HOW CAN I HELP MY DAUGHTER WITH ADHD?
Over the course of providing pediatric occupational therapy services for 30 years, I have worked with many young girls and adult women with ADHD. While in my clinic for ADHD treatment, I have become aware of a pattern of inter-play between these children and their parents.
Consider Faith, an eight year-old diagnosed with ADHD:
Faith responded very quickly to her mother’s request for her to say “please,” “thank you”, and to be respectful. She tried to display the correct behaviors, when asked to do so. It was clear that both Faith and her mother had had a great deal of practice in curbing Faith’s behavior. Faith seemed very compliant towards her mother’s one and two word reminders regarding acceptable behavior.
The cost of Faith attending to these socially acceptable and mother-driven cues, however, resulted in reduced productive and organized behaviors on Faith’s part. For example, when Faith’s mother imposed the structure of putting one toy away before getting another and to ask before touching, Faith dropped to the floor and burst into tears.
Perhaps it was Faith’s mother’s life experiences that lead her to believe that this inappropriate and tearful behavior was manipulative on her daughter’s part. It seemed to her that Faith was demonstrating disrespect toward the adults in the room. In reality, Faith was doing her best to process all the new information, toys, activities and she was also trying to do what her mother asked.
For Faith’s mother, focusing on her daughter’s manners alone limited her ability to help Faith. Faith needed help to develop good organization and correct prioritizing of tasks involving sequencing and turn-taking. Faith needed support to learn her body boundaries for more efficient use of space versus colliding into others and throwing things in piles rather on her shelves in her bedroom.
When Faith’s needs became better understood, family members developed fun home activities for treating her ADHD symptoms. Faith’s mother used a timer for brushing her teeth, playing a desired game together and completing an age appropriate task, such as one and two step chores. Faith’s habit was to go as fast as she could. To help her slow down, Faith was encouraged to see how fast she could do something. Then her mother would instruct her to try to do it more slowly. Together they would check the stopwatch and they developed a high-five system of reward to build on that spirit of play and to identify the ideal speed for performing certain tasks. Faith’s parents were committed to helping their daughter in every way possible so she could experience success in school and in life.
Although cultural differences are gradually eroding, I notice when treating ADHD clinically that we continue to socialize our young girls to “be nice”. Just like Faith’s mother, our intense concern on manners can derail the efforts of the child with ADHD to practice using their brain effectively. Demonstrating respect to others is a social skill that helps children function in the adult world, but is not the only skill they need to learn. Support your daughter with ADHD by emphasizing successful problem-solving just as much as you emphasize saying “please” and “thank-you”.
HOLISTIC ADHD TREATMENT
Although it is interesting to ask your doctor why your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the more important question is, “What are you and your child prepared to do about it?”
Holistic implies utilizing the whole individual, brain and body in non-medication strategies or remedies that have no side-effects. Many parents seek non-prescription treatment for their daughter or son with ADHD.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a medical diagnosis using a series of descriptive words that immediately provide the impression of what ADHD looks like. The words “attention deficit” clearly implies that there is a problem in attention span. Either staying focused too long on one thing and not switching to a new thing or not focusing long enough on the new thing to get the jest of it, both are attention issues. The individual with ADHD is out of step, out of rhythm, and out of timing with the world around.
The word “hyperactivity” suggests movement. We think of movement as an action within a physical space, one object in relation to another or one person in relation to another. In ADHD, movement is fast in relation to other people. But it can also be slow. In school, it is easy to see these students as they are physically moving in their desk or around their workstation at a rate more quickly than their peers.
The Kindness Bracelet-
One holistic ADHD treatment involves the use of an elastic rubber band around the wrist or the use on an elastic bracelet. The rubber band or bracelet is called a “kindness bracelet”, in terms of being kind to yourself.
Start by having your child be able to recognize when they are moving more quickly or more slowly than those around them. Help them recognize when they are working too quickly and diving-in without complete directions. Sometimes your child may work too slowly and never complete their chores or school assignments, help them see themselves in these instances, too. It is important to also recognize when the pace is just perfect.
