How many times a day/week do you hear this? Countless, right? Tired of it?
Use this technique and you will most assuredly have one less battle, one less nagging teen (yes I said nagging) on your hands. It makes for a MUCH more peaceful entrance to the garage, driveway and car…AND, even better, your teenagers manage it. We implemented this when both our boys were able to sit in the front seat and we have never had arguments about the front seat…ever.
Here you go: each child has one week in the front seat…then they switch the following week. The week begins on Sunday. IF they happen to forget their week or fight about it (this has not happened with our boys), they both are in the back.
As a parent of an ADHD teen, I feel I’m always reminding my son of the importance of being flexible when there’s a change of plans. Each morning, before our boys walk out the door, we talk about what’s happening after school. It’s amazing how they look forward to their after school time! I really can’t blame them – they are “on” all day long and their afterschool time is their own to unwind and do as they please.
On the VERY rare days when there’s a change of plans, I’ve learned (and failed many a time) that it’s the delivery that matters when we need to communicate the need for flexibility in such circumstances. My teen with ADHD does not look on change of plans favorably, unless it benefits him…sound familiar? Others with ADHD thrive on last minute changes and love the excitement of it and are able to adapt, be flexible, and even creative, but not my son!
Therein lies the mystery of ADHD – it presents itself differently to all!
So, what to do when you know you’re responsible for throwing the curveball that just might send your loved one over the edge into a downward spiral of emotional angst and outburst?
You have to prime the pump!
Just like any transitions, be it physical or psychological, time is on your side! They need time to process and prepare for what they are about to hear and/or do. Do NOT just blurt out, “We are going to the grocery store and grab your car keys.” That’s a front row seat to a mega meltdown! Instead try these steps:
Give it a minute and ask them to tell you when they are prepared to hear what you are about to say. By doing this, you are showing your loved one respect and allowing them to control the timing of information shared with them.
When they are ready, share the change of plans. Remind them of the importance of being flexible in life and how plans change each day.
Acknowledge it’s not comfortable for them (when things change), but you are confident they are capable of being flexible and stepping up to the challenge.
Another helpful hint is to ask them to share another time they had to be flexible and what they experienced. Chances are, it’s not really the actual event that’s taking place that’s annoying them, but the transitioning of their mindset, processing and thinking that’s their challenge! It’s a learned skill for those with ADHD – a work in progress, just like all of us.
I’m a work in progress, are you? I’m so structured that I struggle with flexibility as well. So when my son throws me a curveball and asks if we can go get ice cream after school, how do you think I respond? We go get ice cream (cookie dough for me please)!
My son just texted from school and said he did poorly on a test after studying hard for it. He said, “I’m really mad at myself.” Then proceeded to send a meme of an NBA “L” (meaning loser) that flashed on my screen.
The most painful part of the text from my son was not the test results, but how hard he was on himself.
In our home, we don’t allow any negative talk-nothing-whatsoever. It serves no purpose. It’s gone as soon as it’s spoken. If I hear our boys utter one unkind word about themselves or say one to each other, they must say 5 positive things in return and look into one another’s eye (so painful for boys) and apologize on the spot.
I refused to allow him to even “go there” in his thinking, so I texted back, “I’m not raising a loser. If you think you’re a loser, you will be.”
It’s important for all of us to remember that thoughts can form beliefs that lead to action. If you think you’re a loser, you’ll believe it and act like one.
The holidays are meant to be full of celebration, but there’s a lot of preparation that goes into creating those joyful moments. Activity, that when added to your already long daily to-do list, can really overwhelm your executive functions leaving you exhausted and very Scrooge-like.
Here are some helpful hints to keep you in the holiday spirit:
Make 2 lists: “The Master List” and a “Today List”. On the Master List, write down everything that needs to happen this month (and add to it as needed). Then each morning, review the Master list and write out your “Today List”. Just remember – if your “Today List” is too long, it will be overwhelming to your ADHD brain and very little, if anything, will get accomplished.
When you have your Today List listed, ask yourself a few questions: “What’s MOST pressing?” “Is someone relying on me?” “If I don’t get this done today, what will happen?” “Is there a deadline to meet?” Then number the activities so you know what’s most important to get done that day.
Set up a system to remember what to do each day. Will you write it down (consider where), record it (how will it sound and how often will you listen to it?) or just remember? What will help you train your brain to remember? Knowing your own style of remembering will assist in being productive.
Don’t try and do everything all at once. Maybe you can organize by doing quicker/easier things first? Or maybe you decide to tackle the most time consuming, less interesting items first.
Make sure you take a short break when you become tired and resume when you are able to focus again.
Reward yourself when you accomplished your “Today List”!
Every day, all day, the ADHD brain needs things broken down into smaller pieces. Honor this. OWN it. It’s how your brain works!
I used to dread Thanksgiving and the Holidays. Not for reasons you might think, though. I dreaded them for my son. All the hidden and unspoken expectations of socializing and conversing with so many family members. Family we hadn’t seen in months; people my son was unspokenly “expected” to just have a conversation about everything that was happening in his life and make up for the past many months of family not seeing him.
I used to get so frustrated when people arrived and he was nowhere to be seen. How quickly he bolted when he knew he wouldn’t be able to meet expectations. All my family wanted to do was see him and talk to him. What took me years to understand was that expectation and that knowing of someone who craved his attention was a direct “shut down” of body, mind, and spirit for my son. Where do you think I found him when everyone arrived and the house was buzzing with activity? In his room, alone, with the door closed. Why was he doing this? Simply put, he was self regulating.
Expectations. What I’ve come to learn and understand is expectations are not fair when we don’t understand what those situations mean for our children and teens who have ADHD.
For the neurotypical person (such as myself), it is comfortable and quite normal to engage in conversation with people who I haven’t seen in awhile. For the ADHD child, it may be crippling knowing they have to engage. The environment of noises, people, smells, etc. may be triggering many sensory overloads and that alone may make them shut down and want to escape. A face-to-face conversation is virtually impossible. There’s too much to focus on: eye contact, remembering what the question was, trying to pull out of memory what he has been doing, not knowing how to answer the question, “ Hey bud, what have you been up to since we’ve last seen you?” That’s a daunting question to an ADHD’er! My son could go on for hours about the things that are interesting to him, but there’s so much in his brain and thoughts, he doesn’t know where to begin. And, quite honestly, no one would probably be able to keep up with him or have the time to expand on that one thing dominating his thoughts.
Want to engage with him?
Hang with him in his quiet “place”, sit down beside him, look at what he’s doing, ask questions about what you see. Do what he is doing! Be it organizing football cards, throwing a football, shooting hoops, playing with Legos, or even, yes, even play the video game he’s playing – engage by DOING!! It’s amazing what you will uncover when you engage by doing with your ADHD’er!
I’ve shared with many people how some of our biggest challenges can be our biggest blessings.
After my son’s diagnosis, I wasn’t sure where I would “go” with it, other than to research and support him as best I could. Little did I know, he would be the one who would show me the way to become an ADHD Life Coach. He would be the one who would give me the greatest blessing of helping others who have ADHD. I have never been more committed and focused in my life’s purpose.
Thank you, dear son, for who you are and your gift of ADHD to me.