Help Your Child Get In The Right Mindset For Sleep

I had the pleasure of speaking at the CHADD San Fernando Valley Parent Support Group on Wednesday, February 28, held at Bridges Academy. This group is warm, lovely, inclusive, and a wonderful resource for parents of children who are challenged with ADD/ADHD. For more information about CHADD, visit chadd.org

Below are the strategies and tips I shared for helping children, both with ADHD and neurotypical, to develop a calm mindset during a very challenging time of the day: the bedtime routine.

Bedtime Routines: Many children are completely wound up at the end of the day. Research shows that kids with ADHD are four times as likely to have trouble with falling asleep and staying in bed all night. One reason for this behavior is that the region of the brain that regulates attention also regulates sleep. But a reliable and consistent routine will help your child get in the right mindset for sleep.

#1) Make sure that your child has some form of physical activity every day. Being active places healthy physical stress on the body which in turn increases the body’s need for sleep.

#2) Plan for bedtime and start your routine early enough so your child can get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation offers guidelines for how much sleep the average child should get, based on their age. For example, 6-13 year olds need 9 to 11 hours of sleep and 14-17 year olds need 8-10 hours of sleep. But every child is unique. Some kids with ADHD may just need less sleep. So if that is the case, starting the bedtime routine too early may just create more anxiety from lying in bed and waiting to fall asleep. A good strategy is to have the same bedtime every night – even on weekends – into order for your child to gain the benefit of the routine.

#3) Make decisions for the next day.  Have your child choose their clothes for the next day, pack up their backpack, gather all necessary items needed for after school activities. Place everything that is needed for the next morning right in front of the front door and ready to be grabbed on the way out of the house.

#4) Have your child take an evening bath or shower. It can be very relaxing and calming.

#5) Some kids may like a bedtime snack. A protein-rich snack can be an efficient get-to-sleep aid. Try scrambled eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, a cup of soup or anything comforting for your child.

#6)  Read and snuggle!

#7) Teach your child relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, listening to soothing music, or aromatherapy.

#8) Create a sweet and personal good-night routine. This not only assures your child that he or she is loved and an important person  in the family, it will signal his or her brain that it is time to go to sleep. For example, a hug and “I love you to the moon and back, sleep tight!” – and then you leave the room.

#9)  Some of you may be saying, “this all sounds well and good but my child refuses to stay in bed!” I understand! Many kids with ADHD or anxiety find that their anxiety ramps up at bedtime. Some kids will go to sleep but then they are up an hour later, or they simply refuse to go to sleep. You may want to try a behavioral approach. Make a rule: child stays in bed from 9pm – 6am. If your child gets up, calmly and with no chit-chat, remind her that it is time to go to sleep and walk her back to bed. You can use a reward system such as stickers or points for staying in bed.

I hope you found these strategies helpful. If you would like to talk more about creating a bedtime routine for your child, or any other challenging parenting issue you are facing, please give me a call or send me an email at jerirochman.jd.ms@gmail.com. I look forward to speaking with you!

Best,                                                                                                                                                                                       Jeri

Tips For Helping Your Child Develop A Homework Routine

I had the pleasure of speaking at the CHADD San Fernando Valley Parent Support Group on Wednesday, February 28, held at Bridges Academy. This group is warm, lovely, inclusive, and a wonderful resource for parents of children who are challenged with ADD/ADHD. For more information about CHADD, visit chadd.org

Below are the strategies and tips I shared for helping children and teens go from a hot moment to a cool calm during a very challenging time of the day: afternoon homework.

Creating a Homework Routine: For kids and teens with ADD/ADHD, their feelings about doing homework can be compared to how you might feel if you are running a 5K with a huge blister on the back of your heel. It is possible to complete the 5K,  but it will be very painful. Because homework can feel so challenging, it is understandable that your child will look for any way possible to avoid this painful task.

If you can face this daily event with the knowledge that regardless of the amount or type of homework, your child will likely face it with anxiety and frustration. Remind yourself that your child does want to succeed; if they could do it, they would do it. Developing a workable homework routine is important because it will help your child learn to work through frustration, develop tolerance, and self-discipline. 

#1) Set aside a specified time for homework . This can be whatever time works for you and your family life. But also set a time for when homework is over. Talk with your child’s teacher and get a time estimate for how long the homework should take your child. If the teacher says that your child should complete his homework in one hour, then one hour is the limit. Whatever doesn’t get done goes back to school with a note from you, or your child depending on the age. The note states, “My child worked on homework for one hour and was not able to complete this last math worksheet” or “My child tried his best but was unable to complete this assignment independently.” This is important as it communicates to your child’s teacher what your child is able to complete and also advocates for your child. It also models for your child that you value family time, you value the need for every person to have some down time, and that your child’s health and welfare is more important.

#2) After school, set aside time for a snack and some physical exercise, playtime, or after school fun activity.

