The ADHD Homestead

Create the life you want with the mind you have.

Tag: self-esteem (page 1 of 2)

Guest Post: Women with ADHD — a letter to my younger self

About the author:

S.B.  Castañeda writes about the struggles of #ADHDwomen on her blog, Adulting With ADHD.

Dear Younger Self,

You aren’t feeling very good about life right now. In fact, if I recall correctly, between performance issues at work and losing those music festival tickets, you feel the very, very opposite of good.

Here’s the thing. And I’m not telling you this to let you off the hook (because girl, we need to do something about some of those mistakes you’ve been making), but…you’re not dumb and you’re not losing your mind. You’re living with undiagnosed ADHD.

dear younger self guest post

It slipped under the radar.

You know all that fun anxiety and depression you’re dealing with right now? You’re still going to have it, but once it reaches a manageable level, your doctor will get a clearer picture of what’s really going on. Then you’ll get even more help. And this will be huge.

Remember all those problems in grade school? Nope, you weren’t the loudmouth or class clown. You were a daydreamer, remember? And you had some weird emotional stuff going on.

So here’s the thing: because you were all shy and awkward and would rather die than have attention paid your way, the diagnosis slipped past everybody.

Enter middle and high school. You’ve always been really book-smart and high-functioning. You stayed out of everyone’s way and kept your nose to the ground. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with your learning abilities! Then, away you went — congrats on that college acceptance! At this point, you were aware of ADD and Ritalin, but to you (and nearly everybody else) it was a little boy’s issue. Nothing to concern yourself with.

You were right — something was wrong.

But you know that sneaking feeling you’d get once in a while? It would happen in your quietest moments. It was the feeling that you weren’t meeting your full potential. You managed to graduate college with an average GPA and have an average first career, but you always knew you were above-average. Yet your life was anything but.

And some of the mistakes you’re making are supremely mind-boggling. Remember the moment when all that joking about being senile or having Alzheimer’s stopped being funny? Remember when you actually started wondering what the hell was wrong with you with an unprecedented sense of urgency?

It gets SO much better.

None of this makes sense right now. Even if it did, you wouldn’t believe it. But you’re going to get better. And you’re going to excel in ways you can’t wrap your mind around right now. Just hang in there and keep working on your issues. You’re going to make it to the other side of this, and the view is marvelous.

Hang in there,
Sarah

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Unfortunately, every parenting win springs from impulse control.

Parents with AdultADHDAn interaction I had with my three-year-old a couple months ago blew me away. I should’ve been delighted. Instead, I felt deeply sad. And I knew I couldn’t say a thing.

We’d talked about his books before. He had too many to fit on his shelves. One day, he looked at me and said, “Mommy, I want to give Little Critter Snowball Soup away.”

I was flabbergasted. This was one of his favorite stories, one we’d read over and over and over again. He hadn’t asked for it lately, but I was still shocked he’d get rid of it. We talked more. He understood what he was saying: he didn’t enjoy the book anymore and wanted someone else to love it as much as he’d loved it. It needed to become someone else’s favorite.

Then he started pulling more books from the shelf, saying “I only wanted to read this one five times,” and “I don’t enjoy this one anymore.”

Our children mirror us.

As anyone who knows me will attest, my son did only what I taught him to do. I’m an aspiring minimalist, and I believe minimalism has special benefits for people with ADHD. I also believe self-efficacy is the most important gift I can give my child.

My son is generous, thoughtful, and capable of making his own choices. He’s learning to part with material things — even old favorites — that he no longer enjoys.

He needs a mom with impulse control. A mom who knows how to keep her mouth shut and let him do his thing. I haven’t always been that person, but I’m working at it every day.

We don’t start out choosing our reactions.

My core values as a parent, homemaker, and person demand a pretty high level of impulse control. This is something I totally lacked at the beginning of my ADHD journey. Before I started learning about and medicating my ADHD, I didn’t choose my reactions to people and events in life. I didn’t know a choice existed. I thought what happened inside also happened outside — for everyone.

During my first week on stimulant medication, I described in my journal this gap that had opened up between stimulus and response. I felt like I’d discovered a time warp. I gained a few critical seconds (maybe even milliseconds) to notice what I was feeling and attempt to control how I expressed it.

Kids need parents who stay out of the way

Getting out of the way: tough for any parent, tougher for ADHD parents.

