Helping Hands Provide Family Support!

Family Support 

- It takes a village to raise a child.

When you read this ancient African proverb, you can appreciate the sentiment that a child needs more than just the parents’ direction when growing up. It is important that the entire society is involved to nurture and meet the needs of the child.

Family support comes in many forms. It may come from a spouse, older siblings, a grandparent, teachers, a pastor, or a licensed professional. Parents need to feel they can reach out for help.

If you are a parent raising a child with ADHD, it’s even more important to ask for help when you need it. Here are some strategies to use when thinking about support:

  • Family units need to remain strong. If you’re in a marriage, divorced, or raising a child as a single parent, your family can be the greatest source of strength. Be sure to include friends, immediate family, and extended family members in your support circle. Even the smallest thing like an older cousin taking your child out to shoot some hoops while you clean the house is a huge help. While you’re tidying up, your child is exerting some of that never-ending energy and forming another family bond.
  • Daily support – Find support from a spouse or friend. This person should be someone you can talk to on a variety of difficult issues. It may be someone who is also raising a child with ADHD. Even if they’re not, it’s helpful to have someone to share your thoughts.
  • Divide and conquer – Don’t be afraid to divvy up responsibilities. Solicit the help of an older sibling, or a friend’s high school student to help with homework. Have a grandparent come over while you take a walk or go to the gym.
  • Keep things simple – To offset crazy schedules and hectic lives keep things simple whenever possible. For instance, once a week, serve a nutritious meal of “make your own sandwich,” along with a salad, served on a recycled paper plate.  This simplifies at least one evening meal.
  • Support from school – Talk to your child’s teacher often. Take time to discuss your child’s progress in the class and strategies you can use at home. A classroom teacher deals with many students with attention challenges. You can learn from their expertise.
  • Spiritual Guidance – You may choose to ask for guidance from a pastor that you have a relationship with. Meditation may also offer a way to de-stress and keeps one grounded.
  • Consult a professional – When a child or adult is diagnosed with ADHD, professional counseling may be recommended. When looking for a professional, be certain that person understands your outlook on ADHD. Look for a counselor that is willing to help the whole family. Since we know that it takes a village to raise a child, getting the entire family involved will lead to a greater understanding and a better chance of success.

Mary Zena White

Greetings!  My name is Mary Zena White, and I’m an elementary teacher in Mt. Pleasant, SC.  I make my home there with my husband who is a former teacher and coach.  Our one and only son lives nearby with his lovely wife, and they are both recent graduates of Marquette Law School. We all love living near the coast and enjoy as much sunshine and water as we can get!

I’ve taught in grades four through six for 27 years and have seen many changes in our educational system.  My career began in a small, rural school in South Carolina teaching at-risk students. From there I moved to several mountain communities near Asheville, NC. I worked far outside of my comfort zone at an arts infusion school, learned to incorporate new technology at another small school, and enjoyed sharing my love of reading and writing at a school devoted to both.  Each school was different, and I learned from the students, staff, and parents at each one.

I did undergraduate work at Clemson, Winthrop and Francis Marion finishing with an elementary education degree and earned National Board Certification in 2008. In 2011, I was recognized as one of the five finalists for Charleston County Teacher of the Year. Although my mother, grandmothers, and great grandmothers were school teachers, I never wanted to be one, that is, until I was lost in an accounting class. Now I am so very grateful to have the most powerful and rewarding job there is!

Mary Zena White

Greetings!  My name is Mary Zena White, and I’m an elementary teacher in Mt. Pleasant, SC.  I make my home there with my husband who is a former teacher and coach.  Our one and only son lives nearby with his lovely wife, and they are both recent graduates of Marquette Law School. We all love living near the coast and enjoy as much sunshine and water as we can get!

I’ve taught in grades four through six for 27 years and have seen many changes in our educational system.  My career began in a small, rural school in South Carolina teaching at-risk students. From there I moved to several mountain communities near Asheville, NC. I worked far outside of my comfort zone at an arts infusion school, learned to incorporate new technology at another small school, and enjoyed sharing my love of reading and writing at a school devoted to both.  Each school was different, and I learned from the students, staff, and parents at each one.

