Category: General

Understanding Your ADHD Child’s Habits

Tallahassee Parents with ADHD Children,

Kids with ADHD have many coping mechanisms that parents and teachers are not aware of. At first glance or to the untrained eye these children might appear disruptive or that they are not listening, however, this often is not the case.

Once you learn some ADHD tendencies and why they happen, you can put your child in situations to thrive and help them be more successful.

MY CHILD OFTEN MOVES THEIR LEG UP AND DOWN WHEN SITTING

ADDers, we will refer to them for now on, suffer from lower dopamine levels than you average person. Movement stimulates better blood flow and produces small amounts of dopamine just like exercise. It is their brains way of keeping things balanced. ADHD is not a one size fits all disorder. Some ADDers might move around a lot more than others.

Other signs to look for:

  • You child gets up several times during a movie, meal or doing homework
  • Hand fidgeting and chair rocking can all fit the same category

HOW DO YOU FIX IT?

You don’t. Nothing is wrong. Attempting to stop their movement will only make things work. It is like a child forgetting their security blanket and you ignoring their feelings.

MY CHILD WON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH ME OR STAY STILL WHEN WE ARE TRYING TO HAVE A CONVERSATION

There is a lot of evidence that multitasking is less effective than working on one thing at a time. It can be done, but at what efficiency level?

However, ADDers work a little different. The movement they are engaging in is similar to what was discussed in our first example. More often than not, your child is focusing more on what you are saying by moving. Force them to stay still and most likely they will not hear a word you said.

Make sure you do not over interrupt what is being explained above. If you child is engaged in a tv show or a video game and you start talking with them while they are still engaged in that activity of interest…they most likely aren’t listening to you.

I TELL MY CHILD SOMETHING, THEY SEEM TO UNDERSTAND AND WITHIN MINUTES COMPLETELY FORGET WHAT WE DISCUSSED.

Working memory is a challenge with ADDers. Yes, they can remember things that are very interesting to them. That is part of the disorder. Don’t attack them with comments like “I know you can remember things you want to do”. You are right, ADHD is a a deficit of interest among many things.

Do they get a FREE pass to forget things all the time? Certainly not. A disorder is only a disorder when it interferes with everyday functions. Life goes on and you must learn to deal with it.

Here are some ideas to help:

  • Have your child repeat what you just asked them to do
  • Keep the list to 3 items or less. Everyone remembers things better in 3’s. (3 parts to a phone number, ss#)
  • Is there a list of daily tasks posted somewhere they can see everyday? When I come home from school I must first…
  • Have them read things aloud or write it down
  • Some do better writing down a list even if you sent it to them digitally
  • Keep the list short and very simple. The more complicated it seems To Them, the less chance they are to complete or even start it

MY CHILD HAS TROUBLE GETTING STARTED ON SOME OF THE SIMPLEST TASKS

This is very common for most ADDers. The more “stuff” or thoughts they have swirling around in their head, the better chance they will freeze up and get overwhelmed.

If you and your significant other were having an intense conversation with your ADDer because they got in trouble or were causing a problem in some way. You most likely will see them get really angry or overwhelmed and extremely upset. Having a situation where a lot is being thrown at them with out time for the brain to process can cause overload. It is not uncommon for ADDers to be “slow processors” of information. Two parents having a heated conversation can push them over the edge.

Here are some ideas to try:

  • Journals are great “tools”. Get thoughts out of their heads and onto paper. Dry erase boards are great too. For example, your child has a project due in two weeks. Put a large dry erase board in their room and let them start writing ideas down whenever they come to them for the first week. Starting the project will be a breeze when the ideas are already there and waiting
  • ADDers tend to be creative. Writing in different colors can be more exciting than always using blue or the worst, black. Everything is in black print. Spice things up with another color.
  • Music can be a great tool to keep them motivated and moving. Make sure it is their choice. Everyone “beats to a different drum.” Can’t play music in the open? Use ear buds. It can be a great way to block noise distractions at home and in school too.
  • Have conversations with your child when they are calm. No one thinks clearly when they are upset. Emotions usually take over rationality in these situations.

