Shifting from conflict to calm is quite difficult after approximately fifteen weeks of togetherness.
I have ADHD, my child has ADHD, and summer camp is currently closed. Temperatures are rising faster than a helium balloon around here.
While carrying another load of laundry to the basement the other day I shouted, “why are you doing this to me?!” A bit dramatic, but still.
As soon as I said it I regretted it. That one question gave it away – I was out of control and the situation had gotten out of control.
The three of us have been cooped up together since mid-March and it isn’t pretty.
These boys have gotten used to me making their lunches and doing their laundry.
I was so focused on my goal of homeschooling and keeping us healthy I gave up on self-care and rest. And sometimes hygiene.
Shifting from conflict to calm
When children are younger we face one set of issues. As they age the challenges shift but many of the main, “themes” remain the same.
Things like listening and really hearing them when they speak.
Or thinking that our children are deliberately challenging us, when they actually just don’t have the skills yet to perform.
Sometimes memories from when your kids were younger pop back up in your mind at the perfect time.
Here is one:
E opened the door and walked into the garage while I was rushing around looking for my coat. By the time I got to the garage he was wearing his bike helmet.
He was so sweet and hopeful, “Mom are you going to follow me in your car?”
I tried to explain that it was raining and school was about 2 miles away. “Bud that is a really long ride in the rain.”
What he said next will stick with me. He said, “Mommy its ok, I can peddle so fast the rain can’t get me.”
He had all the faith in the world that he could ride his bike so fast the rain couldn’t catch him. What kind of a dream-crushing monster am I?
And why don’t I have that kind of faith? (In myself or him)
For the rest of the day I couldn’t get this exchange out of my mind.
I needed to stop thinking my son was deliberately challenging me.
I decided to actually listen to what he says in order to understand where his head is.
In order to exert any kind of influence on my child, I have to have control over myself first.
I also decided to re-read one of my favorite parenting books, Parenting with Love and Logic. I have found this book to be extremely helpful when it comes to parenting with ADHD. (affiliate link. Please see my full disclosure)
Remaining in control of yourself when you have ADHD is not easy.
Between the racing thoughts and impulsivity we can go from 0 to 100 very quickly.
Strategies to shift from conflict to calm during less picturesque parenting moments:
1) Stop and Breath
When your child is arguing, pestering or otherwise making you feel like you may start pulling out your eyelashes, try to breath.
On its surface this sounds completely trite. But when you get that tight feeling in your belly and your breath rate starts to increase, it is time to slow it down.
Count backward in your head, or close your eyes for a few seconds. I just did this earlier today and my son was like, “Mom don’t go to sleep!” He literally stopped arguing to make sure I wasn’t sleeping.
2) Use Humor
When my son growls at me or stomps or yells or –fill in the blank–. I try to make it into something funny. The trick is not to humiliate him, but to make him laugh. Usually I ask him, “how is that working out for you?”
There is something about smiling, and using the muscles in your face that can change your mood. And humor almost always works on a kid having a tantrum.
3) Separate Yourself From the Situation
When I am about to lose it in any situation I like to separate myself.
At home this means going to my bedroom. I have been known to calmly tell my son that he cannot be with me if he is going to yell at me. I then go to my bedroom and shut the door.
Obviously, a very small child cannot be left unattended. With a small child you might place them in their crib, where you know they are safe, and then go to a different room.
But with a child who is basically independent this action makes a point.
My son inevitably comes and tells me he is sorry. He appreciates the separation, too.
4) Have Faith
I don’t mean in the religious sense. Have faith in yourself and your child. When my son wanted to ride his bike to school he was asking in earnest. He was not trying to distract me or make me angry.
Your child will grow up and they will lose that sweet sense of confidence. In time our children will learn that the world is not always forgiving, the weather does not always cooperate, and sometimes you can lose your faith in yourself.
Your children need to know that you always had faith in both of you.
5) Is This a Big Problem or a Small One?
When your palms get sweaty ask yourself, “Is this a big problem or a small one?” I find with my ADHD and anxiety I often overreact to a perceived problem.
I’ve recently been asking myself this question when I start to freak out. It has given me some perspective on my reactions to things at home and at work.
When I decide in my head that something is a small problem I swear I can feel my blood pressure go back down to baseline.
I am still not dodging all of the raindrops but I figure my kid can teach me!
Shifting from conflict to calm in the middle of a pandemic is difficult.
Heck, it’s difficult in a house full of ADHDers all the time. But the more we remind ourselves and use the tools at our disposal the more confident we will feel.
Any thoughts on calming yourself down when things get heated at home?
In the Enclave I bring together brilliant women and mothers with ADHD to manage our emotions, tell our stories, and create change so we can lead calmer, more satisfying lives.