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15 Things Parents Of ADHD Children Understand So Well

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15 Things Parents Of ADHD Children Understand So Well

If you have ADHD or are a parent of a child with ADHD, you have to put up with a lot of ignorance and misconceptions about this disorder. This does not help at all in your daily struggle with a condition which is often downplayed and sometimes, even ignored. Here are 15 things you wish people knew about ADHD.

1. They have a minor mental disorder.

Because it has been all hyped up, ADHD is thought of as a major mental disorder. Many others are convinced that it has been been invented by Big Pharm to sell more medication, such as Ritalin or Adderall. You know that ADHD exists and as many as 9% of American children are battling this disorder. There are now so many studies from prestigious scientific institutions that show ADHD is a minor mental disorder that you wish more people would get their facts right. ADHD needs to be recognized, treated and dealt with. As a parent, you know it is just a difference but it needs careful handling.

“ADHD is real and valid. The sooner we recognize the patterns and learn to work with these kids, the better assured we will be that they as adults with be healthy members of society.” – Rhonda Van Diest.

2. They have a chemical imbalance in the brain.

It is true that children and adults with ADHD have problems with paying attention, keeping things organized and staying on task. Kids can be impulsive, defiant and overreact when faced with frustration. This is the result of brain chemistry which is out of sync and has nothing to do with bad parenting!

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Effective parenting comes into its own when kids are helped to cope and the parents are able to successfully draw the line between helping them too much and allowing them to get on with it. A good example is during homework. As a wise parent, you keep an eye by being present and get on with your own tasks. You can offer to get them things they need but you do not actually do the homework for them.

3. They need structure and routine.

Many people assume that disciplinary measures are needed to deal with bad behaviour and it has nothing to do with structure and routine. They just assume that threats of consequences and punishment will bring an ADHD child into line very quickly. But wise and experienced parents like you know very well that the best way is to set up structure and routine for playtime, meals, homework and bedtime. Using charts and stars for good behaviour, having visual planners and being consistent can be really effective.

4. They may need medication.

There are two extreme views here. One is that ADHD meds are harmful and addictive and will ruin a child for life. There are some side effects of these stimulants such as weight loss, disturbed sleep and other problems. The other view is that meds will solve all ADHD problems and all the kids have to do is take their pills and they will be fine. The answer, as usual, is to aim for a sensible middle path. Careful diagnosis together with collaboration between parents, teachers and doctors can produce measurable results in calming a child down and increasing their attention span. But this has to be done by using behavior techniques as well. Many experts says that behavior management must always be tried first before resorting to psychostimulant meds.

5. They fidget all the time, but they need to.

The latest news and research shows that fidgeting is really useful to help ADHD kids stay on task. Up to now, many teachers told kids to stop fidgeting. But balancing on a Swiss ball, finger tapping and knee bouncing are all helpful for ADHD kids. This secondary movement helps to keep them alert. Up to now, people were convinced that these movements were nothing more than distractions. Many schools now have Swiss balls instead of chairs and parents can try similar things at home when their kids do homework.

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6. They can make choices.

There is another misconception about people with ADHD. They are thought to be incapable of making a simple choice. But experts now know that offering the ADHD child a structured choice is really effective. Asking the child to choose clothes for school the evening before or asking them which subject they want to start the homework with are all great ways to assist them in making wise choices. It will also help them with self-control.

7. They have unexpected talents.

People with ADHD have a uphill task it is true, because the symptoms of restlessness, hyperactivity and impulsivity can make normal learning difficult. But many ADHD kids are extremely intelligent and funny. They may take longer to do certain tasks but they have a hyper focus when passionate about an activity which is second to none. There are many inspiring examples of people in the past and present who have excelled because of their ADHD. They can often solve problems by thinking along unconventional lines and they see it as a gift, rather than an obstacle.

“I can distill complicated facts and come up with simple solutions. I can look out on an industry with all kinds of problems and say, ‘How can I do this better?’ My ADD brain naturally searches for better ways of doing things.” – David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue.

