“Let It Go” may be one of the most popular songs of the year, but letting go of negative emotions can seem impossible when you’re dealing with ADHD. Intense emotions overwhelm the brain and create explosive situations, all the while forgetting the importance of close relationships.
What can you do when this happens?
- Calm yourself down. If there is an emergency on an airplane, you put your oxygen mask on first so you can help your child. Likewise, you need to be aware of and manage your own emotions before you can help your kid manage hers. Take deep breaths; go for a walk – whatever helps you get back to yourself.
- Calm your child down. Teach her systems and structures that help her self-sooth. Maybe it’s going to the couch for a few minutes of snuggle time or holding a favorite stuffed animal. As she grows, you can adapt these strategies to her developmental level. Don’t address the issue or challenge when she’s triggered. Focus on calming her down from a state of emotional hyper-focus.
- Discuss the issue. When you’re both back to a place where your brains are firing on all cylinders, talk about what happened and how you can move forward in a positive way.
Self-awareness is the antidote to emotional hyper-focus. Be aware of triggers, develop soothing techniques, and stay in the moment — rather than getting lost in the emotion. Easier said than done, of course, but fortunately, we all get plenty of opportunities to practice!