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Embarrassment happens to us all
Embarrassment tales usually start like this:
You manage to get through lessons without tears. He eats all his breakfast without complaint. She even cleans her room without additional warnings.
Feeling hopeful? Maybe I can run a quick errand or two!
So you whisk your ADHD child to the grocery store. You have your list ready, you sacrificed your smartphone to keep her occupied. You know which aisles trigger tantrums so you avoid them at all costs.
And then the unspeakable happens…
Some Neanderthal sets a display of candy in the pet foods aisle. Your kid spots it and all hell slowly breaks loose and the next thing you know, you’re in a verbal tug of war of why they can’t have the candy. Passerbys give you the look and the next thing you know you’re in the middle of an embarrassing situation.
Parenting a child with ADHD is hard. If trying to find the right meds for your kid or dealing unsympathetic providers doesn’t stress you out, then dealing with meltdowns and unsympathetic looks will make you want to run in a corner and hide.
Perhaps the worst feeling of all is the embarrassment.You feel like a total failure. Failure makes you feel like giving up.
I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say dealing with Keith’s ADHD isn’t exhausting. The constant talking, his impulsivity, and lack of focus are why I homeschool. The ADHD makes him disruptive and sometimes downright annoying.
Yes, I said it. My son is annoying.
I do love him with all of my heart and I wouldn’t wish for another child, but I do wish he didn’t have ADHD because it causes a level of embarrassment I can’t gloss over with a “he missed his nap.”
But because he does have ADHD, I have to be his biggest advocate so he can grow up and have an amazing life.
So how do you stop the embarrassment?
Let me be very clear, you CANNOT stop the embarrassment. Because just when you think you have heard, done, or seen it all, your child will do something to top the last time she embarrassed you.
True story: My husband took my son to get his haircut. My son is hypersensitive to noise, lights, and will shrivel up like a prune if you try to touch his ears. After lots of coaching, I sent him to the shop with his dad.
It wasn’t his first time getting a haircut, but it was his first time at this shop with this barber. His previous barbers were one of those kiddie cut shops. I stopped taking him because if he didn’t get to sit in the Lightning McQueen Car, he wasn’t going to do it.
Everything was going well until the barber tried to shape up around his ears. This was to be expected, but I coached him to become a statue when the barber gets to that area. The clipper nicked his ear and he shouted “G——–.”
Needless to say, the whole shop froze. My husband was embarrassed. I was embarrassed for him but glad I wasn’t there.
My son learned that word at the age of two. His great-grandmother has dementia and said it a few times when we went to Lampassas for Grandpa Happy’s birthday. Obviously, he never forgot that word, and it showed up again at the age of five.
I don’t know about you, but there is nothing worse than hearing foul language from a child. And in most cases, it’s totally appropriate to blame the parent, BUT if the child didn’t learn that word from the parent, it’s an unfair judgment.
I know, I know, society doesn’t live in your house, but in that moment, they do and it’s mortifying.
So do I grocery shop after he goes to bed? Learn how to cut his hair? Tape his mouth shut?
Grocery shop at night? Sometimes. Get his hair cut when he starts to look like Cousin It from the Addams Family? Yes. And no to taping his mouth shut, though his dad fantasizes about it.
Before frustration sets in, here is a handy acronym to help you get through those tough moments when you want the earth to swallow you whole.
Practice makes an improvement. In The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child, Dr. Kazdin recommends prompting your child before the situation occurs. Prompting is an effective parenting tool that you’ve been using all along.
Think about it. When someone gives your child a gift, you prompt your child to say thank you. Use the same method but tweak it to your situation.
Think it doesn’t work? Think back to your childhood. Remember the “we’re going to the store and we’re only getting these items, don’t ask for any toys speech and I mean it.”
Raise your hand if your mom gave you the “I dare you” stare to drive her point home.
Recognize your child’s triggers. If the bright lights, noisy machines, and the bustle of traffic aren’t distracting enough, then they came up with the brilliant idea to put random toy displays all over the place.
Toys are most children’s trigger, but ADHD takes it to a whole other level. In case of selective amnesia, there are a couple of products I recommend to keep your child busy while you shop.
Noise Reduction Headphones by Function and Function reduce noise levels by 20 decibels. Although these headphones can’t be used for music, they help your child function in a noisy environment. Less noise means less distraction.
Regulation Putty helps your child express their feeling and increase motor skills. The putty is filled with a facial mood that expresses a range of emotions. When your child is feeling anxious, she can squeeze the putty to help find the most appropriate feeling.
Exit immediately if things start to escalate. You may have to go to another aisle to calm your child or you may have to leave the store. It’s doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent, it means you made the best choice for you and your child.
The truth is, you know your limitations. Ever wonder why some parents pretend to go deaf when a kid is screaming their head off? Because some of them are experts at calling their child’s bluff and won’t give them the satisfaction of giving in.
How do you tell the difference between those parents and the other ones who appear deaf, those parents don’t look defeated. And they do not apologize.
Pick your battles. Finally, we have to learn when to stand our ground and when to let it go. Some days you win, some days the ADHD wins.
There isn’t any shame in losing, the shame comes when you give up.
Raising a child with ADHD means embarrassment, frustration, and sometimes anger. It also means you get up every day and do your best, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward. I’m rooting for you!
What about you? Has your child’s behavior embarrassed you? What did you do? I’d love to hear about it. Please share it in the comment section near the top right hand corner.