How can I encourage my daughter?

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    • #54500

      My 13 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD, Dyslexia, and Anxiety (mostly social, low self esteem) but for years before this I never believed her. I would say she was lying to get attention, or lazy. I would email her teachers to warn them before the school year started. Because of this she stopped trying to read at home, and rarely showed me her grades. I just didn’t know how to deal with the possibility of a Learning Disability. I made her feel stupid, and I can never forgive myself for that. I feel like our mother-daughter relationship was broken beyond repair. On top of that, she is finally starting medication and getting a 504 plan in 8th grade. But she constantly puts herself down. She has very little hope for the upcoming year, and she has a lot of anxiety about it. How do I restore her confidence, and start restoring our bond? How can I keep encouraging her during the school year?

    • #54581

      Hi, it’s easy to think the way they behave is just lazy, until a diagnosis no one would be any the wiser including me, please don’t blame yourself, it is hard accepting any disability and seeing your child suffer. I have a 14 year old with autism non-verbal and OCD,ADHD anxiety, he is on meds, it’s not what any parent wants for their child, but for him it transformed his quality of life. My other son 16yrs, has anxiety and a total lack of confidence in himself but this has improved as he’s got older, he was found to have slower processing so was given extra time in his exams ( we’re in England). I wouldn’t worry about the past, just let her know as I did my son that exam results really aren’t that important, practical skills are just as valid as academic. Encourage her to enjoy any hobbies or sports, perhaps things you can enjoy together even if it’s just watching a good movie, cooking together, or going for a walk. Things really do improve and blossom in time ( but they all get more anxiety with puberty,including the parents!!)Your obviously a very caring parent or you wouldn’t have posted here 🙂

    • #54582

      I have a 19 year old daughter that I couldn’t figure out how to support. She dropped out of high school. I also have a 16 year old who is going to be a junior at an alternative high school. He’s been able to go there since 7th grade and it has been wonderful. The teachers and admin understand the kids and know how to support them; plus they’re very easy to talk to.
      I’m also an occupational therapist for a public school system. I work in a middle school twice a week. If you can I’d recommend finding an alternative school; smaller numbers and the teachers have time to support the students like they need to be support. If you can’t, I recommend finding out who is going to monitor the 504 plan. They tend to get lost and no one follows them, unless a parent is a squeaky wheel. Go to back to school night and really meet the teachers and find out from your daughter who she thinks will be a good fit for her and talk with those teachers. I personally think it’s better to talk via email, so that when they’re ready and have time to answer emails they can. It eliminates missing each other and leaving messages. Give those teachers a couple weeks or so to get to know you’re daughter before contacting them, so they’ll know who they’re talking about.
      As an OT I support kids with assistive technology needs and organizational strategies; these can be on the 504 as accommodations. Assistive Technology can provide read/write program which allows students to have text read to them and voice type when using google docs. The trick is to have a computer that allows for the program to be installed. As for organization; I liked the ideas on the webinar that was held this week.
      I wish I had answers for you as a mom. I say, let her know you love her, the way she receives love. Offer her choices, so she feels in control and somewhat independent. I’ve learned from Mark Gregstone at HeartLight in TX books and youtube, that parents need to move into a coaching role once their child is 12, and let them take chances knowing you there when they fall and there’s nothing they can do that will make you stop loving them.

    • #54622
      Penny Williams

      I would have a very candid heart-to-heart chat with her first. Apologize for not seeing her ADHD and learning disability. Explain to her that it looked like laziness, because you didn’t know any different. Let her know you thought you were helping her by pushing her, but now you know it was hurtful — that you’d change it if you could. This could go a long way toward starting to heal your relationship.

      Then, I’d tell her that your 1,000% on board to help her and support her differences and needs in any way you can. Ask her what she thinks you can do to help. Continue to show her that you’re in her corner and on her side.

      Most importantly, nurture her strengths and interests to build her self-esteem. Here are some ideas for that:

      When Your Child Wants to Give Up

      True Grit: Turning Your Teen Into a Trooper

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #54659

      I appreciate all those parent. Keep it up.

    • #55077

      Always give positive praise for things that she is doing….just be there…encourage the use of strategies, accommodations in the 504 to overcome weaknesses that are holding her back. Advocate for her in the school…and teach her to advocate for herself. Encourage her to find her passions…this school journey is hard but if our kids can determine what is important to them, what they want to do in the future, then they can understand that this journey is an end to a means. Good for you for understanding the importance of supporting her.

      Karen K Lowry
      ADHD Coach, BCC

    • #55089

      as someone who has been in the same situation as your daughter, I can only strongly confirm that you just have to try to help herself. The most effective way to stop feeling bad for yourself, is to succeed at your challenges. I’ve only recently been diagnosed (at age 36), and throughout my whole school career, I’ve been told that I could do a lot better if i just tried and wasn’t so lazy. Now, I’m starting to accept who I am, and am rebuilding my self esteem.
      So let her try and figure out a way that will help her get past the ‘difficulties’ that come with ADHD, and don’t always try to fix everything for her. I know it’s difficult, my mom did the same thing and I know she did it because she loves me, but in the long run it’s not the best solution.Start with small things, there are some very good self-help books out there to help with time-managment. Just let her know on a regular basis that you’re there for her when she needs help and isn’t alone, and that an ADHD brain can a big asset!
      I hope I didn’t sound too condescending, but this is basically what I also told my mom.

