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10 Things Parents of an ADHD Child Wants You To Know

10 Things Parents of an ADHD Child Wants You To Know

Please do not give me your views on ADHD meds when I tell you my child has ADHD. Yes, I know all about medication, the risks and the benefits and I have done my homework on homeopathic treatments too, believe it or not. But simplifying things to such a superficial level whether to medicate or not is not helpful at all. ADHD is far more complex than the side effects of stimulant meds. Here are 10 things every parent who has a child with ADHD wants you to know.

1. They don’t need more labels.

I know it is true that up to 66% of all kids with ADHD are liable to have some other disorder as well. Things like autism, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), sensory disorders and anxiety, just to name a few. Let us forget the labels and look at how we are going to support them at home and at school. There are lots of ways that kids with ADHD can be helped.

2. They need help with some tasks.

People are so quick to dismiss ADHD as just too much talking, jumping off the walls and being badly behaved. These are just outward signs of having difficulty with getting tasks started and finished, following instructions and remaining focused. Technically this is known as an executive function disorder (EFD) but we don’t need another label, do we? Parents and teachers are always on the lookout for ways of helping them overcome these difficulties.

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3. They are not going to become drug addicts because of their meds.

Many people believe the myth that ADHD meds are likely to lead to more substance abuse in adolescence and adulthood. Many studies show that this is just not true at all and there is no evidence to support this myth.

Time to reflect on the actual benefits of the ADHD meds. A child will start to focus better and get better grades at school. This will encourage him/her to do better. As some of the commentators in this video here on the ‘ADHD and Lovin’ It?!” remark, the good news is that ADHD meds are safe and effective. The bad news is that not many people know that.

4. They have low self-esteem.

Kids with ADHD are likely to have low self-esteem unless they are encouraged to develop certain talents they have. All too often, they are stigmatized or discriminated against because of the ADHD label. They may be good at sports, drawing, music or some other activity. It is important to help them realize their potential and exploit their abilities. They need to be reminded of the success stories and that many people with ADHD have been brilliant in many areas such as sports, photography, cooking, athletics, acting and sales.

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5. They need more physical exercise.

Teachers and parents often wonder why kids with ADHD are so restless, impulsive and fidgety. Instead of grumbling about that, they should start looking at ways to overcome these problems. The importance of physical activity in helping kids with ADHD cannot be stressed too much. In fact there are studies that show mental alertness, better sleep and greater attention span are all great spin offs from doing lots of sports and other physical activity. One couple who sent their kids to a Norwegian school were able to reduce their medication when they benefited from more recesses and physical exercise. Now, why don’t more schools in the US and elsewhere follow this example?

6. They have hyperfocus which is second to none.

Everyone has talked about the lack of attention span and the distraction that ADHD kids have to cope with. But they are also capable of hyper focus when they are really into something and this can lead to many benefits. Children with ADHD can often get so involved in something that they can remain highly focused on that and get in the zone for hours. They can also pick up on a detail that many other people would miss. This is when their attention levels are best, according to Dr.Hallowell, an ADHD expert.

“Many scientists, writers, and artists with ADD have had very successful careers, in large part because of their ability to focus on what they’re doing for hours on end.” – Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.

7. They are bright, creative, and funny.

Telling your kids they have an uphill task in front of them all the time is so disheartening for them, especially as our schools and society are so rigid about progress markers and academic achievement. It is great to discuss that openly with them when they meet obstacles and are discouraged. But it is not all bad news. The other side of the coin is that they are funny, creative and often lack inhibition which other kids have. They are quite capable of chatting away and drawing at the same time. They excel at multi-tasking too which can be exploited in many good ways in adulthood. They can use their thinking outside the box for creative problem solving. A four old girl with ADHD was told not to lift the blinds on her window because of the dangerous cord. She solved the problem by cutting a neat square hole in them. “You told me not to pull up the blinds so I cut a hole so that I could look out!”, she later explained.

8. They need to exploit their amazing energy.

Excess energy is often regarded as negative, especially if it is disruptive. The school system does not help because there are few ways that kids can let off steam in a classroom setting. Seating is not negotiable and this is a severe disadvantage for kids with ADHD. Their brains are more active when they are moving. An orderly classroom is not an ideal learning environment for them. In addition, they should be allowed to wriggle and squirm. Studies show that fidgeting or a secondary movement actually help them to concentrate.

9. They will outgrow it, so ADHD in adulthood is not a problem.

This is the most ignorant and inaccurate statement of all. Getting a proper diagnosis and starting treatment early is essential. Many teachers go overboard and try to get difficult students on meds. Others ignore it altogether, saying that they will outgrow it. This is irresponsible as adults with ADHD face enormous challenges in the workplace. Yes, they may be less hyperactive but people are less forgiving in the workplace about attention and deadline issues. Ari Tuckman is a psychologist and has outlined some of the problems in his book, More Attention, Less Deficit: Successful Strategies for Adults with ADHD. Just think that many of the problems of adult ADHD could have been mitigated, had they been given more attention at home and at school.

