More confidence? Are you honest??

I do not want to create too much controversy with the post this month, but the truth is that I’ve been toying around with the issue of HONESTY; an essential value to teach to our children with ADHD (and  to those without the disorder as well, of course, but it is not the same …)
Being honest is being worthy of honor; meaning that anyone can count on you. If someone asks you to do something, and you start doing it…. (hey, does this nuance ring a bell? There are so many times when we ask them to do something and so very few times do they do what we ask them  …) you’ll finish it the best you can, even if it takes you some time and is difficult.
People who practice honesty are known for their determination, their formality and accuracy. In other words, they walk the talk. Others will know they can trust them.

I have to confess that I have often thought that children with ADHD do not deserve to be trusted because most of the time they don´t come through. This occurs in most cases and has been my experience so far. And I have gradually become a person who is doubting, guarding, controlling, and less relaxed. How awful!

In order to  practice honesty, before making a commitment, we have to stop and think (Stop? Think? But I’m ADHD!) and make sure it is something we can and really want to do. We will then go forward as we understand it is important to be worthy of other´s trust in us.

Do these situations sound familiar?
– We ask for the change when they return from a quick shopping trip and they do not know where it has gone …
– A family member shares a secret and they do not keep that secret despite having promised that they would
– They promise to help (yes, right now, for sure…) but are distracted watching TV or reading a book

How difficult is it to make them understand? Why can´t they just answer: “I do not feel capable and I need you to explain it to me again” or “I’d rather not to do it because I’m not sure I´ll be able to finish it by myself”, or “would you mind asking me again in 10 minutes, the time it will take me to finish watching  these cartoons?” First of all, it´s difficult for them to tell us and difficult for us to remember that they do not process our requests the same as other children without ADHD. Second of all, we end up judging them; “liar, lazy, worthless …”, and we just go back to our feelings of frustration, disappointment, exasperation …etc

Neuroscience tells us that our brains are not designed to tell lies or to cheat, but don’t admit uncertainty. What I mean to say is that when ADHD children percieve a situation as stressful or being the source of anxiety for whatever reason : (because they don´t fully understand a concept or don´t want to make the effort to; or whatever…), their first answer will be “YES”, because for them it is essential to remove those feelings of uncertainty, and if they are also impulsive, they will be quick in answering anything off hand…
Their intention is to remove the stress of the request and run from it. They don´t think that they are being dishonest; they just need to escape.

To me, honesty has to do with responsibility. In the world of coaching, we say that having responsibility is having the necessary skills to be able to respond. Our children believe deep down in their hearts that they don’t have these skills  and therefore avoid any responsibility in a very particular way. This elusive behavior is disguised by attitudes that seem  insincere and unreliable to us.

What can we do? In this case, I don´t think we should dwell as much about honesty, which is good, and is, after all, a virtue and a value as we should on helping them to become more aware of what is going through their heads at that moment with these following techniques: ( relaxation, a walk, a talk …).
Remember that our children’s ADHD lives only in the present and has no image of the future. They will verbalize, without thinking, only what their neural circuitry offers them as a first alternative to escape. So it’s good to stop and wait for a few seconds in order to give the brain time to seek other alternatives. If not, their truth will seem a lie to us, a big one. And we already know how we can react …

I realize that this is a very sensitive issue. Talking about it is not easy but as parents, we must lead by example and practice in front of them. For example, if we are offered a new position, we can give them a small demonstration of an analysis of the risks, opportunities and inference process that allows us to decide whether we should take it or not, and the commitment which it entails. If we are asked for a favor, let’s share our thinking on how to ensure that we are able to accomplish what we are expected to, reviewing our skills and looking for people who can complement us. Or, when we have a private conversation with someone, comment about the importance of discretion and how important it is for the other person to respect our privacy.

They will see attitudes opposed to theirs. They will listen to ‘rare’ words like: decision, commitment, trust, peace, tranquility, satisfaction and pride for a job well done…

We should be here for that, to teach them to mature as human beings. Shouldn’t we?

