ADHD Moms

Stay Calm and Mom (or Dad) On

When that tantrum in the grocery store nearly snaps your last straw, breathe in, breathe out. Then, remember these mindful parenting techniques to return from the brink of your own meltdown.

A mother employs mindful parenting strategies to deal with her disobedient child.
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Mindfulness for ADHD Stress

Stress is inevitable — no one is immune — and healthy in small quantities, but too much stress can unravel your whole world, particularly when ADHD is involved. When parents are stressed, children are more likely to mimic the frazzled, fatigued behavior they observe, sending the whole household into chaos. This is where mindfulness comes in. It’s used to reduce stress, and can help parents and kids become more aware and more capable of handling tough situations. Let's explore mindful parenting.

 

A woman practices yoga to be mindful and aware.
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What Is Mindfulness?

The traditional definition of mindfulness involves switching out of autopilot and paying more attention to your immediate experience with a measure of openness, objectivity, and compassion. Mindfulness doesn't mean achieving a completely still mind, or feeling like it’s "all good" when it's clearly not. Mindfulness is a type of meditation — one of the most accessible — that helps us train our brains to be more aware.

 

A mom practices mindfulness while having her morning coffee every day.
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Mindfulness Each Day

Mindfulness can be very restful and peaceful, especially if you use it as a break from a busy schedule. It can also be very challenging — it’s hard to quiet your mind for 15 whole minutes! By practicing every day — even when it's tough — you’ll build up calming skills that kick in when stressful moments do come up.

 

A man practices breath focus, a type of mindfulness practice.
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How Does It Work?

One common type of mindfulness is breath focus. There’s really nothing special about breathing — it’s just something to focus your attention on that isn’t the mental mess inside your head. Simply focusing on your breath — and gently bringing your attention back to it when you feel your mind wander — is a great place to start a mindfulness practice. It’s important for anyone starting out to recognize that you will get distracted. Don’t give up — you’ll get better over time!

 

A woman doing yoga is practicing mindfulness using a guided meditation audio.
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How to Start

Meditation classes are a great starting point. You will also find many guided meditations online. My website, Developmental Doctor, is a great place to start looking for resources. It doesn’t really matter which method you choose — the important thing is that you dedicate some time every day to focus on your breathing and advance your mindfulness skills.

 

A mom and daughter blow bubbles to practice mindfulness skills.
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Bringing Mindfulness to ADHD Care

How does mindfulness factor into the way you respond to your child’s ADHD? By bringing this kind of awareness to your day-to-day life, you can be responsive instead of reactive — meaning you carefully consider the situation and plan your response accordingly instead of immediately falling back on your gut reaction, which can often be negative.

 

A girl ties her shoes peacefully as she gets ready for school.
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Dealing with Behavioral Issues

An example: If your child struggles to get ready for school and this leads to daily fights, consistently practicing mindfulness techniques can help you change your mindset to one of compassion. If you pause, focus on your breath, and consider your child’s difficulties, you can think more flexibly about the problem — and good solutions. Mindfulness isn’t a “fix-all.” It’s more like physical fitness — the more you practice, the more “in shape” you’ll get.

 

A child with ADHD arm wrestles with his father.
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Fights and Confrontations

Mindfulness also helps when dealing with angry outbursts. Children with ADHD or ODD can be rude, defiant, and sometimes downright obnoxious. How do parents keep their cool? Mindfulness teaches you that the only person you can control in any confrontation is yourself. If you regroup and focus on your breathing before you react, you’ll find yourself more able to focus on the big picture — like what long-term structure your child needs to work on her anger.

 

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Mindfulness for Children

Can children practice mindfulness, too? Yes — but it has to start with you. If you practice mindfulness techniques consistently and learn how to proactively apply them to your day-to-day interactions, your child can learn from your example and from your teachings. Beyond that, there are also classroom-based mindfulness programs you can try, or you can look into psychologists who are familiar with the technique.

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