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10. They do not need any special social skills.

While Ritalin and other stimulants can really help with getting down to homework and keeping on task at school, social skills are another matter. Many people just do not realize that pills will not teach skills, especially social skills. Because they have problems with impulsivity and reading social cues, ADHD kids will find it hard to maintain friendships and stick to turn taking when at play. These problems are often ignored and ADHD kids are socially excluded. This is why it is so imporrtant for parents to really take social skills training seriously. This is going to have a lifelong impact so it should never be brushed under the carpet.

As a parent of a child with ADHD I know that spending quality time with them and enjoying some activities together without worrying about their behavior is the most rewarding of all.

Featured photo credit: Crazy Kids/Olaf Gradin via flickr.com

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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 October 13, 2020

How to Spot a Burnout And Overcome It Fast

How to Spot a Burnout And Overcome It Fast

Burnout at work is an issue that most people who suffer from it, suffer unknowingly.

Have you ever felt that you can’t start an assignment, have an immense urge to Netflix binge, or couldn’t get yourself to wake up on time even though you have a lot on your plate? The cause for these might be burnout.

According to Deloitte’s report, “many companies may not be doing enough to minimize burnout.” This is to say that the responsibility is not only on the employee. According to that report, nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization, and they definitely should.[1]

Too many companies don’t invest enough in creating a positive environment. One out of five (21%) said that their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout. It is the culture, not the fancy well-being programs that would probably do the best work.

This is a significant problem for individuals and companies, and it’s also an issue on a macro level. A Stanford University research found that more than 120,000 deaths per year, and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs, are associated with the way U.S. companies manage their workforces.[2]

It is both the employee and the employer’s responsibility—and the latter can certainly take more responsibility.

In this article, I’ll guide you on how to know if you suffer from burnout and, more importantly, what you can do about it.

Who Are Prone to Burning Out?

For starters, it is a good thing to know that you’re in good company. According to a Gallup poll, 23% (of 7,500 surveyed) expressed burnout more often than not. Additionally, 44% felt it sometimes. Nearly 50% of social entrepreneurs who attended the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2018 reported having struggled with burnout and depression at some point.[3]

According to Statista (2017), 13% of adults reported having problems unwinding in the evenings and weekends. According to a Deloitte survey (consisting of 1,000 full-time U.S. employees), 77% of respondents said that they have experienced employee burnout at their current job.[4]

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Burnout is not only an issue of the spoiled first-world. Rather, it is a serious matter that must be taken care of appropriately. It affects so many people, and its impacts are just too significant to be ignored.

Some occupations are more prone to burnout, such as people who deeply care about their jobs more than others. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Passion-driven and caregiving roles such as doctors and nurses are some of the most susceptible to burnout.”

The consequences can have life or death ramifications as “suicide rates among caregivers are dramatically higher than that of the general public—40% higher for men and 130% higher for women”. It is also the case for teachers, non-profit workers, and leaders of all kinds.[5]

Deloitte’s survey also found that 91% say that they have an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration. Heck, 83% even say that it can negatively impact their relationships. Millennials are slightly more impacted by burnout (84% of Gen Y vs. 77% in other generations).

What Is Burnout Syndrome?

So, what is it, exactly? Burnout was officially included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and is an occupational phenomenon.

According to the World Health Organization, burnout includes three dimensions:[6]

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job;
  3. Reduced professional efficacy.

The 5 Stages of Burnout

At this point, you must have a clue if you’re at risk of burnout. There are different methods for understanding where you are on the burnout syndrome scale, and one of the most common ones is the “five stages method.”

1. Honeymoon Phase

As you may remember If you’ve gotten married, there’s always the honeymoon phase. You’re so happy and feel almost invincible. You love your spouse and at this stage, you’re very excited about everything. It’s the same when it comes to taking on a new job or role or starting a new business.

At first, most of the time, you’re hyper-motivated. Although you might be able to notice signs of potential future burnout, in most cases, you might ignore them. You’re highly productive, super motivated, creative, and accept (and take) responsibility.

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The honeymoon phase is critical because if you plant the seeds of good mental health and coping strategies, you can stay at this phase for extended periods.

2. Onset of Stress

Let’s continue with the wedding metaphor. Now that you’re happily married for some time, you might start noticing certain issues with your spouse that you don’t like. You might have seen them before, but now they take up more space in your life.

You might be less optimistic and feel signs of stress or minor symptoms of physical or emotional fatigue at work. Your productivity reduces, and you think that your motivation is lower.

3. Chronic Stress

Let’s hope you don’t get there in your marriage, but unfortunately, some people get there. At this stage, your stress level is consistently high, and the other symptoms of stage 2 persist.

At this point, you start missing deadlines, your sleep quality is low, and you’re resentful and cynical. Your caffeine consumption might be higher, and you’re increasingly unsatisfied.

