By Elaine Taylor-Klaus of ImpactADHD
Trick Question: who is school harder for?
- A kid with ADHD
- The parent of a kid with ADHD
- The parent of a kid with ADHD who also has ADHD
Any way you look at it, “back to school time” is a stress factory waiting to happen, regardless of whomever in your house is challenged (and gifted) with ADHD.
So what do you REALLY need to know to help your complex child find success in school? And how can you, as a parent, stay sane in the process?
While we could go on for days on this topic (just ask Rick and Ava), here are a few gems to start this school year with smooth sailing. There’s a TON more guidance and advice at the ADD School Summit, so if you haven’t signed up for it, yet, we highly recommend it – interviews with a dozen experts (just who you need to hear from), at the perfect time of year, that are really easy to access (30 minutes at a shot).
But for now, if you’re ready to make this school year different, start here….
Back To School Survival Cheat Sheet
1. Focus on What’s WORKED in the Past. Solutions for all of your challenges are hidden right before your eyes — in every success your child (or you) has ever had. If your child planned a successful spend-the-night with friends over the summer, she can learn to plan out her homework. If she found a way to remember to take care of the animals, she can find a way to remember to turn in her homework. If you managed to get everyone fed this summer, you can figure it out for the school year.
Generally speaking, assume best intentions, keep a positive attitude, believe in your child’s (and your) potential, and look for hidden achievements, large and small.
2. Understand the Challenges Your Family Faces. Neuro-typical people make complex tasks look easy, like turning in homework or getting dinner on the table. Don’t be fooled – these things are actually quite complicated! Whether you or your child struggles with Learning Disabilities, ADHD, Anxiety (or anything else), “simple” things REALLY are hard to do.
So, instead of feeling somehow inadequate, take the time to understand your or your child’s specific challenges: memory, prioritization, decision-making, whatever (download free eBook for fundamentals of Executive Function). Once you understand the way your or your child’s brain is wired, you’ll begin to realistically anticipate what might cause stress– and hopefully, give yourself permission to find appropriate work-arounds. At the very least, if you can stop beating yourself up because it’s hard and accept that it is – everyone will breathe a little easier.
3. Only Use Systems & Structures with a Clear Purpose. It’s been drilled into us that “consistency” is the solution to our kid’s problems. Which translates to, “so if you’d just put a structure in place everything would be fine.” Yeah, not really. We have a tendency to see “systems” as the ultimate solution, but truly, they are just an assistant.
Systems work well when you’re clear on WHAT you’re trying to achieve, WHY it’s important, and HOW it works for each person involved. And you gotta have buy-in. Even young kids can be part of creating systems, and they must be motivated to use them. When possible, use rewards instead of punishments; work towards success instead of taking things away. Identify your child’s strengths and create structures that play to their strengths.
Look, we know that Back to School is not as simple as “3 easy steps.” But you’ll be amazed at how quickly things start to improve when you take these 3 things into account – they’re a great place for you to start.
Event passed – check here for upcoming events (And again, for MUCH MUCH more, register here for the ADD School Summit. It’s free – and these experts are just who you need to hear from, just when you need to hear it most!)
At the end of the day, behind every complex family’s success during the school year is a parent who understands, who believes, and who inspires. That parent is you.
Parent management training is medically recommended treatment for ADHD (for kids of all ages). Learn how to address your child’s specific challenges. SanitySchool.com is available online, and is also taught in select local areas by certified professionals