Changing Your Perspective on ADHD

I have ADHD. My daughter and one of my sons have ADHD. I think that people with ADHD represent some of the most fascinating, fun, and fulfilling of all the people I meet. However, words such as structure, supervision, reminders, and persistence don’t even begin to describe the magnitude of the task people with ADHD have to tackle every day, especially kids.

Children need their parents to understand their difficulties, and teach them to overcome those challenges. As parents, the best way to help your child is to start by changing your own thinking about ADHD. When explaining ADHD to a child, I say, “you have a turbo charged mind – like a Ferrari engine, but the brakes of a bicycle, and I’m the brake expert.” When ADHD is properly treated, children can achieve great heights: doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, dreamers, innovators, explorers and even Harvard grads. Founders of our country may have had ADHD. The flip-side of distractibility is curiosity.

Barriers Parents Face: Steps to Change Your Perspective on ADHD

1. Educate yourself

By far, the biggest barriers for parents are denial, ignorance, and a refusal to learn. Dads and moms can dig in and simply refuse to listen to facts or reason. If this goes on too long, children can suffer severe damage, and families can be destroyed. The stakes are high, not only for the child, but the whole family. So you need to learn what ADHD is and what it isn’t. Perhaps the single most powerful treatment for ADHD is understanding ADHD in the first place. You need to understand what a positive attribute ADHD can be in your child’s life. So read books. Talk with professionals. Talk with other parents whose children have ADHD. You need to understand ADHD well enough to embrace it so you can help your child avoid unnecessary suffering, as that breaks kids rather than builds them up. It takes time, and effort, but it’s worth it.

2. Look for that special spark

In my daily practice, I see and treat kids with ADHD. Just being with them usually makes me smile. They invariably have a special something, a spark, a delightful quirk – which they sometimes try to hide, but which I usually can find. Then they relax, brighten up, and make me laugh and learn.

Look for that special something and help your child feel good about who s/he is. Identify his/her talents, strengths, interests and dreams. Teach him/her to see and believe in what s/he can do, and avoid the tendency to focus on what s/he can’t do. When you believe in your child, it makes it easier for him/her to believe, too.

3. Unconditional Love:

Let your love for your child carry the day. Tune out the diagnosticians and labelers and simply notice and nourish the spirit of your child for who s/he is. Providing this unshakable base of support will set the tone for all interactions to come. This is what builds self-esteem, confidence, and motivation, which in turn create joy and success in life.

Several studies suggest that loving acceptance by parents is the most important thing teens with ADD need in dealing with symptoms. Make sure that your child knows, every day, how much you love her. Showing your love and affection will buoy your child’s sense of hope and help the family weather criticism from outside sources.

This is what these kids need more than anything else: love that never gives up.

4. Reframe Challenges in terms of Mirror Traits:  Remind yourself and your child of the positive sides of the negative symptoms associated with ADD. By recognizing the mirror traits, you avoid the ravages of shame and fear.

ADHD Change Perspective

5. Surround yourself with Laughter:

Laughter is the best medicine. Surround yourself with people who can laugh. It is important to be able to regain a perspective that allows you to see the humor in all of the messes and fixes these kids can get into. Why wait to look back on something and laugh at it – go ahead and enjoy the ridiculousness of the situation in the moment.

When our kids begin to laugh at themselves, and not take themselves quite so seriously, it allows them to learn humility without shame, and adds to their moral character and their enjoyment of life.

Conclusion:

As a parent, how you approach your child’s ADHD will set the tone for how your child manages their ADHD. When you show them compassion and understanding, you teach them to love themselves and see their strengths. That will help them find the motivation they need to take control of their ADHD, one strategy at a time.

Adapted from Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and Peter S. Jensen, M.D., Ballantine, 2008.

Resources:

Check out the ADHD Workshops for adults and parents at the Hallowell Center NYC

Parenting with Impact Video Series on the Keys to Unlocking ADHD

Learn about the Zing Performance program, a non-medication treatment for ADHD

Making Meaningful Connections

Making meaningful connections at their best involve your whole soul. Of course, not every connection will draw upon all of you, but if you give yourself honestly in all your interactions, you’ll make meaningful connections and lead a connected life.

If, each day, you resolve to make contact, if you resolve to reach out, no matter what the response, in a genuine way; and if you resist the urge to pull back, then you will connect. In short, if you try to draw pleasure from connecting, you will.

Why not try starting your day with family breakfast? Or breakfast with a friend?

Click here for Tips on Making Meaningful Connections

If you’re a parent and would like to know how to help your child make meaningful connections, Dr. Hallowell’s session in The Parenting AUTISM Summit on The Importance of Making Meaningful Connectionsairs Wednesday, November 6th.

About The Parenting Autism Summit:

The Parenting AUTISM Summit offers strategies in autism and parenting from 28 experts; including Dr. Hallowell, that work to help your child navigate the social world; some of the available treatment options and how to focus on your child’s wellness, and more.

The summit is online and runs November 4 – 7, 2019.  You can’t afford to miss this! 

You’ll Learn the skills, strategies, and mindset necessary to understand:

  • how to help your child feel safe, loved, and appreciated;
  • to figure out what is behind your child’s behaviors; 
  • how some people experience their autism; and more…

Register for FREE here. 

 

How To Face Your Fears

When I first started speaking in public, I was terrified to speak in front of people. I had a phobia of public speaking. However, I had messages I wanted to share with the general public. I wanted to share what I knew about ADHD and other psychological topics.  So what was I to do? In my podcast on  How To Face Your Fears,” I describe how I overcame my fear of public speaking and offer ways you can overcome your phobia or fear.

As such, I invite you to listen and learn “How to Face Your Fears.”

LISTEN NOW! 

What’s the Difference Between Fear and Phobia?

Fear is an emotional response to perceived or real danger. It can be a wonderful ally as long as it goes off when it should. For example, when it keeps you from putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

When fear is of a specific thing, we call it a phobia.  A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that describes an excessive and irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation. Such as, fear of flying, fear of heights and fear of public speaking.

Phobias involve intense fear surrounding an object or situation that realistically poses little or no real danger. They are different from common fears in that the associated anxiety is so strong it interferes with daily life and the ability to function normally.  People suffering from phobias may go to extreme lengths to avoid encountering or experiencing the feared object or situation. If you have a fear or phobia that is paralyzing and life-defeating,  in addition to consulting with your family doctor, be sure to consult with experts in other fields

How the Hallowell Center Can Help

Treatment helps most people with phobias. Options include therapy, medication or both.  When should you seek therapy? Generally when the phobia causes intense fear, anxiety or panic and it stops you from your normal routine or causes significant distress. Taking the time to get diagnosed and set up a treatment plan is an investment in your health and well-being.

Find out how one of our qualified mental health professionals can help you by calling The Hallowell Center:

Boston MetroWest at 978-287-0810

New York City at 212-799-7777

San Francisco at 415-967-0061

Seattle at 206-420-7345