Teach your child to accept consequences without arguing…

One of my parenting hacks is a way to help establish buy in from your children when it comes to accepting consequences.
 
The basic thinking is this. When you explain specifically that a certain behavior results in a predictable consequence, then it is solely within your child’s power to prevent it. Basic cause and effect, right.
 
There’s more. It’s also an agreement between you and your child. An agreement that if they “choose” to practice a certain behavior, you “promise” to deliver a specific consequence. Your child acknowledges their understanding of this “agreement”.
 
The promise you make to them is to follow through and deliver the consequence should they choose the behavior with full knowledge of the consequence.
 
The reason you follow through isn’t because you’re a mean parent, it’s because you value trust in your relationship with your child and trust comes from keeping your promises, honoring your agreements.
 
You promised a consequence and you don’t want them to see you as a liar so you’re keeping your promise. Tell them this with sincerity if they object to the consequence.
 
When you’re consistent with this approach you’ll likely see your child soften when you deliver consequences. They become more reflective knowing your intentions are about connecting with them not taking from them.
 
With my own boys, the time came when I wouldn’t have to say much.
I’d acknowledge they’re behavior and remind them of our agreement. They’d hand me the electronic device, etc knowing what the agreement was and why it was important to keep it.
 
Trust. No fuss, just integrity.
 
Parenting is bumpy, and it’s more important for your child to know they can trust you than it is for them to be happy with you.

Move your child from acting out to speaking up

When children don’t have the words to describe how they feel, their actions will show it.
 
It’s important to remember this when your kids act out.
 
I hear from so many parents that their kids are harder to handle during COVID because they’re inside more and there are fewer options for outdoor activities.
 
Being active is one of the ways we discharge anxiety. When I feel particularly anxious at the end of the day I know its due in part to not having moved enough during the day.
 
Parents having to work from home, plus remote learning has decreased parents time for self-care. Anxiety levels are higher and its being expressed through their children’s behavior.
 
We set the example for the do’s and don’ts of how emotions are expressed in our families.
 
Is it okay to cry when you’re angry?
Can you tell a parent you’re hurt by something they said?
When a sibling calls you a name, how do you respond?
 
This is all sorted out through the emotional intelligence modeled and nurtured by the parents.
It isn’t perfect by any means and we’re all gonna make mistakes, including some big ones we’ll need to apologize for.
 
What matters is knowing you and I need to take the lead on this.
 
How?
 
By helping them tune into their emotional experience when they act out. Here are a few tips.
 
You know the kids who behave while you’re in the room but fight when you leave the room?
 
They do that because they want you to stay in the room with them.
 
Point this out, but do it in an inquisitive way. You could ask, “Is it possible you guys just want me to stay in here with you for awhile?”
 
If they agree. Then you can discuss how they can use words to let you know that instead fighting with each other.
 
It’ll also give you a chance to explain how they can support you in getting your work done so you will have time to spend with them.
 
Second tip. Let’s say you have a child who gets bored easily and solves that problem by bothering a sibling in some other way.
 
This child annoys their sibling until the sibling snaps at them.
 
The question to ask is, “Is there something you’d like your brother/sister to do?”
 
In our culture people are reluctant to ask for what they need. Instead, they hint, suggest, beat around the bush and expect the other person to read their mind. Everyone suffers as a result.
 
We need to break that pattern and our children need it most of all. Let’s start changing this ASAP and let’s do it with them.
 
What do you need?

When getting started is difficult to do

As someone with ADHD, do you find it hard to get started on some tasks?
 
I do too.
 
In talking with clients I’ve discovered different reasons for this.
 
1. You don’t know what the first step is and you’re afraid to ask because you don’t want to look dumb.
 
2. You aren’t confident in your ability to be successful with the task so you don’t want to try.
 
3. You’re afraid of the feelings that come with making mistakes because you don’t handle them well.
 
4. Similar to #2 is perfectionism. If you can’t be guaranteed it’ll go perfectly you don’t want to do it.
 
Please tell me if I’ve missed one.
 
