Don't forget, just a normal kid (with ADHD)Apr 18, 2021
“He is ready to go and won’t stop until he goes to bed!”
“She is so forgetful and I get frustrated because I have to keep nagging her. When will she learn to take care of her own things?”
“I am constantly getting calls from the school and quite frankly it is stressing me out! I don’t know what to do.”
It is easy to forget that kids with behavioral and mental health issues are kids first. So much of the conditions I write about and care for can cause real stress to the child, to the caregiver, extended family and even with teachers and child care providers.
This is true with all parenting experiences. There are going to be good days and bad. There are going to be days when you want to post #mommyfail (or you feel it but maybe just not post it on social media). Kids without behavioral and mental health conditions act out about 1/3 of the time. This is part and parcel of parenting and how kids learn rules.
It is hard to look beyond the immediate stresses when you are in it. When I see a child in my clinic, I always end on questions that focus on the strengths and time-in. “Tell me what you love about your child. What are some of his/her strengths? What do you like to do with him/her as fun time together?”
These are my two magic questions not only ask what they are intended to. But they also can reflect what parents are most worried about and how they are coping.
Let me tell you what I mean.
It can be worrisome when a parent does not know how to answer one or both questions or stops and has to think for a long time. This is when I know it is time to step back and really work on the basics of time-in and creating opportunities for positive parent-child interactions.
In an effort to remind everyone that ALL kids are kids first…we developed a wonderful video that highlights this very message, in the context of childhood ADHD.
When I worked in academia as a health services researcher, my passion was looking at ways to improve the care families of children with ADHD received. Not necessarily the medical care and compassion shown by the individual providers, but the way in which health care systems delivered care to families.
We know ADHD is a chronic condition and as such physicians are tasked to do certain things when seeing the patient in the clinic. However it takes time to talk with the family about how ADHD affects them day to day, including the impact on the child's self confidence, how they are doing at school and whether they have started seeing a therapist. This is because primary care visits usually are quick 10-20 minutes, no matter if you are sick or well. It makes the work a primary care doctor must do challenging because there is usually a lot of things to talk about.
When someone has a lifelong condition, we want to educate them on what it is, along with helping them learn ways to manage and make sure they get good sleep, eat right and stay well--both physically and mentally.
And it is especially important to help explain this to children, in child friendly terms, so they know that there is nothing "wrong" with them; instead, we are all working together to ensure that life at home and school is good, makes them happy and they are thriving.
I had the privilege of working WITH families while doing this research. We ended up getting a small grant from the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality to develop and produce a series of 6 videos for social media meant to help spread awareness of how to cope, how to manage and how to think about ADHD in general.
Please watch the video and if it moves you, join the movement to take a strengths-based approach to kids with ADHD: #JustANormalKid.
Much thanks to the children and families who worked with me on this journey since the beginning. This beautiful project is the result of the hard work and dedication they brought and I know it means a lot to them to have you take a look and visit the Let's Chat ADHD facebook page.
It influenced the work I continue to do today with my TEACH ME ADHD course.
On behalf of our families and research colleagues who worked on this for years with me, THANK YOU and remember, #JustANormalKid the next time you feel frustrated with your own parenting challenges. Everyone can benefit from a gentle reminder--even our kids!
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