Supporting Military Families During Deployment

It doesn’t matter what branch of the military, every family who has gone through a deployment of a spouse, son, daughter, or loved one, deals with a unique kind of stress and anxiety. Being away from home and your family can have a tremendous impact on mental health.

Families with a loved one who has been deployed deal with some top issues that were brought up in a study from 2018 by Blue Star Families (

One of the top stressors for military families during a deployment is financial. In this day and age, it is crucial to have two household incomes in order to support a family. However, there are serious roadblocks because the partner at home is virtually a single parent for a time. Meaning, they are absorbing the duties of household chores, childcare, transportation to appointments, etc. For any single parent this is difficult and in deployment situations, this can rock a typical routine that has been built.

Another stressor that has come up is that children of families with one parent being deployed are displaying more behavioral challenges. This can compound the stress of the parent at home as well. Frequent moves, relocations, and the uncertainty of a parent’s return also impact children and can cause higher levels of anxiety without a great understanding as to why they feel this way. This leads to some of those behavioral difficulties that arise as well. The relocation can also impact social relationships and development among children.

Many things can and should be done on a government level in order to better support families with a deployed loved one. Minimizing barriers like spousal employment and child care, as well as education, should be addressed to create the most stable experience. Connect with your local governments to identify ways you can support military families and get these needs and issues recognized and supported.

There are also things you can do to support families who have a deployed spouse that can make a big impact on their lives in a very positive way.

3 Ways to Support Military Families During Deployment

  1. Hang out: Families in the military can often feel more isolated. When appropriate, invite them to engage in regular activities such as having dinner, playing a game, or just talking. This can make a bigger impact than you may realize. Becoming closer friends with these families allows them to have a shoulder to lean on when things become stressful and emotionally tough.
  2. Provide a Helping Hand: Offer a play date for kids, run errands, assist with home repairs, offer to babysit, cook dinner, etc. Remember that a two person household runs much differently than when someone is doing it alone. Any and all assistance, big or small, can make a difference in the quality of everyone’s life.
  3. Volunteer: There are organizations all over the country that offer assistance for military families. It’s most often volunteers that help keep these organizations running. It may include an offer of a monetary donation, time, or a specific skill. You can find your personal states volunteer organizations by visiting

Remember that military families often do not stop serving once they return from deployment. There are supports needed to help these families recover and get back into a normal routine. For some this can be more difficult, so be sure use these simple ways of support not just during deployments, but also in returns.

For all those who have served, continue to serve, and those families who are impacted, we thank you for your service.

Family Attitude of Gratitude

With the holidays approaching, and Thanksgiving as soon as next week, the time of intentionally giving thanks is upon us. Being thankful, appreciating what you have, and expressing gratitude shouldn’t be reserved for the holiday season. It should be expressed everyday for a number of reasons. Keeping a gratitude journal alleviates symptoms of anxiety and depression by focusing the mind on positives. You’re likely to feel calmer and happier because that becomes the focus of your days, rather than the problems and issues.

Of course problems and issues will arise. That’s the story of life, but if you have a bank of happiness from expressing gratitude and recognizing the positive things you have going for you or around you, you’re more likely to not feel overwhelmed by those issues and actually think more calmly and clearly to resolve your own feelings and the problem.

Practicing gratitude is beneficial for adults and children. It can be difficult for a family to develop this practice, as it does not always feel natural in our current culture. We live in a world of instant gratification. A world in which patience is difficult, and down time is inclusive of scrolling social media or playing video games.

To initiate a feeling of gratitude among children and overall within your family, you must practice what you preach. Modeling giving thanks, identifying positives in a difficult situation, and verbalizing how you might breathe and look at the bright side are all ways to show your children exactly how to engage in a attitude of gratitude. The true secret though is to keep it up so that it becomes a normal habitual practice. In order to create a true attitude of gratitude, you must keep it up all year, not just during the holiday season.