Three Step Self-help ADHD Tool-
STEP 1: NOTICE AND SNAP!
- Apply kindness bracelet to wrist.
- Notice other’s: a) Pace of movement, b) Pace of work performance, c) Other people’s body language.
- Notice a, b, or c and judge if you are different in either of these three areas. If you are moving at a different pace, or working at a different pace, or aware of others looking at you or using body language that suggest they are surprised by your actions.
- Snap your kindness bracelet at your wrist.
STEP 2: SNAP AND DO!
After you snap your kindness bracelet do one of the following:
- Do a deep breath.
- Do jumping in place, without interfering with others.
- Do squeezing a tight fist or palm acupressure.
STEP 3: RESTART!
Then restart and resume the task at hand by following these steps:
- Focus your eyes in toward the target on your desktop or the work in front of you.
- Hum very quietly while you look.
- Bring all of your attention to your work.
- Pick up you pencil, put your hands on the keyboard, resume folding your laundry and just get started!
You and your child will have fun working together on these self-help ADHD strategies. Parents and teachers are encouraged to use these productive strategies that last a lifetime. These are skills we want our daughters and sons to practice now and in the future for productive living holistically.
LIVING WITH SOMEONE WITH ADHD: HOW DO YOU TACKLE COMPLAINTS OF BOREDOM?
“I’m bored,” says the child.
Every parent in the world wants to roll their eyes when their child says this. The parent wishes that they had time in their own day to actually be bored!
Boredom comes in many forms. Sometimes children with ADHD are bored because they have “nothing to do”. Other times, these highly active children are bored because they aren’t engaged in the activity that they are expected to participate in. Family movie night isn’t as much fun when one child cannot stop complaining,
As adults we know that boredom can be managed by controlling how we think. This ability is a critical skill for people of all ages. We accept our down time as a valid way that fuels our productive work time. This is what we need our children with ADHD to experience.
WHAT IS BOREDOM? IS THERE REALLY SUCH A THING?
Boredom is a physiologic state that occurs when the sensory nerves (that send information to the brain) become lulled into a state of “nerve accommodation.” The nerves have actually become so accustomed to the experience that it is filtered out, they accommodate to the stimuli. Basically, it means that the nerves are so used to it, they don’t even feel it any more.
During family movie night while everyone is sitting together the child with ADHD is watching the same movie as the rest of the family, but they become accommodated to it. They may become restless and try to arouse their nervous system (amuse themselves) by any means.
If the movie didn’t happen to hold your full attention, you might pick up your crochet project or a crossword puzzle. The child with ADHD would more likely start to fidget and to tease or interrupt other’s watching time.
HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD WITH ADHD?
Children with ADHD need to understand how to manage their own time in a productive and fulfilling manner. Being bored is okay. The brain needs some down time to make space for new and creative thinking.
Often this state of non-activity is marginalized. In fact, great creative ideas come out of these powerful periods of human reflection. We want to create periods of time when the mind can rest and periods of time when the mind needs to flow. We want this for our children, too.
Our role as the parents, educators and caregivers of children involves a responsibility to teach children how to manage their own energy level. Not just completing tasks and improving in competence, children must also be able to manage their own need for rest from intense activity and the need to create a stimulating environment to promote flow.
As adults, we know when and how to step back, take a break, try a new approach to an old problem, let it go, and come back to it later. These are all survival skills we have developed.
PARENT STRATEGY FOR ADHD:
Deal with your child’s complaints of being bored up front.
Give them a list of to do’s that include a range of brain-body activities.
Your list may look like the following:
1.)imaginary play outside, 2.)being bored, 3.)sweep the front porch and 4.)take the trash out.
The message to your child is that being bored is okay, in fact, it’s on the to-do list as it’s bound to happen anyway.
Your child’s boredom presents an opportunity for them to learn how to manage their thinking.
For more ideas on ADHD, consider purchasing my book Unique Learner Solutions by clicking HERE. Each chapter concludes with a “Strategies to Try” section that can be immediately implemented. Unique Learner Solutions is available through this website or Amazon.com!