I did undergraduate work at Clemson, Winthrop and Francis Marion finishing with an elementary education degree and earned National Board Certification in 2008. In 2011, I was recognized as one of the five finalists for Charleston County Teacher of the Year. Although my mother, grandmothers, and great grandmothers were school teachers, I never wanted to be one, that is, until I was lost in an accounting class. Now I am so very grateful to have the most powerful and rewarding job there is!

The Fourth R

- A special thanks to our special guest blogger, Mary Zena -

Reading, writing, and arithmetic?  There is so much more to be taught in our classrooms today. After all, as teachers prepare students for the real world, the three R’s won’t get them very far if they can’t contribute as supportive problem-solvers on a team. Because teachers are with students as they encounter many different situations, they are in a unique position to help children develop healthy social interaction skills.

The very first minute of the first day is about establishing a warm, safe, happy environment. Enthusiastic teachers share their excitement!

  • Greet your students by name and find some connection to them. You might compliment children for anything and everything-– double dimples, cute pigtails, colorful soccer shoes, a favorite team t-shirt, neatness, patience, or good listening manners. Students will feel welcome and appreciated, and you will be modeling the kindness you expect from them.
  • Conduct brief team meetings each month and ask volunteers to compliment a classmate. You might start the process to set the standard. Help students recognize how good they feel simply by giving a compliment and point out how powerful their actions are.
  • By November, when you all know each other well and are feeling especially thankful, use these talents to create Wordle keepsakes. Begin by putting a piece of a paper on each child’s desk. Classmates rotate around the desks writing an encouraging adjective or phrase on each student’s paper. Visit this website to create a finished product: http://www.wordle.net/

Making conversation with new friends is an art to be cultivated. Often, students are nervous, uncomfortable, and struggle to find the right things to say. Let students know adults feel the same way they do at times, and then give them the tools they need.

  • With your class, generate a list of questions they might ask a new acquaintance. “What are you doing this weekend?” “Have you seen a good movie recently?” “What do you like to do after school?”
  • If you’re working with young students who are self-conscious with the opposite gender, tell them you’ve activated the invisible “cootie catcher” over the door, and that there are no boy or girl germs to worry about in your room. Then mix them up for partner work! Make sure they understand that the only acceptable reaction to the buddy assignment is a kind one.
  • Challenge your students to sit with different classmates at lunch and to try playing with a new group at recess. Before starting a lesson, recognize a student you’ve seen accepting the challenge to reinforce more success.

So often, we could prevent problems from arising simply with better communication. That is true on the kindergarten playground and on a global scale.

  • So, empower children with the right words. Elementary students need to know how to say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. Are you okay?” Practice it as a group and role play when appropriate. Older children may need to say,” I didn’t mean to say that. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.” These important words need to be said quickly and loudly enough to be heard.
  • When you see a student making poor choices, find a private moment to help them see how they may have been perceived and make a suggestion for improvement.
  • Children often need to learn how to read faces and how to react accordingly. If a situation arises, you might ask the offender to look at his classmate’s face to point out the results of his words or actions.  “Look at Hannah’s face.  Does she look sad? Why do you think she is sad?”
  • When you see students working through problems, whether big or small, praise them out loud. Show your appreciation for them and others will take notice.

Children need to know that we are all building our characters as we have learning experiences in our lives. They should set goals to make changes or improvements.  Ask students to think of someone they like to be around. Then ask them to describe that person. What is it that makes them special? How are they like that person, and what might they do to improve themselves? Reiterate that interacting and communicating well are skills that must be taught and practiced before we expect mastery, just like the skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The Importance of a BFF

Everyone wants to have friends. At an early age, forming friendships allows a child to develop a multitude of skills needed throughout life: teamwork, cooperation, sharing, dealing with conflict, competition, etc.