4 Ways to Incorporate Daily Gratitude into Your Family

  1. Daily Gratitude Sharing: Create a time and place within your family where you identify the things that you were thankful for today. For many families, meal times and/or bed time is great time to do this. But don’t limit yourself! This can be done on car rides, bath times, before sitting down and watching a movie, etc. Sharing what everyone is grateful for is a positive conversation starter and can help children in learning about unique things they could be grateful for. It allows families to be open about things that might be difficult, but being able to still finding positives during their day. Encourage everyone to share different things that they are grateful for that day and to be specific as to why. You’ll have a bank of positive experiences to look back on and a great family motto.
  2. Gratitude Jar: You could also make a board with this. Once a week, day, month, or whatever works for your family, everyone puts a note in the jar about something they are most grateful for. Many people start in the month of November and then read the things they wrote on New Years eve. But like I said, if you want a true attitude of gratitude, this doesn’t just come once a year. Keep a jar or board the whole year and then look back at the end of the year and start again. A jar is a great way to keep the mystery alive and excitement for things at the end of the year, but a board offers a more visual representation and focus for some families.
  3. Gratitude Journal: Different from a jar or board, as this is often a more personal activity. Ideally, each person spends a few minutes writing out some of the things they feel grateful for. Everyone has their own decorated journal and it can be private or shared. For some people, this is an excellent expression for gratitude, while for others the idea of writing invokes feelings of resentment and annoyance. Adjust by making it a family journal and one person being a scribe. Allow younger children to draw pictures and illustrate almost like a book. Sharing aloud at dinner or bedtime can be ideal as well. Putting limits on such as only coming up with three good things can be helpful too.
  4. Giving Back/Volunteering: Once a month or more, allow one family member to choose a volunteer activity that everyone participates in. This could be as simple as cleaning up a park, writing letters to children in the hospital, or cooking a meal or treat for a neighbor. The act of giving back to people embraces the idea that you already have enough and are in a position to be able to give. Even simpler things such as surprising a family member by doing a chore you know they dread doing is a act of kindness that gives back and puts someone else’s well being and happiness at your own focus.

Have a wonderful holiday and remember to give back all year!

Thanksgiving During a Pandemic

The holidays can be wonderful and also exhausting. They are a time for families to come together from near and far to celebrate their bond. But let’s be honest, sometimes holidays are stressful because we might not get along with everyone in our families.

Family doesn’t necessarily mean biological relation. It’s the people we feel like we can be ourselves with. The people we can speak to about our problems. At least, that’s what we think it should be. But family can be stressful. Usually they’re spread out across the state or country living in realities much different than hours. Having different view points on issues such as how to raise your kids, political stances, and different personalities can all make holidays stressful and at times uncomfortable. Everyone hopefully tries to get along, but there may be some tiptoeing around which can be awkward, or everything blows up which would be even more uncomfortable.

That dynamic is all in the past though. The year of 2020 and the pandemic means that families this year will not be traveling to each other and there probably won’t be large gatherings around a table to eat. The stressors are not about seeing people, they’re about not seeing people. People are stressed about keeping their friends and family safe during this time, which can put a hindrance on the celebratory time of the year.

This year will be quieter, smaller, and less involved. Families will be piecing together ways to see each other including smaller gatherings spread out over the week, video meets during meal times in order to see everyone, extra holiday cards and more.

So how do we deal with the feelings of missing our families? What should we be doing instead? How do we make the holidays feel normal in a time when it’s impossible to do so? Here are a few tips!

Five Tips for Thanksgiving during a Pandemic

Dine Virtually: The most popular option, schedule a zoom call or google meet with your family members all over. During the drinks and appetizers, or even during the meal. To make this extra special, try and broadcasts your family on a TV screen to make it a little more realistic that they’re there in the living room. Suggestions from the NY Times include Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub Max.