Understanding how the ADHD mind works can be a challenge. Although the internet has a load of great information, seeking out an ADHD coach can be very beneficial. A lot of them are ADDers themselves and know what is like and what others are going through.

If you would like more information about ADHD coaching and how it can help your family, contact Brad Fantle. He is an ADHD coach, has 25 years working with all types of kids through martial arts and has a BA in Sports & fitness from the University of Alabama. Email bradfantle@gmail.com

Filed under: General

How to Teach Your Kids Good Habits Part II

Tallahassee Parents,

We normally do not add a second part to our posts, but I did to share. Only recently did I realize my wife and I taught our younger son good habits and wanted to share our strategies.

It wasn’t until I read Atomic Habits by James Clear and really observed my 13 teen year old, did I realize we had such a BIG parent victory!

How would you feel if your child:

  • Came home and immediately did their homework without you asking
  • Took a shower without a fight
  • Put away their clothes instead of living out of a laundry basket
  • Got their back pack and PE clothes ready the day before school instead of the morning of

Would your life be a little easier?

Might you avoid an argument with your child?

Here is how we did it without even knowing we were such “awesome” parents! LOL

HABITS: Building better habits is about making small changes over time until they become routine or in fact “habits.” Under standing habits and how they are formed is important. They are built on pleasure. Whether it is doing something because it makes you feel good or not doing something because you want to avoid something that makes you feel bad… both in one way or another result in feeling good. Sounds strange doesn’t it.

Think about it. People don’t smoke because they like smoking. The smoke for the initial feeling of stress relief when they first light up. As Tony Robbins one stated, people will do more to avoid pain than to see seek pleasure.

HOW WE HELPED OUR SON DEVELOP GOOD HABITS: Like a lot of kids, our younger son is a gamer. He knows we are not fond of it and has limited time each day. Probably like a lot of parents out there, we have had our share of arguments about it more frequently than not.

As you can imagine, the same argument was getting old. Together my wife and I decided if he was going to earn his time each day, our son had to do the following things:

  • Play an organized sport for exercise. Going to the gym with dad was not going to cut it. He needed the benefits of being coached.
  • Before he could play, he had to take his daily shower.
  • Complete homework.
  • Get his back pack and PE clothes together.
  • Help with some basic chores.

After a month or two, our son realized the only way he was going to play on his computer, was if his list was completed. There were no exceptions and if it got too late, sorry, no computer.

Knowing my son is incredible smart and a strategist; he started taking care of all his responsibilities on his own. He knew if he asked for computer time, we would go down the list and see if he completed all his tasks. Don’t think we wouldn’t check behind him or try to trip him up too.

Fast forward months past those struggles and now he is an independent young man. He keeps us in check when he needs something and takes pride in getting his stuff ready.

So hang in there. It is not easy being a parent and knowing whether you are making the right choices are not. Best of luck!

Filed under: General

Teaching Your Kids Better Habits

Tallahassee Parents,

Teaching kids good habits is not an easy task. Do they take pride in what they are doing? Are they completing a task just because you threatened to punish them? Is there some magic secret you are missing out on to get your kids to complete tasks?

First, as a parent with two boys ages 13 & 15, and an avid reader, I can tell you there are no secrets although many would like you to think there is. This way they can sell you a course, book or who knows what.

However, here are a few tips I think will help. Before I explain, I highly recommend the book, Atomic Habits by James Clear. It has some great ideas that I will share in case you do not like to read or think you are too busy.

TASKS WITH A SPECIFIED TIME: This is not a new idea, but explaining why certain things work and how they become habits adds a lot of clarity to what works and what does not. When you tell your child something needs to be done, ask them when they will do it and make them be specific. How specific? Make them give you an actual time. If they are not old enough to do that, set a timer or make it after you finish a game or tv show.

Stay consistent and make them do this every time. One of the reasons people put things off…no deadlines! Remember, the word deadline means time is up and it needs to be done. If you really think about it, deadlines cannot be extended!

TASK STACKING: This is one of my favorites and it is very simple. Let us assume your child forgets to wash their hands before dinner and one of their responsibilities is setting the table. Teach them to ask themselves, “What am I supposed to do before I set the table, wash my hands.” Soon it will become a habit and they will stop forgetting. Later you can add to it. Another example of task stacking. Ask “When do I set the table, 5:00 pm”, “What do I do before I set the table, wash my hands.”

