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Personal Narrative: A Time That Changed My Life

If you’ve made it to this post, you are probably ready for some solutions. The internet is brimming with advice on what to do and not do. I know when my daughter was first diagnosed with ADHD, I was completely overwhelmed. Here I was with this diagnosis but no one bothered to give me an instruction manual. All I was told is that she would do better if I medicated her and sent on my way. I wasn’t given a list of things to try, people to contact for advice, or even much moral support. It was all up to me to figure it out. That’s a scary place to be.

I think that is one reason why I have been so open to helping others over the years with this struggle. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear, “I’ve been there and here are a few things to try. ” There is comfort in knowing you are not alone. There is simply no way I can give you all the information in one post, so I’m going to try and hit highlights and go more in-depth in future posts about certain topics. SLEEP The first question I asked you to think about is sleep. It is imperative that your child is getting adequate sleep to show up as the best version of themselves each day.

It’s important for all humans, but especially a child’s growing brain. Click on the link below to read about what has worked well with my children in creating better sleep each night. DIET AND SUPPLEMENTS When my daughter first got diagnosed with ADHD, I poured myself into learning everything I could about how diet influences behavior in children. We decided to remove artificial additives, eat more organic foods, reduce processed foods, and cut back on sugar. Here we are six years later and we still try our best to eat this way. Both my kids simply need it to function at their best.

Although, I always feel we can do better! I also added the following supplements to our regime based on the research I conducted about their impact on attention and behavior. I’ll be happy to give anyone that asks my recommendation on brands and dosing. Krill Oil Vitamin D High Quality Plant-Based Multi Turmeric Probiotics Various essential oils – I particularly like peppermint, lavender, and rosemary. We mainly diffuse these or use them topically. We do not ingest them. TECHNOLOGY This is by far one of the biggest struggles I deal with as a parent and educator. Technology is here to stay and will only be advancing.

I feel that it is crucial that we learn to balance the amount of technology we use with real world experiences. I’ve made huge efforts in reducing the time my kids spend on technology, along with teaching them skills in empathy and mindfulness. I recommend the book 10 Mindful Minutes by Goldie Hawn. It helped open my eyes to the importance of teaching children to quiet their minds and live in the moment. My son has an incredible teacher this year that has implemented meditation into her classroom. I do not think it is any coincidence that his attention and ability to focus has increased this year.

An app you might want to check out to help your child to learn to quiet their mind is Calm. The web-site is www. calm. com. Ironically, it’s technology that can help us escape technology. Oh what a world we live in! I’ll definitely be writing more about meditation and technology in future posts! ROUTINES I mentioned the importance of our evening routine above but that is far from the only routine we implement in our home. We have morning routines, weekend routines, homework routines, etc. I’ve found that the more my children know what to expect, the better. A strong evening routine ensures a good night sleep.

Conversely, a strong morning routine ensures a smooth low stress morning. We lay clothes out the night before and I use a whiteboard to put reminders up for the week ahead. I also use a planner and make sure we know what our upcoming week looks like. The more planned we are, the more my children have the ability to feel in control. We aren’t rushing out the door looking for shoes or getting the field trip form signed. Does that still happen? Or course! But I have made conscious effort to try and deviate from my own right brain tendencies to offer up more routine and stability in my children’s lives.

If you tend to be more Type B than Type A, then you might have to put quite a bit of effort into this. I promise it is worth it! This is coming from someone that is not Type A at all, so it takes work on my part to keep my kids structured. It’s amazing the difference I see in behavior when I am able to do it! SCHEDULE A year ago we were over scheduled! We were so over scheduled that my 13 year old had three bouts of pneumonia in a year in a half. It forced me to take a long hard look at what we were doing. We were going non-stop to ensure she wasn’t falling behind, yet she was physically falling behind.

She was exhausted and struggling to balance her life. WE were struggling to balance her life! We had discovered her passion, which was glorious and wonderful, but it came with a price. The rushing from one activity to another, stress of keeping it all together, and exhaustion was taking a toll. When the third bout of pneumonia hit, I had to stop and take a concentrated look at what we were doing. While helping her find her dreams, we neglected to remember that even children can get completely stressed out. It was at that moment we decided enough was enough. This year we slowed down.

We freed up our weekends and evenings and focused on just being! Letting her be a child and having faith that she didn’t have to do everything before the age of 18 to be successful in life, resulted in a happier child, and a happier family. We still work to find balance, but it’s getting easier to recognize when we need to take a step back and slow down. DISCOVERING THEIR PASSIONS One of the things that led us to becoming over scheduled is that we discovered our daughter’s passion. In the 4th grade she begged to audition for a local community theatre production. She fell in love with performing and it forever changed her.

She morphed from an insecure child, to a confident young lady that found her voice in the world. I always try and encourage my student’s parents to help their children discover their passions. When they figure out what gets them out of bed in the morning, it naturally motivates them to work hard. I’ve noticed that the attention and desire to work hard seems to come more naturally. As they get to middle school, those passions help motivate good grades and participation. It’s balancing act between cultivating the passion and not over-scheduling ,but worth the work involved.

You might have to try multiple things before something clicks, but keep trying. Our daughter was involved in activities starting at age four and it took until the fourth grade to find the thing she really loved. Just keep trying and eventually something will inspire them. I promise! FINAL THOUGHTS Okay, I lied. This is going to be a four part post. I want to add something about what I have done as an educator to support my students with attention disorders and I think it just needs its own post. So stayed tuned for Part 4! In the meantime, I hope I’ve given you some ideas for helping your own little darlings with attention issues.

Don’t forget the importance of your own self-awareness in the process. We are all a work in progress, and there is no shame in recognizing you might have to change some things inside yourself to help the situation. I know I’m personally always trying to improve in order to show up better for my children. There have been many times when I had to stop and realize that my own behaviors were contributing to the problems. Just remember, there is NO manual. We are all figuring this out and it’s a beautiful messy work in progress!

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