Friday, November 2, 2018

I am "that" mom

As someone who works with parents and kids, I have the privilege of a third party perspective. I always see the positive and am optimistic about my students' journeys. As an academic coach, it's my job to remain calm in difficult situations where parents might otherwise explode.  However, when it comes to my own child, mama bear comes out and this thinking goes out the window in the heat of the moment. I have had several moments recently that made me realize I am now "that" mom. We all know "that" mom. My only saving grace is that I am aware of my intense reactions and that gives me hope that I will have fewer "that" mom moments in the future.

When it's my child that has something go wrong, all I can do is ruminate about all the various outcomes and often I focus on the "what ifs" in a negative way. Even small problems seem like disasters. How can I curb feelings that come up so naturally and intensely? I guess I need to acknowledge my feelings, take a few deep breaths, and pretend like I'm an objective third party in the moment. My reactions affect my daughter and I see this day in and day out in my work. Reacting calmly is so much easier said than done, but I'm confident I will get there for the sake of my little pride and joy.

I feel like a much better academic coach now that I have a child of my own because I can better relate to parents. I'm not only part of the mom club, but part of "that" mom club:) My daughter is the world to me and I would love to change "that" mom from a negative to a positive. I aspire to be "that" mom who goes to the end of the earth for her daughter, who remains calm for the sake of my kiddo, and has faith that my daughter will be just fine at the end of the day. I love you Z.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Different Approach?

Parenting is challenging. I think we can all agree on that. However, when our kids are not meeting our expectations, we often blame them, when in fact, we as parents need to take some responsibility. Now this is not a blame game because both kids and parents have a part in creating a solid and positive relationship, but I think we are too quick to put the focus on the kids and not ourselves.

When you are frustrated with how your child is behaving, ask yourself, "What could I be doing different to help my child react more positively?" The answer most likely might be, "I don't know" because when you are in the trenches it's hard to see things clearly and objectively. Let me share with you just a few small tips about setting expectations without nagging from the book Parenting ADHD Now: Easy Intervention Strategies to Empower Kids with ADHD by Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster. These tips work for all kids, not just those with ADHD!

The authors explain, "More than likely, when you generate negative responses from your kids there are two things going on. First, kids with ADHD often hear neutral comments as criticism because they are hypersensitive to negative feedback. Second, there may well be an underlying message that you are not saying directly but they are hearing loud and clear, like, "You've messed up again." Even though our intentions are good, kids often hear our comments as judgmental, which puts our kids on the defense, making them feel like failures. So, instead of asking, "Why can't you ever remember to....?" or "How many times do I have to tell you...?", remember there is a valid reason they can't remember things (executive function, working memory, distractions, etc.) and shift your expectations. Perhaps you could say, "It seems like you might need a reminder about this. How would you like me to remind you?" If your child is unsure, you can work together and come up with a solution. If it doesn't work, just revise your ideas and keep trying! And an added benefit, is that as your child gets older, she will learn to set reminders for herself as she takes on more responsibility.

Meeting your kids where they are, and understanding that how and what we say to them can change their responses and self-esteem, can positively impact your relationship and make for a calmer household. Try it out and let me know how it worked!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Proudest Moment of the Year

Let me introduce you to Donnie, who came into my life about seven years ago. Last month, we finally celebrated his college graduation from Portland State University!

Through his journey, Donnie learned how to work hard, be proactive and responsible, and communicate with his peers and professors. Despite his Asperger's, he persevered academically, but more importantly, personally. He has grown so much and I couldn't be more proud.

The road to becoming a college grad was sometimes rocky, but we finally made it to the end. As our last session came to a close, tears welled up in my eyes and I expressed (or more so blubbered) to Donnie just how proud I was of him and surprisingly, when I looked back, Donnie had tears in his eyes too. I can't tell you how amazing his showing of emotion made me feel. He said, "Amy, I wouldn't be here without you." My heart melted. I love you, Donnie! Friends forever:)

Friday, March 10, 2017

A New Perspective

As you may have noticed, I've been away from the blog for quite some time and there is a good reason why. Three and a half months ago I earned a new title: Mom! Yep, that's right. I finally made my dreams a reality and am the mommy of a baby girl. As an older mom this wasn't an easy journey and still isn't, but she is the most amazing thing to ever happen to me and as a result, I have a newfound respect for all the parents I work with.