Plenty of parenting books warn against emotional reactions when we’re angry. What about when we’re bittersweet, or when we doubt our child’s choices? It broke my heart to part with some of those books. I desperately wanted to intervene, even though intervening would question his judgement (you’re getting rid of that one?) and undermine his generosity (what if I just hold onto these on my bookshelf?).

I didn’t intervene. He wanted to wish the books well on their journey to someone else. I was as proud of myself as I was of him. My ability to keep my mouth shut empowered him to make his own choice and stand behind it. He felt capable of solving a problem on his own, and I got out of his way. I trusted him. He gained confidence in himself.

This would be hard for anyone, but for someone with a clinically diagnosable deficiency in shutting up? Let’s just say, I never thought I’d see the day. I gave myself time to mourn the books, but after my son was asleep. Burdening him with my complicated emotions — at least in this context — wouldn’t benefit him at all.

Be quiet and leave space for others.

Sometimes, keeping quiet and leaving space for others in our relationships is the most supportive, loving thing we can do.

For adults — and especially parents — with ADHD, it’s also the hardest thing. Our emotions overwhelm us, our reptile brains take over, and we often stop to think long after we’ve already spoken.

But the rewards make it worth it to keep trying, and to take good care of myself and my brain. Because I owe it to my kid, who’s already a better person than I am.

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Book Review: Mini Habits

 

audiobook-copyI understand if you read my book reviews every month and think, “yeah, okay lady, but here’s the problem: I don’t really read.”

But you need to read Stephen Guise’s Mini Habits. Not just to read more — though that might happen, too — but to change your life, and fast. The audio version will take you less than four hours, and the print version checks in at under 150 pages. You have no excuse not to give it a try.

Mini Habits was such an inspiring read, I talked about it to everyone and anyone who would listen. I bought a copy for a friend just because.

Mini Habits will be revolutionary for many ADHD readers because it removes motivation from our habit-forming equation. If you’re still relying on feeling motivated to go to the gym, Guise insists, it’s only a matter of time before you fail.

If you have ADHD, you don’t need a book to tell you that. You may need a book to tell you success is within (even) your reach.

What’s a mini habit?

Guise’s simple trick is to reduce your habit to the tiniest possible steps — and keep it there. His inspiration for Mini Habits came from his own success with the one push-up challenge. When one push-up per day morphed into the workout routine he’d previously failed to establish, he knew he was onto something.

Once you remove barriers to entry, you often find yourself willing and able to do far more than the minimum. Now that I’m on the floor for one push-up, for example, why not just do 10?

For someone who often can’t find motivation even for enjoyable activities, a mini habit (or two or three) may alter the course of your life.

How to create a mini habit

Guise recommends attempting only a small handful of habits at a time. I’m notoriously overzealous, so I chose three right off the bat. They are:

  • Open my novel manuscript once daily
    (I couldn’t set a word count goal because I’m editing a years-old draft)
  • Open my blog dashboards once daily
  • Get into downward-facing dog once daily

The most challenging aspect of creating my mini habits was, and continues to be, keeping them small. I struggle not to feel like a cheater when I open my manuscript and close it again without changing a word. I wanted to commit to more than one measly yoga pose.

On this point, Guise (and my husband, who I’ve enlisted as my in-house reminder) is firm: keep mini habits small. If it feels stupid — aka “stupid small” — you’re doing it right. Go bigger and you might feel good today, but mini habits must be attainable even when you’re sick, tired, demoralized, or otherwise having the worst day ever. No matter what, you must be able to experience success every day.

Smaller habits, it turns out, do net bigger results: I’ve been more productive with my writing and even finished my edits ahead of schedule for my monthly critique group. I can now hold crow pose for a whole three seconds, and I’m working up to a headstand in yoga.

Most importantly, I’m experiencing a brand-new feeling: sticking with something. This, Guise claims, is “training to believe in yourself.” It’s something we ADHD’ers desperately need.

The bottom line

Mini Habits is short, conversational, and simple. Nothing Guise suggests feels overwhelming or out of reach, as is so often the case in self-help literature. Not once did I dismiss advice by saying, “yeah, but I have ADHD.”

In fact, the biggest threat from ADHD is my tendency to bite off more than I can chew. Mini habits aren’t glamorous or exciting. It doesn’t feel good to tell your friends, “I’m committed to opening my manuscript and looking at it every day.” Mini habits are as much an exercise in keeping myself in check as anything else.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy right now and share your mini habits in the comments.

