by Lisa Grant-Feeley
Ahhh, Spring! The time when the air starts to have a softer, gentler feel to it. The days are longer and brighter and the the renewal of life is a promise waiting for us.
For some, there is an explosion of energy that is funneled into throwing open the windows, packing away the unwanted heaviness of winter, preparing for a lighter, brighter time of year. For others, it is the next season of a child’s explosions of frustration, verbal or possibly physical attacks of big emotions, and feelings of helplessness as the child that is known is transformed into a child in need, and of not knowing how to meet that need.
For children with ADHD, and some without, big feelings can get the best of them and they don’t have the skills to manage those feelings without an explosion of difficult behaviors. Understanding the ADHD brain, as well as the high level of sensitivity and intelligence that are often characteristics of children with ADHD, helps to maintain a connection of compassion and closeness that can be difficult for parents to access during explosive behaviors. It’s important to remember that children do the best they can with the skills they have, and often have feelings of remorse, guilt or shame because of their behavior and inability to control themselves. The added layer of thinking that they are different from other children who do not display these behaviors as well as thinking that they are responsible for the discord in their family and the source of upset for their parents, magnifies their negative self image. Over time, this sequence of events can lead to feelings of low self-worth, and eventually anxiety and/or depression.
Finding a safe place for families to understand the complexity of ADHD and related characteristics and to learn strategies for supporting a child with ADHD, is needed to to begin the work of restoring a home to a place of peace and calm. Bibliotherapy (using books therapeutically) with young clients who have ADHD provides a “side door” into discussing their behaviors without directly pointing the finger at them. This often appeals to the highly sensitive child for whom it it difficult to be vulnerable by admitting that she has big, unmanageable feelings and all the layers that go with them.
Siblings need guidelines and solutions for behaviors they are currently struggling with that can add to the sense of discord in the home. Parents are often pleasantly surprised at the changes their children make when given the opportunity to work together to create sibling rules to address the concerns they have. Typically, when siblings work together to make their own rules, they are invested in change and change often occurs.
Parents often want to learn more about the way their child’s brain works. This helps them understand their child better and develop a way of parenting their child that works. Learning strategies to set boundaries with their children in a loving, respectful way as well as supporting them in processing their feelings of concern for their child. Seeing their child struggle is difficult, seeing them hurt is unbearable, and being able to share those feelings and to create solutions that work for their child is the first step in creating the future they hope for.
Lisa Grant-Feeley, MS, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor who provides support and counseling to children and teens who struggle with ADHD and explosive behaviors as well as those who have symptoms of anxiety and depression. She works with their families in gaining understanding of what their child or teen is experiencing and in learning ways to support them during difficult times. To learn more, contact her at 267-625-2565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.