Here’s the hard truth my friend. It’s hard to move forward in life when you can’t get started.
 
It’s difficult to do though when experience has taught you that starting can be a dangerous thing.
 
Fortunately, I have a solution for you. Learn to replace fear with curiosity. It’s something I teach members in my community how to do.
 
Instead of dreading what could happen you’re eager to find out what could happen. Matters of physical safety excluded of course.
 
The reasons for not getting started I’ve listed above are based on the belief that only the “right” answer is worthy of praise.
 
That’s been drilled into our heads since we were kids. You’ve been trained to criticize yourself when you make mistakes because that’s what you received.
 
But there’s hope. You can learn to have a new, more compassionate conversation with yourself. One that is understanding and forgiving.
 
It’ll cheer you on and believes in your ability to learn from the less than perfect moments. Moments that can be more important to your growth and learning than when things go perfectly.
 
Wanna learn more, let me know.

My child thinks he’s stupid, what do I do?

Do you feel helpless when your child with ADHD or ASD repeatedly, talks negatively about himself?
 
You tell him it isn’t true, compliment him but it doesn’t seem to help, right?
 
As it turns out, I know exactly what to do. I had this very conversation during the weekly group coaching call with my clients this past weekend.
 
The first thing to understand is that your child doesn’t realize he decided it was his fault. He simply thinks he’s stating a fact when speaking negatively.
 
So it must be brought into his awareness. When he says something like, “I’m so stupid!” you can respond by asking, “When did you decide that was true?”
 
This question requires him to reflect (something our kids struggle with). Discovering he actually has a choice may be an epiphany.
 
Of course there may be rebuttal statements, excuses or questions he fires back to try and defend his position but I have responses for those too.
 
The key to helping him become more aware, disciplined and positive in his self-talk requires a few things:
 
1. Improve your own – modeling is the best teacher
2. Ask better questions – that require reflection not interrogation
3. Use the words “choice” and “decision” mindfully when speaking to plant the seed in your child’s mind.
 
Ex. A person said something rude to me today and I felt myself start to become upset. Then I decided it wasn’t about me and chose not to let it ruin my day.
 
Helping our children learn to love themselves can happen through our everyday interactions with them. That’s what I teach parents how to do. If you want to learn what all my other clients are learning and benefitting from, send me a message.

You can’t shame a kid into becoming more responsible…

Accepting personal responsibility IS NOT the same as accepting blame for something.
 
But in the mind of someone with ADHD or ASD they’re often the same and this lack of distinction can be devastating for their self worth.
 
Let’s say, a child says or does something that’s related to their disability and indicates a skill gap or unmet need.
 
An adult concludes it was deliberate and that a consequence is required so the child learns to take “responsibility” for their actions.
 
I think of responsibility as personal ownership of your actions and the results they create (intended or unintended).
 
Blame, however, refers to you owning the full brunt of the negative outcomes from your actions and agree to feel bad about it.
 
Here’s the piece adults miss. Our kids are all or nothing thinkers.
 
You can tell them, “I’m not upset with you, I’m upset with your behavior” until you’re blue in the face but they don’t hear it, usually.
 
They hear, “I’m bad.” My behavior is me.
 
The kind of responsibility we want to empower our kids and ourselves with is this.
 
I accept that my actions have consequences, and some of them may by negative.
 
I also own my role in remedying any harm caused by those actions.
 
See how this is a far more solution focused approach?
 
You can correct your mistakes and learn from them without having to feel shame first.
 
The payoff is a happier child who comes to embrace trial and learning over, “I can’t”.

My parenting was harmful and almost cost me my son – everything changed

My oldest son attempted Suicide twice and almost succeeded the first time. He spent a week in ICU.

He lives with ADHD, Asperger’s and dyslexia like I do.

As a parent I had to own my role in exacerbating an already difficult situation because of my own denial etc., about how he was struggling.

It isn’t easy for any parent to admit that the way they parent may have been harmful to their child in some way.

We make mistakes, we’re human. We must own this and be mindful of it.

I overestimated myself as someone highly regarded in the parenting space, I forget how being so close to the situation muddies your perspective.