I am learning why the work StudyWise tutors and I do with our students is such an invaluable resource for parents. Parenting, in addition to daily life demands and work, is quite challenging to say the least. School has become very complicated and knowing the ins and outs has taken me years to learn, so I can see how stressful it would be for busy parents to figure out the system. I'm just having trouble keeping my eyes open and the house clean at this point, so I can only imagine adding in figuring out my daughter's classes and teachers each year, new technology, websites and grading systems, daily assignments and due dates, etc. I find my work even more rewarding now because I know I'm making parents' jobs a little easier. Thank you StudyWise families for your dedication in raising such amazing kiddos!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Um, like, I actually came to class with a pencil."

The above is an actual quote from one of my fabulous students in response to the question, "How were you more prepared for class this past semester?" After first semester, we take time to reflect on what the students did well and what areas still need improvement. This student made honor roll for the first time and said one of the things he did well was being more prepared for class. What came to my mind was all the weekly reviewing, consistent meetings with teachers, working ahead, etc. But, as a coach, I like to ask questions and have the kiddos come up with the answers. I loved that he thought of the question in a different way than I intended and it seems like to make honor roll, all you need to do is bring a pencil to class! Awesome! 

I got a good chuckle out of his answer, but it also showed me that he has finally understood the importance of being organized and ready to learn. Something as simple as having a pencil shows responsibility and ownership of his learning, which we have spent years working on. Obviously this kiddo did a lot more than bring a pencil to class everyday, but it's a symbol for all the greater lessons he has learned. I am so proud of him and I hope all my other students get to the point of remembering their pencils, too:).

Saturday, October 10, 2015

ADHD and Lying

     All of us have lied at some point in our lives, but for children with ADHD, lying can become a huge behavioral problem. However, it's a misconception that lying is a character flaw because it's really just a coping mechanism. Children with ADHD often feel out of control of their behavior and struggle with low self-esteem, making them more prone to poor choices. When they realize what they have done, they often feel ashamed and guilty, so try to find ways to cover up. They almost always end up getting caught, but oddly keep repeating this behavior, furthering their feelings of guilt and low self-worth.

     We want children with ADHD to feel responsible and empowered, so it is important to learn how to work with them to understand the importance of being honest. Our reactions as adults make a huge impact on their feelings of self-worth and how they handle similar situations in the future. Here are some super helpful tips from an article on Strategies to Help Your ADHD Child Fib Less that will give you a good start in better understanding your child in these situations and how to respond in a more positive manner. Before you judge your child for lying, think about why they are doing it and work with them in a way that will encourage honesty in the future.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Finding a balanced routine

Now that students are settled into school, they should have a good idea of time expectations, both in academics and extracurricular activities. However, many students are still flying by the seat of their pants, not knowing which direction they are going. Now is the perfect time to sit down with your student and write out a schedule in order to make a daily routine.

Most students are super busy, but there needs to be a balance in how they spend their time. Scheduling in friends, family and alone time are important in keeping kids happy. By creating a schedule, they may realize they have more time than they previously thought and that they just aren't using their time effectively. Try highlighting their free time so they can visually see how much time they have during the week for homework, sports, friends, family, and downtime. If they have more time on one night versus another, encourage them to work ahead on those nights to make the rest of the week easier. Budgeting time isn't something that comes easily to most students, so continually working on refining their routine can improve their time-management.

Lastly, creating routine can help your student be more confident, less-anxious and avoid any last minute blunders. That being said, schedules change and need to be somewhat flexible. However, sticking to a routine within changing schedules is imperative in creating a happy student. Let the planning begin!