Michael is impulsive. He has been that way since he was a child. I said ADHD. Others said Autism. It was tricky. You see, he has both, but it was hard to see for some of the professionals. You see, there are so many similarities with autism. We are learning now about the differences. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust my mother’s instinct when it comes to Michael. I’ve also learned how to use the great advice I’ve been given from caring professionals, good family and friends, and all of this has helped me become a better parent. Of course, I have days when I mess up. Regularly. But now I can see those days for what they are. Days when I am tired, frustrated, stressed, and not using my strategies to control my own negative emotions. Confession time. I can be impulsive time. I am a little ‘off the wall’ to those who know me well. It’s what makes my creativity work well. It’s what makes me love writing, singing, dancing, and anything artsy. It’s also what could be my downfall if I didn’t have measures in place to balance out my impulsive, fun and creative side with my practical, logical and stay in the moment side.
This is what I realize Michael needs. What all kids who have ADHD need. They need guidelines, strategies and clear concise ways to reign in impulsive thoughts and actions. It is hard. Damm hard. And although I don’t have Michael’s brain, I know he needs to release a lot of that impulsivity in a healthy way. All our kids do. Here are some strategies I am seeing that work to help kids like Michael reign in impulsivity:
1) STOP, THINK, ACT: I have seen this acronym used in many good books and articles written for ADHD kids and adults. This can be taught by family members modeling it whether we need to do all three or not. Even when I am fully in control of myself, I still will try and model this acronym when I am feeling frustrated so Michael learns it is what he needs to do. Stop and think before speaking, then act and talk only after calming down.
2) Use physical activity as a release: Any kind of rough and tumble play, sports, sensory workout or walking, biking, swimming can be great ways to release pent up emotions or stress. Afterwards, kids can more easily center and re-connect to their emotions and share with parents.
3) Keep a journal of thoughts and emotions: This is a great tool for kids to use (and adults) with and without ADHD. Writing down difficult feelings and emotions in order to be able to talk about and work though them. Sometimes drawing can help too.
4) Having “safe spots” to go to: This means having rooms or areas in a house, at school to go and regroup when things get too difficult or overwhelming. Often when kids with ADHD can be redirected there early enough, they can avoid all kinds of unpleasant confrontations afterwards.
5) Give choice and schedule important events: Giving your ADHD child choice in what they want to do around their everyday necessary schedule can help a lot with reducing impulsivity and feelings of lack of control. Some things need to be planned, others like choosing a bedtime, a downtime or homework time (that is reasonable) can go a long way in helping curb fights and impulsive outbursts that cause problems.
Exceptional Parents, what are you tips and tricks for helping your Exceptional Child with ADHD or other challenges thrive? In the end, we all know that love makes the world go around. As long as your child knows that you love and care for them, they will work with you. No one wants to struggle. Children want to succeed as much as we want them to. Just remember to tell them you love and believe in them no matter what. Until next time.