Are you looking for a guidebook for parenting ADHD while you’re stressed? (You are parenting in a pandemic, after all.)
It’s one thing to parent kids with ADHD and other complex issues in ‘regular’ times. It’s another, entirely, to parent complex kids in the kind of bizarre and unsettling world we’re living through at the moment.
Kids with ADHD are bouncing off the walls, kids with anxiety are alternatively hiding or enjoying the social break, and parents are trying to find a way to stay steady when uncertainty rules the day.
We’ve all had our own set of struggles this year. Maybe you’ve been inconvenienced, or you’ve been in full-blown crisis. Since the 2020 quarantines began, I’ve had hundreds (if not thousands) of conversations with parents of children, teens and young adults with ADHD, from all over the globe:
- Forced to slow down, some families are thriving and enjoying time with each other. They’re releasing some of the world’s more unrealistic expectations and tapping into their own values and priorities.
- Introverts, who have been eager for the world to slow down and quiet the busy-ness of life, are finally recharged enough to support and connect with extroverted friends and family members. Individuals and families are learning to be with themselves, and with each other, in healthy new ways.
- Other families are struggling mightily to manage pandemic life. Intensified family time; minimal breaks for either parents or kids; seemingly unending schooling from home. It’s all taking a toll. Uncertainty fuels anxious thoughts. Unrealistic expectations result in a world of “shoulds” that causes additional pressure, stress, and strained relationships.
- Parents are having trouble finding enough time for themselves to guide their families in healthy ways.
One thing has been absolutely clear to me, though: we all want to make the best of these difficult times. We want to set our kids (and ourselves) up for a lifetime of success.
Three First Steps to Parenting ADHD in a Pandemic
So, what will help you keep moving forward amidst the swirl? For the last several years I’ve been writing a book for parents, The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety, and More, and it’s due out on September 1.
Who knew it would arrive just when parents need it most, when we’re trying to figure out how to parent ADHD in the midst of a pandemic!?
While there are literally hundreds of concepts, strategies, tips, and tools throughout my new book, I’ve selected excerpts that I think are particularly useful for parenting ADHD in a pandemic – that is, in this modern world of uncertainty and unrest. They can help you explore new ways of reframing old problems.
Problem: “This is Not what I Expected.”
Reframe: Up Until Now
When you see the world only through the lens of the challenges you’re facing, it narrows your perspective . . . which can limit your options. When you change your thinking, and shift your language, you’ll end up changing what is possible.
These three words can help you change your perspective and transform your life: Up Until Now.
There’s nothing you can change about anything that has happened in your life, or your family’s life, up until now. School issues. Relationship dynamics. Arguments. You can’t change the realities of life in a pandemic, or the complications of schooling from home.
Up until now, you did the best you could with the information you had available to you. You tried to get support for your child, or your family, or yourself. You followed the guidance and advice of friends, family and professionals—even if it didn’t always get the results you hoped for.
Whatever happens this Fall, these three words can guide you to start fresh each day; they offer the opportunity to take on a new perspective and try again.
Problem: “I’ve Tried Everything, but Nothing Works.”
Reframe: Change Starts with You
Do you ever offer help to your kids in a way that seems to push them away? As if no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to figure out what you can do to help? More than likely, it’s not what you’re doing, it’s how. How we approach our kids and their challenges influences their willingness to accept our help.
I’m not saying that your reactions have caused your kids’ challenges. But how you respond from here can set the tone for how your child learns to handle and overcome life’s challenges moving forward. To change their behaviors, start by shifting your approach…
Think about your approach as a parent, your interactions with your kid, and how you typically respond to challenging circumstances. Do you tend to control? Or wait for things to be okay?
Think about things you’re doing right. Can you identify your successes and your sweet spots? Give yourself credit for successes? Successes are where your best solutions are hidden, so focus on them to move things forward. You’ll probably notice things you feel you’re doing wrong, and that’s okay, too. For now, focus on the successes.
As you read this, it’s possible you’ll feel a little hopeless or worried because you and your co-parent aren’t on the same page and the world feels so uncertain. I get that. It’s always worth working toward the goal of collaborative parenting. But I want to say this clearly: it only takes one parent to turn the ship.
You have a unique, individual relationship with your child, no matter who else is involved. You can create a strong relationship that supports your child, even if your co-parent is not (yet) on board. The bottom line to effective parenting is simple: change starts with you.
Problem: “I Just Want Some Peace”
Reframe: Parent Like a Coach
In my 40s I started coach training with the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI). Within hours, I was hooked; within weeks, communication with my family improved dramatically. Just over a dozen years later, in a 2019 interview in Flaunt Magazine, my eldest child brought me to tears with their appreciation for what coaching gave them:
“Well, my parents are both life coaches. It started when I was about 12, and it’s been beautiful to watch them evolve, and watch them grow and learn. Coaching has changed our entire family. Once they became coaches, all their time was dedicated to telling people, ‘Follow your dreams, do what you need to do, do what’s right for you, and take care of yourself.’ They couldn’t exactly tell me something different, and, fortunately, they realized that. So, all the work that they were doing with other people, they extended to me.”
Here’s what coaching taught me, above all else: Expert advice may not always work, but trusting ourselves generally does.
You know your child better than anyone. Truly you do. Your challenge is to learn to trust yourself, your instincts and your heart; to listen to your child and play to their strengths; and, when necessary, to ignore the experts and be the parent your child needs you to be.
Parenting with a coach approach offers an effective way to manage ADHD in a pandemic because it doesn’t solve all your problems, it provides a foolproof method for you to problem solve as circumstances change. And they seem to be constantly changing these days!
These three reframes will get you started. And remember this one more thing. When it comes to parenting ADHD in a pandemic: you’ve got this!
Elaine Taylor-Klaus, CPCC, PCC, is a mother of three, a professional certified coach and a passionate advocate for families. She is the CEO of ImpactADHD.com, a private business for the public good, which she co-founded with Diane Dempster. The co-creator of Sanity School® for Parents and Sanity School® for Teachers, Ms. Taylor-Klaus helps parents improve the lives of their families by taking a coach-approach to parenting. She is a mother of an ADHD family of five.