It’s tucked away somewhere in the back of your mind—your plan for the way your life would unfold. You figured you’d find your soul mate, produce 2.5 wonderful kids, live in a nice house, send the kids to college and eventually retire.
But these idealistic expectations aren’t always the way things turn out for parents of an ADD/ADHD child. Raising a child with learning, inattention and/or impulsivity challenges can be, well, hard. That dream life of yours feels constantly in jeopardy.
Parents want to give their children the best lives possible. We give everything we can. Parents raising ADD/ADHD children often give until we don’t have enough energy left for ourselves. So we run around tired, stressed out, and on edge, feeling like “if one more thing happens today, I will lose it!”
So what’s the parent of an ADD/ADHD child to do? How are we to accomplish all the normal things most parents do PLUS advocate for our children, sit with them to be sure they do their homework, accompany them on playdates to reinforce social skills, drive to extra doctors’ appointments, therapy sessions and teachers’ meetings?
The first step to managing all of this while keeping your sanity is to understand who you are, how you work and what you need. Here’s how:
- Know your learning style. How you take in information is very important to your ability to understand it. Are you visual, auditory, or both? Or do you learn better by touch and feel?
With this in mind, consider whether you’re trying to do things in ways that go against your natural learning style? For instance, instead of trying to process everything doctors tell you, do you need them to put that information in writing so you can review it later? Do school conferences go better when you meet teachers in person rather than talk by phone?
Now look at your child—how does s/he learn? And how can you appeal to that natural learning style?
- Evaluate and challenge your beliefs and fears. Are they your own? Or did they come from your parents or society? Have you tested them to see if they’re accurate?
Think specifically about your beliefs concerning parenting. Are you channeling your own parents without realizing it? What beliefs or fears are you passing on to your children? What beliefs do you need to change? What support do you need to help you make those changes?
- Notice your natural behaviors. Think about things you typically do, and how you do them. Ask your friends and family for their insights. For example, do you act differently in different environments—work, home, etc.? Do you prefer a set routine? If so, what happens when you get away from your routine?
How do you react when your children, their needs and activities constantly affect what you want? How do you change when you’re stressed, or haven’t had enough sleep?
Connecting to something higher than ourselves helps us move forward. Always remember that dealing with the daily drama of ADD/ADHD is only one part of your life. Focusing on the big picture can help you get through your day.
Look at your child’s face, and see the beauty in it. Reconnect with your passion for advocating on behalf of this wonderful person you care for in the world. Parents can do anything when it comes to helping our children. We clean up all sorts of messes, regardless of what part of our child the mess came from! We don’t focus on stomach viruses or dirty diapers, we focus on the needs of the child. We know that underneath that mess — that gunk — there is a child who wants to be held and loved. When you come from a place of passion, purpose, and love, you can handle anything, including the gunk.
Now look at what motivates your child. What are his or her passions?
- Create your ideal surroundings. What is needed for you to be and feel your best? Do you need a clean house? Do you need to walk every day? Do you need lots of light, or soft light? When you live in a space that supports your needs, you become a happier and calmer parent.
Now, once again, look at your children. What sort of environment do they need? Do they have a space that supports them?
Understanding your own needs and how you work is key to setting up your family for success. As you learn more about yourself, you will naturally learn more about your children. You’ll make choices based on what works for your entire family, including you. You’ll create a loving, supportive and sane family environment.
Most importantly, you’ll raise happy, confident children. You can experience the life of your dreams. You just have to get to know yourself, better.
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“Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com by Kricket Harrison, Chief Innovator and Idea Expert at www.BrightOutsidetheBox.com. Kricket Harrison, CPCC, ACC, PACG, is a Motivational Speaker & Coach who helps ADD entrepreneurs and professionals work the way they work best. Learn more at www.BrightOutsidetheBox.com“