    • #55097

      I never post replies on these forums, but I went through the same thing as your daughter and I felt I must reply! I was 13 when I was diagnosed when I was adhd, and in case 13/14 isn’t awkward enough trying to fit in, try getting certified as different! I still cringe to think of it now!

      But there are some of the things that I wish I known then, that I now know: First of all, thinking different is GOOD! Heck, Apple even built a campaign around it! Speaking of huge corporations, did you know a high percentage of fortune 500 companies are lead by people with ADHD? Richard Branson, and Ted Neeleman are a couple of the heavyweights. Branson is adhd/dyslexic – Just like your daughter! 3 out of the 5 sharks on shark tank are dyslexic! Google these people! Branson and Neeleman are very open about it! Neeleman put tvs on his planes on jetblu because he found sitting on a plane to be unbearably boring! LOL! Also, some of the drs associated with the site are adhd/dyslexic! Moreover, many people with ADHD are highly creative! And we achieve greatness when we go after what we love! Athletics, Arts, Entrepreneurial, whatever! For some, medication helps us achieve goals. I wish I had known these things, to have role models I could identify with.

      Another thing that I’m realizing, (and this is my personal opinion), that public or traditional schooling is a bit of a detriment to the person with ADHD. They have a very regimented way of doing things, and in my opinion, often school the creativity and yearn for learning out of students. Also, traditional school makes students who “think different” are made to feel, well, different and a bit ostracized. But I think that is easily corrected if you can encourage her to pursue her passions outside of school.

      I hope some of this helps take the pressure off! It’s a hard thing to accept at her age. Just tell her to breathe and go after whatever she loves!
      I hope some of this helps!


    • #55103

      I think a lot of us moms have gone through something similar. Unless you are very familiar with ADHD you aren’t going to recognize it in your children. Our generation didn’t even diagnose this disorder, so we don’t have a lot to go on.
      I would suggest that you tell your daughter all of this if you haven’t already. Kids are very resilient, and they tend to love us no matter how many mistakes we make 🙂 Tell her how much she means to you, and how much her happiness and success mean to you, and apologize sincerely for the mistakes you’ve made in the past. Reassure her that you have her back no matter what from here on out. Do fun things together, be silly, tell her specifically what you love about her, and do it often.

      I found with my daughter it helped to research all of the famous, successful people who have ADHD. It helped to talk about all the ways ADHD makes you better. A sense of humor is crucial for handling tougher times.

      I work for an Independent Living Center that focuses on disability rights and resources. See if you have something similar in your area, they can help you in so many ways. Having an advocate who has been in your shoes, and already knows how to navigate these complicated systems is a lifesaver! And, you’ll be modeling for your daughter that it’s OK to seek our assistance in a new or difficult situation, a skill that would benefit her with our without ADHD!

      The most important advice I would give you is don’t hold on to guilt! I guarantee your child will forgive you, but it won’t do much good if you don’t forgive yourself.

    • #55109

      Apologize to her and support her now. Honestly, it’s the biggest thing. I have a broken relationship with my mother, but it could be mended in half a second if she really, truly, just accepted who I was, faults and all.

      Are you working with a neurologist or teen psychiatrist? If not, I definitely recommend you get one. I like developmental pediatricians and neurologists better than psychiatrists, but a psychiatrist will do. Working on medication, not only for ADHD, but for her anxiety, is a must!

      As for the self esteem, get her in with a good therapist. That will help and alert you if she’s considering anything dangerous. Beyond that, celebrate her successes and try not to focus at all on the things she has to try again with (I hate calling them failures). Also, if you can, go for an IEP at school, not just a 504. You can easily request this in writing by giving the principal a handwritten letter that says no more than, “I would like my daughter, Name LastName, to be evaluated for special education.” That will get the testing process going. If she needs as much help as you say, she’s likely to get the IEP.

    • #55152

      Apologize, apologize, apologize! Don’t make excuses (“I thought I was helping…”) Let her know you were wrong, speaking out of your own frustration, and ask her to forgive you.
      Gaining competence will increase her confidence, so, instead of announcing good therapeutic ideas, ask her: “This sounded good to me, but you know yourself best; what do you think?”

      One of those therapeutic ideas, which I found very helpful when I was researching ADHD on behalf of my son, was listening to (at the time) audio cassettes about ADHD. She may find them helpful- just globalizing, if not normalizing, difficulties that she thought were hers alone might help her immensely. Again, her decision.

    • #55453

      I would just like to echo what others have already said: first, it’s important to apologize (not only is it important as a fresh start for both of you, but it’s a great example to show her that you are only human and that it’s normal to make mistakes) and second, focus on developing a strong relationship with her. Find things about her that you really like and admire, and let her know that you do (one great way to do this is to find out an interest or hobby she has and then share with her-have her teach you or do a project together.) Spend time together having fun, being silly, laughing together. Talk about inconsequential things and ask open ended questions to find out what she thinks and how she feels (and resist the urge to give advice, unless she asks!) Figure out her “love language” and make sure you ‘communicate’ to her in that way (is it quality time or words of affirmation or gifts or touch? If you don’t know, try all 4 of them; you can never be too loving!) You could also consider doing some mother/daughter counseling together as a jumping off point for learning some new ways of dealing with things (for both of you) and learning some new communication and coping skills.

      It’s never too late to make things better (and your efforts to do so will show her more than words ever can that she is WORTH the effort to you). A strong, loving, mutually-respectful relationship will give you the foundation you need to be able to handle together whatever struggles she has in the future, academic or otherwise.

      Hope this helps!

      Joyce Mabe
      Parenting Coach, school counselor, author, mom of adult son with ADHD

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