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And you, what do you do?… I try to overcome myself every day.

Countless times we feel the urge to give up, but miraculously (or not), we recover and carry on.
Sometimes, because we haven´t anything better to do, other times  just because we are lucky enough to have someone who can help us see the light, and other times because within ourselves, we recover the pride, the courage, and  the energy necessary to keep on going.

Either way, we end up excelling ourselves. Although sometimes you do not realize it. I recommend that you look back and identify those moments when, against all odds, you were able to carry on.

This desire for improvement is essential to our children’s ADHD. They are very sensitive to error, to appear ridiculous in front of others, to incomprehension. They go through these kinds of situations so many times that they often think of quitting. When we see them in that attitude, it breaks our hearts and we do not know what to do … Oh no! This is a situation we cannot afford! I propose we move to a more conscious state of mind; what I mean by this is that we try to adopt a different attitude in order to overcome these situations. It is vital for everyone, but above all, for themselves and each of the family members.

Having the desire to excel is like striving to do things at their best. It is not about beating anyone, but to become what each of us can be. It enables our talents to grow and flourish.
The desire to improve is what brings us to the finish line.. People (and how many times have we seen this happening to our children …) who fear failure, usually tend to try, but not hard enough. They say: ‘It does not matter! I wasn´t doing my best anyway’. This is frustrating and at the same time a despair for parents as we might never know what they are actually capable of doing.
Usually, our kids are very talented in many creative areas: in sports … Maybe it would be a good idea to take every opportunity to speak to them about it and show them that they are able to give their best when their self-motivation pushes them to excel.
If not, they’ll leave things half-done; we know that, and they just quit. This leads to a spiraling thought dynamic: “Nothing matters much, in fact I do not mind too much”. Does this sound familiar to you?

What can we do to help? I would say just try out new things; try, try and try again! Open up new horizons, new possibilities for activities, readings, until they fall in love(literally) with something that catches their attention in an area where they feel understood, admired and appreciated. We should try that out too, by the way.

When they adopt the spirit of achievement, they will endeavor to do today what  they could not achieve yesterday.  Failure for them isn´t that important as they are willing to try it for themselves, because they are not content to give less than what they know that, in their hearts, they are able to give. And if I speak about the heart, and I insist, it is because to me, overcoming is not so much related with DOING things than as BEING ourselves. And that which can deeply motivate us is hidden in our deepest corner.

Therefore, we, as the leaders of our families, must be vigilant and be able to commit with our roles as facilitators for job opportunities, encounters, surprises, dreams … So, the million dollar question is:
What are we going to do tomorrow for them that we have not done today?

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BLESSED PATIENCE

Who hasn’t  ever had a time when one rationally decided to be patient? What moved you?
I find it very easy to be patient when I understand what is happening in my present moment. I then decide to wait, and that is of course, because I’ve thought about it first.
In those moments, it means that patience is a quiet hope and an expectation, that, in the end, everything will be fine.
I can endure a delay or a conflict situation without complaint, I can even demonstrate self-control, because I simply understand that I can not control how others act, or when things do not go as I’d like.
For example: if I can’t find tickets for a movie when I want them, then I simply buy others for another showing  without problems. Or, if I am called from the garage where I have taken the car for a tune up and the mechanic tells me that there will be about a two day delay in its delivery because the parts required  have not yet arrived, I know how to get organized so that this unexpected event has the least impact on my daily life.

BUT …why is it so hard for me to be patient with the people I have closest to me,  the ones that need me more than anyone! There are times when rationality is out of order in my brain and my mind ignores patience automatically.

A good leader practices patience with his team members (and himself too), when he  understands that it takes time to develop skills that will make them more productive, time to feel integrated with peers, to grow as individuals, and to provide value.

But as parents of children with ADHD, how can we exercise the necessary patience in order to remain calm and maintain a trust-based expectation that everything will be okay?