4. Burnout

This is the point where you can’t go on unless there is a significant change in your workspace environment. You have a strong desire to move to another place, and clinical intervention is sometimes required.

You feel neglected, your physical symptoms are increasing, and you get to a place where your stomach hurts daily. You might obsess over problems in your life or work and, generally speaking, you should treat yourself.

5. Habitual Burnout

This is the phase in which burnout is embedded in your life. You might experience chest pains or difficulty breathing, outbursts of anger or apathy, and physical symptoms of chronic fatigue.

The Causes of Burnout

So, now that we know how to identify our stage of burnout, we can move on to tackling its leading causes. According to the Gallup survey, the top burnout reasons are:[7]

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  1. Getting unfair treatment at work – This is not always something that you can fully control. At the same time, you should remember that even if you’re not calling the shots, it doesn’t mean that you have to accept unfair treatment. The consequences mentioned above are just not worth it in most cases.
  2. Workload – Another leading cause of stress according to dozens of interviews conducted before writing the article. According to Statista, in 2017, 39% of workers said a heavy workload was their leading cause of stress. We live in a busy work environment, and we will share some tips on how to manage that.
  3. Not knowing your role – While not something you can fully control, you can, and probably should, take action to better define it with your boss.
  4. Inadequate communication and support from your manager – Like the others above, you can’t fully control that, but as we’ll soon share, you can take action to be in better control.
  5. Time pressure – As mentioned, motivated, passionate workers are more in danger of experiencing burnout. One of the reasons is that they’re pressuring themselves to do more, sometimes at the expense of their mental health. We’ll address how to work on that as well.

How to Overcome a Burnout

After going over the stages of burnout and the leading causes of becoming burned out, it might be a good time to let you know that there is a lot you can do to fight it head-on.

However, let’s start with what you should not do. Burnout cannot be fixed by going on a vacation. It should be a long-term solution, implemented daily.

According to Clockify (2019), these are the popular ways to avoid burnout:

  1. Focus on your family life – 60% of adults said that stable family life is key to avoiding burnout. Maintaining meaningful relationships in your life is proven to reduce stress (instead of having many unmeaningful relationships).
  2. Exercising comes in second, with 58% reporting that jogging, running, or doing any exercise significantly relieves stress. Even a relatively short walk might improve your body’s resilience to stress.
  3. Seek professional advice – 55% say they would turn to a professional. There are online websites where you can speak with professionals at reduced costs.

Aside from the three most popular ways of avoiding burnout, you can also try the following:

1. Improve Time Management

Try understanding how you can use your time better and leave more time for relaxation. That’s easy to say (or write) but more challenging to implement. It would help if you started by prioritizing yourself. Understanding the connection between your values and your everyday tasks is a tremendous help. You can use proven methods to improve the relationship between your vision and goals to your daily life tasks’ lists. Check out the Horizons of Focus or V2MOM methods to get started.

2. Use the P.L.E.A.S.E. Method

The P.L.E.A.S.E. is a combination of things you should do to be at your best physically. It means Physical Illness (P.L.) prevention, Eat healthy (E), Avoid mood-altering drugs (A), Sleep well (S), and Exercise (E).

3. Prioritize

You don’t have to say yes to everything that comes across your way at work (or in other aspects of life). You’d be surprised how easy it can become once you start saying no. Some might even describe it as exhilarating.

4. Let Your Brain rest

Culturally, most of us are already wired to think that hard work is essential, and while that’s true in most cases, we sometimes forget that our brain needs to rest for it to recharge. Seven hours of sleep are essential (depending on your age). Meditation might be helpful, too.

5. Pay Attention to Positive Events

According to Therapistaid.com, we tend to focus on the bad things in our lives. However, by focusing on positive things, we can change our mindset. One way to practice this daily is by writing three good things about your life every morning or evening. It’s been scientifically proven that doing so for a few months can help rewire your brain.

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6. Take Some “You” Time

A Netflix binge is not always good for you, but it might be in some cases. The better the leisure time is, the better you’ll feel in the long term. It’s usually better to read a book or start a new hobby that requires more cognitive skills than just lying on the couch. But as long as you feel good watching a movie, that might be a good start.

7. New Technologies Might Be Helpful

There are tons of self-help apps such as Fabulous, Headspace (meditation), Noom (diet and exercise), and others. They’re good to use, but you should also be careful not to run away from your problems only to watch social media for hours. It’s not real, and no one’s life is perfect (even if their Facebook or Instagram feeds might seem so). You should also be aware not to be in an “always-on” mindset.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re at the first or the fifth stage of the burnout phases, the goal of this article is to show you that there are always ways to fight it. The first thing is self-awareness—knowing that there’s a problem. The second step is to decide what to do about it.

You can also consider using Lifehack’s community. You’re more than welcome to share your burnout story on our Facebook page.

Bonus: Rebound from Burnout in 8 Hours

Watch what you can do to rebound from burnout quickly in this episode of The Lifehack Show:

https://youtu.be/MNnyqQWK_zg

Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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