Life is tough. I don't know why I would have ever thought that it should or would be easy, but the more time passes the more new and exciting challenges crop up in my path. It never really works to try to maneuver around the issue because it re-appears with a vengeance. Hence, I have started telling myself, "It is what it is. So, what am I going to do about it?" This line of thinking helps me to 1)keep from panicing or riddling myself with major anxiety and 2)give me a chance to make a choice or how I will react. I actually haven't paniced much lately (which is pretty amazing) I just sigh, alot. And sometimes wish things were different but everything always happens for a reason.
So, I met with my therapist last week really to vent. She has given me most of the tools I need to work through complicated issues and keep-it-together while doing so. It was one of those weeks though where everything was getting under my skin, and writhing - busy husband, very-busy toddler, grumpy teen, and tantrum-throwing, negative, complaining child with ADHD. Ohhhh it makes me tired just typing that - and that's just it, I'm exhausted! Preston threw a tantrum last night that started over cleaning-up his room and ended up in hysterics because his nose was plugged-up. Screaming hysterics swearing he was going to die because he'd never breathe again - seriously. This tantrum lasted for a good 30-minutes. I shut his door and told him he could come find me in my room when he calmed-down and pulled it together.
He has been so emotional this week - well, everyone has. Any coincidence that it is a full moon tonight? I'm just sayin'. It's been a re-birth for me in remembering that with ADHD comes the inability to regulate your emotions - small issues become life or death. I printed out some pictures to go on his state county report and just placed them nicely on his poster. He took one look and assumed I had glued them on and he threw his head and neck back and collapsed to his knees on the floor grabbing his head howling, "What have you done??!!! You've wrecked it!!!! I can't believe you did this!!!!" Well, as I well know, it is impossible to try to talk rationally with someone deep in the throws of anger (or their own irrationality). I took a good swipe across the poster board sending it down to the ground and the little pictures scattering in different places around it (to show him that I had not glued anything). He stopped for a moment and amidst tears simply said, "Oh." I escorted him down to his room and told him to calm down before we would talk about what just went down. This is the other piece to the 'impulsive puzzle' - kids with ADHD don't stop to figure things out; they take what they see at face-value and may or may not be able to handle the emotions that flood them based on what they've concluded in their mind (or at least, they can't process it quick enough to come out to a logical conclusion). Remember, impulsive isn't just pulling your pants down to moon the teacher or throw something at somebody. It comes from an inability to process; this was a classic example.
Anyway, with all of that being said, the biggest phrase from the therapist that stood out in my mind was this: "You have become your own expert." I have researched the disorder, diet modification, behavior modification, parenting technqiues, self-relaxation techniques, natural remedies, etc. I know what his disorder means for him and for me to navigate it effectively, despite it wearing me out often. It's just downright tiring - I don't think that will end anytime soon. I don't always know what to do, but I know a little bit about what is or isn't happening in his brain and to wait out the storm before trying to clean-up the emotional wreckage.
If something isn't right, follow your intuition and start connecting the dots - that's the only way to eventually see the whole, big picture. Then once you know, seek understanding and how to manage. Managing ADHD isn't any ONE thing, it is a culmination. I was on another ADHD Mommy blog today and she had written out a number of things she has found to help with her son, most of which I have found to be true myself. If you are just starting to figure this out, this is what I would recommend:
1) The key to survival, is taking good care of yourself. You won't be able to stand against the storm if you aren't strong enough yourself. I recommend Stanley Block's, Come to Your Senses. Map, bridge, exercise, eat well and get enough sleep. Notice when you are stronger or weaker on certain days and adjust what you do accordingly. Don't pick any big battles when you aren't strong enough to see it through. Above all else, don't panic - kids (aside from bees and dogs) smell fear. They need to know they are safe and you can get through this (even though there will be days when you are certain you won't. )
2) Learn about the disorder. There are a few really good book's out there that will help you understand better what you are up against and the fact that their behavior is not about you or your parenting (although changing the way you do a few things can definitely help) but about how their brain's function.
3) DO play with their diet to see if it helps. DO medicate if it helps.You may need to give this some time. Some people swear by going gluten and casein-free. I swear that eliminating artificial colors is key and supplementing with trace-minerals can make a huge difference. Whatever you can do to keep blood-sugar levels stable (limiting sugar) is also helpful - I think blood-sugar spikes inhibit their ability to think and increase their impulsive tendencies. For some, medication will be a god-send. Figure out what works best for your child and your family.
4) Set-them up for success. This could mean getting them a tutor to help with schoolwork, set-up an IEP at school, praise their efforts, remove temptations, give them tasks they can handle, help-them where they struggle and be sensitive to their moods (just like you would be with anyone else). Talk to your family about your kiddo with ADHD (separately) and ask them to support you and their sibling the way you would want support if you were struggling with something.
5)Consistency and routine. Outline clearly home rules, expectations, bed-time routines, homework routines; kids thrive on routine. Be consistent in your discipline as well.
6)Keep your emotions out of it and find a parenting technique that works for you. 1-2-3 Magic and Love and Logic have helped me more than anything. Preston responds well to 1-2-3 Magic but doesn't always link up the consequences to HIS actions when I use Love and Logic, but I stick it with knowing that some day he will and knowing that eventually he will have to live in the real world and the consequences of his own actions.
7) Stay positive. The best thing you can do is be a good model for your kids. Take care or yourself, respect yourself and encourage them to do the same.
8) Reach out to other parents in your position. You aren't alone and there are amazing people and resources out there - especially with the internet. Surround yourself with support.
9) Don't ever give-up. Become your own expert on your child and what their disorder means for them. It's different for everybody and you know them best. You are also your child's best advocate - be there for them.