There’s an old Simon and Garfunkel song with the lyric, “Slow down, you move to fast. You’ve got to make the morning last…” If you’re a parent reading this, you’re probably thinking, “Right. Making the (school) morning last is not on my agenda!” I understand. Mornings that require getting kids up, fed, dressed, and out the door with lunch in hand are not your idea of a zen activity. There’s a time deadline that you’re acutely aware of, but they don’t seem to get that the clock is ticking.
What if I told you there’s a way to work on taming the gnarly morning beast and make it a more relaxed, even pleasurable, experience for you and your kids?
I read an article recently about a doctor named Mark Bertin, a developmental pediatrician who specializes in treating kids with issues like ADHD, autism, and learning disabilities. He developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Classes for parents of kids with, and without, special challenges. He understands, for instance, that when you have a kid with ADHD you are already dealing with more stress than the average parent. Your focus is largely on helping your child; not on helping yourself. The problem is that you don’t have an unlimited supply of patience and energy.
Dr. Bertin trains parents to learn to let go of the small stuff, to step back from the situation at hand (such as a hectic morning scene at the breakfast table) and try to look at it dispassionately. Slowing down really helps. One parent in his group commented, “What’s happening right now is all there is. Why make everybody unhappy? If we’re five minutes late to preschool it doesn’t change anything. What changes things is the frustration, and the stress that builds up and then everything unravels.”
He’s written a book called, Mindful Parenting for ADHD detailing the techniques for approaching stressful parenting situations with a flexible, resilient mind.
Developing a mindful approach to parenting is like learning to ride a bike. It’s rocky at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll have the skill for life.
For a list of other useful books on parenting the ADHD child, please see the Resources tab on our website.