If you’ve been following along on my Facebook page for the past few weeks, you’ll have noticed we’re talking a lot about change – specifically, strategies we can use to foster positive changes in ADHD children.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how we can set mindful talking examples for our children, and that got me thinking: what else can we do to encourage positive changes in ADHD kids?
The Little Voice in Your Head
Since I’ve started this journey to understanding ADHD, I’ve noticed that many ADHD children struggle with self-calming.
In reality, this is something all young children struggle with. Everyone, even adults, can sometimes feel so frustrated they want to yell and kick something.
As we get older, we start developing a voice in our head that helps us deal with emotions. This voice says, “It’s not a big deal. Turn the other cheek. Let go and keep living.”
Many ADHD children struggle to process strong emotions, and so it takes them longer to develop this little voice.
But is there anything we can do to help our children learn to self-calm?
Of course, there is!
If we want our children to experience their emotions in a mature way, we need to use ourselves as role models. So, let’s think for a minute about how you can set an example for self-calming.
Present Alternatives to Lashing Out
When we’re upset, it’s natural to feel like lashing out. Your child might do so by yelling, cursing, throwing punches or launching objects across the room.
We can, however, encourage our children to swap these huge outbursts for smaller, more controlled reactions. For example, try sharing the “squeezing” method with your child.
Grab a rock from your garden, a tennis ball from the garage, or a rubber balloon filled with rice. Give this object to your child and explain that they can squeeze it when they’re feeling upset and angry.
Now, give them an example of how YOU would use the object, like this:
Sometimes, when I get angry at work I feel like screaming, but I know this will scare my work friends.
So instead, I shut my eyes and squeeze this rock as tight as I can until I can’t squeeze anymore. Then I keep squeezing for as long as I can until the urge to scream goes away.
Sharing Strategies During Peaceful Moments
The best time to teach your child a new self-calming strategy is when they are already in a peaceful state of mind.
A good time might be during the drive home from school, during dinner or right before bed.
If you present a self-calming strategy to a child in the middle of a tantrum, chances are they won’t want to listen. This, in turn, might lead to a rejection of the idea as a whole.
We have to be proactive and introduce these strategies before the stressful moments occur.
Let Them Know Their Feelings Are Normal
Children can sometimes feel like they are alone in their emotions, but the truth is that we all feel crappy sometimes.
Help your child understand that other people experience these emotions as well, but are just better at hiding and controlling them. Make it clear that with time and practice, your child can learn to control their emotions, too.
It’s also important to tell your child that even YOU feel frustrated sometimes. Your child looks up to you as a role model, so let them know that with time and practice you’ve learned strategies for calming yourself down. Your child will see you as an example for their own behaviour, and hopefully, follow in your footsteps.
Tell me, what self-calming strategies do you share with your children?