Archives for Adhd
One things we know about parenting is that while it can be incredibly rewarding at times, at other times it can be extremely challenging. Then you throw in a little attention deficit and hyperactivity with the kids or parents and life gets interesting. Mark Bertin, MD is a board certified developmental pediatrician and respected mindfulness teacher whose latest book is Mindful Parenting for ADHD: A Guide to Cultivating Calm, Reducing Stress, and Helping Children Thrive. Today he is with us to talk about the unique challenges of parenting a child with ADHD, why we're seeing more ADHD in our culture and a few specific techniques a parent can take home with them today to help themselves and their kids. Elisha: What are the unique challenges of parenting a child who has ADHD? Mark: Being a parent is, of course, frequently stressful and full of uncertainty. As a developmental disorder that affects not just attention but life management skills in general, ADHD amps up that experience. When you have a child several years behind in organizing, planning and self-management in general, that can affect everything from morning and bedtime routines to social and academic success. That’s hard for a child, and their parents too. The challenge around ADHD becomes this: ADHD creates stress by making daily life harder. Too much stress makes us tired, burned out and less resilient. It makes flexible problem solving and communication harder. Which means, living with ADHD makes it harder to manage ADHD. For any family, a significant step around ADHD is getting a handle on stress. It’s hard to start new routines, manage homework, make tough choices, and support a child who really does need more support than peers. When more grounded, you’ll see things clearer, and stick easier to all the things you want to do. That’s where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness isn’t a quick fix, but directly supports almost all of ADHD. It starts with stress management, getting out of that flooded, fight-or-flight driven cycle. It also mixes with behavioral management for ADHD – the ability to pause, refocus, and catch a child being successful is harder than it seems without practice. So is sticking to limits and routines, if we’re too stressed and distracted ourselves. Elisha: How do we change ingrained parenting styles that aren't working? Mark: One of the under-discussed parts of parenting in general, and certainly around ADHD, is how hard it is to change habits. We have ways of thinking and of doing things that begin in childhood. That even includes the fact that, for parents, children influence parenting style. In fact, ADHD tends to push parents away from the exact parenting approaches that best address ADHD.
Perhaps the 13th Sufi poet Rumi said it best, “Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters.” The entrance into all that’s beautiful in life is in what’s vulnerable. When something or someone is vulnerable before us we feel connected and connection is at the essence of feel well. This is because ultimately all things and people in life are connected and to feel connection is a feeling of belonging, it’s a feeling of being home. But to feel vulnerable we have to be brave and in this lies the freedom we long for. The problem is our brains and our culture equates vulnerability with weakness. One of my newest favorite researchers and authors Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability sounds like
A wise man once said, “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your unguarded thoughts.” ~ The Buddha I want to share with you an important “Now Moment,” the short action-oriented pieces that come at the end of most of the chapters in The Now Effect. This little instruction can be enormously helpful in bringing to light how to gain freedom from thinking and since thinking can be our number one bad habit, often launching us into increased stress or downward spirals of automatic negative thinking; it’s a good thing to loosen our grip on. Now Moment:
If there are two things we can count on in life besides death and taxes, it’s stress and pain. Stress and pain often manifest as difficult emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, shame, and guilt, among others. When these emotions come up the brain says, “Yikes, how do we fix this” and looks to the past to anticipate the future. Jerry Duvinsky, Ph.D is a Psychologist who wrote a recent book called How To Lose Control And Gain Emotional Freedom: Embracing the "Dark" Emotions Through Integrative Mindful Exposure, based on how to work with these challenging feelings that visit us day in and day out. In the book he says:
Mindfulness meditation, the act of intentionally paying attention to the present moment while putting aside our snap judgments, has been shown to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, trauma and open us up to wonders, happy moments and a sense of grace in life. But make no mistake, the longest of practitioners will tell you that they still experience the downturns, getting hooked by the inevitable frustrations of life, and anticipatory anxiety. So it's not a cure, but it gives us something that a cure can't. Implied in mindfulness is the acceptance that life is full of ups and downs. This acceptance breeds a sense of warmth and compassion that could not grow if the downs were cured. As the saying goes, it takes both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow. Or Rumi's quote: "Don't turn your gaze. Look toward the bandaged place that's where the light enters."
I often write about the demanding and criticizing voices in our heads because they are so amazingly prevalent and I figure just about anyone can identify with that and almost all of us need support with them. Every day these voices arise out of habit, telling us "I can't do that right," "I'm never going to achieve that," or "I'm not good enough." More often than not we indulge and get overwhelmed by these limiting beliefs or as Thich Nhat Hanh says," we water the seeds of our own suffering." The end result is we end up hating ourselves. But what if these voices were trying to help us in some way? That may sound crazy, but really, consider it for a moment. What if these negative and limiting voices were looking after our best interest?
There is no doubt about it, today's business is a round-the-clock atmosphere. We are hounded with external pressures, overwhelmed with information overload, asked to deliver more with less, work longer hours, and have less personal time for renewal activities. What is the result? Self-inflicted attention deficit disorder, exhaustion, lack of focus, reduced health, and burnout. This leads to lower job satisfaction, morale, and productivity. Hardly the results we want. Did you know that over 50% of the workforce in the US says Job Stress is a major problem in life? This is twice as much as ten years ago. We also have 50% greater healthcare expenditures and corporations are losing over $300 Billion annually because of work-related stress! What's going on here? In an age of so much distraction, the old approach of time management at work is being thrown out the window in favor of attention management.
A short while ago I opened an opportunity for people to send me stories of mindfulness that can show the rest of us how it has had a practical impact on a particular event or their lives. I’m calling this column of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, “Voices.” A number of people wrote in with stories. If you have a story, continue to writing in and as long as there are good stories that teach the rest of us how mindfulness can work in our lives, I will choose from them from time to time to post on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Of course those that get chosen can also send me a link that I’ll include in the post where people can learn more about them. Here’s a truly touching story of mindfulness, grief, courage and healing by Mimi Handlin, MSW, Senior Certified ADHD Coach:
A couple weeks ago I highlighted a therapist in Los Angeles named Stan Friedman who had a story of how he broke free from the auto-pilot of negative thinking and into a space of choice and possibility. I want to open this up as an opportunity for people to send me stories of mindfulness that can show the rest of us how it has had a practical impact on a particular event or their lives. I will choose from them from time to time to post on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy to help give insight to the rest of us of how mindfulness can be practically applied for our health and well-being. Of course those that get chosen can also send me a link that I’ll include in the post where people can learn more about them.
In a past blog, A Child's ADHD Can Stress Your Marriage, John Grohol, Ph.D. cites an Washington Post article stating an increase in divorce rates among people who have children with ADHD. One person aptly comments that it also could be because one or more of the parents have ADHD and it's not diagnosed making the marriage more difficult. Having children with ADHD or special needs is challenging and requires extra responsibility that taxes the family system. There is simply more effort and time required on the parent and child's part which makes people more tired and when people get tired they tend to get irritable. When irritability is not taken care of, people get hurt, put their walls up and close down. When partners are closed down and aren't able to feel or detect one another's feelings anymore, empathy flies out the window, and connection is right on its tails. Without connection, there is no relationship and so this leads to higher rates of separation. The quote from the Washington Post that highlights this issue says: