I get asked sometimes how I cope with my son's ADHD. There isn't a special formula. I didn't sit down and make a plan: "How I'm Going to Survive an ADHD Child." I am still working on coping really. It's a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other sort of thing. I take life each day, each hour, each minute.
It's all in how you look at things. Staying positive is paramount. How I stay positive in the thick of things sometimes, I honestly don't know (and I don't always). But at some point I said to myself,
I can either feel sorry for my son and sorry for myself, or I can work really hard to keep focused on all the wonderful things.
I had to stop fretting about every little difference that is a challenge for him (and for our family) and start making a big deal of all the wonderful aspects of his being. Is that hard to do deep in the trenches of a public meltdown? Absolutely! And that's where actual "coping" comes in.
Coping, by definition, means to contend with difficulties and act to overcome them. We cope with a meltdown. We cope with homework struggles. We cope with seemingly constant calls from school. We cope with sensory issues. We cope with constant activity and chatter. But we don't cope with ADHD. We accept ADHD and then we look past it. We look right past it as if we don't see it and we relish in all the wonderful gifts of our special child.
Coping is all about strategy.
You have to remember to pick your battles and not sweat the small stuff. Humming while doing his math worksheet may be annoying but it isn't a big deal. Walking into the street to cross without first looking however, is a big deal and must be addressed. You learn quickly to always have a hold of your impulsive child before nearing the street. If you try to change every little negative character trait of ADHD, you will go crazy and you will not succeed. Accept the small stuff. Battle to keep them safe.
By all means, gain and maintain a healthy sense of humor. Some things can be aggravating, frustrating, or embarrassing only if you let them. Luke often puts his arms up in the air and opens them out when we approach automatic doors to enter a retail establishment, as though he's using THE FORCE to open the doors. Now, I could certainly get embarrassed by that. People around us often look at him as though he's weird when he does this. But I think it's cute and funny and it's Luke, it's part of who he is. I have accepted it. If he wanted to wear his Obie Robe grandma made him to the store, I wouldn't care. What's the big deal? ... And that's it! When you can say, "What's the big deal?" then you know it's one of those things you can laugh about, accept, and move beyond. Find humor in their quirks.
Most importantly, know your child is going to be happy and successful. Don't hope for it, KNOW it. Nurture their talents, gifts, and passions and you will guide them to a bright future. That's how I cope.
More resources on coping with an ADHD child:
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