If your children or clients are struggling with ADHD, they may need your guidance to help develop successful, long-lasting friendships. Here are some tips to help.

Keep Play Groups Small – One or two friends at a time will allow your child to be successful without being overwhelmed.

Form Friendship GroupsTeam Esteem is an organization based out of New York. Run by social workers and psychologists, their goal is to create an environment for children with behavioral, social, and academic challenges. Attitude Magazine says that if your child is having a difficult time forming friendships, a friendship group may be the answer. The article also goes on to caution parents that running the group themselves is not the best answer and should be left to professionals.

Plan Play Dates – Scheduling specific dates for playtime allows your child with ADHD to prepare for the event. It gives you an opportunity to discuss and role-play different scenarios. It also gives you an opportunity to plan what will happen during the play date. While not completely controlling the event, you’ll want to have some clear ideas on what will go on.

Control The Environment – Your child may be bursting with energy. Let them exhaust some of that energy during the play date by kicking a soccer ball with their friend, playing an informal game of basketball, or swimming in the pool. Then, after the little tikes are worn out, provide a snack and a quiet movie. This will help them transition into the next activity calmly.

Deflect Boredom – Play dates that are too long can lead to boredom. It’s important that these end on a high note for everyone involved. An hour after school is certainly adequate to get in some socialization without throwing nightly routines off. You can increase that time to a couple of hours on the weekend. Making an entire day of a play date may lead to disaster by forcing your child with ADHD to be on their best social behavior for far too long.

Positive Reinforcement – After friends go home, talk to your child about the play date. What did they like? What didn’t they like? What made them feel good about their friend? Be sure to provide positive reinforcement for things they did well. “I liked it when you shared your bike with Jimmy and let him ride it first.”

In his book, The Friendship Factor, Dr. Kenneth Rubin explores the impact of friendships on a child’s emotional, social, and intellectual growth. After 25 years of research, Dr. Rubin put his findings on paper to better prepare parents with helping their children form friendships.

If you’re looking for a children’s book, check out Making Friends. Written by American icon, Fred Rogers this book is intended to teach preschoolers about friendships and social skills.

Learn how Play Attention can help your child develop better social skills.

Sibling Relationships

Sibling Relationships

Being the sibling of someone with ADHD can be challenging. Children with ADHD are often creative, energetic, and always out for a good time. About Health’s ADHD expert, Keath Low, offers some great advice for helping form strong relationships with siblings. Low isn’t far off the mark when she states, “ADHD has an impact on all family members. Living with a brother or sister with ADHD can evoke a wide range of emotions in siblings.”

Here are some tips for helping sibling relationships:

  • Take time out to spend quality time with your non-ADHD child. Let them know they are special and helpful.
  • Let your child learn about ADHD. Provide age-appropriate materials to help with the learning process. Young children can learn a lot from Katy’s Secret, an ADHD Story.
  • Teach your child techniques on how to develop a good relationship with their ADHD sibling. Practice role playing to help children learn how to cope. Keep it positive. Use encouragement and kindness when you see siblings getting along. Be there when your child needs to vent.
  • Keep home life structured. All children flourish when things are predictable. Predictability and ADHD are like oil and water, so it’s much more important that you adhere to routines to keep consistent.
  • Make sure all siblings follow rules. Rules should remain simple so everyone easily recalls them. Making compensations for an ADHD sibling can cause resentment and feelings of being treated unfairly.
  • Be patient. If you are constantly on edge and irritated with your ADHD child, their siblings may pick up on this behavior. If they see you helping in a kind and loving way, they will learn the same.
  • Find a support group. CHADD is a nationally recognized support group for anyone struggling with ADHD. Social media weighs in with a multitude of ways to get support. Communities like ADHD Kids Care provide support for parents and families. Twitter holds its own with blasts about where to get help for ADHD.

For more information on Fostering Positive Relationships, attend a FREE webinar hosted by ADHD expert Dr. Shane Perrault. Attend Shane Perrault’s,Ph.D., webinar on Thursday, February 26th @ 11:00 AM EST. Topic: Raising an ADHD Child: Strategies for Turning Towards (instead of on) Each Other. 

