“Parenting ADHD can be complicated. Even confusing. But trying to make sense of all the ADHD advice can be even more complicated and confusing if you forget to do ONE important thing first.”
When you’re given ADHD advice.
Who should you listen to when it comes to ADHD advice? What if I do this or don’t do that?! These are perfectly good questions to ask! Because I know personally what it feels like to try and make sense of ADHD advice with all the conflicting “should do/ shouldn’t do” information.
“It’s so easy to feel like you’re drowning in a lake of conflicting counsel.”
So before we dive into ADHD advice and the best way to handle it, I’d first like to share a hard-earned nugget of wisdom.
Please, please, PLEASE don’t do what I did.
In my younger years of raising my ADHD son, I received a variety of advice and opinions on how to deal with his behavior from well-meaning friends, family and even people outside of my close social circle.
The advice and opinions ranged from being told my son was just stubborn and strong-willed, hard-headed and spoiled to selfish and impatient.
Included in this mix of conflicting information was opinions about his diet. Was he getting too much sugar, wheat, red dye, yellow dye, corn, milk, or rice? Or…maybe he wasn’t getting enough protein, carbs, vitamins, fish, vegetables, sunshine, sleep, exercise…Arrrh!
“You name it, everyone had something to say.”
I listened to every bit of it.
And along with all the confusing and chaotic information, I was informed (in a not-so-subtle way) that my son’s out-of-control behavior was being perceived, by some, as lack of discipline on my part. I was told I should get my situation and son under control.
“Ouch, that hurt!”
Well, of course, hearing such a thing immediately made me question every aspect of my parenting. It didn’t take long before I sank into an abyss of self-doubt and embarrassment. With my confidence eroding away, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, others were seeing something that I wasn’t. Or knew something that I didn’t. I convinced myself that these people with their “enlightened” advice must know more than me.
“And, here’s where I made my biggest mistake — I quit thinking for myself.”
I caved to pressure.
I allowed others opinions and advice to carry more weight than mine. Eventually, I simply followed along and adjusted my parenting. I ceased doing what I initially thought to be best for my son.
“I no longer trusted my feelings, my judgment, my gut or my mom instincts.”
As a result, I reined in my son and became harsher in the way I treated him. Only to have it backfire. Leaving me feeling even more defeated and my son confused and sadder than ever.
I hated the direction my parenting had gone. And after what I considered to be an epic fail at parenting, I hit an all-time low point.
All because I felt I should listen to the opinions of people I barely knew. All because I believed someone else’s advice should matter more than mine. And all to appease (what I later discovered were) the uninformed and underinformed outsiders.
“My mistake was in giving over, giving in and giving up.”
Look, I know you want answers to help you get through your day with your ADHD child. I know how exhausting it can be. And I know how easy it is to want to hang on to anything that might make your situation with your child better.
“But, here’s what I discovered…”
Not all ADHD advice is necessarily good advice.
Or right for your particular situation.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is some good advice out there, but…you’ll find most people go about giving out advice like it’s their job. And sadly, they don’t know the full scope of what it’s like to raise a child with ADHD.
They don’t live in your home, deal with your child or know what you go through on a day-to-day basis. In fact, they, more than likely, don’t have an accurate understanding of what ADHD really is.
They only see quick snapshots of your life.
Like a moment in the grocery store or at a restaurant when your five-year-old decides now is a good time to scream at the top of their lungs and hold you emotionally hostage because you refuse to cave into their ransom demands. Anyone watching this public, preschool power struggle take place doesn’t actually know what your day has been like, what you may be going through or what lesson you may be trying to teach your child.
A “Kodak moment” is never an accurate image on which to offer band-aid advice or passer-by opinions.
“So, it might help to remember this — Opinions are like belly buttons…everyone’s got one.”
So what do you do with ADHD advice and opinions?
Well, let me cut to the chase. If you don’t do anything else, I want you to at least use this very powerful proactive step for you and your child today —
Begin by turning off all the well-meaning but uninformed, shoot-from-the-hip opinions along with the misdirected ADHD advice. Then, start trusting yourself and…
“Listen to your heart!“
I hope you heard that! I’ll say it again. “Listen to your heart.” If you’ve never done that before, right now is a good time to start.
Yes…I do realize I just gave you a piece of advice. But humor me for just a minute.
This single piece of, yes, advice will be all you need as you move forward. I know…hard to believe, seems too easy, but it’s true! Listening to your heart is the essential cornerstone for understanding and working successfully with your ADHD child.
But before you start, you gotta do this first!
Begin by tuning out the excess noise and focus in on listening to your heart, or if you prefer…”go with your gut,” “follow your mommy instincts,” or “trust your judgment.” You pick what works for you. Either way, once you employ one of these, this will be the key to getting it right with your child.
