Thank you to everyone for your beautiful comments, on Facebook on the blog and face to face!!! I never realised what a big topic ADHD is. I also never realised how big the dissatisfaction with the school system is. In fact I think my imaginary school is full of applicants already. (Anyone out there with strong admin skills – there is a big NICHE for a very different kind of school that caters for children’s individuality and creativity. I’ll help with ideas and structure. My cousin tells me, that there’s a school in LA that exists exactly like the one I described. The parents co teach. One of the teachers is an actress from Blossom – if anyone has watched it. I haven’t. She teaches science. So there are solutions!)

I would have liked to write this earlier but I’ve been off line. My house has been hit by the scourge of Cell C disconnection. But life continues and my journey into ADHD has as well.

So here are some steps I’ve taken since the ‘meeting’.

I went to a nutritionist to find out if it’s what my Princes are eating which is causing the lack of concentration and impulsivity. She very briefly went through what he was eating and then she said a couple of interesting points about emotional causes for ADHD behaviour.

  1. Moving School – can be a factor in ADHD behavior manifesting. My Prince did move schools in Grade 0 and that was when he did begin acting ‘angry’. I don’t think it’s a major factor anymore, but I found that point interesting so I thought I’d share it.
  2. Relationship with Dad – My nutritionist said that often ADHD behavior manifests because the child is craving recognition from their father. For the first seven years a boy needs his father (I’m sure a girl does as well). The father needs to get inside the child, i.e.. understand the child, rather than keep the child at a distance.

 

So the solution here is QUALITY TIME and AFFIRMATION. So here’s what we’ve been doing.

Affirmation: I’ve been saying things to Prince No. 1 like, ‘Wow you score goals just like Daddy.’ (When he plays soccer.)

‘You’re so strong like Daddy.’ (When he’s doing something which demonstrates strength obviously. It has to be real. Kids can see straight through us when we’re lying. They can smell the condensation a mile away.)

I would have thought it’s not good to compare him to his father. But apparently their dad is their role model and they feel like ‘little men’ when they’re validated in that way. And so I tried it out and Prince No. 1 loves it. I can see his little chest puff out with importance. So there you go I never knew little boys want to be just like their Dads.

Other things I’m saying is ‘I’m so proud of you.’ ‘I’m so proud that you’re my oldest.’ ‘I’m so blessed to have you.’ and Dad says things like, ‘I’m so proud of you and glad that you’re my son.’ ‘Thank God we have you.’

Affirmation, Affirmation, Affirmation!!! I wouldn’t mind being affirmed that way myself to be honest. It definitely gets to the core.

Quality Time: Mary Anne the nutritionist also spoke about how important it is for Prince No. 1 to spend time with his Dad. So we’ve started with bed time ritual. Where my hubby reads to him in bed (although it ends up being in the lounge because the Princes all share a room [not because he doesn’t have his own room but because they all want to be together. The more the merrier and more mischievous I suppose.]) So he lies in the crook of Dad’s arm and they lie together reading Danny The Champion by Roald Dahl. (It’s all about a Dad and a son so they’re both loving it.) Those fifteen, twenty minutes of sacred time means the world to Prince No. 1.

Apparently this special time before bed induces an Alpha state of relaxation. (I’m not quite sure what it means but the point is a hypnotic state is reached, especially with the calm lull of Dad’s voice.) This creates vibrations of safety and calm. Apparently a psychologist in the States even called it the God code. Goes to show how powerful a parent’s voice is to the child.

Now the quality time needs to increase to half day outings, day outings and cool boy weekends away. Camping, fishing etc. Only my hubby isn’t the outdoorsy type… but he’ll figure it out. So that’s next on the list of quality times to schedule in. For now they’re going out for special Nando suppers every once in a while.

NB> Of course this special time shouldn’t be done in front of the other kids so that there’s jealousy and thereby creates other issues. Compliments, quality time do it at the right moments, without too much fuss.

Positive Behaviour – Now a major thing I learnt on my big extroverted search for ADHD behavior solutions (which means I spoke to absolutely everyone I saw about this topic) was from friends of mine who have an Autistic son. They emphasised the importance of taught behaviour. (I’m sure there’s a proper scientific term for it.) Basically it is focusing on the positive behaviour and ignoring negative behaviour.

When you focus on negative behaviour you are reemphasising it. The child is getting attention and even though it’s negative, at least they’re getting attention, which is all they want. So through ignoring negative behaviour you’re not feeding that need, so eventually they see it doesn’t work. If you then focus on the positive behaviours like speaking politely, taking turns, helping out, being kind, then they learn that it is those behaviours that bring them attention.

I remember reading that toddlers 90% of the time are doing the right thing and 10% of the time the wrong. But what do we focus on that 10%. So what do we create???

It’s a life lesson this focusing on the positive. If we did it for our children’s behaviour, for our lives how  much rosier would our days be. How much more fulfilled would we be?

So I’ve been focusing on my Prince’s good points. I’m ignoring when he’s out of line and pouncing on when he speaks nicely, when he’s sweet and kind and goes beyond his fears. (The other day he dug a hole for a dead Guinea fowl we found in the garden, and we buried it. I was so proud of him and told him so. Because at first he wanted nothing to do with the dead bird, but then when he saw me go ahead with it anyway, he joined the party and sweated whilst digging that burial hole. I didn’t make a fuss of his negative attitude that he had at the beginning but boy did I praise him for facing his fear and helping to give a dead bird a decent ending. You should have seen his glowing face.)

Another thing my friends told me is to raise the motivation factor for good behaviour. So we’ve instituted a system that if he does well at school then he gets to play his PSP ( 21st century equivalent of Game Boy) for 15 minutes before bed. The teachers write in his homework book how he’s done so that we know what’s going on and he knows we know what’s going on. So far this is working. It’s been one day though…

Additional ADHD Points: ADHD behavior kids are sensitive and intuitive, bright and creative. They are especially special and this is what we need to draw out. It’s not the parents fault necessarily. (as my cousin pointed out to me so kindly. I have the best cousins in the world who’ve gone through all this already. I’m so lucky. Thank you Sharon and Daniella for your lovely, supportive messages.) So it’s no use beating yourself up.

My conclusion is that the school system doesn’t cater very well for kids who don’t fit in the box, but there are solutions, especially when you have wonderful teachers who are happy to explore those alternatives. (Thank God Prince No. 1 has fantastic teachers who think out of the box.) I’d love an ADHD school it’s really captured my imagination. (Anyone who opens one will make a bomb and be doing the world a great service.)

Meanwhile we’re exploring emotional reasons for the behaviour. We haven’t assessed him yet so there’s no label. But we are going to a Dr who specialises in this kind of thing and can assist us further.

For all you mums and dads out there who have faced difficulties with your children, it’s such a journey. Parenting is not for sissies, and it’s definitely true that the bigger the child the bigger the issues. On the upside there’s support and the more we speak about these issues the more we can come together to create workable solutions. And yes that better future that I so believe in. I hope that what I’m discovering helps anyone else struggling out there!