Hello everybody, welcome to episode 231 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is from a listener who thinks she and her daughter might have attention deficit disorder (ADD).
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Happy Monday, friends. Thanks for coming back and joining me after what I hope was a swell weekend for you. Today we’re going to check out a question from a woman who is having little trouble parenting her daughter who she fears has ADD. Our asker, however, also feels that she herself may have ADD, which gets in the way of her ability to parent. Or so she thinks. Let’s talk a bit today about parenting a child with ADD whether or not you have it as a parent. Here’s her question…
QUESTION: “I'm struggling with parenting my 13 year old who I think has ADD. Her Dad says it's just her personality, but I struggle with her forgetfulness and disorganization. She's smart and kind, but with me also struggling with ADD (undiagnosed) it makes it difficult to give her leniency when I feel like I'm already trying so hard to be organized myself.”
Getting an ADD Diagnosis
Good question, asker. Thanks for sending this one in and giving us the opportunity to talk about something we’ve not discussed before – that being ADD.
I mean first of all, the obvious move is to get her checked for ADD. And while you’re at it, you might as well get yourself checked, too.
Physical and mental health professionals can diagnose ADD, so you should be able to get some answers from your primary care physician and her pediatrician. Or you can also go to a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker if you’d like; they would obviously be able to help you deal with the struggle and feelings you have towards the ADD should either of you have it.
But either of these types of specialists, most importantly, can teach you healthy practices to cooperate with one another if that’s the case. The more you know you what’s going on, the more specific your plan of action can be, and being that ADD falls into 7 different categories, that plan of action can get pretty specific.
Accommodating Your Parenting Style
That being said, you can still accommodate your parenting style now. Even if you’re not an expert on ADD, which I’m not, what you can do as an attentive parent is consider your daughter’s unique personality and what unique parenting style best suits it.
It’d be wise to do this until she gets a diagnosis, or even if she’s not diagnosed, it seems to me like it’d be something worth maintaining. I would recommend putting time aside with her Dad to really talk through who your daughter is and come up with a plan accordingly.
First, think about what she does differently than other children. What does she react to differently, and what are those reactions like? This is where you’d mull over the things you mentioned like forgetfulness and lack of organization, and it will be a good time to consider her Dad’s note about what’s just her personality versus what’s cause for concern.
Patience and composure are going to be key here, so it’s probably safe to not overthink differences she has that aren’t actually harmful to her or others. These are the things that make her unique, not worth worrying about. However, if she has odd tendencies that are destructive, those are likely signs of something diagnosable like ADD.
Providing A Sense of Organization
Next, you two want to make decisions as to what she does that’s acceptable and what she does that’s unacceptable. One way of providing organization for her is to be very clear with her about this so that she can have a sense of emotional organization. So make sure she knows what the rules are and what the consequences of breaking them will be.
I think you want to ease into this, though, as it’ll be new to her. Keep it consistent and stick to it, but at the beginning, be patient with her if she makes some mistakes. Given her forgetfulness, it might also be a good idea to give her a written copy of the rules or hang them up wherever she’s most apt to seeing them.
And providing that sense of structure is going to be another crucial thing for you guys to talk about. Whatever conclusions you come to about what she needs and how she learns, present them all to her in a structured way.
Give her an easy-to-read calendar that lets her know what to do, when, and where. If she needs any supplies for her tasks, keep them out in the open so she doesn’t have to work to find them. This will be a very self-sustaining approach for both her and you, her parents, as it eliminates a lot of thinking and therefore risk of things being forgotten about.
Going Through This Together
Now you may have started to sweat a bit during that last part. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget that you struggle with this stuff, too. Here’s the thing: you and her Dad seem to have different skill sets, and they can both be advantageous.
Let her Dad be in charge of the things you struggle with, which I’m guessing would include the creation of structure, some appropriate discipline when necessary, and modeling the organized behavior that’s ideal for her to get better at.
You, on the other hand, can provide a very special role in your daughter’s development. While you may be able to deliver on some of the stuff I just mentioned, the special bond you really have with your daughter is the fact that you’re going through this together. So be her ally. Be her comrade, so she doesn’t feel isolated or abnormal in all of this. To tell her that you struggle with these same things is a way of bonding with her, it’s not you exhibiting weakness or giving her an excuse to not try improving upon herself.
It’s much more empowering to her (but really both of you) if you embark on this journey with her.
Attention Deficit Disorder and Parenting: Conclusion
If I were you, I’d show her relatability and camaraderie by creating a calendar for yourself that’s right next to hers. You two can have fun challenges to see who can accomplish the most of their tasks, you can offer prizes, you can do things together. This will strengthen your relationships with yourselves and your relationship with each other, and there’s not much more you can ask of a mother-daughter relationship.
So if you want her to be brave and generate a better life for herself, do the same thing, hold yourself accountable to the same self-patience and self-improvement, and start on a new path together.
Thanks again to the asker for submitting this question. It’s no doubt a tough thing to put one’s own parenting into question, but she’s done it because she wants to be the best mother she can be and her daughter is very lucky to have her for that reason.
But whether you’re in a similar spot or not, it’s important to take from this episode that we all grow in different ways. We mustn’t always turn to blanket solutions simply because others are. If you find yourself struggling, take some time to consider what components of your individuality might not be being supported through your daily actions. You’ll likely be surprised at how many parts of yourself aren’t being given a chance to breath.
So with that, it’s time to get out of here everyone. I appreciate your listenership as always, and I hope you liked today’s episode as much as I did. Have a great start to your week and be sure to come back on Wednesday when we’ll look to help another listener out. I’ll talk to you all then.