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What you need to know about ADHD, impulsivity, and self-harm

We’ve all made jokes about our ADHD. A little gallows humor can keep us from getting too down on ourselves.

But be careful. Impulsivity, time-blindness, and low self-esteem can create the perfect storm — and a potentially life-threatening situation.

ADHD suicide risk

ADHD has a dark side, and several studies suggest it increases suicide risk as much as five-fold.

Relentless emotional volatility and feelings of failure can lead to a lot of negative self-talk: “I’m such a screw-up,” “my family is embarrassed by me,” “I’m a burden,” “I’ll never accomplish anything meaningful,” “my hopes and dreams are worthless because I’ll never come close to any of it,” “everyone would be better off without me.”

For ADHD adults and teens, these thoughts feel like more than a blip, a dark mood that will lift tomorrow.

Time-blindness means we can’t (not just dont — often, we truly can’t) see outside the moment. This moment of weakness becomes all there is. The good times, or even the days when we can see and acknowledge our strengths in spite of it all, don’t feel real. Our perceptions of ourselves lock in on right now, and right now feels like past, present, and future all rolled into one.

It’s at this moment that ADHD-fueled impulsivity — the part of us that fails to consider the longl-term consequences of our actions — crosses from childish and annoying to tragic and potentially fatal.

What to do when it becomes too much

If you’re feeling out of control and frightened, ask for help. Reach out to a friend, go hang out in a public place, take a break. If all else fails, get yourself to the emergency room. As a teenager, I escorted a friend to our local ER’s crisis intervention center and learned firsthand what a lifesaver it can be — even in the middle of the night.

Whatever you do, don’t let yourself believe your problems aren’t real, that it’s “just ADHD,” not a “real” mental health issue. Comorbid disorders are common, and ADHD’s impulsivity and impaired perception of time and consequences can fuel risky behavior.

Unsurprisingly, women and girls with ADHD suffer from high rates of self-harming behavior. Many slip through the cracks and remain undiagnosed until their teens or even adulthood. Girls tend to internalize their struggles more than boys, and ADHD symptoms can manifest differently.

Parents beware: as children mature into their teens and early adulthood, hyperactive ADHD symptoms may fade, but don’t let that fool you. Just because you can’t see symptoms on the outside doesn’t mean your kids don’t need you. In fact, they may need you now more than ever.

Have your or your child had an experience with self-harming behavior? How did you cope, and what would you recommend for someone in a similar situation?

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Blame shifting: when someone you love puts it all on you

If you love someone with ADHD, you may know too well how blame shifting hurts a relationship.

There are many ways to shift the blame:

“If you didn’t make me so angry all the time, I wouldn’t explode at you. Would you rather I bottled it all up?”

“I wouldn’t have gotten a speeding ticket if you hadn’t asked a bunch of questions when you knew I was trying to get out the door.”

“I never thought I’d be the type to cheat, but you made me feel so unappreciated.”

“You and Dad never modeled a healthy relationship for me. No wonder my marriage fell apart.”

Daniel Amen blame shifting quote

For the purposes of this post, let’s look at a smaller-scale example:

Suppose you’re having company over tonight. Your husband meant to take pork chops out of the freezer last night, but he forgot. He arrives home from some errands at 4:30, ready to marinate the chops so he can throw them on the grill when your guests arrive.

Upon discovering the meat still in the freezer, he blows up at you:

“Great, now dinner is ruined! You were here all day and you couldn’t have noticed the meat wasn’t in the fridge? Every time I think you have my back, you’re just thinking about your own stuff and doing your own thing. All our other married friends work together as a team. You make me feel like our relationship is just every man for himself…”

And on and on.

In describing this behavior to your friends — or searching the internet — you may hear people call it psychological abuse. But does this mean you’re in an abusive relationship and it’s time to get out?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Why we blame others

It’s easier to blame someone else than it is to accept our own (often overwhelming) faults. It’s also easier to cast ourselves in the role of the victim when faced with a blame shifter. Once we’ve accepted that role, both parties learn to play their part like it’s second nature.

Before we write off a blame shifter as incurably abusive and ill-intentioned, we should take a closer look. The ability to see a situation from multiple angles and experience emotions without being blinded by them is a marker of strength. We can assert and protect ourselves in ways other than walking out the door.

As we seek that steady foundation, we need to remember why people people tend to mistreat others. As a child, I remember my mother telling me bullies picked on me because they felt badly about themselves.