I find it useful to think that patience is a commitment to the future (see my post Mi VISION in front of your NO INTENTION). This means that it represents an ‘act now’ in such a way that something good will happen later. Meaning one has to try to endure as much as possible in order to make it happen (at this present moment I think of all this patience that we have to practice with our less than sympathetic surroundings: relatives, colleagues, friends …).
Patience is being able to see the end results in the beginning, doing what you can and then wait calmly, with confidence that the results will come.

Why practice patience?
I can think of two main reasons: first, because it seeks the good in a situation and it can bring some calm in the whirlwind day in which our children throw at us.
Second, because patience is a visible behavior, therefore imitable and our children need to see it every day. Because we all know that one of our ADHD’s characteristics is that they are VERY impatient. They usually want everything NOW. They can’t undertake heavy tasks where the results can only be viewed later, or finish a plan that takes a lot of work …
They have no patience, can’t stand having to wait, they protest, shun their responsibility, complicate everything, and become altered and alter all of us. Suddenly we are all angry (we because we do not perceive their reaction to our requests, they because they do not control their impulsivity) and irritable if things go wrong or mistakes arise.

How can we practice patience?
Patience is practiced accepting that not everything can be controlled. Even when we’re feeling anxious inside, we are able to act with calm and serenity and accept having to wait for something we know is worth it…We have faith that in the end things will work out.
Sense of humor (not sarcasm or derision) help! Seeing mistakes, gaffes, and faux pas of our children with affection and understanding will help us remain calm, and able to fight this pressing need that sometimes we parents feel about everything having to be perfect (ugh!  what an ugly word …).
Patience will help us:
– To not abandon what we try to do, however difficult or tiresome it may seem.
– To persevere in our plans until we finish them, even if we do not receive the reward for all our efforts right away.
– To feel willing to set goals for the future, knowing that we will then be rewarded

In short: PATIENCE IS ABOUT HAVING GOALS AND ENVISIONING THE FINAL RESULT AT THE BEGINNING

And let me make a brief reflection. Do not fall into the confusion between having and/or practicing patience (which is a decision, an active thinking purpose) with passivity or apathy (where we can get carried away). Always, at all times, we must be aware of what our state of mind is and fight to remain focused.

I wish you a very successful 2013!

 

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ALREADY A YEAR NOW

Dear all

Today this post is highly sentimental and personal.
One year ago today I decided to implement a sentence I read in the book ‘Madera de Líder’ by Mario Alonso Puig. I decided to ‘jump into the universe’ and wait and see for the universe to answer me, somehow … The truth is that I was feeling like doing something for my surroundings. I could say that this was my particular Social Responsibility project.
I thought, being a Leadership expert and a mother of an ADHD child might help me to approach our reality concerning the disorder under a different perspective. From my place in this life, with all enthusiasm and affection.

And now I have to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Throughout this year I have seen that there are many, many people, both parents and professionals, and associations, that are working hard to make ADHD visible in the world, struggling to make society understand ADHD as another element of diversity that can add more value.

I am happy to be part of this big family and I encourage all who still hold a little or a lot out there, to share their experiences with others. This can only bring good things. In my particular case, I’m surprised and grateful that so many people, more than I could have ever imagined, appreciate my articles.

For this second year of my blog, I have decided that I am going to focus on talking about values. On how values ​​can help us all. And of course I will try to adapt my posts to the daily situation we live.
The value of this particular subject represents a great help for all of us living together, and they are a must involved in the maturation process of our children.
We already know that physiologically, certain parts of their brain can be up to 10% smaller than normal. This has a direct impact on their growth as individuals, and even though the size can be recovered at normal levels during their lives, their maturity progress is affected. Values ​​represent a support, a hook, a base for its development.
So my proposal (and commitment) is to analyze a value each month, the benefits it provides when practiced, and how we can live and transmit them in our environment. My intention for next month is to start with PATIENCE: What do you think? If anyone wants to make any suggestions he will be more than welcome. I have no plan in advance, I thought instead to review my values and identify the one that makes me struggle so the article might help and cheer me up…

For those who do not know, values ​​are closely related to emotions. I would like to put some practical intelligence out there for us so it could be useful and consolidate us as adults and examples of our children.
I send a big hug to all and again, THANK YOU! (specially to Sonia Blavatsky, who has been reviewing my texts).

