My wife and I have four children–all girls. Triplets plus one. We adopted the triplets at about 12 months and then two weeks later realized we were pregnant with our fourth daughter.
Two of our daughters have ADHD and Dyslexia, so from a parenting perspective I completely understand what parents feel with their own children who may struggle to understand these. From the therapy perspective at our practice in Plano, TX, a large part of our caseload experience is with this population, and we have worked with young children in play therapy, teens, adults, and parents that have ADHD.
Unfortunately, one day, a group of us counselors and psychobabbles got together and decided it should be called the “D-word” (disorder). Our challenge as parents is to see our children as they are as humans, created in the image of God, with biological challenges, yes, but also with superpowers their peers don’t possess.
Tonight (because it’s late where I’m at, my kids and wife are asleep, and we’re at the beach on spring break), we’re going to focus on self-esteem. This one is first because it is the most important factor and skill for parents to attend to. If you miss this you have nothing to build on.
Self-esteem is what kids feel when they are woken up by us to get ready for school.
Parent: slow down and re-read that sentence. Okay. Read it again. See the struggle already? We’re waking them up and trying to get their engine started while the rest of our children (without ADHD) may already be up, teeth brushed, dressed, fixing their lunch, backpack ready and asking you if they look good in their new shoes or spinning their football on their finger waiting for recess or gym. And you’re driving carpool or you have a meeting, and the frustration band aid you just put on this mess is tearing already. And your child is: 5… 7… 9… 13… 17… 21 (ouch).
Self-esteem is what they are met with waking up, getting ready, and left with as they head out the door on their way.
What we have here is a situation we can’t really control. “But everyone else is up and ready and out the door on-time,” we think and yell. “Why not you!” (Notice we’re saying this, not really asking).
Your slumbering child is slow to get up because the previous day was spent in hyper-drive and/or distracted drive. Too many stimuli, not enough time. And this can cause sleep disturbances and their active, adventurous minds have challenges shutting down.
In fact, “If they had gone to bed when I told them to, this wouldn’t have happened,” we think and repeat. But they did go to bed, they just didn’t sleep. Ah! Another thing we really have no control over. Or, it could be the opposite. He’s up before you are. In fact, he is not only dressed, he wants to play a video game NOW. “Yes, my homework is done. Yes, I’m an A-student. Yes, I’m ready for the test. Turn on the console. NOW.” “Why, no one else is up this early and trying to play video games, what’s wrong with him?” you think.
I’m getting to self-esteem. Hang in there. These micro-moments with our kids are where things are built or torn down. You don’t go away to a special retreat with a parent-kungfu-master and find parent-child nirvana.
It really doesn’t matter as much what we think is the right way of doing things. What seems to matter most is how we feel about this child we’re parenting.
Because all kids know intuitively how we feel about them, even if they can’t articulate it.
And because they are often hyper-aware it is hyper-important how we initiate and respond. If you think I have the perfect example or I am the parenting-kungfu-master… sorry. I have learned more from mistakes than anything. And I can also say that apology is so crucial in parenting because I have apologized for something to each of my kids about every week. So, when you’re headed upstairs to rouse them, what is going through your body? Your thoughts? Your emotions?
There’s a vulnerable, impressionable human being in bed at the top of the stairs. Not a disorder.