How many habits can you stack? I am not sure. It most likely depends on the person and the habit.

DON’T TRY TO DO IT, BECOME IT!: Often children and adults say things like “I am trying to be healthy” or “I was never good in math” and the list goes on. The word “try” basically tells your brain you will attempt something, but it might not work so you will quit or move on to something else. This leads to bad eating habits, kids who quit activity after activity and lower self-esteem.

Instead teach your child to become what they want to be or do. They start soccer for the first time, “you are now a soccer player!” You don’t try a musical instrument, you become a musician.

Think about it. Is it really that hard to maintain a proper diet when you see yourself as a healthy person? Are you challenged to keep your life in order when you see yourself as an organized person?

Teach your child to be whatever they want to be. They start playing a musical instrument and you go to the local music store to rent a clarinet. The first thing you should say is, “Now you are an official musician.”

At first, changing how you view things might feel a little weird and most likely your child’s brain will fight you on this. Don’t give up. Your are an amazing parent and know exactly how to teach your child good habits!

(see, I was using habit strategy #3, just in case you missed that! LOL)

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Challenges between Teens and Parents

Tallahassee Parents with Teenagers,

Challenges between parents and teens are nothing new. Whether it’s curfew, cell phones, clothing, style, video games or even friends, conflicts can and will arise. How well these challenges are handled between teens and their parents can have a big impact in the future!

Asserting Independence

Teens want to establish independence anyway they can. From the clothes they wear to activities, teens want to control their lives. Keeping the balance between letting your child make choices and keeping them safe is like walking on a tight rope. Pick your battles. The old saying ” Seek first to understand and then be understood,” comes to mind. When you do need to lay down the law, try giving your teen a few options and let them pick the final decision. You can lead them in the direction you need to and they will feel like they had a say in the matter. Win Win for everyone.

Don’t Argue with Them

Trying to prove their independence, teens will often argue just to argue or prove a point. Listen to what they have to say, be open minded and make them come up with a solution. For example, you want their room to stay clean, but they state it is their room, why can’t they keep it how they want and no one will see it with the door closed.

Compromise: You feel their room needs to stay clean to keep away dust, bugs and you don’t like the way it looks. Explain to them your concern about bugs and dust. Ask them how they can eliminate those concerns and you will accept the messy room with the door closed.

Lack of Communication

It is not uncommon for teens and parents to speak different languages. Your teen breaks curfew and your are upset. They were finally having fun at a party feeling like they were fitting in and you don’t care because they are home late. Listen to what they are saying and use phrases like “What I am hearing you say is…. am I correct?” or “If I understand correctly, you were saying…” Understanding their feelings is important and teaching them how to communicate is our responsibility as parents.

A future solution to breaking curfew could easily be “I understand you were having fun and fitting in, please just call me next time and tell me you would like to stay out a little later so I know what is going on.” Make sure you say this in a calm and understanding tone and reassure them you are glad they were having fun.

In summary, dealing with you teen can be less challenging if we remember these points:

  • Stay Calm
  • Be a good listener
  • Try to see their point of view
  • Give them choices instead of just laying down the “law”
  • Don’t get emotional
  • Ask questions and make them come up with some of resolutions to challenges or arguments
  • Remember they are not good communicators and need to be taught
  • Make sure there are positive mentors in their life who they will listen to and help support you as a parent

Good luck and happy teen parenting!

Filed under: General

Great Snacks for Your Competitive Child

Your child is a rising athlete and needs to fuel up like one too. The difference between providing snacks that fuel them up or bog them down can make a huge factor in their competition or practice.

It is also a great chance to teach kids the proper way to get energy for sports while, at the same time, showing them how much you care.

Snacks serve several purposes for active kids, including:

  • Providing energy (calories) to help working muscles power through activity.
  • Supplying fluids for hydration and to keep the body cool.
  • Providing nutrients for growth and development.
  • Promoting recovery after hard exercise.

In addition, snacks should be easily digested so blood flows to the muscles during exercise and not to the gut in order to digest a heavy, greasy snack.

