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Try Shopping with an ADHD Child…You Might Learn a Valuable Parenting Lesson!

Shopping with my ADHD daughter Natalie is about learning to enjoy a mother-daughter outing — especially since focused, methodical shopping is out of the question.

Going to the mall with my daughter, Natalie, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is not exactly what I’d call shopping. It’s more like a high-speed version of follow the leader. I never get to be the leader.

Natalie is growing like a weed, and as fall weather approached, she was in desperate need of new blue jeans and other long pants to wear to school. I often avoid taking Natalie shopping. I figure out what sizes to buy and go it alone for several reasons.

For starters, Natalie is likely to pick out all boys’ clothes. She also tends to get overstimulated by lights, sounds, and shiny things, and when overwhelmed by choices, it isn’t long before she has a behavioral meltdown. And what Natalie and I consider as shopping are two very different things. I take a rather methodical approach — I actually find the section of clothes that are for girls of a particular size and focus my search there. To Nat’s sensibilities, that is such a limiting, unimaginative, and boring way to shop.

This time around, I had no idea what size of jeans Natalie would need, so we went to the mall together. I gave her explicit instructions ahead of time. We’re going to only one store. We’re looking only for jeans. She was to try them on and show me how they fit.

It didn’t work out that way.

Natalie flitted from rack to rack like a busy bee that senses that the nectar is always sweeter on the other side of the store. She glanced at one item per rack, and flew on to the next. She zipped from the girls’ clothes to the boys’ clothes and back again, several times, and even stopped for a taste in the toddler section, the winter coats, and the undies. When I tried to stop and look at something, I instantly lost her. Finally, I gave up and just followed her around.

We came home without anything. I went back and shopped alone later, and luckily, the clothes I brought home fit.

It wasn’t what I call shopping, but Natalie had a great time. As soon as I gave up my preconceived notions of what shopping is supposed to be, so did I. I followed Nat around, and we talked and spent time together, sort of pretending to shop. Maybe that trip was a precursor to someday having a real mother-daughter shopping trip. I can only hope.

In the meantime, I’ll follow my busy bee as she flits from flower to flower, and as if I’m taking a walk through a garden, I’ll try to relax and enjoy the view.