The Only 4 Things You Ever Need to Know to Manage ADHD

Manage ADHD

Well, I missed my flight. No, I wasn’t rushing, or running late.  I did not get caught in traffic, or fail to leave enough time to get there. I was at the gate, on time, relaxing, chatting with a friend… Only it wasn’t my gate.

It’s just such a classic story. Textbook even. Where ADHD and Dyslexia intersect to provide yet another opportunity for learning.

I transposed a couple of numbers, was distracted on the phone, remembered what the porter told me instead of what I saw, mixed my seat number with the gate number…and voilà I sat peacefully at the wrong gate until it was too late to make my flight!

ADD Strikes Again – and I’m SO proud!

So why am I bothering telling you this? Because I’m really proud of myself for the way I handled it, and it’s a great reminder to all of us who dwell in the world of ADD to be gentle with ourselves, gentle with our kids, when life happens. Because frankly, gang, life is going to happen.

Yes, I was late. Yes, I missed my flight. Yes, I had to deal with getting on a new flight, standing by, a MIDDLE seat (I hate middle seats)!

But, in all honesty, I handled it quite well. In fact, when I finally arrived at my destination, (no joke, I was on my way to the ADHD Coaches Organization conference!), I shared the story with a blend of humor, acceptance and self-congratulation. It’s not easy to keep calm, cool, and collected in the face of a significant mistake. NOT beating myself up for my own blatant human error was a huge accomplishment!

So as always, I decided to see what there was to learn in this otherwise annoying inconvenience. And here’s what I’ve got for you: there are two halves to the whole when it comes to learning to manage ADD.

Prevention

To manage ADD effectively one must simultaneously prepare for and prevent the natural mistakes that accompany a brain marked by inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, emotionality or disorganization. This happens in two ways:

Strategies for Self-Management: One approach is to acquire strategies to prevent life’s gaffes and glitches. That’s a lot of what we do at ImpactADHD. We teach tricks and techniques you can use to help your kids learn to self manage. (And YES, I try to apply them to my own life, too. Despite this recent error, most of the time I’m pretty successful.)

Failing Forward: When life “happens,” we want to make the effort to “fail forward,” to acknowledge and learn from our mistakes, to make corrections that will prevent them from happening again. As parents, we want to teach our kids to do the same, without shame or embarrassment.

Radical Acceptance

The other side of managing ADHD effectively — equally as important as prevention – is to develop a thick skin of acceptance and forgiveness.

Self Understanding & Acceptance: We must put down the stick of (self-) punishment and silence the (internal) voices that say, “stupid,” “idiot,” “how could you?” When we and our kids understand how ADHD shows up in our lives, we can recognize the difference between “stupid” and “honest” mistakes. This is not to make excuses, but to allow for imperfection, for the human experience of making mistakes.

Eliminate Shame & Embarrassment: The shame of constant, little mistakes that are a hallmark of our ADD (or Dyslexia, or Anxiety, etc.) interferes with success and begins to take its toll on our psyches — for our selves and our kids. 

As adults, we want to look accomplished, or at least competent, in the eyes of our peers, or our kids. It’s much harder to correct our mistakes when we are too embarrassed to see and learn from them. Our kids have a similar experience. They want to please, and do well, which is hard to do when constantly corrected and re-directed. In the absence of true understanding and acceptance, adults and kids alike begin to feel “crazy, lazy or stupid” – self-concepts that are not exactly conducive to success and accomplishment.

So there you have it. A simple missed flight provided an opportunity for me to practice radical self-acceptance AND get a clearer sense of what it really takes for an adult (or child) to manage life with ADD with humor and grace.

Oh — one more quick celebration for the record: while the irony is not lost on me that my seat # and my gate # were exactly the same on my return flight, I’m happy to report that I DID manage to fail forward and returned home safely – right on time!

Sanity Is Not Optional

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