No one ever said parenting was easy. It helps to have a fair amount of patience with kids. But patience is not my strong suit.
Luckily for me, our first born, Jase, was a good baby and toddler. He was eager to help out, thrived on praise and generally a good boy. He lulled us into believing this is what our next child would be like.
Now while Jase is our rule follower, I like to call Lexie our rule tester. If you give her a rule, she will see how far she can go.
Originally, I attributed it to just her personality. While Jase was quiet and reserved, she was loud and crazy. Then in April of last year, Lexie was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. People with ADHD can have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors or be overly active. Their brains simply work in a different way.
To manage Lexie’s ADHD, we put her on some medication. It still amazes me to see the difference in her behavior on and off the medicine. And while that calms her down and allows her to focus while at school, the medication has worn off by the time she comes home.
Lexie’s diagnosis of ADHD makes perfect sense now. It also explains a lot of her behaviors that try my patience. Often I would have to remind her dozens of times to finish a task such as cleaning her room or continually prompt her to stay focused on the book she was reading aloud. Now I understand that she wasn’t doing these things to annoy me. She simply can’t control herself.
Now I don’t want to excuse every behavior she has by blaming it on ADHD, but as I read up on it, I realize that many of the things that other parents, grandparents and well-meaning friends may think can be conquered with the proper parenting or discipline, just can’t. Her brain simply works in a different way than Jase’s or mine.
I am not saying that she can’t learn what is acceptable. Of course, she can. But her internal regulation is more prone to impulsive behavior. Her mind goes a hundred different ways at one time. This made sitting in school nearly impossible. But with medication she can focus on her learning.
Lately, I have been losing my patience with her. Maybe it is because she was on winter break and home for two weeks. But suddenly, I feel like I am always annoyed with her, and I am sure it shows.
I need to learn to breathe deeply when she interrupts. I should be gently reminding her not to do that rather than being exasperated that she has done it again and snapping at her or using that tone which clearly shows my annoyance with her.
I need to learn to let go of my frustrations with her. I need to base my expectation on her attention deficit-influenced behavior. I should expect that I will need to remind her often to do something. And that likely she will stray from her task if not reminded.
Just the other day, my husband asked her to pick up her toys in the hall. She made two trips to her room with toys before she got distracted by some other toy in her room. Time for a deep breath and a reminder to finish the job. But often we end up raising our voice and wondering why she didn’t do as we asked.
One tip I have seen often – whether your kid has ADHD or not – is to pick your battles carefully. Children with ADHD often have messy rooms. While I am not going to allow her room to become overrun with toys and laundry, I am not going to waste my time trying to get her to have everything in its place. I have decided it is enough that you can walk to her bed without stepping on a Lego or some other small item. I would rather concentrate on her academics rather than stress over her leaving her shoes in the middle of the floor (again).
I am hoping that realizing Lexie IS different and cannot control these behaviors will allow me to regain some of my patience with her. Re-framing my thinking to what she can and cannot do should lessen my frustration. So from now on, I will take time to breathe, relax and collect my thoughts before responding to Lexie’s behavior.