8. They have social skills.

It is true that many people with ADHD have problems with social skills and as children, have trouble in turn taking when playing and other aspects of developing socially. When autism is present as a comorbid disorder, the problems of social interaction become a problem. The good news is that ADHD sufferers have a sense of humor and their empathic qualities are not affected in any significant way. They are also hypersensitive in the emotional sense and this means they can be more caring and sensitive generally. There is even better news in that most of people’s success depends on their emotional intelligence and not on their paper qualifications.

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9. They are actually good at sports.

People wrongly assume that because a lack of focus is part of ADHD, people with this disorder will never be any good at sport. But there are many sports where people with ADHD have excelled. Michael Phelps had ADHD as a child and has won more gold Olympic medals in swimming than anyone else in history. Generally, kids with ADHD do better at individual sports than team ones. As they have problems in following directions, paying attention and staying focused, this can result in problems in obeying rules and anticipating moves. Individual sports are much more suited to them and they can excel at martial arts, swimming, dance, and gymnastics.

10. They can do well at work.

Many people with ADHD have to face challenges at work, just like they had to do at school. In spite of all that, many people go on to have remarkably successful careers. The secret is to use as many aids as possible to reduce distractibility, boredom and procrastination. Making lists of points to cover complex projects before writing a report helps. Seeking a quiet space, when available, is an excellent idea. Also, using headphones with white noise to block out distracting noise is helpful. Planners, time-line charts and alerts can all help with time management. The best thing of all is that having a high energy level combined with the ability to multi-task can help many people with ADHD thrive at work.

11. They will not grow out of it.

A lot depends on how much treatment and loving care the child has while growing up. Assuming that this is a mere passing childhood phase is foolish. At the most, only about 20% to 33% of adults will outgrow it. How an adult copes successfully with ADHD in later life will mainly depend on whether they had a safe, supportive and loving home environment which provided them with the coping skills they needed. This will stand them in good stead when they reach adulthood. As a wise parent, you are preparing for the long haul.

12. They are not just hyperactive.

Most people associate ADHD with hyperactivity. But as most parents know, there are also other sub types such as the predominantly inattentive subtype. This is frequently undiagnosed because daydreaming at the back of the class rarely gets noticed. Losing things, forgetting tasks and being distracted by sounds or movements are the most common symptoms of this type of ADHD. Many girls discovered that they had this type of ADHD when they reached adulthood because nobody was sharp enough to notice while they were at school.

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13. They are not getting an unfair advantage.

Special accommodations (504s and IEPs) exist for kids with ADHD and this is right. There are a wide range available such as extra breaks, special seating arrangements near the front of the class, buddy tutoring and quieter classrooms. Some schools allow them to have squeeze balls and to chew gum. Remaining focused, staying positive and learning are the key objectives in allowing these special arrangements and they should never be regarded as an unfair advantage. They are merely levelling the playing field a bit. Most parents ensure their ADHD children will be able to avail of these facilities.

14. They do not all have the same symptoms.

Many people just assume that ADHD is an overall term for the usual symptoms, whether they are boys or girls. The fact is that boys tend to get noticed more because they display more physical symptoms such as aggression, hitting and being more impulsive. Girls tend to have less noticeable symptoms such as inattention, day dreaming, low self-esteem and can be more verbal when they talk and tease all the time.

15. They should not be treated the same as other kids.

As most parents know, bringing up an ADHD child is an enormous challenge, especially as they themselves may have the same condition. Ignoring the problem or downgrading it are not going to help. Treating them like other kids is not helpful at all. ADHD kids are special but they can achieve great things if they are given the right opportunities. Parents need to talk openly to their kids about this mental difference so that they know what is ahead.

Above all, they need a loving, supportive, and enriched childhood and yes, it is going to be tough.

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“Living with ADHD is like walking up a down escalator. You can get there eventually but the journey is exhausting.” – Kathleen Ely.

Featured photo credit: Tanisha’s first shoot/ Harsha K R via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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