Depending on the time of the game, different snacks meet different needs. Here is a guide to choosing snacks based on game day and time.

After School Games

Many kids have early lunch periods during school, so they might start the game hungry. A good after-school snack provides quality carbohydrates and protein for quick energy and a satisfied tummy. Consider packing your cooler with these nourishing options:

  • 6-ounce cartons of a variety of fruited yogurt or yogurt in a tube
  • Peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches with natural fruit jam
  • Turkey and/or cheese wraps cut into 1-inch slices for easy finger food
  • Low-fat string cheese and mini pretzels
  • Bottles of cold water or pitchers of cold water with lemon (cold water helps lower body temperature in active athletes)

Weekend Morning Games

Muscle fuel can be very low after an overnight fast. Therefore, if you are rushing out the door to make it to a morning game, consider serving breakfast foods that kids love:

  • A mini cinnamon-raisin bagel with flavored cream cheese
  • English muffin sandwich with a slice of lean ham and/or reduced-fat cheese
  • Greek yogurt with a variety of toppings (homemade granola, chopped almonds or walnuts, dried fruit)
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothies
  • Cartons of low-fat milk with baggies full of cereal
  • 100-percent fruit juice boxes

After the Game

Post-game snacks should help to replace muscle fuel lost in exercise and replenish fluids without ruining kids’ appetite for the next meal. Consider:

  • Air-popped popcorn sprinkled with Parmesan cheese
  • Low-fat plain milk
  • Banana, orange slices or apple slices (dipped in orange juice to prevent browning)
  • Whole-grain granola bars

Providing proper snacks is a part of every parent’s responsibility, so choose wisely and help your child succeed on the field, in the classroom and life.

Filed under: General

Help Your Kids Stay Healthy

Tallahassee Parents,

When it comes to making your kids healthy, you have to do more than exercise.

The obesity rate in kids is estimated as 18.5% and affects about 13.7 million children and adolescents. Obesity percentages climb as children get older. 13.9% among 2- to 5-year-olds, 18.4% among 6- to 11-year-olds, and 20.6% among 12- to 19-year-olds.

In the past, parents could get their kids more active and usually the problem would subside, however that is not the case anymore.

A healthy diet and better nutrition are more important keys to preventing your child from becoming a statistic.

Here are some ideas to help .

STAY AWAY FROM ALL TYPES OF SODA AND SUGARY DRINKS: Whether it is juice, soda or diet soda, eliminate them from your child’s diet. They have little to zero nutritional value. Do not be fooled, diet drinks are not much better. They contain artificial sweeteners that confuse you mind in how to process them. Your body still producers insulin to counter the sweetness causing weight gain. Juices, including orange juice, are full of sugar too.

MILK DOES NOT DO THE BODY GOOD: Drinking milk is not as beneficial as we are led to believe. It also contains sugar and often causes health problems by being responsible for producing large amounts of mucous in the body. There are many other sources of calcium available that are consumed more effectively in your body. There are also other variations of milk that are healthier like cashew and almond milk.

SNACKS AND SUGAR: You don’t have to deprive your child of snacks and/or cookies, but having a schedule or plan does help. Instead of pulling out the whole bag of chips to snack on in front of the TV, pull out a specific portion size. Studies show people eat more in front of the tv or when they have the whole bag available to them.

Having a snack and organized meal schedule helps too. Set times when you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner along with ideal snack times. This keeps your kids satisfied, energy levels up and increases their metabolism.

WATER: Yes, you knew it was on the list. Drink lots of it all day long. Kids have faster heart rates traditionally than adults and their bodies have a lot going on inside. Water is essential to making those process work effectively.

SLEEP: You actually burn fat when you sleep. If you kids aren’t getting enough sleep, it is affecting them physically and mentally. Adults are fine with 7-8 hours, but kids need more. Their bodies are like high performance race cars and need the proper fueling. Sleep is fuel for later.