Order and/or Send Food: It’s likely to be a smaller group so cut yourself some slack and see if your local restaurants are having Thanksgiving day specials. Another way to stay connected to your family is sending each other recipes, ingredients, or baked goods like cookies. If they’re local, make some of your dishes and drop off a portion at their house. They can even drop their own specialties off at yours. That way you’re all spending the holiday together eating the same meal.

Scale it Back: In the past, you may have made dishes you don’t even like, but it’s been a tradition, or it’s the only thing that someone else in the family really likes. Depending on the group you have this year, prioritize all the things you really like and don’t feel like you need to make so many sides this year. Not as many people to help with clean up or to take the leftovers home mean it’s all on you, so prepare smartly. You can also take this time to try out some new recipes with fewer people coming.

Celebrate Outside: If you live in a warmer climate, consider having your meal outside which would give people more room to remain socially distant. You can also have a few more people over if you’re able to follow the guidelines to remain safe. If you live in a colder climate, you could also consider a outdoor patio heater.

Ditch Tradition (Or Start New Ones): If you’ve got new recipes stacking up, dig one out and try it! Don’t feel tied down to the traditional foods of turkey and pumpkin pie. Choose the things you like, mix up the order and timing. Spend an hour or two volunteering as a small group/family. Watch a movie together or go for a walk. Start new traditions now and have a unique day as this is a unique year.

Whatever you choose to do, be safe above all else. It’s one year without tradition for the sake of everyone’s health. In it’s own way, it will be a year to remember.

Why teach kids Mindfulness?

The term mindfulness continues to gain more momentum as the benefits of practicing mindfulness are continuing to grow. In a nutshell, mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. More deeply, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings thoughts and bodily sensations used as a therapeutic technique.

Mindfulness can be seated, walking, standing or moving. It can consist of short pauses we insert into everyday lives, and it can be used as a mediation practice and accompanied by other activities such as yoga.

Many people struggle with mindfulness because they are focused on the benefits and not on the practice itself. Some of those benefits include a reduction of stress, enhanced performance, increased insight and awareness, and increased attention to other’s well being. Mindfulness meditation is a time where we suspend judgement and approach life experience with kindness.

As adults, we sometimes underestimate children. We have a tendency to believe that if we couldn’t do something, they won’t be able to do either. It’s difficult enough for us as adults who are able to control so much about our lives, to let go and be fully in one moment. Why would we spend time teaching kids to do this too. For many, it may seem like an impossible task with few to little benefits.

Teaching mindfulness to children though, can have great effects in the short term in terms of relationships, school performance, and emotional regulation, and even greater long term effects as they enter adulthood. Mindfulness has been shown to increase children’s confidence and their ability to build their own confidence, cope with stress, and relate to uncomfortable and/or unexpected moments. There are also three skills that are better shaped when mindfulness is included. These are, paying attention and remembering information, transitioning back and forth between different tasks, and behaving appropriately with others. These are actually categorized as executive functioning skills. Executive functioning skills are affected by numerous mental health disorders, but the most obvious is ADHD. As children get older, they will need to be able to complete more advanced executive functioning skills such as reasoning, planning, problem solving, and forming positive relationships.

So the question isn’t really why to teach kids mindfulness. The question is why not?

If you’re feeling stuck on where to start, there are numerous resources online including youtube videos for the whole family to take part in. Some great places to start include and the Zen Den. Use these resources and practice some activities like a family. It is difficult to teach your child these skills if you cannot access them or do not know them as well.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Families

Post traumatic stress disorder can occur after a person has been through a trauma. A traumatic event is inclusive of anything from a car accident, to witnessing a death, being involved in a natural disaster, or involvement in an act of violence towards oneself or someone else. It is a person’s emotional and mental reaction to the event that determines whether someone develops PTSD.

Going through a trauma is not rare. Women tend to experience trauma in the form of sexual assault and/or child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury.

