ADHD Overwhelm and How to Tackle It

Strategies for Overcoming Overwhelm

by Dr. MaryJo Wagner

When I was a little girl, my Mother had never heard of ADHD but she certainly recognized it when she saw it.

And she acted immediately with one or both of her tried and true remedies:

1. Kept me home from school for a day.

2. Insisted that I drop one of my activities. Usually I got to choose which one. If I wavered, whined or pouted, she simply made a decision and chose the activity she thought the most appropriate to drop.

And in order to keep herself from overwhelm, I was rarely allowed to get involved in an activity that required chauffeuring unless it was at night. If I couldn't walk or take the bus, I didn't do it.

Now she wasn't overly strict." She sometimes picked me up after my piano lesson. Sometimes drove me to school. And if she knew I was really tired, getting over a cold or my ankle hurt, she'd take me or pick me up. But it wasn't on automatic pilot.

And I was proud of myself for being independent, being able to take care of myself and knowing how to get around on my own.

Kids are much busier than when I was a kid. And I know from talking to parents with ADHD kids that being overwhelmed (which can easily turn into hysterics) is all too often a way of life. So it's time to get off the gerbil wheel and calm down.

Now it's possible that you don't live somewhere that it's easy for kids to take a bus. Maybe your neighborhood or the buses aren't safe. But you can still seriously think about the logistics and timing of the activities your kids want to be involved in.

Follow these suggestions and you'll be on your way to keeping ADHD overwhelm at bay--theirs and yours: (You don't have to have ADHD kids to follow these suggestions.)

1. At the first sign of overwhelm, it's your job as a parent to intervene. Choices include naps, quiet time in their room (not as a punishment), turning off the TV, staying home from school, skipping some of this week's activities.

2. Set a limit, at the beginning of the school year, to the number of outside activities your child can be involved in. Much easier to set limits before your child is involved in something than to remove them from something later.

3. Remember that you are the parent. Your child's mental and physical health are in your hands. You get to say "No." Your children depend on you to take care of them--even when they pout and whine and stomp their feet and get mad.

And you're teaching them how to take care of overwhelm when they're adults. Organic ADHD doesn't go away and overwhelm as a symptom--if not a lifestyle--is apt to remain.

4. Look carefully at the amount of sleep your child is getting, the quality of the food they're eating, and how often they can't finish their homework because they're too busy, too tired, or just plain too overwhelmed. (Too little sleep and too much junk food contributes a lot to overwhelm.)

5. Make sure that you aren't overwhelmed with everything your children have on their plates. If you're overwhelmed, your mood, tone of voice and sheer exhaustion will impact your kids.

Again, you're the Mom and it's your duty to say "No." It's also your duty to take care of yourself--if you don't, you can't take care of your kids!

Keep your kids and yourself sane. Watch for overwhelm and learn to nip it in the bud--whether you kids have ADHD or they don't have ADHD.

Website designed by Regina Smola