 

Building a Strong Relationship with Your Child

Building a Strong Relationship with Your Child

The family unit, whether melded, a traditional, or single parent, consists of a group of people who love and care about each other. The family is where we learn about values, traditions, and behaviors. In order for the family unit to remain strong, we must nurture and take care of it, but first we must create a sturdy foundation. Here are some tips to building a strong family foundation.

Teach Values – We influence how our children see the world from an early age. Take time to teach them the values you want to instill in them. They will then take those values out into the world. Surround your child with good examples that will help them navigate through life. Teach by example.

Create Family Loyalty – Family loyalty goes a long way when building a strong relationship. Your support during challenging times as well as joyous times will help create a solid bond able to withstand any storm. Celebrate the wins and provide shelter during bad weather.

Show Appreciation – Strong families show appreciation towards each other. A simple “thank you” creates a positive foundation within a family. Appreciation is as vital to a strong family as love is. Showing gratitude to all family members increases self-esteem and the family bond.  We commonly take for granted many of the things other family members do for us. Demonstrating true appreciation for the meal prepared, bringing a glass of water, turning off the light when appropriate, etc. pays great dividends for the entire family. Nothing divides a family quicker than feeling under appreciated.  Appreciation is also a great value to teach.

Communicate – Communication is the key to building and maintaining a strong relationship. Be open and honest in your communication, but also be kind. The message you deliver can strengthen the bond with your child, or it can start to chip away at the mortar that keeps it together. Strong families spend a lot of time talking things out, voicing and forming opinions. When communication turns to disagreement, be sure to attack the problem, not the person. Establish rules for communication prior to discussion. That will help set limits and keep feelings from becoming involved.

Create Spiritual Wellness – Spiritual wellness comes in many forms. Whether they attend formal religious services or not, strong families believe there is a greater good or higher power. Spiritual wellness creates a positive outlook and helps families cope during difficult times. It’s reciprocal; nurturing spiritual wellness among family members will increase your personal spiritual wellness. It comes full circle; it starts with others and enriches every member.

Start Traditions – Traditions are the roots of a family. Generational traditions are the source of strong bonds with our ancestors. These should be cherished, but strong families create their own traditions. Whether it is the menu at the holidays, or even which holidays are celebrated, create your own traditions that your own children can look back on and cherish.

For more information on Foster Positive Relationships, attend a FREE webinar hosted by ADHD expert Dr. Shane Perrault. Attend Shane Perrault’s,Ph.D., webinar on Thursday, February 26th @ 11:00 AM EST. Topic: Raising an ADHD Child: Strategies for Turning Towards (instead of on) Each Other. 

 

ADHD and Marriage

ADHD and Marriage
Can you find happiness?

Valentines Day has just passed. Love is in the air, but for people who are romantically involved with an ADHD person, love can be far more difficult and happiness elusive.

Debate continues about rates of separation and divorce of
ADHD couples, but there is little debate that marital dissatisfaction tends to be a major factor among spouses affected by an ADHD partner.

It’s evident that ADHD people function differently on a cognitive level. They process information differently. They show love and often accept love quite differently. While this may be overlooked initially in a honeymoon period, if often eventually grates the nerves of the non-ADHD spouse. Frequently the non-ADHD spouse feels abandoned, left to manage the entire household alone.

Having children helps many couples bond, but for the spouse of an ADHD partner, it becomes a burden. Specific ADHD spousal tendencies such as the inability to complete tasks, be on time, maintain organization,or cleanliness become severe irritants when an infant’s needs aren’t met.

The attributes of the ADHD spouse initially are exciting and fun. They are exciting, spontaneous, intelligent, creative, and think outside the box. This places the non-ADHD spouse in a predicament; their love is strained by the actions of their spouse. Realizing their spouse functions differently isn’t enough to quell the feelings of abandonment or unrequited love.