According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will develop PTSD in their lives. About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. About 10 of every 100 women develop PTSD in comparison to 4 out of every 100 men. In 2012 there were more suicides by combat military than deaths while in combat, and 20% of national suicides were completed by veterans.

Families are often effected by loved one who have PTSD. For the purposes of this post, we will be concentrating on military families specifically. Someone who is diagnosed with PTSD will find it difficult to function regularly as a parent or partner. The impact of these changes can lead to unmet family needs and increased stress within the family.

Because people with PTSD, especially those who were involved in military combat, are easily startled and have nightmares, family members can be easily scared by differences in reactions. Avoidance of social situations can also take a toll on other family members. There is a higher likelihood of family violence and marital problems as well. Coping skills for PTSD and the symptoms of depression, anxiety, guilt, and avoidance can lead to health problems such as drinking, drugs, smoking, and not exercising etc. Family members who are helping their loved one with PTSD often forget to help themselves as well.

Children are also impacted by family members with PTSD. Children often do not understand their parents symptoms and new behaviors. If a parent is re-experiencing traumatic events, they themselves are likely feeling scared, and children often feel scared as well. Children may also worry about their parent and want to take care of them but not know how. Children can respond in ways that include: behaving like their parent as a way to connect, acting more like an adult in the situation, behavior problems – particularly at school and in other relationships, as well as increases in anxiety and worriedness. Children have a higher possibility of developing secondary PTSD.

To help children, remember to keep the conversation open to them. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings. If they are identifying trying to take care of their parent, make the roles clear so that they remain responsible for age appropriate things. Depending on the child, their own individual therapy may also be beneficial.

Military families have additional stressors such as deployment, missing out on family milestones such as a birth of child or developmental milestones, and not knowing if a family member will return home due to a huge lack of communication and combat situations.

How to Help Your Loved One

Educate yourself on PTSD, offer to go to appointments for medical and or psychiatric reasons with your family member, be open to talking as well as refrain from pressuring them to talk, plan normalized family activities like going for a walk or the movies, and encourage contact with friends and family to keep up a good support system.

It is not uncommon for a family member to not want your help. Withdrawal is normal, so give space but remain available for when the moment feels better for them.

Take care of yourself! Don’t give up on your outside life and your own family and friends whom you can lean on for support. You cannot change someone so don’t feel bad, guilty, or responsible if things do not happen quickly. Get professional help for yourself and family if needed.

Visit U.S. Veteran Affairs for more information and tips on how to help your family member.

Caregiving for Loved Ones with Dementia

Dementia is not a single specific disease, but an overall term that encompasses several medical conditions including Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body Dementia, Vascular Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, and other disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. Alzheimer’s accounts for the majority of cases. Dementia in general is a term used to group disorders that are caused by abnormal brain changes. These changes result in a decline of cognitive abilities that impair daily life and independent functioning, as well as behaviors, feelings, and relationships.

According to the CDC (center for disease control), 80% of people diagnosed with dementia, (60%-80% with Alzheimer’s), are taken care of in their homes and usually by a family member. This comes to about 16 million people who are caring for family members each year who have been diagnosed with dementia and most often Alzheimer’s. About two-thirds of caregivers are women who will contribute to the total of 17 billions unpaid hours of care in a year. About one in three caregivers is over the age of 65 and one quarter of caregivers are termed as “sandwich caregivers” meaning they are caring for an older generation as well as children under the age of 18. More than half of caregivers who are caring for a person with dementia give care for four years or more and expect to have these responsibilities for five years or more. This is greatly larger than caregivers who are caring for someone without dementia.

Caring for your loved one can make all the difference in their care and does have benefits for both parties. For many family members, there is a peace of mind in knowing that their loved one is in a familiar setting and their most comfortable. Having the opportunity to spend quality time and give back to a loved one can also be fulfilling. Your bond can become stronger and deepen.