Bullies of all ages use others to shift focus away from their own hurts. In his book Healing ADD from the Inside Out, Dr. Daniel Amen writes, “people who ruin their own lives have a strong tendency to blame other people when things go wrong.” Consider the pain, humiliation, and self-loathing weighing on the hearts of so many ADHD adults. It’s easy to see how blame shifting and other emotionally abusive behaviors become the path of least resistance.

Accepting even a minor failure — like forgetting to take the meat out of the freezer — can feel like too much to bear if ADHD has already decimated your self-image. Allow yourself to own that one misstep and you open the floodgates, confirming your worst fears about yourself and reinforcing your most damaging self-criticisms.

Disarm with compassion and clarity

I’m not excusing bad behavior, but rather seeking explanations beyond “he’s just a bad person.” When you’re feeling wounded by a blame shifter’s words, try to remember they’re hurting, too. This knowledge may make it easier to begin from a strong and productive place rather than simply retreating or attacking back.

And it does take strength. The best first step in a conflict is to acknowledge your own contribution, even if the other person is wrong.

Why? Because this removes the blame shifter’s weapon. You cannot assume a position of strength without making yourself vulnerable. When someone shifts the blame, that’s a good signal that they’re coming from a place of weakness. They will redouble their attacks if you begin by focusing on their faults.

When acknowledging your contribution, don’t dwell on blame or get melodramatic. The idea is to communicate to the other person, “I’m not interested in discussing who’s to blame here” and move on.

In the case of the frozen meat, that means saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t notice when I went into the fridge to get my lunch. If I had, we may have been able to get the meat thawed in time.”

You may fear you’re just rewarding bad behavior. There’s inherent risk in making yourself vulnerable. But consider your options. If you argue, deny, and try to pass the buck back to the blame shifter, you’ll make him feel even more threatened. This makes him even more prone to attack. You could slink away, refuse to engage, and wait for it to blow over, but that makes you an ideal target: a person who won’t stand up for herself, who will allow someone to tear you down to make themselves feel better. That’s not okay.

Be firm and kind, and check your emotions

After accepting your contribution, be firm. Make sure you’re not enabling blame shifting now or in the future. Help the blame shifter see their role in the situation by making clear, non-threatening observations about what happened.

Avoid statements that aren’t about you: “you said you’d be in charge of the meat. I shouldn’t have needed to worry about it.”

Instead, describe only your own feelings, observations, and interpretations: “the meat wasn’t on my radar. I guess I kind of forgot about it after we decided you’d grill and I’d make the side dishes. It sounds like you’d like for us to check on each other a little more intentionally to make sure nothing gets forgotten.”

This shifts focus away from finger-pointing and toward problem solving.

If the blame shifter continues to dump on you, speak up. Resist the urge to get emotional or confrontational. For example: “I feel like I’m trying to look at this from both sides. It’s not okay with me to just focus on how I messed up because that’s not what I feel really happened here. Am I making it difficult for you to have a two-sided conversation about this?”

Once a blame shifter learns that you won’t take the bait and feed the flames with more emotion, they’ll stop seeing you as a viable container for their own bad feelings and low self esteem.

You can’t do it all

Sometimes a loved one will continue behaving badly, especially if his ADHD is untreated or poorly managed. Only you can know — through experience, soul searching, and repeated attempts to open doors to effective communication — if it’s time to remove yourself from a toxic environment.

However, it’s important to remember there’s hurt on both sides, and rarely does responsibility for stopping the cycle rest with just one person.

Much of the advice in this post was gleaned from Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen’s Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. If you’re dealing with a poor communicator, the best thing you can do to make things better is to hone your own skills and lead by example. I highly recommend Difficult Conversations as a starting point for anyone seeking to heal a damaged relationship.

Have you felt victimized by a blame shifter? What did you do? Are you a recovering blame shifter? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.

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Book Review: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen coverHow to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk has been called “the ultimate parenting bible,” and rightly so. Nearly everything you need to know about communicating with children — and people in general — lies within its pages.

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish preach a style of parenting that feels so different, you may just turn over to a blank page in your parenting journey. It requires a complete paradigm shift from “how do I get my kids to do what I want them to do?” to “how do I engage my kids’ cooperation?”

