Is it me, Or ADHD?
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“No!” I whisper yell. “No, it’s 11:37 at night! You have to go to bed! Mommy is done with this!”
I’m frustrated and sleep deprived. My 1 year old is resting his head peacefully four feet away. Meanwhile, I wrestle my 3 year old to stay in his toddler bed. I don’t know it yet, but this isn’t the usual three-year-old tantrum. These fits of epic proportions made even the crankiest of toddlers look like a saint. Flailing his body in reaction to being told the word “No.” Kicking and screaming for 15, 20, and 25 minutes sometimes.
How long was this going to last? I am just unsure how much more I can take.
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Finally, once he calms and begins to drift to sleep, I sludge my way to bed.
“Is it me?” I’d ask myself, eight years ago.
Is it my parenting?
Is it my age?
Is it my situation and lack of income?
Was it those three months of pregnancy I forgot to buy my prenatal vitamins?
Was it this, or that, or all of it?
I’d cry. And eventually sigh, and lament “it must be me. I’m just not as good of a parent as I thought I would be. That’s why he acts like this.”
But it would be years before I realized it wasn’t me. Not entirely my parenting, anyway.
Parenting an ADHD child is not for the faint of heart.
It takes some long patience and an abundant amount of love to overcome some of the worst moments of your child’s life.
It’s fairly common knowledge now that ADHD is much less a primarily academically affecting disorder, and more a multifaceted dysregulation disorder. Including emotions. Sometimes being mislabeled as BiPolar disorder due to our impulsive and extreme emotional nature. ADHD can come with some fiery red anger and also some extremely cold hearted blues.
So is it you, and your parenting? Or is it ADHD?
Here’s how you can tell:
1. Your child holds it together when they are in more structured environments.
This is not true for all ADHD children. Depending on the severity of their impulsive side of ADHD, some ADHD kids can be extremely rebellious even in a classroom setting. But oftentimes they will use all of their emotional reserves to maintain the status quo in traditional settings. This can cause a struggle when it comes time to get them additional help in school. They lack the behavioral issues to warrant concern, but still struggle to learn. All the while, parents at home are often getting the less than restrained behavior over silly things like, no more ice cream, or ending video games. But if your child seems to hold it together most of the time in school, and other structured activities, then it’s not you. It’s more likely ADHD.
2. Even with incentives, they still don’t want to do the things you ask of them.
Your sister in law potty trained her kids by offering M&M’s after each time they got to the potty on time. Your best friend used the three day method and potty trained her daughter in three days. But here you are, offering chocolate cake and Chuck E Cheese tokens for just three minutes of potty time and still your little one detests! It may be too soon to tell, but I would venture a guess it’s not you and this is one of two things: 1) Your child’s hereditary stubbornness shining through or 2) ADHD beginning to rear it’s head. Safe to say, even with the latter of the two; hereditary stubbornness is frequent in ADHD people. Seeming careless over tasks that would shift responsibility to them is a tell-tale sign of ADHD. Carelessness and laziness are often misjudgments of character of ADHD people and especially children. Even more frustrating is that being this as a symptom, they start to internalize that “Perhaps they truly are just lazy.” But that’s not true. They just struggle to access the part of their brain that allows them to sequence together actions that will create a desired result. So going potty on the potty seems extremely difficult to them because they can’t fathom what that looks like, regardless of the bribe.
3. Transitions are extremely difficult for them
Phrases such as: “Ok, time for bath.” or “Ok, time for bed.” or “Ok, time to stop whatever you are doing and leave the house” elicit major pushback. Everytime these phrases leave your mouth, you are met with crazy antics and Hollywood level meltdowns. After you quietly whisper to yourself “And the Emmy award for this year’s tantrum spotlight goes too….” You also ask yourself what it is in your parenting that you are doing to be witness to these fits? You attempt to be gentle, and kind, but after 15 minutes of attempted reasoning and being patient you lose all of it. But yelling seems to set you back even further. Now they are crying again but for different reasons, and you almost feel bad but don’t know how to break this cycle. I get it, and again I’m here to say. It’s not you.
I’m not a doctor, so take this with a grain of salt. But it’s likely it’s not you. It’s ADHD.
Kids with ADHD are impulsive. They are loud. In the business world there is a name for companies that are hard to understand, and approach things completely different: Market Disruptors.
A market disruptor is a company that comes along and approaches specific business sectors with new and radical ideas. They are misunderstood by other companies in the same sector because they are doing everything from a different approach. But, often, they become very profitable. In their own way, on their own time.
Like ADHD kids they shake things up.
ADHD Kids, specifically toddlers, wake things up (Like their little brothers). They look and act and operate differently than their peers. Their highs are super high, and their lows are super low and at 3-5 years old they can barely stand still let alone listen to commands.
So take it from a mom who’s been in the trenches. Who started momming at 19 years old, and has been a single mom majority of her mothering years. A mom who not only felt like she was getting so much wrong, had many reasons to believe she was getting it all wrong. Unmarried. No college degree. To be real, I didn’t even own a kitchen table at this point in my life.
But apart from all that; it wasn’t me. It wasn’t any one thing honestly, except a lot of ADHD.
So to answer your burning question;
It’s not you. It’s ADHD.
So what do you do now?
Read my post on what to do if you suspect your child has ADHD.
Join my accountability and support group and stop blaming yourself.