Strong willed children have always interested me.
My learning over the years has meant that I have a lot of amazing tools to support the more challenging times.
Interesting the tools I share with the mums I work with, be that personal development tools for their own growth and balance or parenting tools to support keeping their child more regulated now become my own lifeline once again. Ha at least I know they work!
My daughters ADHD diagnosis is so much more obvious as she reaches 10 and as we break our routine by spending the summer in our friends tiny guest casita in Ibiza for the summer.
From what I am learning children with ADHD have an underdeveloped brain ( well half of it is, the other part is off the chart over developed) which results in them having lots of melt downs. So I have had to get really good at knowing how to handle them.
Now these melt downs are what we’re previously seen as tantrums.
We associate tantrums with 3 year olds. It’s entirely more intense in an almost 10 year old.
It’s ugly, aggressive and the words are utterly hurtful.
It triggers all your unmet needs, it triggers your own insecurities, it triggers your unresolved childhood stuff.
It tests your own flight or fight, it challenges societal expectations of how a child should speak to an adult.
Now an instinctive REACTION to this will be to shout, will be to scold, to punish, to shame, to dominate, to argue, to debate. Yes even I go there sometimes.
But the goal is to be in ACTION.
To not react but to take a moment to be recognise this is a melt down caused by a brain that struggles to regulate emotions.
That’s all children not just ADHD children!
Just that with my girl its a brain that needs lots of regulation and calm to handle the most basic of things.
So when a child has a seemingly massive over reaction to an almost irrelevant thing happening, we as the adults need to not use adult thinking and perspective. There is a child’s irrational mind, which is often coming to any situation with huge misinterpretations of a situation.
Gosh in our case it is an extra layer Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria means saying no to something can genuinely be interpreted as no because I don’t love you. So the melt down matches that belief.
Then Pathological Demand Avoidance ( I used to think these labels were rubbish but then you learn more and you feel like someone knows your own child better than you and you feel heard for the first time) means any request at all “we leave the house in an hour” means her fight of flight is triggered and a huge counter will of “no I’m not leaving I won’t do that” results in a full melt down.
So now my new layer of learning is that I can’t approach a neuro diverse child in the same way I can a neuro normal child. I have to stop my own thinking. Seeing her as spoilt because they won’t take no for an answer or being selfish because they won’t leave the house.
However this is just not true! These labels sound like more ridiculous tag lines but actually they are powerful teachers.
They help you see that you just can’t argue with a child like this. You can guide and support no matter how hard that feels.
An incredible tool my daughters ADHD coach gave her is a Calm Out Card.
It means that she can explain she is about to flip her lid ( over seemingly very little to the adult who probably has no idea she is on the brink) all she had to say is “calm out card” which is much more informative and helpful than “shut up” which was her previous default.
We can see instantly see is struggling and needs silence to be able to regulate her now completely disregulated central nervous system.
This then only goes wrong if the person she is says calm out card to defaults in REACTION and shout, will be to scold, to punish, to shame, to dominate, to argue, or debate. They start to rationalise, they take it personally and they try to dominate by getting there opinion across.
When to be in ACTION would be to be silent or offer understanding ( ok I hear you need to calm down, I’m here if you need a hug) validation and support the child.
For me my biggest challenge is when she uses Calm Out Card just to shut me up because she doesn’t want to hear what I have to say.
The way to get through all of this all goes back to how I manage myself.
How I maintain my calm, how I am able to remain in my centre something I practice daily.
Needless to say yesterday I failed, snapped called her a not very nice name and was unable to be warm and loving as she raged.
There is always a reason last nights was my broken wrist, which I double fractured.
As I enter week 5 it’s apparent I have sores in the cast, I will spare you to details but it is not pretty I am in pain that added to my existing evening fatigue was a bad combo.
I will however be using all of this to keep coming back to my centre, to remember my visions for my family and myself.
To check in with how I am supporting myself and what more could be done to create a more regulated environment for my daughter.