My parenting world also turned upside down when I read Vicki Hoefle’s Duct Tape Parenting, and both books are indispensable. Where one leaves off, the other begins. How To Talk So Kids Will Listen gives more specific examples and techniques, especially for situations when ignoring problem behavior feels like the wrong idea. Parents will come out of this book with a great toolbox not only for shaping desirable behavior, but for developing strong, lasting relationships with their kids.

In a way, this book feels like Difficult Conversations applied to parenting. It’s far more than that, but How to Talk So Kids Will Listen will teach similar skills: listening, empathizing, problem-solving, and viewing situations from your child’s perspective. As I’ve begun using Faber and Mazlish’s techniques, it’s been easier to apply the core concepts to my social interactions with everyone.

After all, children give us opportunities to practice (and start over) every single day. With each success, my son and I both gain confidence in our ability to communicate and solve problems effectively. We can apply everything we learn in our home to interactions with the world at large.

Let’s face it: ADHD adults struggle with patience, empathy, and communication. This makes parenting a particularly tough challenge. The techniques in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen haven’t just made me a better parent, they’ve made me a better person. As my toddler and I practice on each other, I feel a glimmer of hope that I’ll get better at handling tough situations with grown-ups, too.

Not only that, ADHD households aren’t peaceful by nature. We have to work at it. It’s so easy for both parents and kids to fly off the handle, and once a situation escalates, calming down is incredibly difficult — if not impossible. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen will help you prevent meltdowns (yours or theirs) from happening in the first place.

If you doubt a general parenting book can be applied to ADHD households, simply turn to the testimonials toward the end of the book. You’ll find several parents sharing the tremendous benefit Faber and Mazlish’s methods have had for their ADHD kids.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen‘s biggest weakness is its age. Where Hoefle’s Duct Tape Parenting provides an indictment of the too soft, too involved, ‘helicoptering’ parent of today, Faber and Mazlish criticize an authoritarian style that is far less prevalent now than it was when the book was published in 1980. However, if you keep in mind the pitfalls of both approaches and commit to the principles in this book, you’ll be just fine.

If you’re sick of nagging, yelling, punishing, or just plain feeling drained and frustrated at the end of every day, it’s time for a fresh approach. The road to a more peaceful, cooperative, interdependent family isn’t an easy one, but this time-tested book will show you the way.

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ADHD then and now: notes from my teenage self

People sometimes tell me I can’t have ADHD because I’m too smart and organized.

I insist I’m only as organized as I need to be to maintain a base level of sanity, not to mention cleanliness and financial security. It just so happens I need to create a lot of intentional, concrete systems to keep the ship afloat.

good student quote

I still have my rough patches, but it’s easy to forget how ADHD feels for those who are younger, undiagnosed, newly diagnosed, or just haven’t gotten the support they need to start organizing their lives.

Here’s a different perspective, written when I was 17:

…When I have to pay attention in school, sometimes I just can’t. I’ll try with all I’ve got, but it’s like a fog, a force field goes up between me and them and I can’t cut through it.

Most of the time, no matter what, I can’t sit still. My leg twitches, my fingers, tap, I fidget and shift positions, or my eyes just keep darting around.

I find it difficult to do my homework at night because I’ll start staring at something, I’ll pick up objects around me and look at them, my thoughts will wander, I won’t be able to focus or concentrate.

And then there’s my memory. I can never remember books and movies, I constantly forget to perform simple tasks, so much so that it interferes with my daily functioning in life. This is why I write on my hands. I do things in fragments because I get distracted and bounce from task to task. I must perform my morning routine in the same order every day lest I leave something out. I am very absent-minded.

I have trouble not talking when there is someone who I can talk to nearby.

See, I talked to my guidance counselor about it, and I still don’t know what to do. In order to be diagnosed with anything, a test would go out to me, my parents, and my teachers, none of whom I want to get involved. I’ve tricked my teachers into thinking I’m a good student…

I have to constantly stay a step ahead of this, I have to beat it and sidestep it and wrestle it to the ground, all to keep my head above the water. Battling with a condition of your own mind is like nothing else — it is a unique struggle, one that knows you and hits you where you are weak, one that wears you down over time and makes you feel sick inside.

I wish it could be easy, but it sucks.

Already, with ample structure in a minimally challenging academic environment, I struggled internally.

I didn’t cause much trouble at school and I graduated with a GPA over 3.5. Study halls gave me extra time for homework. I was also bright enough to get away with discreetly working on assignments during lectures without falling behind on the material. As a linguistic thinker, I relied on my ability to test well, but forgot most of what I learned shortly after the exam.