EXERCISE: Yes, this is still important. It is the last on the list for a reason. You cannot outwork nutrition. Find exercise your child will enjoy and receive the support they need. Team sports might not be the answer if they are out of shape. Teammates can be mean and judgmental if they think you are slowing the team down. Also, your child might not get much playing time if they struggle physically. Individual activities like running, gymnastics and martial arts can be great solutions. Martial Arts especially is a great outlet and often mixes life skills and personal development lessons to help kids develop into great adults.

Take a few minutes and a piece of paper to make a plan for your child. You will see with just a few changes here and there, you can make a big difference. It helps if you set a good example and follow the same path. Parents who practice healthy habits often have kids that follow the same habits.

Filed under: General

How To Help Your Teens Make Friends

Tallahassee Parents with Teenagers,

Does your teenager have a group of friends they hang out with? Are they able to “fit in” or feel part of social get togethers?

Being a parent of a teenager is no easy task either. You want to give them their space, however they often need your help more now than ever.

Kids need more guidance in their middle and high school years than they do in their elementary years. Unfortunately, it seems guidance is given in the wrong order.

Here are some quick tips and ideas to help your teenagers fit in.

JOIN A CLUB: Finding like minded people or kids with the same interests can be a challenge. Joining clubs can be an easy way to find like minded people and get conversations started.

LEARN THE ART OF SMALL TALK: Being a good listener and starting conversations does not come natural to most. Knowing there is more communicating by texts and abbreviations does not help matters any. People love to talk about themselves. Teach your teen to be a good listener, ask questions about what others are discussing and suddenly they will be part of the group without even realizing it.

SEEK ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL: If you teen limits their social circle to just school, they are limiting their social reach. Groups and clubs outside of school are just as important when trying to make new friends. In school, teenagers let themselves get peer pressured into acting “cool” trying to fit in themselves. You child might find a lot of their peers act differently in school than in an outside environment.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT SPENDING TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY: Although teenagers might not admit it or act like it; spending time with family is important too. Make sure the time you do spend together is special. If the only time you really spend together is doing chores or holidays, most likely your teenager is only engaged because they are required to and will not value this as quality time. One on one time is equally important.

PLAY DATES: Setting up get togethers are not just for young ones. Don’t call them play dates, your teenager will give you a nasty look. Set-up fun activities for your child to invite people too. Your job is to chaperone and then stay out of the way. Find activities that your child’s peers like to do. It could be as simple as a group dinner and movie, a get together at an Escape Room, sporting event or concert.

MEET NEW PARENTS: Become friends with parents who have kids the same age as yourself. Once parents become friends, it can be easier to introduce your children and schedule get togethers.

Last, remember to be patient. If you give your child a hard time about making friends or are too pushy…they will only push back and want to rebel away from you. Take your time and make these subtle changes. You will see over time your teen’s social life become more satisfying.

Filed under: General

How to Deal with Tantrums and Meltdowns

Tallahassee Parents,

First, this article is about your child’s tantrums and meltdowns, not yours. Kids have them and all parents deal with them at some point. What do you do? How is the best way to handle these situations?

First, understand that meltdowns/tantrums are caused by something and it is not always directly related to what is happening at that moment. For example, your child could have had a bad night sleeping and be fine until the afternoon sets in. They get overtired, cranky in the afternoon and won’t even go down for a nap.

Here are some ideas to help you deal with the situation.

  • Remove them from your current surroundings. If your child is having a breakdown in a store because you said “no”, removing them a public surrounding should be your first goal. Most likely you are not going to think clearly or have the same amount of patience if people are walking by staring at the both of you.
  • Understand it is very difficult to reason with anyone who is upset. Whether you are an adult or child, it doesn’t matter. When people are emotional, rational thinking usually goes out the window. Wait to they calm down.
  • Sometimes you have to leave someone alone until they calm down. You will most likely realize it can be very hard to calm down an upset child. If they are really young, it can be even more difficult. There are two things you can try. One, telling them “I want to help, but I cannot help you until you calm down and tell me what is wrong.” The other option, especially if they are much younger; you might have to let them just cry it out for a reasonable amount of time. Holding and cuddling can be an option during this period until they settle down.
  • Try to look deeper into the meaning of why they are upset and give them possible solutions. For example, your child is upset because you would not buy them a toy they wanted in a store. Maybe it was because you know they will play with it for a day and then forget about it. Give them a solution. “If we go home and give away a few of the toys you do not play, we will have room for this new. Until then you have to wait. Would you like me to help you clean out some of your old toys?” This will not only teach them problem solving, but build good habits of not holding onto things forever.
  • Don’t feed the fire! It is easy to reflect a child’s angry behavior when they are mad and disrespectful. Learn to stay calm and do not let them pull you into their emotions. Don’t be afraid to say things like “I know you are upset and I am not going to talk with you while you are upset.” or “Until you talk to me nicely, I will not be able to help you.” Making it a bigger fight will only leave both of you more upset.

