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Helping my ADHD daughter when it comes to school & other kids

Ok, this one is a biggie & I'm definitely looking for advice on this one! My 7 year old will be starting 2nd grade in the Fall. But all throughout 1st grade Alli struggled with 2 main things: 1. he ability to pay attention & stay focused during class, which her teacher was WONDERFUL about working with her, knowing of her ADHD, and would try to alter certain things for Alli (i.e. allowing her to work independantly vs. with a group of other kids so she can focus easier, etc.) BUT, then there's the social issues, which is really where I struggle. My baby, bless her heart, does not TRY to alienate other kids but in the end she does because she is bossy & very much "we have to do things MY way" & the way she can talk to other kids at times, honestly, I wouldn't want to play with her either! But she's only 7 so she doesn't see or hear herself or recognize the need to change any of her behaviors. And I have tried several approaches with her, I've tried the compassionate route, saying all of the "motherly" things like "if kids are mean to you, just walk away, that will upset the other kid more because you DIDN'T react to whatever mean thing they said", etc. But then there are times where the ADHD in me has ZERO pacience for it & I will hear the way she talks to her brother & sisters & I've said to her "See Alli, this is what I mean, if you talked to ME like that I wouldn't want to play with you either" Not to be cruel but to make her try to take responsibility for her actions and realize that not everything is everybody else's fault. But again, she's so emotionally sensitive & I don't want to make her feel any worse about herself! I just don't know what to do!

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Comment by Dr. Catherine Avery on July 26, 2010 at 9:59pm
Stephanie, Can I ask if Allie is being treated for her AD/HD symptoms? Children with AD/HD often have difficulty seeing other perspectives, they are impulsive in their behaviors, and they can be emotionally reactive. As children go through elementary school, their peers, especially girls, become less and less tolerant of these kinds of behaviors and AD/HD children can be shunned. If she is not being treated, I would encourage you to see a specialist.
Comment by Jerry Holl on July 21, 2010 at 7:50pm
Ok, not all ADD people are alike, so I can only share what I have discovered about myself. For me, the hardest thing to learn for myself was that it isn't always the other persons fault, especially when what I was blaming them with was so obviously logical. Another huge revelation for me was that I couldn't see for myself how my week went. Because I wasn't hyper-active, I wasn't diagnosed until well into my late 30's. Whenever I went to the doctor or counseling my wife had to go with me. When it came to issues like how was the dosage working, or how did my week go, I honestly couldn't see it or couldn't remember it on my own. As to what you were saying about your zero patience response, immediate feedback is not only good, it is better to not mention it at all if immediate feedback would be socially inappropriate. The key is to turn the feedback into having her answer the following questions.
1. Remembering exactly what she said. [her first response will be, "but he did..." I just repeat the
question, showing validity to the answer of the question, not who is to blame- which means I am
not putting the blame on anyone, including her]

2. How did she feel before she said it? [more to the point, what did she want or expect from the
other person before she said it]

3. What would be a better way to get the results she wanted?

More important than being able to make the right choices at the time (or even not until the feedback afterwards) is simply helping the ADDer to see that the choices made (words used, etc.) were not the best way to go about it. It is sooooo hard for us with ADD to even imagine that anything could possibly be our fault. But then, there are a lot of adults that still don't take responsibility for their own actions. Second graders are very much still learning that (ADD or not!) As a parent I try to share with my daughter my personal attempts to make the right choices. And I throw in a time or two when I didn't make the right choice, and it turned out bad, but I used that experience to help me the next time I had that kind of choice. My kids will be the first ones to tell you that I am not perfect, but I hope that will also help them to not be so critical of themselves.
Comment by Sarah Christine Gogstetter on July 20, 2010 at 3:17am
Stephanie-what times of day does this occur? Is she tired, is she hungry, is she mildly dehydrated? I know when I was that age I went through a period of time I had a lack of energy only I wasn't diagnosed back then.
Comment by Sally on July 18, 2010 at 7:14pm
I think Bryan has some good points and I really think the counseling is a good idea. I think sometimes
hearing it from a parent or sibling it doesn't sink in like it might from someone else and a counselor can
tell you how to how to follow up on what she is learning. I know it has to be hard for both of you, but I
know from experience learning new skills on how to cope will help you both. She's only seven and if
she gets off on the right foot learning how to do things that work for her differently her whole life
will change and so will yours.:)
Comment by Bryan Hutchinson on July 16, 2010 at 4:09pm
I am not sure Stephanie, I know this is very difficult for you, but I think this might be a sign of her insecurity and her awareness that she is not the same as other kids. That difference may make her feel 'lesser than' and she acts the way she does to prove herself, to set her authority and to be over the top 'better than'. Some young ADDers in this situation might lie or tell tall tales, or some might become bullies and yet others might withdrawal and become bullied. I think it is very important to reassure her that she's not 'dumb' or 'stupid' and I bet if you ask her about if she feels this way she may become defiant, even aghast, but that may be all the proof you need. Counseling may help her and talking about her day daily. She needs to somehow know she is not lesser than anyone else. But, when she get in 'trouble' on top of everything else for the way she behaves with other kids, well, that might actually make her act that way even more so, to the point she thinks she not doing enough... This is a really tough one because there is no simple way to just 'tell her', somehow it needs to be demonstrated to her that she is enough as she is and doesn't need to 'put on' a tougher and better representation... just my thoughts.

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