It was like a wake up call where an elephant jumps on your head.

It’s taken a lot of work to heal things between my son and I, but things are great now.

One of the biggest changes I needed to make was allowing myself to hear when I was getting it wrong.

To allow my sons to tell me, so we could discuss it. Then I could adjust and grow when needed.

Another big change came from regularly talking to other parents about parenting.

Comparing notes, struggles and successes in this grand experiment of child rearing can be life changing.

You get so bound up by the confines of your own shoulds, anxieties, biases, patterns and such.

Having outside perspectives is essential for introducing you to new strategies your current way of seeing things won’t ever let you see on your own.

I work with a community of parents, many of whom have watched their relationships with their children transform from combative to cooperative.

We have each other’s backs and don’t judge one another for bad days. We support each other through them.

Now more than ever you as a parent need all the support you can get. I can provide it all remotely.

Shoot me a message to learn more.

11 Habits of Highly Effective Listening….

You can never say the wrong thing while listening.
 
That’s a valuable lesson I learned after years of putting my foot in my mouth. In fact, I’ve become well known for my listening skills.
 
Listening can be challenging when you live with ADHD or ASD because your thinking may be very busy, anxious or highly distractible.
 
But when you learn to calm, be present and focus on the other person, it becomes easier.
 
What do you believe are the qualities of an effective listener?

 
Pause for a minute and answer this question for yourself.
 
Over time, we pick up beliefs about what it means to listen and be listened to.
 
We run into trouble when trying to communicate with people that have different beliefs about listening than we do.
 
Have you answered the question for yourself? Great, please continue . . .
 
According to linguist Roland Barthes, “Hearing is a physiological phenomenon; listening is a psychological act.”
 
Listening is about interpreting what you hear then making meaning of it based on your rules and experiences.
 
In fact listening doesn’t even require hearing. Ever met a deaf person, ever read an email? Listening is about shared meaning and understanding.
 
You likely feel most understood when the person you’re talking to understands your meaning and NOT just your words. Yes?
 
Well as I work to become an even better listener, here are a list of habits I’ve found particularly useful.
 
The 11 Habits of Highly Effective Listening
 
1. Decide how you feel about the person beforehand – 

If you decide a person will be fascinating, you’re more inclined to pay closer attention.
 
2. Non-reactivity – Can you keep emotions of upset at bay until you’ve determined whether the person talking meant to upset you? 

Our emotions interrupt our listening more than we realize.
 
3. Body listening (e.g. eye contact, posture)

Are you tuned in to how a person uses his/her body to add emphasis to what’s being said?
 
4. CARE – Care about the person’s need and right to be heard. Whether or not you care about the topic.
 
5. Be Teachable – Be curious instead of a know it all. Believe that everyone has something to teach you.
 
6. Clarify, Clarify, Clarify – Make sure you check in with the speaker to be sure you’re understanding the message that is intended.
 
NOTE: My coaching clients receive step by step instructions on how to do this flawlessly.
 
7. Focus – Eliminate as many distractions as you can. Remember, you’re fascinated by the person in front of you and want to hear every word s/he says.
 
8. Pause – Don’t fill your head with the response you want to give, if it’s at the expense of listening. Instead, pause before responding to give yourself a moment to recall, reflect then respond to what you heard.
 
9. Get Permission – Can I ask you a question? Do you mind if I tangent for a moment then come back to this?
Permission is a sign of respect for the person who’s speaking.
 
10. Apologize – We all get distracted sometimes, in spite of our best efforts. It usually results in missing something the speaker says.
 
Remember, the priority is the speaker’s need and right to heard. So when we become distracted, a simple apology can set things right.
 
e.g. “I’m sorry, my mind was someplace else. What was it you were trying to say?” or “Would you mind repeating the last thing you said, I want to make sure I heard it correctly?”
 
11. Make statements or make requests
 
“WOW! What was that like?”
 
“How did you get started with that?”
 
“Tell me more about that.”
 
Statements such as these demonstrate your interest in what the speaker is sharing with you.
 
Any of these stand out as particularly helpful?