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We are your parents…and we don’t know everything

Hi all.

This week I’ve had the opportunity to speak on 3 different occasions about Non Violent Communication; a conversational style that I really like. It requires a big effort to really delve into its profound meaning in order to use it properly, but the rewards are plenty. It represents a very useful tool for communication in various settings. I recommend reading it. The author is Marshall Rosenberg.
In this post I would like to focus on US: as parents, leaders of our families, so that we may again reflect on how we speak to our children.

If we sometimes perceive incomprehensible reactions from them when we try to communicate with them, I suggest we start asking ourselves these questions:

Have we spoken in a correct tone of voice? Have we used the words that we had anticipated? What exactly did we want to say? Remember that our dear ADHD’s have developed the extreme  ability to drive us to our limits in a matter of micro-seconds, and consequently we might begin with a speech that doesn’t make any sense at all; after we think about it later… Or at least, this is what could happen to me. You can probably remember a moment in a day where it seemed that our children were waiting for us with the sole purpose of driving us crazy. Most of the time, I just crawl into myself and the worst part is that at the end of the day I feel a deep sadness.

I was thinking that I needed to approach our conversations ( family) with a completely different mind set and that, perhaps it would be a good idea to stick to a set of phrases to use as “templates” in a quasi automatic mode when I notice that I start to lose my temper.

This may seem like an express recipie (among other things, I don´t want to write a post that´s too long), but I would rather dwell on a few thoughts and encourage us to use them:

I made a mistake (or ‘I was wrong’)
Sorry
I´m not sure
I don´t  know
Will you help me? (or ’I need help ‘)
Could you please explain this better? (or ‘I’m not sure I understood this correctly’)
What do you think? or what do you suggest? or what would you do?

As leaders in our homes, we feel more comfortable giving out orders and assuming that our kids will obey. But, we should know by now that ADHD’s do not listen, do not retain, do not execute, and they make us angry. There is no way for trust to survive in this environment. We have to continue to build upon what we have achieved the day before.
It is true that we are parents and we are adults. That doesn’t mean we should impose everything. We have to be able to choose our battles.

When faced with an unexpected reaction, we are not expected to know the answer. Theoretically this is easily remedied. Let us then look for a solution. First, having declared that we are incompetent, feeling vulnerable and ignorant, we must not settle a situation with a comment such as: (‘because I said so’, ‘because that´s the way it is, so,..’) These types of comments eventually pave the way towards a poor relationship with our ADHD´s… They seem the easy way out and are hard to resist using.

Today I read a sentence that I really liked: “When you become a parent, you get the diploma first and then you do the course work afterwards.” That’s it. So we shouldn’t be expected to know everything.

So why then do we have these questions hidden away for when we need them:?
1. – We are role models for our children (yes, I´m still on the same road). Do we want them to admit to it when they make mistakes, or not say anything and have them remain in an unproductive and harmful attitude?
Remember that their ‘why’s’ do not exist. Better to instill behaviors that will help them in their future …

2. – We have to keep a learner’s attitude. We can not know everything as parents. And even less if they are ADHD’s. Those of us lucky enough to have received an early and accurate diagnosis can know what to expect, which does not mean that we know everything. Let’s not forget that the disorder evolves differently for each child.

3. – The underlying theme of this post is about the happiness and success of our children. The following questions are very powerful for creating self-esteem, helping them in their thoughts, and preparing them to be independent. Asking them: ‘What do you think?’, ‘Would you please explain this better?’  or ‘What would you suggest?, we are not declaring our ignorance. We’re trying to give them wings. We show them that we care about their ideas, opinions and perspectives.

4. – We are building an environment of trust, where it is possible (because it is real) not having all the answers. Being constantly confronted with a know-it-all is not pleasant. This attitude usually inhibits,  limits and moves them further away from our objective. I do not want that.

