Is It the Flower or the Environment? (ADD/ADHD and Parenting)

If a plant in a pot is wilting (fading away, not blossoming), do you “blame” the plant, or do you change the soil and pour some water? Your child is the plant, and the family environment is the soil and the water! To improve a child’s state, the work starts with the parents.

The quotes below are from Scattered Minds, a NYTimes bestseller book on ADHD by Dr. Gabor Mate: (* you can read 5 chapters for free on his website, under Books – source here):

Do not mistake a child for his symptom”, wrote the psychotherapist Erik Erikson. The attitude adults are best to adopt when it comes to dealing with the distressing behaviours of the ADD child is one of compassionate curiosity. The compassion is for the child who, beneath the surface of what so often is seen only as obnoxious behaviour, is anxious and is hurting emotionally. The curiosity, if genuine and open-minded, leads us to consider exactly what message the child may be trying to communicate to us by a particular behaviour, even more unbeknownst to herself than to us. […]

The demand for attention, like all of the child’s demands, is a compensation for an unconscious emotional hunger. The parent may rightly deny some demand of the child for attention, or any other demand, such as for the candy bar at the supermarket, but there is no reason why the child should be expected to understand that decision, or to like it. The emotionally wounded child is struck by every refusal as by a rejection, even though no such rejection is intended by the parent. If now the parent allows his reaction to the child’s reaction to become cold and punishing, the child’s anxiety will have turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. In many situations it is fit and proper for the parent not to give in to the child’s demands. The main thing is to give one’s refusal without blaming or humiliating the child for the attention-seeking or for the demanding behaviour. If we anticipate the child’s reactions, understand their source, and do not shame the child for them, the child will eventually learn to tolerate refusal. When we endure children’s anger or frustration with compassion, they will often move on to the sadness of not having what they wish for, of having to give up what they think they need just then. At such moments one can move in and witness that sadness with an empathy that will make the child feel understood and supported, despite the refusal. […]

The parent comes home depleted and must now put full energy into meeting the physical and emotional needs of a child who, for a whole day, may have been deprived of parental contact. And, if these were not enough, parents have often taken up other committments–school committees, church bazaars, courses of various sorts, and so on. Such extracurricular activities magnify the parent’s level of preoccupation and stress, decreasing her/his patience with the child. Even during the time one devotes to the child the parent’s mind may be spinning with the events of the day and the chores yet to be done. Research shows that many parents spend virtually no more than five minutes, if that, of meaningful contact with their child. If that snippet of time is to grow, parents need to create some space around themselves, and in order to do so they may have to reconsider their lifestyle. […]

There is a lot to be made up however, for their child has already incurred a deficit of attention. Too, a poorly self-regulated child can hardly learn to be calm in a hyperactive atmosphere. Narrowing one’s range of activities is wrenching for many of us, but in terms of our children’s development the rewards far outweigh the cost. It may be a non-negotiable condition for the healing of the child with attention deficit disorder.”

If your child is struggling with attention- deficit, or behavioral issues, please consider the following questions:

  • Is this really a medical issue or a relational issue?
  • Am I creating and providing the optimal environment, such as: meaningful connecting time, empathetic listening, curiosity and play?
  • Does my child have to compete with my work or smart phone for attention?
  • Do I know my triggers? Do I know how to work with them?
  • Will my child really benefit from an ADHD medical label/ diagnosis? What are the benefits for me, for him/ her, for the family?
  • Am I maintaining a base feeling of safety and connection in my relationship with my child?
My Conscious Parent Accelerator Program can help you with tools, knowledge and practices.
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From working with Mihaela, I get understanding, hope, and compassion for my kid. I understood that in order to be a better mother I need to heal, constantly and with commitment work on myself, have compassion for myself… I also get the tools to build a stronger relationship and thus create a positive attachment with my 13 year old daughter. Last but not least, I get the opportunity to constantly grow and go through situations in the weekly coaching calls that are a priceless resource. In these 2 years alone, I would have paid at least 9,000 $ for the 60 coaching sessions I had so far. Thank you Mihaela, from the bottom of my heart in the name of our family.

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