Parenting is hard, parenting in a pandemic is even harder. For parents, there is an expectation, and a requirement to pick up new responsibilities all while juggling the emotions that our children and we ourselves as parents are experiencing. How do we manage all of these expectations and manage the social, emotional, and academic well-being of our children? These are concerns I am hearing from parents during this time. Parents are overwhelmed with the responsibility of educating their children, running a household, and keeping everyone’s emotional well-being in check. Parenting has just become a new level of hard. So in this blog, I want to offer two simple tips that will help to manage everyone’s emotions during strenuous times: Routine and Rest. These are great tips to use for ourselves and our children, especially children who have neurosensory challenges.
ROUTINE- I am sure that you have heard the suggestion for a routine so many times that you have run out of fingers and toes to count them. The reason that a routine is so important is it gives everyone in the home a sense of knowing and control which then produces feelings of calm. Being out of control, or not knowing what is happening next is difficult for most people but it is especially difficult for ADHD children. Children with ADHD experience chemical and growth differences in the frontal lobe of the brain, or the part of the brain that is responsible for decision making, emotional control, time perception, planning, impulse control (to list a few of the functions of the frontal lobe)) therefore creating the inability to emotionally regulate responses to social situations that require these skills. One of the greatest producers of stress is not knowing what comes next and the feeling of no control. Routines help the child feel in control by knowing what is happening next. When the child has a greater sense of control their emotions they become calm and regulated and as parents, we know that when our child is regulated than we as parents become more emotionally calm as well. And if we are going to be really nitty-gritty honest, a routine helps to keep us better organized to juggle the many demands and
our own emotional stress.
REST- Plan, adjust, and accommodate adequate rest periods for you and your children. In a culture that values business, we often underestimate that value and necessity of rest. When we rest, complex activities are taking place within our bodies. Research supports that adequate rest affects proper bodily functions as well as our abilities to regulate emotions. Subsequently, inadequate rest leads to unbalance hormones that contribute to aggression, poor memory, inadequate functioning for decision making, and mood stability. In the beginning stages of quarantine, there was a sense of rest as everyone was forced to slow down. When I walked in my neighborhood, I saw Dad’s midday playing basketball with kids in the driveway, couples walking in the park, and family’s bike riding. With the re-opening of businesses and schools, the anxieties and stress around work and school performance levels have begun to return. Parents are expressing that they feel an increase in pressures around school and that their children are experiencing higher levels of stress as well. Provide moments throughout the day to walk away from work and school responsibilities. Overstimulation creates stress. Stress in ADHD children perpetuates the already difficult functioning of the frontal lobe which can lead to negative emotional responses, even to simple tasks. Intentionally practice restful periods and sleep patterns to support emotional regulation and brain functioning. So permission is granted to you… to take a break!
Editor’s note: This information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of personal consultation, as needed, with a qualified healthcare provider and/or BCBA.
Kellie has worked with youth for over 20 years in a variety of settings. She is a loving mother to 5 children and two grandkids. In her spare time she enjoys boating with her husband, riding bikes in the park and mixed media canvas painting.