However, as dementia advances, a loved one’s needs generally increase and the caregivers’ responsibilities become more challenging. Many dementia caregivers experience sadness, loneliness, depression, and anxiety at some point due to the pressure and challenges. Fatigue and exhaustion can also become chronic as well as increased financial and work complications. Many caregivers experience compassion fatigue and burnout. This can lead to a poor relationship between you and your loved one, strain on personal relationships, and unfortunately can also lead to elder abuse (physical, financial, emotional, and neglect).

What can you do?

Preparing for the road ahead. Learning more about your loved ones diagnosis can help you prepare for future challenges, reduce frustrations, and keep expectations realistic and reasonable. Research options for long-term care and different kinds of care your loved one may need. The better prepared you are, the easier things will be.

Have a personal support plan. More than likely, caring for a loved one will not be the only job at a time. It takes skill, patience, and support from others and for yourself in order to have it all balanced. Ask for help. Make use of available resources. Join a support group. Talking to someone, exercising, planning your own self care, etc.

Develop routines. This is not just for the person with dementia, but also for the caregiver. The benefits are good for both. Things run more smoothly and give both people a sense of consistency. Plan and vary activities that will be successful and are of interest for your loved one. Getting time outdoors is also greatly beneficial.

Whatever your situation, there are always services available and people to help. Do not put yourself last. Be the best you can be by taking care of yourself first. Your loved one will thank you.

Family Caregivers – Beating Compassion Fatigue

We spend a lot of time talking about children, but what about the older generations? As we progress through time, so many adult children are finding themselves taking care of their parents. In some cases, there is no serious mental or physical illness, but at times there can be severe illnesses. According to, adults spend an average of 44 hours a week caregiving, for a loved one. Caregiving can range from grocery shopping, meal prepping, managing finances and medications, to transportation for doctors appointments and other activities.

There are numerous benefits to taking care of your own family members as they age. However, when we are taking care of someone else, we tend to forget about ourselves or make ourselves a second priority. Caregiving can create feelings of guilt and worry, and overall fatigue. Many caregivers suffer from depression and strain in their other personal relationships. Especially during this time of the pandemic, isolation of caregivers is even greater as their loved ones are typically at higher risk of contracting the virus and rigid safety precautions around social distancing are put into place.

Compassion fatigue is extremely common, and particularly high in caregivers who were not given a choice in caregiving. This can be dangerous because it can strain relationships, break down communication, and cause resentment of yourself and the people you care about.

So what do you do?
  • Make self care a priority: You can’t pour from an empty cup. As wrong as it may feel to take a break and put yourself first, you must if you want to keep going. Explore different options for self care like aromatherapy, massage, baths, exercise.
  • Join a support group: Talking to people who have a similar experience gives you the time and space to vent. To compare your experience with others and gain insights and connections to make yourself feel more supported.
  • Spend time with friends: Remember that your own socialization is important. Be fully present when engaging in other relationships to give your mind a break and establish connection with others who can give back to you.
  • Spend time on hobbies: Your life cannot revolve around taking care of someone else. Not in a long term way. You are deserving of an enriching and interesting life and there is no need for guilt when you take time to pursue these other interests.

There are multitudes of resources to check out. can help connect you with more information and supports such as financial and paying for care, and your own self care. And as always, reach out to a therapist for further support and connections to supplemental resources.

Halloween Tips for Kids with Autism

It’s easy for children with Autism to get lost and left out of many holiday traditions, but especially halloween. There is not only a social component of having to understand social cues and speak, but also a sensory one in wearing a costume that may be mentally wanted by the child, but physically uncomfortable. There are often loud noises and/or bright lights during Halloween whether they be at parties or decoration on houses. These can invoke more fear and stress. Dietary restrictions can come into play, not just for children with Autism, and make the separation of receiving candy and having fun with peers an even wider gap.

However, just because your child, or a child you know, has Autism, doesn’t meant that they cannot successfully and happily engage in the tradition that many other children do. There just may need to be some modifications, extra preparation, and overall patience on everyone’s part.