As leaders, we may sometimes have the right answers, thanks to our experience or skills. And when that is not the case, let’s be curious, turn on our senses, our intuition, and let’s be useful and important for our dear children.

I wish you all the best.

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Procrasti … WHAT?

How many times have we given our children with ADHD instructions (some of them really simple in our opinion) and we’ve only gotten a laconic ‘ok’, or ‘just a moment!’ or a question like ‘does it have to be now? ‘. Too many, isnt’it?

The first thing that pops into our minds, even though we are well aware of our child’s situation is that they are lazy and / or cheeky. After a while, and since we do live with them, we could understand that such responses may be due, among other things, to:

– They’ve already forgotten the task: even though they had the firmest intention of doing it. (“you are barefoot, go get your shoes’ … and come back barefoot but with something else in their hand … or do not come back at all, having been distracted with something along the way.)
– The request is unclear. If several requests are included in a single instruction it might be really hard for them to remember all of what was asked of them: (take the dog for a walk, and by the way, take out the trash on your way out and don’t forget that the main front door is to be locked).

The truth is that, in the end, they always try to avoid as many chores as they can get away with ‘it’s not my turn’, or ‘I don’t understand why this must be done’. And as they get older, these reactions are carried on through school, with friends and in some cases at work. This behavior will become a habit even if this disorder is gone.

This is one factor that makes communication and building good relationship between family members or a team very difficult.

Leaders sometimes have brilliant people with recognized talent on their teams, who sometimes seem to lose their skills and postpone the execution of their responsibilities and as a result, delay or jeopardize the success of the project they are involved in. These people are important assets. It’s essential to analyze the reason of this type of behavior.

As parents, I think that we should go a little further too. What is happening in our child’s mind that makes them postpone what we have asked them to do? How difficult it is for us to take time to look at this under another perspective and understand … (why isn’t my child  able to store the toys she is no longer playing with? Or polish and put away her shoes in the closet? or prepare her backpack only with the material needed for the next day? Or empty the dishwasher?)

What normally happens is that our ADHD children have a deep sense of frustration because they usually will not know where to start, how to prioritize in their mind and in their actions. They are easily distracted, feel disorganized, and become increasingly anxious. This is like a big snowballl coming towards them! The only solution is postponement, or, let’s be modern, procrastination: delaying as much as possible in time…

Let’s observe:
– Do they behave like this when the task is perceived as long, complex and / or too complicated?
– Or when they think it’s boring, an un-interesting?
– Or when they think they’re going to fail. For ex: exams … I prefer to finish as soon as possible… I’ll do it again some other time.)

What can we do as parents?
– Maybe, we should take the task to be performed and separate it into different parts or steps (ex: to empty the dishwasher: first the top and then the bottom).  It is very important to learn and to understand the concept of medium and long term, in order to mitigate their imperious need of ‘right now’.
– Fix a maximum execution time. Many ADHD’s work best when there is a deadline to fulfill.
– If they do not see the sense of what they have to do, let’s try to show the fun side (pairs of socks sorted by color, size …), the value in the task…
– We can also limit the distractions, providing a quiet moment or place.
– Let’s be positive. Positive thinking is a powerful tool. Let’s use it. (This is going to be  beautiful, I guess it will look good, you will feel content and happy).

Sure, you might say, but this is going to take a lot of time and energy! Yes, I agree.

Okay, then I’ll begin with a few things that are pending and urgent (that do not need effort or concentration, that can be done in a minute, that I need to get rid off, that my manager asked me to do …. blah blah blah) and then I’ll join my son / daughter.

OOPS! I’m procrastinating myself and I didn’t even know it!

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Shall we work together? Agreements with ADHD children teachers

There are only a few days left until the new school year begins … again …
I recently received a post from my friend Marien (Aula Propuesta Educativa). I found it very helpful in terms of how to start the first day of class with confidence. I thought this  was great and I want to share it with you in case you find it useful.