Parents, do not forget solving problems during tantrums and breakdowns with your kids is a skill. If at first you do not succeed, try try again! With practice, your skills will improve.

Filed under: General

Find a Place Where Your Kids Fit In

Tallahassee Parents,

Finding a place where your kids fit in can be more challenging today then in years past. If you haven’t looked into martial arts, here are some great reasons to consider this activity for your son or daughter.

  • NO ONE SITS ON THE BENCH: Students all participate 100% of the time and advance in rank based on their personal improvement. There is not a “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to how a particular student should perform at their earned rank.
  • WE DO NOT ALLOW NEGATIVITY IN THE CLASSROOM: Kids can be hard on each other. Even in fun relays, they tend to make things a competition blurting out comments like “he/she cheated.” These type of comments are shut down quickly with life lessons and team building exercises.
  • STUDENTS AREN’T TOLD THEY ARE WRONG, BUT ARE CORRECTED: We know this sounds strange, but here is what we mean. If a student has executed a technique incorrectly we will say, “Great kick, may I show you how to make it faster or more powerful?” This technique often builds a student who strives to be better without hurting their self-esteem.
  • THERE ARE NO PARTICIPATION TROPHIES: It has been proven that participation awards are actually hurting our children’s confidence and causing others to become irresponsible and unmotivated. Our tournaments reward the top achievers and encourage the others to keep working hard and never give up.
  • OUR INSTRUCTORS ARE GREAT COMMUNITY MENTORS: The best martial art instructors are full time instructors. They spend their time in the community teaching PE classes, visiting students classrooms, performing at charity events or sometimes just eating lunch with a student who is having a hard time at school.

If you have not looked into martial arts for your child, we encourage you to take a look. Tiger Rock Martial Arts has been servicing Tallahassee for over 20 years.

As we say at Tiger Rock, we hope to see you on the mat soon!

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Benefits of Martial Arts for ADHD

Tallahassee Families with ADHD,

Living with ADHD can be very challenging and a lot of people choose to stay medicine free due to its side effects. What can you do to help with executive function, working memory and self-regulation?

Most people may not have thought of martial arts for themselves and/or their kids, but the benefits are invaluable.

  • Improves Cognitive Function. Working memory tends to be a challenge for people diagnosed with ADHD (we will just call them ADDer’s). Working memory is your ability to remember things you recently read or were told. The new movements taught in martial arts open more neural pathways in the brain. Put simply, you make your brainer stronger or use more brain power when training in martial arts. The result, a more focused brain!
  • Improves Executive Function. Executive function is your ability to keep your life organized. The self-discipline taught in martial arts along with its military background and life kills, make it a great game changer for ADDer’s. These habits learned on the training mat most often carry over to everyday life.
  • Helps with Self-Regulation. ADDer’s often having trouble staying still or focused because they lose interest so quickly. Their brains produce smaller amounts of dopamine which is a chemical that stimulates the brain and its interest. You don’t want to depend on sugar and caffeine to stimulate your brain due to their side effects. Exercise is a much better alternative and martial arts improves your strength, endurance and flexibility.
  • Improves Social Skills. Martial arts creates a great classroom environment where anyone can learn, improve at their pace and feel like they are part of the team. ADDer’s can have difficulty making friends and fitting in socially since they mature at a slower rate. Martial Art academies tend to have real positive upbeat surroundings which can really help an ADDer’s morale considering they tend to be negative and hard on themselves.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, you might look into martial arts and experience its benefits. You will quickly see and feel why so many doctors recommend martial arts to their ADHD patients.

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