Ask Dr. Saline: How to Stay Calm, Confident, and Consistent When Raising Kids with ADHD

child holding mother's handsDear Dr. Saline,

I’m raising 2 kids under the age of 10, both of whom have ADHD. Every day feels like a fire drill. It seems like I’m constantly juggling problems and never have time to catch up or slow down. I’m frustrated, exhausted and constantly losing my temper instead of enjoying time with my family. What’s your advice to a tired and busy Mom to cope with the demands of raising kids with ADHD while finding ways to have a more calm and balanced life?



From Dr. Saline

Dear Jenny,

I know exactly how you feel, as do lots of other busy and tired parents of kids with ADHD. Learning how to manage your stress and tending to the needs of your youngsters is an important part of self-care. When you equip yourself with effective coping strategies, you will be better able to show up for your family. After many years of working with families like yours, I developed a method I call The 5 C’s of ADHD™ which helps parents handle the demands of ADHD with confidence and competence every day. Here’s how…

The 5 C’s of ADHD in a Nutshell

calm womanThe goal of The 5 C’s of ADHD approach is to reach, teach, and support kids with varying learning styles, emotional needs and psychological issues through collaboration and with compassion. When you work with your child on finding solutions to common problems, you increase their buy-in and cooperation. Your child will develop more self-confidence and you’ll benefit from peace of mind. That’s what I call win-win! 

The Pillars of The 5 C’s of ADHD

My approach consists of 5 pillars: self-Control, Compassion, Collaboration, Consistency and Celebration. Try applying these at home, at work, or when facing personal struggles to help you cope with whatever challenges come your way. By incorporating the following strategies into your daily life, you’ll gain the confidence and competence needed to be your best for your children, relationships, and most importantly, for yourself.

  1. Self-Control: Identify triggers so you can slow down and manage your own feelings first before engaging with a friend, colleague, child or partner. Once you are settled, then you can work on assisting others to do the same. 
  2. Compassion: Meet people where they are, not where you think they should be. This means treating people, including yourself, with empathy and kindness despite struggles or upset.
  3. Collaboration: Work with others (your children, other caring adults, partners or colleagues) to find solutions to daily challenges together instead of imposing your ideas on them. Focus on cooperation and partnership using incentives and realistic expectations.
  4. Consistency: Aim for steadiness instead of perfection. Do your best to follow through and expect that some situations require shifting and flexibility. Practice persistence and efforting, using a growth mindset.
  5. Celebration: Pay attention to the positive and acknowledge when things go well. No effort is too small to go unnoticed. Validate how you and those around you try to grow and change. Do more of what works day after day.

Parenting with Calm, Confidence and Consistency 

daughter and father smiling on the beachWhen raising kids with ADHD, the trick to using the 5 C’s is making them part of your parenting routines. Take time to cool off when you are aggravated with your son; show concern and support for your daughter when her struggles annoy you; talk about any problems and come up with alternatives together; stick with things, even when you feel like giving up; stay positive and notice what is going well, no matter how small.

This approach helps you ​elicit and listen to the experiences your child with ADHD is sharing with you, while responding empathically, supportively and calmly. You improve your ability to notice what your son or daughter is communicating to you with their words and actions. Together, you work towards solutions for everyday challenges so your child or teen has buy-in and sees you as an ally. You aim for steadiness instead of perfection, noticing their efforting along the way. Then, they will be more open to cooperating because they feel seen and heard. You pay more attention to what’s working instead of focusing on what isn’t, offering validation and encouragement. In the end, you’ll feel less stressed and your child or teen will thrive. There will be more calm and balance, perhaps not every day, but certainly more days than not.