Many find this surprising, but it’s a common story for ADHD girls and women.

These are the ADHD cases that slip by until adulthood, when we must create our own structure, goals, and schedules. We must make our own day, and if we haven’t learned to do that, everything begins to fall apart.

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Book Review: Duct Tape Parenting

Cover image: Duct Tape Parenting by Vicki Hoefle Do you yearn for less chaos, more connectedness, and a more fulfilling life with your children?

Duct Tape Parenting: A Less Is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids might turn your current parenting philosophy on its head. Or it could reaffirm what you’ve always believed but never translated to reality.

Reading a parenting book may feel like a chore, but it can be a game-changer for ADHD families. Agreeing on a consistent strategy with buy-in from both parents will generate immediate rewards. You’ll also gain a common language to discuss those inevitable parenting challenges. As a bonus, parent educator Vicki Hoefle‘s suggestions for family meetings, road maps, and sharing appreciations will benefit everyone — not just kids.

Duct Tape Parenting‘s central conceit is that kids need autonomy and responsibility. Also, attention of any kind — negative or positive — reinforces their behavior. Our job is not to nag and con children into doing the right thing, it’s to guide them toward self-actualization.

Hoefle’s hands-off approach requires a paradigm shift and a willingness to endure messes and imperfection. It also helps kids develop resiliency and executive function that will set them up for a lifetime of success. Perhaps most important, it takes the pressure off of us to keep the whole family organized.

Duct Tape Parenting will be difficult for ADHD adults. That duct tape in the title? It’s for you. In other words, success with Hoefle’s method relies on impulse control at just the moment when restraint feels most difficult.

Don’t give up, though — it’s worth the effort. Parents with ADHD will love the end result: a family where everyone contributes according to their ability and takes responsibility for their own needs.

Once you step back and let your kids show you what they can do, you’ll be amazed at how capable even young toddlers can be. Divvying up responsibilities and letting your kids take ownership of daily activities saves you a lot of grief trying to keep track of everything on your own.

Teaching kids to be resourceful and independent will also give them a boost in executive functioning skills — a gift that will benefit ADHD kids for the rest of their lives. A parent who coaches, nags, reminds, and bails out an ADHD child robs him of a safe, supportive environment to learn coping and organizing skills. He’ll need to succeed without you eventually — now is the time to let him practice, make mistakes, and build his confidence.

While Hoefle lays out a solid, sensible, high-impact plan for family effectiveness, I found a few key points missing. For one, Hoefle doesn’t thoroughly address behavior management in a  social group. Children are often part of a regular social group with its own expectations and norms. What if my two-year-old spars with a friend’s toddler over a toy and we have differing ideas on how (and when) to intervene?

My weekly playgroup might be open to discussing these issues. One-time events like trips to the playground or birthday parties present a different challenge. At some point I’m willing to let my child lose a friend over poor behavior, but preschool seems too young. I would’ve appreciated advice on how to guide my child’s behavior in a group setting without being overly directorial.

Speaking of age, too many of Hoefle’s anecdotes omit the child’s age. How to implement Hoefle’s ideas at each stage of childhood is largely left up to the reader.

Overall, Duct Tape Parenting is worth a read for exhausted ADHD parents everywhere. Fair warning: Hoefle’s tone can be off-putting. She begins the book by pointing out far more problems than solutions and has a habit of quoting herself at the beginning of chapters. Parents already feeling downtrodden may find themselves feeling more so, and attachment parenting devotees may not make it past Chapter One.

I hope these issues of tone and structure won’t discourage too many parents from finishing the book. It will change the way you view your job as a parent and lead you to a more fulfilling life with your family.

Any other duct tape ADHD parents out there? Please share your experiences in the comments!

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Link Roundup: baseball, telling time, and mini habits