Hiding your ADHD is exhausting…

It isn’t your destiny to keep hiding your ADHD by faking socially acceptable behavior. It’s called “masking” and it’s exhausting.
 
Masking at work, with family or socially can feel like walking around in an ill fitting bra or underwear that keeps riding up. You can’t wait to take off.
 
It’s often the price you pay to get people to stop criticizing you for “inappropriate behavior”. Don’t get me started on that. It changes depending on who you’re with which can complicate things.
 
You act the part, at the expense of who you are. As a child you learn to mask to make the adults happy, but you aren’t.
 
As an adult, you’re insecure, approval seeking and depend upon others for your feelings of worth.
 
All because the things that make you unique are largely met with condemnation instead of curiosity. That is WRONG!
 
People really need to start asking you questions instead of being so quick with their corrections.
 
They may discover there’s an element of genius in the way you see the world. A perspective granted only to you, and at their disposal if only they’d encourage you to make use of it.
 
You are fortunate in that you aren’t alone in this. You have a community of people working to empower each other. To be themselves confidently while educating others about why that’s a good thing.
 
We must teach others that asking you to “mask” can be as detrimental as asking a musician not to tap their foot to the rhythm of music. It’s how they relate to the world.
 
When you’re allowed to move to your own rhythm, you’re far more likely to play in tune than by masking. Which is like trying to play an instrument you weren’t born to play.
 
Let’s jam!

How I calmed my highly sensitive startle response…

I’ve had high anxiety for as long as I can remember. One of the bonus prizes of a life with ADHD.
 
I used to startle so easily I’d jump out of my chair from an unexpected touch or sound. I was always ready for fight or flight in some manner. These days, however, I can’t remember the last time it happened.
 
Over time, I learned to change my relationship with stress.
 
As I worked on my “stuff”, all the emotional crap you typically pretend you have handled but really just stuff down until it makes you sad, cranky and snacky. I deal with all that because I want to be free of it instead of passing it down to my kids.
 
In the past, I was just as enthusiastic as anyone about denying and distracting myself from the things that caused me pain or discomfort in life.
 
That’s what a startle response is, essentially. It’s the ultimate, “HOLY CRAP something that might hurt me just happened. Let’s kill it or run away!”
 
When you spend your life training yourself to avoid the things that make you uncomfortable, you increase your fear and anxiety. Because you prevent yourself from learning how to work through the tough stuff.
 
But when you approach your feelings with curiosity. A, “tell me your story, I’m listening” kind of approach.” You become a witness to your experiences, a student of them. As opposed to their prey.
 
While you’re sitting with a difficult emotion, allow yourself to breathe deeply into your abdomen and relax your body. In this way you’re training your body to relax when difficult emotions show up instead of wanting to run from them.
 
Discomfort or pain, psychologically or emotionally arises. Then you breathe deeply and relax your body, over and over and over again. Until it becomes automatic.
 
In time you will lessen the intensity of your startle response.
 
You’re welcome.

How does someone who feels unlovable start to learn to love themselves?

That question was posed during a group call for my community this morning.
 
My answer, “When you’re thirsty, drink. When you’re hungry, take a bite of something. Recognize those actions as acts of self-love. They’re acknowledgments you’re worth fighting for.”
 
When life feels like you’re walking against the wind much of the time, it’s in the “moments” when you’re reminded that you’re here, now, having an experience of connection with YOU.
 
The past is what keeps you from feeling lovable. So we must look to the present for a way forward.
 
Your feelings, your sensations as you experience what’s happening inside and around you, right now. Living with ADHD or ASD is a tremendous balancing act of perpetual self-regulation.
 
You and I both know how inconsistent our productivity can be.
 
But the more tuned in you are to your own inner world, the better your self-care, the more confidently you can walk through this life.
 
It’s important for you to learn to measure your self worth against nothing. You have worth and dignity as part of your essential being. Just as water has 2Hs and an O.
 
You will always be worthy of love.
 
Until you feel it too, it’ll be difficult for you to participate.
 
When you ARE ready, I have a space for you.