Parenting Through Struggles// ADHD

5:05 PM Amanda Greathouse 0 Comments

When I imagined my family & what parenting would look like, I imagined many things. I saw hugs & kisses. I saw stories at bedtime. I saw lazy days when we never change out of PJs & watch movies all day. I saw adventures to the zoo. I never envisioned navigating how to parent with a toddler that has ADHD. 

My mom always put the mothers curse on me. 

"I hope your kids are just like you." 

Well he is in some ways, but in a lot of ways, he isn't. I was prepared for Greyson to have my demeanor. And at the same time, didn't really consider how much he could be like my husband. 

ADHD is very genetic. It flows through family members like blood type. And just like his inheritance of my husband's blood type, he also gained the ADHD that exists in a long line of his family. 

The internet is full of parenting advice, ranging from how to feed your child to how to where to send them to school. But in the throes of ADHD fun with a toddler, I haven't found much advice or many tips that have really helped for his specific kind of challenges. 

Patience. Unending patience. This is the hardest but probably the most important thing we've had to learn. When your toddler is just pushing to the very ends of your limits, take a minute & breathe. Working yourself up will work them up even more. Kids feed off of your energy. 

After lots of trial & error, plus a plenty of collaboration with Greyson's teachers, I've come up with the top 5 tips that have worked for us & help us manage our day to day activities, including school, dinner & bedtime. 
1. Count to 10 & breathe. This seems fairly simple yet it's the easiest thing to not do. Greyson has been a very good counter for awhile so he does this himself with our guidance. Just getting him to stop - whether he is running around like crazy or throwing a fit in the store - this helps so much. We count to 10 (or down from 10 to 1 - whichever he decides he prefers that day) and have him take 3 deep breaths when he is done. This helps to calm his mind so he can hear us or articulate what he wants/needs. It does wonders for patience on our part so we don't snap to frustration. 

2. Set rules & schedule. All children thrive having a schedule, which I know. But my research & experience has highlighted the necessity for children with ADHD to have set boundaries that they know & can follow consistently. We set all of our rules with Greyson. We ask him what they should be, he determines the "order" and it has become a ritual of sorts for him to tell us them. 

3. Use favorite toys/items to channel behavior. Greyson has just a mass amount of energy at all times and sometimes he doesn't pick the greatest ways to expel it. By chance, we stumbled upon encouraging him to use to toy or book to guide the energy into something to focus on that fits the situation. For example, we found Grey a Lightning McQueen backpack at Target that he just loves. When he has energy he wants to get out, we have him put on the backpack so he can be a race car like Lightning & then he has to be Greyson, aka calmer, when he takes the backpack off.

4. Set designated areas for energy outlets. This sort of goes along similar lines as the last point. This is more to teach him that some places are okay to let loose & others we need to keep it reigned in a bit. He has a hoodie that is from Where the Wild Things Are that he likes to wear & pretend he's a monster. We were having problems with him being wild & screaming in other kids' faces. So to help with it, his teachers came up with a few isolated areas in the classroom where he could be a monster. After awhile, he knew that if he wanted to be wild & yell a bit, he went to those areas and came back out ready to chill. 

5. Get on their level & make eye contact. This is a hard, but important one. When you're standing over your child talking to them, even in a calm or nice tone, it can easily seem like you're scolding them. A trick I learned working in childcare was to talk to the child at their own level. Keep the same calm tone and make eye contact. Greyson has a tendency to drift his eyes around the room while talking to him. Getting him to look at our eyes helps to keep him focused since he is only really listening when he's looking at us.

6. Parent out of love, not punishment. Every child and family is different and only you know what is best for your situation. We are far from perfect parents, but we know that Greyson is a unique little person who has different needs than other kids, even different than I'm sure Olivia will need when she's older. But when we work with him, we keep in mind that we are molding a little person and want to provide him with the best tools to manage his energy and attention throughout his entire life in order to allow him to succeed in the best way he can.

I know that what works for us, may not work for everyone. But I do hope that some of these tips can help and guide others to a point where they find what is best for their child. I've learned that it takes a village & hopefully realizing that the village is a bit bigger than expected will bring some reassurance to those who are gifted with raising a little ball of energy like we have been.