Basically it is a list of requests for our child´s teachers.. Before talking with them, let’s set the right climate. We should talk to them before or on the first days of school. Our main goal is to communicate our child’s special needs and  help them understand what it is exactly that we need from them. Then, agree on specific points, which ones may be accepted and how we can all collaborate together.
Depending on the ages of our children, some ideas may appear very childish, or completely out of place, but it seemed to me a good idea to expose them so you can choose, or even ‘customize’ some, depending on your personal situation.

Once this first conversation is finished, do not forget to print the agreement and place it wherever our ADHD children can see it. That will give them security.
May I suggest, for example, inside their closets, on the bathroom mirror, or…?

We know all too well that our children have many difficulties in adapting to the rhythm of school. In most cases, these are the small things that solve real problems, and precisely because they seem to be small things to others, they are difficult to represent as challenges.
Let’s use the right tone depending on our partners to get them on our side and understand the situation.

1. – Forget to write down homework: It may be because he didn’t properly hear the task, because he is in a hurry (sometimes they have to change classes, and there is some urgency to leave the class and not be late for the next one) or maybe just because he puts away all of his books in his bookbag before the end of the class and therefore doesn’t write down his assignments for the next day.
Some strategies:
Using a notebook or agenda for homework assignments
Allow for the  use of mini recorders as an agenda.
Allow for a specific moment to write down the assignments and putting away off  the books.
Send homework assignments by email.
Ask the student to review the assignments on the board (the teacher can reserve a spot (always the same one …) on which the assignments would remain written until the end of the day.

2. – Forget to take books and materials home needed to do the homework
Some strategies:
Distribute a schedule to parents  with deadlines for delivery of assignments and assessments.
Staple the homework assignments  for the week on the agenda.
Have duplicates of school materials at home, whenever possible.(ie pencils, pens, erasers, etc)

3. – Forget to take things to school,( ie forms that need a parent´s signature, homework assignments, take home exams etc)
Some strategies:
At some time in the afternoon / evening, set a time to place these important papers in your child´s bookbag or have him do it while you look on.
Having a special folder (with a specific colour) for communications sent from school to home or from home to school and stress that these always be filed in this particular folder.
Have the teachers reduce the amount of paperwork  that is sent home

4. – Forget to stay after school because the teacher wants to talk with the student Note: The effects of some medications begin to decrease at the end of the school day, so that memory tends to be poorer.
Some strategies:
Ask a friend to remind you.
Use post-its in visible places.
Using messages with alarms as reminders.

5. – Forget to write their names on the sheets
Some strategies:
Use nametags.
Give the student sheets of paper with their names already written on them.
Ask another student to remind him to write his name
Do not mark a ‘negative point’ for not writing down their names.
Give instructions to begin the exercise by writing the name and date first thing.
Have students check to see if their names are on the paper before handing it in.

6. – Forget to take books, pencils, pens etc  to their classes
Some strategies:
Having extra material in class for students who need it. Parents can be required to help with that purpose.
Asking a friend to remind them to return the pencils, books, etc  to their place.
Ask the student to write in his agenda the list of the materials required for the class.

7. – Forget to complete long-term projects
Some strategies
Divide each project into subtasks
Assign a deadline to each subtask.
Delivery dates must allow flexibility to re-submit the job with corrections.

And what can we do at home to reinforce all of this behavour! As always, lead by example ….
Say it out loud (although this may sound ridiculous) and share:
– Every time we scheduled our alarms or schedules so as not to forget something important
– Bookmarks we leave in the books to remind us where we left off,  in cook books, to remember the ingredients, in the instruction manuals to quickly retrieve the information we know we will need later on.
– Every where in the house, drawers, shelves, specific sites where we should always keep the same things (house keys, wallet, cell phone numbers of doctors and family, candles, extra light bulbs… ). Suggest which places they can also leave their belongings and discuss the whys these habits are good for them.

Stress that adopting such simple routines for them and for us are very beneficial now and in the future!!! Surely, we can also benefit ourselves following some of these guidelines.

Thank you very much Marien and happy rentrée to all!

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