Couple this with an auditory processing issue (see our previous post just days ago) and you’ve got the perfect storm — a partner who not only doesn’t express love the way you do, but also a partner who doesn’t process what you say.

Can you find happiness? Many couples have, but it takes work and understanding of your better half’s ADHD.

Feel free to contact us using the Contact Us link above or call 800.788.6786 to speak with our attention experts.

Social Skills & ADHD

Social Skills & ADHD

Making friends and keeping friends can be difficult for children with ADHD. Positive peer relationships are critical to your child’s development and self-esteem. What is second nature to you and I must be taught and practiced when dealing with someone with attention challenges.  You may notice that your child misses social cues, gets quickly bored with the games the other children are playing, or simply acts too impulsively when in social situations. It’s not to say that the child wishes to act out or hurt other’s feelings, it’s just that they haven’t paid attention long enough to pick up the social cues.

There are some steps you can take to help your child develop these essential social skills.

Developing Social Skills

Discuss People’s Feelings: Look at pictures of different people in a magazine. Ask your child how he thinks that person is feeling and how he came to that conclusion. You may also prompt him to tell you what he thinks might have happened before the picture was taken that caused the emotion.

Role Play Social Situations: Act out different scenarios with your child. “Let’s pretend you are meeting me for the first time.” Or “Let’s pretend you see a group of children playing and you want to join in.” Role playing will allow you to model appropriate social behavior.

Positive Feedback: When you see your child display good social behavior be certain to provide immediate positive feedback. “I liked how you helped John up when he fell. That was so kind.” Or “Thank you for holding the door open for me. That is so polite.”

 

Why People With ADHD Stuggle in Relationships

For many, February is the month of love.  We focus on the people we care about and find ways to express our feelings. Perhaps you are in a relationship as an adult with ADHD. Or you are in a relationship with someone who has ADHD.  You may even be a parent trying to help your ADHD child with friendships. All of these situations can be very challenging.

Children with attention challenges generally struggle with keeping friends. They are not always able to pick up social cues that allow them to have successful friendships. For instance, your child with ADHD may say something to hurt another child’s feelings, but lacks the attention to see the sadness on the other child’s face. Therefore your child has no idea he has offended someone. No learning takes place and this behavior continues.  Before you know it, your child is coming home complaining that he does not have any friends.  And he has no idea why or how to fix it.  He simply thinks everyone is against him.

Play Attention, a cognitive feedback based program, has an activity that directly addresses teaching social skills. Through a series of attention enhanced activities, a child or an adult can start simply by focusing on a blank card.  Once the student is fully attentive, the card will be completely exposed.  If the student loses attention, the card begins to disappear.  Once the student is fully attentive, the expression on a person’s face is seen.  The student must match the feeling associated with the expression. For example, the picture may be of a little girl smiling with three word choices: happy, sad, angry. The steps get incrementally more challenging and will eventually teach the student how to respond if a person has a certain expression on his/her face.

While simplistic at the onset, teaching social skills takes foundational practice. Teaching an ADHD child to slow down long enough to actually see the expression on another’s face is the start.

What happens to those of us who were not taught social skills as a child? Many struggle with relationships as an adult as a result. Whether you are the person with ADHD, or you’re in a relationship with someone with ADHD, you are bound to face many challenges.

Attitude Magazine recently ran an article, “10+ ADD Relationship Tools for Lasting Love,” which explores the tools needed to have a loving relationship with someone struggling with attention issues. In this article author, Jonathan Halverstadt, states that in the beginning there are “strong and wonderful feelings — but you need much more to make an ADD relationship last.” Instead of falling into an “all you need is love” scenario, Halverstadt offers suggestions for your relationship “tool box.”

One of the first things that he explores is managing the symptoms. In the relationship, the ADHD person must take ownership of the symptoms and actively manage them. Many of the skills he talks about are addressed with the Play Attention program.

If you are a parent, or an adult, or love someone who struggles with attention, I encourage you to attend an informational webinar with ADHD Expert, Peter Freer. The webinar is FREE and Peter will address all your questions and concerns about ADHD relationships.