ADHD strategies that worked and didn’t

toppersLet me start off by saying that my son hasn’t ever been formally diagnosed with ADHD because he is too young but as a spirited child he has a lot of the same personality traits that are described for ADHD personalities. When I say ADHD, I don’t see the attached negative stigma. A lot of people panic when I use the word and tell me he is just a kid. It’s normal for him to have a lot of energy. I know he is just a kid,  but he is a undeniably a spirited kid. I was a nanny for a few years, have been babysitting since I was twelve and my son is the same amount of work as babysitting three kids at once! I see all the strengths in his behavior as well as the skills he struggles with. While he is just a kid, he is a kid with the energy of five kids. As any mother of a child with ADHD knows, this is great for when he is interested in something because the hyper focus kicks in and he will learn the subject inside and out. it is not so great when we need to accomplish a simple task and it is just to boring for him to even bother with. Those simple tasks pile up and before we know it we are late again or behind on our tasks. For school last year, I used to get a lot of complaints from the teacher. My son is in a smaller classroom at a public school because the school was concerned that he would not be able to focus or receive as much one on one attention as in a classroom full of 25 kids. HIs classroom has 12 kids. Even then, he faces challenges because he doesn’t always want to comply. I spent thirty dollars on a few sensory type school supplies that I thought would help him focus. Unfortunately, none of them worked. Soon after everyone had fidget spinners and I don’t think I need to say those didn’t help either. The list is as follows:

Things that didn’t work:

Sensory erasers, pencil toppers, bracelets

I think he thought they were toys.

Time outs/Other forms of punishment

I do believe in consequences and unfortunately because they have no effect on my son people seem to think he doesn’t face any. I don’t, however believe in corporal punishment probably for the same reason no punishment ever seems to work with a spirited kid. When I was physically disciplined as a child the effects wore off and I just got used to it. I developed a high tolerance for pain and became really clever about keeping unpleasant things from my parents. My son doesn’t lie and always volunteers information of what he did to get in trouble up front but eventually taking away privileges did very little for him. He just said, “yeah I know we’re not going to the park because I didn’t listen,” and moved on. Of course I’ll still use this when he exhibits serious behavior but focus is something he can’t help and it makes little sense to punish him repeatedly for it. Afterwards I read up on timeouts and found out they should really be reserved for physically dangerous behavior or they lose their effect. Ouch

A sugar free diet

A low sugar diet still helps keep him from becoming the Tasmanian devil but completely cutting sugar out from snacks and lunch did nothing.

A rewards system  

I wanted this to work so badly but eventually it became all about the rewards. Even when he didn’t meet any goals, he would beg and plead and it just drove me insane. All he ever wants for rewards is toys because outings are just a regular part of our lives. We’re a very active family and eliminating outings would just sacrifice my sanity so that wouldn’t be worth it. Still, like any mother I’ve had it with toys showing up in all corners of my house. Until I can figure out how to make it work or he starts wanting more logical things and develops better negotiating skills than the broken record plea, the rewards system is out of the picture.

Things that are working progressively:

Tae Kwon Do

This does help because the respect, courtesy and discipline are drilled into him but he has his good days and his bad days. The  break I get from being the one to train him and the time he gets with his peers are well worth it.

Applying Tae Kwon Do principles outside of it

When he isn’t listening to his teacher I tell him she needs to be respected as much as the sensei from Tae Kwon Do and I use the ninjas from Ninjago as an example. He loves the show and the movie was a hit with us.

Exercise

You wouldn’t think someone with so much energy could be lazy but it happens! He often drags his feet on the walk to and from school. After a few weeks postpartum, it was time for me to do school drop-off again and while I’m not a morning person, I force ourselves to do the mile walk every day. There’s a school bus that would pick him up for me but we both need the exercise! We’re not even on time every day but his behavior is much better when we get in that daily twelve minute walk in the morning.  As a city girl, I’ve always walked/commuted everywhere and one of my biggest pet peeves is people who get winded from a small walk. If you are with me, you will walk and you will not whine about it. Even if it makes my life a little harder to do it. I actually loved the part of Kevin Hart’s book where he discusses his mother’s affinity for public buses. I was cracking up as it reminded me of myself. My son has also realized he gets car sick and now appreciates walking more than ever. It puts him in a better mood and gives him more focus.

Hydration and good snacks

My son is like me. He gets hangry. So I keep him hydrated with low sugar drinks, water, seltzer water, Motts Tots, and Honest seem to do the trick and I keep him fed with high protein snacks. Peanut butter, yogurt, and nuts.

All in all, the take away is that exercise is the best bet and some fun analogies from their fandom to help them get into it. Nothing is ever really a miracle worker. There will always be bad days and it’s easy to think, “Nothing works!” and want to give up because of those days but remember that it’s normal. Take time to reward yourself and try again the next day.<3

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