Making the choice to listen to your heart will make it easier to decide what advice is useful, what advice resonates and what advice can be passed over.
Again, not every piece of advice is right for every situation. So, if you don’t feel right about a particular piece of advice, including any suggestions or advice I write about…don’t follow it.
Listening to your heart should always be the litmus test for all ADHD advice.
So, how do you listen to your heart?
“A mother’s heart is an amazing thing!”
You are blessed with the ability to know what your child needs and what is beneficial. Something inside just tells you. That, my sweet friend, is your heart speaking to you. Listen to it! It will guide you, prompt you, direct you and help you discern what could work for your child.
Now if you’ve been floundering in a sea of opinions, advice, and suggestions, you may be doubting yourself. And you may not know right away what will work for your child. That’s normal. Don’t fret.
“Just begin by focusing on your child. Nothing more than that.”
Then slow down.
For a while, at least until you get your bearings, embrace the idea of slowing down by tuning out all the advice noise. I can tell you from experience, it is difficult, if not impossible, to hear what your heart is trying to convey to you when your head is filled with a cacophony of conflicting thoughts.
“When you slow down, you’ll calm down.”
Take your time. Pace yourself.
Just know that most people that offer advice have good intentions. They are trying to help. So it’s perfectly okay to listen and take in what they have to say but…and this is a BIG but—tuck that piece of information away and save it until you have time to break it down, process it and see if it applies to your particular situation.
Diving headfirst into a new piece of information and changing the way you do things can and will be confusing to your child. So before you implement any change with your child, take some time to think it through. Give yourself time to process what your heart is telling you.
Then weigh everything.
As I’ve already mentioned, most people are unaware of the challenges you and your child face every day.
It is rare to find someone who truly understands what it’s like to have to repeat yourself for the umpteenth time just to get your child to follow through on a single task. Or how difficult it is to remain calm when the school bus is rolling down the street, your child is changing into their fourth outfit of the morning and is in the throes of a meltdown because all the fabrics ‘feel funny’. Or the challenge of having to untangle a ball of knotted emotion each day after school in an effort to get to the core of your child’s frustration.
“No. one. else. can fully grasp what that is like unless they have lived it. Remember that!”
So when someone comes along offering a piece of ADHD advice—stop and weigh it against your particular circumstances and your relationship with your child.
All ADHD advice should have to pass the sift test.
Once you begin to slow down and take your time by weighing each piece of advice, you can now begin sifting. Sifting is just filtering advice with your specialized filter. Every single piece of advice should have to pass through the levels of trust you decide will work for you and your child.
Start the sifting process by asking yourself questions like this…
- How well does this person know me? Or my child?
- Do they have an ADHD child? Or any children?
- Did I ask for their advice?
- Does their advice come from a place of wisdom? Or deep caring?
These are just some baseline questions that you can use to help you break down and evaluate each piece of ADHD advice.
As an example, the worse piece of ADHD advice I ever received came from someone who had never raised a child. She had never stayed up all night with a sick baby. Or wrung her hands as her little one boarded the bus to go off to school for the first time. And, she had no clue of the level of emotional agony a mother goes through when her child has to have emergency surgery.
“Needless to say, she didn’t pass my ‘sift test’.”
Learn to trust yourself!
After weighing, sifting and filtering out any unnecessary advice, you can now use what you deem to be the most valuable. You know the special way your child thinks, processes information, and copes. Trust yourself. Because you, my friend, know what will work best for your child.
“Never stop being the warrior your child needs!”
Your unique gift.
As a mom of an ADHD child, your situation is completely unique and so is your child. You live it out every day. So only you with your God-given gifts, talents, wisdom, intellect, and spirit will know what is best for your child. Your child has been placed in your life because you are the one that is uniquely suited for the job.
And in that same vein, you are distinctively chosen to be the one that will create the biggest positive change in your child’s life. You have the ability to see your child in a light that no one else can. You’ve been specially selected to shape and mold this precious human being.
“Think about that for just a minute.”
Your child is a gift!
I don’t know about you, but I believe that each child of mine was placed in my life for a reason. And that I was intended, not by happenstance, luck or a throw of the dice to raise each one of them.
Each child is in my life because I am the mom they need. It is my temperament, personality, disposition, character, mind, and spirit that was intended to lead them into adulthood.
“And…it is my heart that has guided them.”
So today I want to encourage you with this final thought — You CANNOT fail at something you were created to do. You have been blessed with a unique child with a unique set of needs. It is your child’s needs that will be best met by you as you learn to trust yourself and listen to your heart.
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