on paper. And then as they get older, they are expected to keep track of assignments and books independently, manage their time, and plan ahead. It is no wonder many people in the field consider executive function deficits to be a learning disability on their own.
When ADHD is first identified, intervention often focuses on behavior management at school and at home. Initial interventions may be directed at impulsivity, fidgeting, daydreaming, and class disruptions. Children, especially those with hyperactivity or impulsivity, must be able to sit, focus, and control their impulses enough to participate. They need to interact with peers and teachers appropriately. But then there are the equally pressing and less obvious issues such as scattered organizational skills, poor time management, and working memory deficits. Again, it’s not only the most obtrusive ADHD symptoms that matter.
ADHD isn’t an excuse for school problems or misbehavior, but it can be an explanation. Children with ADHD do not know how to keep track of their work, organize their time, or maintain effort. The overriding question should never be Why doesn’t he work harder? but, Since he doesn’t have this skill yet, what can we do to help?
Mark Bertin is a board certified developmental behavioral pediatrician and author.
The above is an excerpt from his book The Family ADHD Solution Copyright 2011 Palgrave Macmillan.
Join Rick Green and Mark Bertin for a free, live webinar on ADHD & Mindfulness and ADHD & Education. Click here for more details and registration.
It was a joyous afternoon, filled with promise and expectation. Who knew it would be overshadowed by years of misery and disappointment?
Adorable in her little uniform shirt at 6 years old, she was home from her first day of 1st Grade. She had changed into jean shorts and was sitting tall and proud at my grandmother’s antique desk. Pony-tail bobbing, she was ready to tackle her homework, proud in that “I’m-a-big-girl-now” kind of a way.
That afternoon I had visions of my daughter’s future, confidently tackling school with curiosity, years of formal education and achievement ahead for her. I saw a world of possibilities.
In retrospect, that day was miraculous in its uniqueness. Never again was homework to be a source of blissful pride.
Years of frustration followed that joyful afternoon. Eventually – 10 learning institutions later – my brilliant daughter graduated from High School. It was an immense accomplishment – for all of us! But Tolkein captured the essence of her formal education: “It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.”
When smart kids struggle with “doing” school, it starts a cycle of helplessness and self-loathing that builds on itself. It’s a vicious cycle that robs kids of their future.
Focus on the Needs of the Child
Even if traditional schooling is not “their thing,” complex kids can learn to become successful as adults. Some can do it on their own, miraculously outplaying the odds. But most rely on the support of parents and educators who figure out how to step outside of the box in order to focus on the child’s individual needs.
Behind every successful adult who struggled with school as a child, you’ll find a parent, a mentor or a friend whose support and understanding empowered that child to keep going.
Focusing on the individual needs of a child is no easy task. Students and their parents are inundated with expectations from other parents and educators, from school systems, communities, families, cultures, personal histories, etc. Shifting those expectations in a way that meets the needs of that one child can be a monumental job. But it can make all of the difference in the world to the life of that one child.
In my work with parents of kids with ADHD, I see it all the time.
- Curious kids who fail to achieve at the one “job” where they are expected to excel – school.
- Creative kids who don’t learn well in a structured school environment.
- Bored kids whose intellect is far ahead of the class, dulled senseless by “busy-work” while their minds long for real learning.
- Experiential kids who are virtually paralyzed when stuck in a chair behind a desk, unable to move or explore in order to learn.
We can put a stop to this vicious cycle. Children can learn to master themselves and find meaning and purpose in their lives. It starts with a paradigm shift. And that paradigm shift starts with conscious parents.
It is difficult for parents to support their kids effectively when they feel isolated and alone, when they feel judged, or lost. It’s hard enough to parent complex kids, it’s even harder to empower them to reach their potential. But when parents learn HOW to help their kids – when they feel supported, get positive feedback, and learn to change their approach — it’s unbelievably rewarding, for the whole family!
My precious daughter – that adorable little 6 year old – has completed her formal education, at least for now. She is not going to graduate magna cum laude from Princeton or Yale, or Michigan or Duke. And I’m really okay with that.
But she IS a lifelong learner, albeit a non-traditional one. She’s leading a fulfilling life, and making a contribution to her chosen profession. She is gaining confidence, and finding success, despite the years of learned helplessness and self-loathing that tried to rob her of her future.
As for me, I continue to find my peace with the knowledge that, if I had known then what I know now, I could have saved us all a great deal of pain and isolation. I can’t change that. And, at the end of the day, that’s part of her story, and mine.
But I CAN coach other parents to understand this complex process. I can create training programs like Homework Headaches that will offer a path for parents, the path I wish someone had shared with me earlier. The path that I’ve been able to use to change the story for her little brother.
I can help other parents re-write the story for their families, to lead their children to find their path with less misery, and more joy.
It all starts with a paradigm shift. It starts with conscious parents. It starts with you.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus is the co-founder of ImpactADHD along with Diane Dempster. They created Homework Headaches [LINK} as a result of the struggles she went through to find a solution for her daughter. To find out more about Homework Headaches and other Impact ADHD courses, click here.
By Elaine Taylor-Klaus
Parenting ADHD kids can be stressful, overwhelming, isolating and frustrating. It’s complicated, and often unclear where you as a parent need to focus. Is it school-work? Is it respect at home? Is it everything at once? There are so many different options for treatment. How do you decide what to do next?
While there are no easy answers when raising kids with ADHD, Parent Coaching can guide parents through the complex maze of decision-making.
In the past, parent options for support were limited to therapy, consulting, and education. Research shows that parent training is a helpful component of any ADHD treatment plan. However, poor parent compliance – that is, a parent’s inability to follow through with recommendations in the training -reduces its overall benefit. (Dr. Russell Barkley).
Parent Coaching addresses the issue of compliance directly by offering an accountability structure for parents to take the information available to them and turn it into constructive action. When Parent Coaching & Training are combined, it offers a new kind of practical support that focuses on the parent and provides a positive environment for effective parenting.
Parent Coaching can help in 3 ways:
First, coaching enables parents to more effectively manage their kids. In particular, a Parent Coach works with a parent of an ADHD kid to:
– Provide support and structure
– Develop skills that work with ADHD kids
– Improve family communication
– Educate the family about the impact of ADHD
– Work with other professionals for coordination of services
– Promote self-esteem and confidence
Next, in addition to supporting parents, parent coaching teaches a style of communication that is particularly helpful in managing complex kids. Coaches are masters of conversation. They help people accept personal responsibility, learn flexibility, adapt to new situations and hold themselves accountable.
When parents learn these skills and use them with their children, it’s incredibly effective! At ImpactADHD, we call this the “Coach-Approach to Conscious Parenting.” We know from our own personal experience that it can make a powerful difference for families, and significantly increase parents’ enjoyment in raising their kids (which is not to be underestimated!).