'Nothing prepared me for this': A clinical psychologist opens up about raising her sons with ADHD

Nothing prepared me for this experience. (Violeta Stoimenova/Getty Images)
Nothing prepared me for this experience. (Violeta Stoimenova/Getty Images)

Mother and  Clinical Psychologist, Lorian Phillips shares the empowering knowledge she discovered as a parent of two sons with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

My personal journey

Twelve years ago I was an extremely stressed parent of two Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) boys - the one being inattentive, dreamy and floaty and the other being hyperactive, defiant and chaotic. Despite all my years of being a therapist myself, nothing prepared me for this experience. 

For anybody who has an ADHD child, they know full well what this is like. ADHD is a continuum condition, so the child may be a whirling dervish, talking constantly, jumping all over the place, and flitting from one interest to another or may be only mildly fidgety and distracted. 

The Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) inattentive child tends to be dreamier and often appears to be lost in his or her own world but both types of ADHD kids are distracted - the ADHD child by whatever is going on around them and the ADD child by their own thoughts and ideas. 

Whatever point of the continuum they are on, their symptoms interfere significantly with their ability to function optimally at school, home or with friends. It is these symptoms that often lead to a diagnosis being made. 

It is also these symptoms that can lead to parents feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and helpless. 

At this point in my journey, I started to read, read and read some more to educate myself as much as possible in order to parent my boys in the best way suitable for their ADHD brains and empower myself and my family in the process.

How to deal with these different symptoms  and behaviours

It’s important that parents recognise that their child’s behaviour is not intentionally aimed at frustrating them but instead is outside of their control. Just this acknowledgement can change a parent’s stance from angry and frustrated, to compassionate and understanding. 

Furthermore, the typical discipline strategies that work for neurotypical children often do not work with ADHD/ADD children. Instead, they may disconnect further or become defiant and rebellious. 

Motivation strategies such as a reward system and anything that engages their brain in a way that interests and motivates them will be a better response.

This knowledge gives us important clues on how to do homework with an ADHD child, how to deal with the often very challenging routines such as getting dressed and ready for school in the morning, settling down for activities in the afternoon and getting to bed without arguments and procrastination.

'Less like a wreck and more like a human being'

After several months of putting into practice the new information I had learnt, I started to see changes in my boys’ behaviour and family interactions began to settle down. I also ended up feeling less like a wreck and more like a human being.

It was then that I decided to develop a course for parents of ADHD/ADD children to help them develop insight and understanding into ADHD and to give them tools and techniques to better equip them to deal with the frustrating, difficult aspects of their child’s condition.

That was seven years ago, and since then I have run many courses as well as spoken at many ADHD parenting forums and schools. The feedback has always been tremendously rewarding.

Furthermore, studies have overwhelmingly shown that parental training in how to understand and manage the ADHD/ADD child is crucial in making the difference to the child’s behaviours and the entire family’s approach towards the condition.

The best part of my own personal testimony – my boys are now 18 and 20 and the difficult, tumultuous years of parenting them are becoming a more distant memory.

ADHD does not go away, but by using parenting techniques aimed at getting the best out of them, it certainly settles down and the kids develop insight into how to manage themselves in the best way possible.

To learn more about  Lorian's course visit: Lorianadhd.com


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