  1. watchminderAn Addict’s Guide to Overcoming the Distraction Habit via ZenHabits
    ZenHabits’ “it’s hard, but just do it because it’s worth it” tone frustrates me sometimes because it can discourage ADHD folks. Even so, it’s one of the few blogs I can say I’ve followed for over five years. I particularly appreciate posts like this, where author Leo Babuta talks about his less-than-perfect moments — and how he found his way out of them.
  2. Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself via ZenHabits
    The title says it all. After my recent post about negative self-talk and setting a good example for our children, this is especially apt.
  3. Chris Davis & ADHD via The Baltimore Sun
    When the Baltimore Sun first broke this story about the Orioles’ Chris Davis, I was impressed all around. Davis was articulate, up-front, and mature in his response to the media after his suspension for a bureaucratic SNAFU with his Adderall. He did a great service to the adult ADHD community by clearing the air and trying to dispel popular misconceptions about ADHD and stimulant medications.Of course, reporting matters, too. The Sun’s treatment of this story turned it into a positive event rather than a negative one — an opportunity for learning rather than hype and gossip.
  4. WatchMinder
    When I discovered this product on Penny Williams’ ADHD parenting blog, I was shocked I hadn’t seen it anywhere before. The WatchMinder is a vibrating wristwatch that accepts up to 30 preset alarms per day. Users can also program custom on-screen text reminders to accompany the vibrating alarm. As I mentioned in my recent post about time blindness, ADHD’ers of all ages struggle with time: being late, misjudging how long a task will take, even gaining an accurate perception of time passing at all. Alarms often fail to help with transitions, leaving on time, etc., because they are so easily snoozed, turned off, and/or ignored. I’m intrigued by this watch because it doesn’t just give task reminders, it reminds us that time exists. I imagine setting the watch to vibrate every hour could go a long way to teach time-blind ADHD’ers what the passage of an hour actually feels like.
  5. Mini Habits & the One Push-Up Challenge via Deep Existence
    Stephen Guise promises “lasting change for early quitters, burnouts, the unmotivated, and everyone else, too.” The surprising thing is, he actually delivers. We’ve been testing our own mini habits at The ADHD Homestead with unprecedented success. I’m cracking open my novel manuscript almost every day. My husband reports that he’s stuck with the One Push-Up Challenge for “longer than [he’s] ever stuck with anything.” Forming habits is hard. Setting reasonable goals is even harder. These concepts can help you achieve success you never thought possible.I encourage you to read up about the mini habits model, but here’s the core idea, in Guise’s words: “If you commit to losing 87 pounds, it’s a huge decision and a constant burden until you accomplish it (or fail). You’re overcommitted. But the commitment level of doing one push-up or crunch is almost zero, so there’s no pressure and you’re free to do your best and take life’s unpredictabilities in stride.”
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ADHD Parents: stop dissing yourself in front of your kids

How often do our kids parrot back words that make us cringe? While your two-year-old blurting out “I need coffee!” in the supermarket or using salty language with relatives may get laughs in the retelling, other phrases will break your heart.

Phrases like, “I’m stupid.”

“I’ll never be good at anything.”

Before you demand from your kid, “who told you that?” ask yourself this: have you said these words? I plead guilty to the above phrases — and worse.

You’re not alone. Negative self-talk and low self-esteem plague many ADHD adults. But when it comes to our behavior around our children, it has to stop.

Think about it this way: ADHD is a highly heritable disorder. If your child doesn’t already have a diagnosis, he very well may by adulthood. When you say “I’ll never reach my full potential,” or “I don’t know why I even try,” you’re giving your kid a big lesson about his outlook for the future.

Outlook is important. If your child does have ADHD, he’ll need to be confident and resilient in the face of life’s frustrations. Your child is watching — and learning — every time you berate yourself for screwing up. Eventually, she’ll learn to respond to setbacks by focusing on weaknesses rather than working from her strengths.

That’s not to say your feelings aren’t valid. But though you may feel like a terrible parent and irresponsible adult after a rough day, your kids aren’t harsh critics. They want to be just like Mommy or Daddy. When you insult yourself, you’re not only setting a terrible example for handling frustration, you’re questioning their judgement. You’re telling them they picked the wrong role model.

For better or worse, our kids idolize us. When we put ourselves down, we imply they’re poor judges of character. We teach them damaging, ineffective ways to recover from failures. We teach them that an individual’s flaws are more important than her innate talents and strengths, and our mistakes are more memorable than our successes.

We also teach them that having ADHD makes us less valuable human beings. Our neurochemistry will hold us back from making a significant contribution to the world. We’re doomed to disappoint the people we love the most, make bad first impressions, and lose our keys over and over again.

When we look at our brilliant, uniquely lovable children, this isn’t who we want them to become.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking they’ll teach themselves resiliency and self-respect. They learn it from the most important role model they’ll ever have: you.

Next time you catch yourself about to express even the mildest self-loathing, ask yourself if you’d want to see your child treat himself — or his best friend — that way.

If the answer is no, it’s a habit you need to break.

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