For my children, hearing, listening, following directions, and(oh, let me just say it) compliance with others is like pulling teeth. (*Cringe*.)? There are many days when I feel like I’ve failed as a parent, and my kids are still so young. When you throw in their ADHD (and mine) into the mix, it makes for some pretty difficult days.
I know the first five years of life are the most formative, as it’s the primary time when children are imprinted with the basics of morality and respect for others — which is why I feel entirely responsible for their apparent lack in these areas, and when they display the exact opposite so often.
I feel like I have failed them. Intellectually I know that’s not true, but there are so many struggles and frequent issues with behavior wherever they go.
School, tutoring, scouts, church, and peer relationships are all impacted by what seems to be strong difficulty for my kids to regulate their emotions. I try not to take it personally, but sometimes it feels like I must not have taught them the basics of getting along with others or what is appropriate and what’s not.
The frustrating part is that I spend so much time on those very things every day. There are times when I think, How will they ever learn. It feels like I experience the emotional explosions of toddlers rearing their ugly heads in my home daily, yet my kids are 7 1/2 and 9 years old! Yes, I do have a 2-year-old and I make it clear that her behavior is not OK either. I try to model how to deal with frustrations, walking them through various situations when they are calm. I’ve even tried to have the older ones teach the toddler what works for them (sometimes it works) but only if they are in a calm and kind place themselves.
When my oldest kids were just 3 and 4 years old, some relatives said they were brats and they were never disciplined. Meanwhile, I felt like all I was doing all day long was disciplining them! It was painful to be judged that way.
Over the years, I have used behavior modification charts, job/chore charts, and daily routine charts tied to rewards and consequences all of which seem to be a futile attempt at control. In the end, these charts became more of a source of frustration and the reason for power struggles than training for my kids. (I think this is because it was difficult for my kids to realize or acknowledge that the marks on the chart were why they were getting consequences or rewards. They seemed to not be able to make the connection.) The charts took a lot of work and time to maintain, yet didn’t seem to help at all, so I stopped using them. Of course consistency is imperative and my own ADHD resulted in not catching, recording and following through with everything, which didn’t help. Now that my attention issues are being treated and my kids are older, making them a bit more receptive to abstract representations of cause and effect, I might need to try again.
I continue to feel mortified when an adult comes to me and expresses concern about the defiance or difficult behavior displayed by my child/children. My kids experience consequences at home and are praised when they do well, but it just never seems to be enough.
I do have to say that their over-abundance of energy seems to have been moderated by their ADHD meds, yet they continue to have problems regulating their emotions, following directions, and problem solving.
My older kids have both been evaluated by professionals. Due to their mood instability, they are now on a mood stabilizer. This seems to have tempered their intensity and has helped immensely with the difficulty they were having sleeping, but there is still so much work to do! I feel guilty that they are on the mood stabilizer as they are so young, but I am willing to do whatever is needed to help them be healthy and become caring and disciplined people. If this is what they need at this point in their lives to help them come to a place where they can be receptive to learning appropriate coping skills, then OK.
But medication alone is not the answer. I know that I also have to work on their behavior at home. I just hope what I’m doing will eventually sink in!
Does anyone have advice for good techniques to use with kids with ADHD?