As a Mom with a two Millennials in my life — one who has ADHD and the other a “do it by the book” kinda child, I got to live the best of both worlds.
Maxine my eldest, arrived in November of 1998, sat at 4 months old, crawled at 9 months and ran at 10 months old. If you know anything at all about babies you know she was ahead of the game. She was wild. She tested every boundary, got into trouble and could not be like other “normal” children. She thought and acted differently.
We visited a child psychologist who suggested behavioral training and labeled Maxine as “ADHD.” It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship with a man named Peter Collier who was wheel chair bound but lived a very normal life. He taught us to see the world through Maxine’s eyes. He suggested medication but preferred us to try other methods first. He taught us a lot about the needs of these incredible, forward thinking children. We chose to help her live her best life and to embrace her uniqueness.
She climbed tables and delighted in jumping off not aware of the pain it may cause, ran through the house like a whirlwind causing much joy and much heartache along the way. Hurt herself, cried hard and played hard. She had to be held still to fall asleep and that was just the beginning of the crazy, never boring life we lived.
ADHD is just another word for fun, exciting and adventurous.Julie Posey
What I Learnt From My Daughter About ADHD.
Many of the stories I have used are because they helped me and I hope they help put your incredible child’s behavior into perspective. It actually starts with changing your own attitude. Important points I have documented here.
- Need space — lots of it they need to express who they are without limits. They may fall and hurt themselves, however it’s how they learn what they can do and can’t do. Our Experience: We moved out of the city and into the countryside onto a farm estate and that was a good decision for our family.
- They need to belong. They have friends who are older or love children that are smaller, however they are better off with bigger kids as their peers and those younger, are not able to deal with their rough and tumble lifestyle. They inadvertently hurt them and it’s not malicious in any way — ADHD kids do not know parameters. Our Experience: Our Child Psychologist suggested Maxine join Brownies or Girl Guides or a church Sunday School group — a place where she would be accepted.
- Responsibility. ADHD Children understand that if something depends on them they feel needed and loved. A big dog is wonderful it would need to be stronger than the child but be dedicated to them. Our Experience: We bought Maxine a pony. It showed no emotion. It didn’t really care who showed up to feed it. Perfect result. Maxi would spend hours grooming the pony, walking it and ultimately riding. It was stronger than her and she showed it lots of respect and love. We were able to relate that to our every day lessons so she understood from a different perspective.
- The Word “NO” meant life or death. ADHD children need to understand that when you say NO — it’s important that they stop and listen. Our Experience: We saved the word “NO’ for when we really meant it. That was never a grey area. Maxi would test limits every day and we learnt to navigate what was life or death — we used “NO” sparingly but with purpose.
- Water is calming. ADHD children find water very calming. If they can swim, that is the best exercise and entertainment where they cannot really hurt themselves. Obviously within reason. Our Experience: We had to find the thing that calmed Maxine down. Her never ending movement needed to be redirected. We found swimming in our lake was a source of absolute calm for her. She would spend ours swimming, floating, playing in the water. It was at least a two hour a day freedom she loved and we would call her in for dinner, bath and bed.
- Choose family outings with care. Limit outings that were inhibiting or bracing the ADHD child’s freedom. Keep a positive attitude and try not to restrict them when a fun outing needed to be that — fun. Our Experience: We chose petting zoo’s, kite flying, parks, picnics, lake fun, beach visits, hiking and cycling. We also did zip-lining, sports games, amusement parks although those could cause her to be really hyped. Whatever we did, it ended with a swim or a long bath time when she could calm down fully.
- Avoid restaurants that require great behavior. Choose family restaurants, preferably with an outdoor area so you can live without too many restrictions. Find “eat quickly” options so that you don’t give other guests indigestion.
- Read Story Books Together. This is such an important part of learning to calm down. Find an interesting set of books and make that reading time one on one with your child. Our Experience: ADHD children thrive on that time alone with a parent. One chapter at a time allows the child to sit through and it is a great sense of achievement for them to complete a whole book. It also encourages them to read as they get older — giving them the alone time they so need.
- Find the Right School Situation. Schools that are don’t allow ADHD children to live outside the box are not the right fit for these amazing little Souls. They get bored far too easily and the teacher who is strict and not understanding of their “wild child” attitude are not the right fit. Fight for your child — no one else will. Our Experience: Maxine went to a prissy little girls private school. I remember our interview at the school and that should have been my warning not to go there, however, at that point in my life I was still trying to get Maxi to “fit in” the mould. That was the wrong thing for her. At the interview, just to give you some insight, Maxi sat on the rocking chair and rocked herself to almost fall over status. I retrieved her and struggled to get her to sit. Then she went behind the headmistress who was interviewing us and I saw her sit down on the floor and but could not see what she was doing. A few moments later she was leopard crawling under the desk and wailing — she was stuck. It took 3 of us to lift the desk to retrieve her. She wandered out the office into the passage way (which was glass) so I figured she would be ok as long as I could see her… well.. she proceeded to press her face flat on the glass pane and lick the window squishing her nose and breathing up a mist, with hand prints everywhere. Sigh… When our acceptance arrived a few days later — I was shocked, but delighted. That was the beginning of a very sad few years for my little girl. We then moved her from this school to a co-educational school and Maxine fitted right in and was just as wild as most of the boys. It was a great foundation for her and some of her closest friends today at the age of 30 were cemented in those early years.
- Let Them Be Their Innovative Selves — ADHD people are highly intelligent, risk takers who will solve any problems. When they are focused on something, they will win at all costs. They are super ambitious and really entrepreneurial. They cannot be fitted into a box. They shape their own world and they do it with spontaneity, kindness and empathy.
Today my daughter holds two degrees plus an MBA — is a smart negotiator and works in the sales industry. She is a high flyer, a mega achiever and knows what she wants out of life. She likes challenges and has a number of interests. She is a thinker, plans so she can be more organized. She works smart and lives life to her full potential.
Did you suffer with ADHD? I would love to know how you survived in spite of your environment.