Remaining Calm in the Face of Chaos
The stress of parenting a child with ADHD is heavy enough without the added discord of constant yelling.
I have been writing about ADHD since my son was diagnosed in November of 2008. Actually, since a few months before then, although I didn’t know it was ADHD at the time. One of the most common questions I am asked is, “But how do you stay calm when your child is out of control?”
It isn’t easy, that’s for sure.
Remaining calm in the face of adversity is a learned skill. Knowledge was my best tool in acquiring it. When my son was diagnosed, I read everything I could get my hands on about ADHD and/or sensory issues.
I was so hungry for the information that it sometimes overtook me. In fact, my son’s therapist put me on a “self-help restriction” for a month about a year after his diagnosis. I always entered her office with two or three books on my son’s issues. When I began to quote a lot of articles she decided it wasn’t healthy and I needed to step back just a bit. She was absolutely right, although, at the time, I only lasted about two weeks without reading something about helping my son.
The more I read, the clearer my son’s strengths and weaknesses became. The more we worked with others in behavior therapy and occupational therapy, the more I understood about the functions of his different behaviors. Once I understood the function these different behaviors served for him, the calmer I could remain in the face of those behaviors. I no longer saw them as willful, lazy, unmotivated, or disrespectful. I recognized that they were part of his different neurology, part of ADHD.
Calm in the face of adversity takes time and work, but is a real gift. The stress of parenting a child with ADHD is heavy enough, without adding constant discord and yelling. Kids with ADHD are very perceptive too — the calmer you are, the calmer they are likely to be, and vice versa. Remaining positive is a benefit to you both.
Start your journey to calm parenting by digging deep to really, truly understand the triggers and functions of your child’s unwanted behaviors. Implement some simple calming techniques when you feel yourself getting frustrated or angry:
• Give yourself a time out.
• Take a walk around the block.
• Turn on some music.
• Hum a tune.
• Start singing a silly song.
• Close your eyes and take relaxing belly breaths.
I can tell you from experience, once you are able to remain calm when frustrated with your child you will be a much more effective parent. Do I stay calm all the time? Of course not, but I’ve come a long way and our entire family feels better for it, especially my son.
Breathe in… breathe out… Again!