#3) Determine if your child finds doing homework in their room to be effective, or if they prefer doing it at the kitchen table with you nearby. Parents can be available to help, offer encouragement, and answer questions. But homework is to be done independently. If you find that you are actually teaching your child concepts or information, you need to communicate that to your child’s teacher. Help your child learn to prioritize tasks by asking them what aspect of homework is the most challenging for them. Then have them do that task first and then do the more enjoyable tasks last. If your child has a long term project, you can help them to mark the due date on a calendar and then help your child breakdown the tasks needed to complete the project on time. 

#4) When homework is done, it is done! Your child is free to play or relax until bedtime.

#5) Begin with a reasonable – and doable – amount of time for homework for YOUR child. If your child is unable to work for 20 minutes, then start with 10 minutes. Try 15 minutes in two weeks. Acknowledge every bit of effort, no matter how small.

#6) Give your child time. A homework routine takes time to establish. Acknowledge to your child that you see how difficult homework is for her so explain that you are going to put in place some structure to provide support.

#7) Try behavioral momentum. If your child really resists homework, make sure it doesn’t follow a fun activity like a computer game. Try to transition from a fun activity like soccer practice to something less enjoyable, but less difficult, than homework. For example, when you arrive home from a fun after school activity, ask your child to refresh your dog’s water dish or to go get the mail. This is called “Behavioral momentum” and it means getting your child to do an easy task before asking her to do a challenging task. Resistance is less likely if momentum of compliance is built in first.

If you would like to talk more about assisting your child with creating a homework routine, or any other challenging issue you are facing, please call me at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at jerirochman.jd.ms@gmail.com. I am here to help!

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                          Jeri

 

A Positive Morning Routine Is The Start Of A Positive Day

I had the pleasure of speaking at the CHADD San Fernando Valley Parent Support Group on Wednesday, February 28, held at Bridges Academy. This group is warm, lovely, inclusive, and a wonderful resource for parents of children who are challenged with ADD/ADHD. For more information about CHADD, visit chadd.org

Below are the strategies and tips I shared for helping children and teens go from a hot moment to a cool calm during a very challenging time of the day: the morning routine.

Morning Routines: An effective morning routine can help make mornings manageable. If your morning feels positive, it is likely the rest of the day will feel positive too!

#1) Figure out what time you need to leave your home in order to get your kids to school on time. And then add on an additional 15-20 minutes for unexpected situations. Your stress level will go down if you give yourself, and your child, some built in leeway just in case.

#2) Prep the night before as much as possible. Mornings often feel rushed and shortened because you need to be out the door by a certain time. So no matter how tired you are at night, you will probably will feel less frazzled than you do in the morning.  After you put your child to bed, try to quickly and efficiently take care of mornings tasks such as preparing lunches, packing backpacks, and picking out clothes.  You might find that prepping at night makes mornings a bit easier.

#3) Build in time for your child to wake up. Many people find mornings a struggle because they just can’t wake up and get moving. For children and teens with ADD/ADHD, this can present an even bigger challenge because ADD/ADHD often comes along with trouble getting to sleep which in turn makes it harder to wake up. To help your child in the morning, build in additional time to wake up. One option is to wake your child up 20-30 minutes before they actually need to wake up and get moving. That gives them time to slowly wake up. Some kids with ADHD are extremely sensitive to touch and sound so you will want to pat them very lightly and speaking softly. You can also let a bit of light into their room as well.

#4) Cut out distractions. Nothing throws a morning into chaos like distractions. But what is a distraction for some kids is not a distraction for others. For instance, some kids like to watch TV while they eat breakfast. Does that help them stay calm and eat? Does it give you time to get dressed? Then keep it in the routine. But does it stop you from getting out of the house on time due to your child’s inability to stop watching TV? Then take it out of the routine.

To make a morning go smoothly, think of your child’s routine as a “to do” list. For example, #1 – wake up. #2 – shower. #3 – get dressed. #4 – eat. #5 – get backpack, shoes, jacket. #6 – get out the door.

Distractions take away from completing what needs to get done. Any unproductive distractions can be saved for after school. So you aren’t saying, “no” – you are just saying “yes” for later!

#5) The Breakfast Conundrum. Breakfast is, of course, a nutritional priority. However, breakfast also comes with a lot of challenges. First, will your child eat breakfast? And if so, do you have time to make it? Some options are to prepare breakfast before your child gets up, or while they are in the shower or getting dressed (which assumes you are already showered and dressed.) If being around other people is difficult for your child in the morning, let them have breakfast in bed while they are waking up. Another option is breakfast in the car: a cup of fruit and a bagel, a waffle, a smoothie, granola/yogurt parfait. Something to keep in mind is that many ADHD kids who take medication are not hungry once their medication kicks in. So it is very important to get food into them before they get to school.

#6) Shoes!! The putting on of shoes can be a major bottleneck in a morning routine. Shoes seem to give kids a lot of challenges. One option is to have kids put their shoes on in the car or they can put them on once they get to school. 

#7)  Figure out a plan for getting multiple family members ready for the day. Look at every family member’s routine and then determine a game plan. For example, one child showers while the other eats breakfast. This can also prevent morning arguments between cranky people by decreasing interaction.

#8)  Stay Calm (Serenity Now!) Kids look to parents for their emotional stability. They take their cues from their parents for how to react. If you find yourself about to lose your cool, take a few seconds to step away and regain your composure. Try to speak calmly. Remind yourself that the morning routine is a finite time and it will be over around 8am. Another option is to plan a family meeting and discuss how you would like the mornings to be more peaceful. Have all family members contribute ideas and work out a new plan that works for your family.

#9)  Try to keep your weekend routine the same as the weekday routine. This can be a difficult strategy to accept because you are probably craving the chance to sleep in on a weekend morning. But for a routine to become, well routine, you need to stick to the schedule every day. Sticking to the routine makes Monday mornings easier for everyone.

#10) Reward good behavior – stickers or points for completing tasks. Rewards can be video game time or time alone with mom and dad.

If you would like to talk more about creating a more positive morning routine, or about the challenges you are facing as a parent, please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at jerirochman.jd.ms@gmail.com. I am here to help!

Best,                                                                                                                                                                                      Jeri

 

 

 

 

 

Allowing Your Children To Learn How To Problem Solve

Are you always worried about your kids? Constantly on the lookout for any potential danger that might harm your child? Ready whenever necessary to jump in to ensure that your kids are spared any discomfort? If so, I understand how exhausting this can be!

When my son was young, he forgot to bring his math book home so I drove him back to school and actually begged the guard to let him go to his locker to get the book. When my daughter told me she was involved in a conflict with a peer, I called the other child’s mother to help resolve the issue. I knew my hypervigilant behavior wasn’t helping my kids but I didn’t know how to change.

Stopping this behavior came in the form of Wendy Mogel’s book, “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.” This book resonated deeply with me. Realizing that I was not only completely enabling my children’s inability to problem solve for themselves, I was sending the message loud and clear to my kids that they were incompetent. This new-found clarity was liberating but difficult: making a deliberate choice to not be a hypervigilant parent took every amount of willpower I possessed. But I soon saw the results – when my son realized I wouldn’t be bringing his forgotten PE clothes to school, he began to remember them on his own. My daughter began choosing to spend time with friends who were kind and loyal. Yes, it was very hard to not jump in and rescue my kids and there were more than a few evenings filled with anger and tears. But now, that my kids are competent and capable young people, I am filled with pride for all of us.

A quick check-list to determine if you are hypervigilant: Are you constantly tense and on guard? In a state of panic? Are you consumed by your child’s difficulties, to the point that you can not focus on your own work? Do you jump in to prevent your child from being upset by the irritants of daily life? Do you do your child’s homework? Are you over-involved in your child’s social life? Are you consumed with your child’s performance on her sport teams?

When you are hypervigilant about protecting your child, you send the strong message, “You are not capable of caring for yourself or managing your life so I will.”

So how to change? The first step is being mindful of your behavior and recognizing how it affects your life, your child and your family. Talk to your child – have a conversation about what is going on and what you will be changing. Accept that your child will not be thrilled with this life change at first and heap the praise when they problem solve for themselves. And be kind to yourself if you backslide – it isn’t easy!

If you would like to talk about how to allow your children to learn self-reliance and independence, let’s talk about it! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an e-mail at jerirochman.jd.ms@gmail.com.

Best,                                                                                                                                                                                       Jeri

Valentine’s Day in Middle School: Drama!

                               “If you were a Transformer, you’d be Optimus FINE.”

Valentine’s Day in middle school is pretty much exactly as you imagine it: awkward, drama-packed and hormone-fueled. Navigating the holiday can be tricky for middle schoolers, especially for those in their first year out of elementary school. Because middle schoolers have five or more different classes, it just isn’t feasible to give a Valentine to every student in your child’s grade. Most schools solve this dilemma with candy grams that can be purchased or a Valentine’s Day dance. This means that the main topic of conversation at the lunch tables in the days leading up to February 14 is who-likes-who and who-is-going-to-the-dance-with-whom.

Eleven to fourteen year old kids can feel incredibly stressed and anxious around Valentine’s Day. Due to the wide range of maturity levels in middle school, some students are thrilled at the idea of having a boyfriend or girlfriend, while others are overwhelmed at the thought of a romantic relationship. There are also the inevitable hurt feelings when feelings are unrequited or an invitation to a dance is turned down. You can assist your child with the navigation of these socially choppy waters by sharing your own middle school experiences so that your child can begin know that they are not alone in their experience.If your child really wants to give Valentines to close friends, one suggestion is to mail them so as to avoid any hurt feelings at school.

Pro-Tip: If your child is in a school club or afterschool sport or activity, suggest that they bring a treat for everyone in the group as a way to bring back the sweetness of the elementary school all-inclusive style Valentine’s Day.  And again, share the holiday with the people at your child’s Middle School who offer daily assistance: the school nurse, attendance office personnel, librarians, and PE coaches.

If Valentines Day is causing you stress, let’s talk about it! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at jerirochman.jd.ms@gmail.com.

All my best,                                                                                                                                                              Jeri