When getting ready for Halloween, children in general, but especially children on the spectrum, benefit from advanced notice and planning so that they are aware of expectations and events. This helps decrease anxiety by preparing a child to know what is an appropriate reaction to events beforehand instead of having to figure it out in the moment.

5 Tips for BEFORE Halloween

  1. Find and read some social stories about what Halloween may be like for your child. You can even prompt your child to draw and make a story themselves about what they will be doing on Halloween. This eliminates the surprise of what Halloween is and reveals the expectation of events leading to a decrease in stress for you and your child.
  2. Have your child try on their costume BEFORE Halloween. Make sure it fits comfortably so as not to add unnecessary distress on the day of their fun. It can also be helpful to have your child try on their costume multiple times and for extended periods of time so that they become more accustomed to it if they feel a little uncomfortable in it initially.
  3. If your child doesn’t like their costume, don’t make them wear it. Talk about the situation with them and see what it is that they don’t like or makes them feel uncomfortable. Modify the costume so that they can wear it over their clothes. Consider something simple such as butterfly wings or even a hat so that they still have the opportunity to dress up just like other children.
  4. If your child has food allergies or sensitivities, talk about this with your child and come up with an alternative plan for receiving treats. Visit neighbors houses and give them candy that can be given only to your child. Make your own candies or treat and let your child trick or treat normally, then give them their candy in a separate basket/bucket. Or, let neighbors know the candy isn’t necessary and give your child their treat instead.
  5. PRACTICE! Walk the route you plan on taking. Practice going up to a neighbors house (if possible) and ring the bell/knock on the door and say trick or treat and receiving candy (or what your alternative plan is for treats). Let your child know that there will be more children out, and possibly more children at one door at a time and decide if you want to wait for space to go up alone or go up with a group.
Visit to print your own free social story!

3 Tips for the Day of Halloween

  1. Recognize a child’s limits. There is no need to push your child to visit a certain number of houses or to be out for a certain amount of time. Even when you practice, your child may feel differently the day of. Give positive reinforcement for any number of houses your child visits, even if it’s only two or three, and see if you can increase next year.
  2. Choose an alternative to trick or treating. Visit a community or neighborhood party. Include people your child is already familiar and comfortable with like close friends and family. Plan on activities within your own home if your child is afraid to go out at night. It’s good to also have a back up plan if the day of your child becomes too nervous or afraid.
  3. Allow your child to give out candy at your own home. Staying inside can decrease anxiety, and your child is able to practice giving out candy and helping while still wearing their costume and participating in the traditions.

Halloween is going to be unique this year no matter what. The physical safety of everyone is of the utmost importance. Please be sure to take all necessary precautions against COVID-19 regardless of if you are going house to house, a halloween party, walking through the mall, etc.

5 Tips to Tame the Tantrum

“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it is our job to share our calm not join their chaos.”

L. R. Knost

Tantrums are actually a very normal part of child development. They are the way in which children learn to express themselves about anything and everything. Whether it be discomfort, fear, or not receiving something they want.

Children who have a mental health diagnosis may have a more difficult time developing emotionally and we may see tantrum behaviors into later years.

Tantrums at any age are exhausting and frustrating, and depending on the chronological age of your child, has the potential to be dangerous. Attempts to diffuse tantrums often end up backfiring because as adults, we become overly frustrated with the expression of the emotions as they are not socially acceptable. However, we have to remember, that becoming upset ourselves, never helps. When we lose control of our emotions, we react impulsively just like our child. Two impulsive and emotional beings does not help de-escalate anyone.

More often than not, the hardest thing to offer is what a child needs the most. And that would be a calming, positive approach. These next few tips help not only children as young as toddlers and elementary aged, but are also great to use whenever a conflict arises with other adults.

5 Tips to Taming a Tantrum

  1. Check in with yourself and remain calm: Do you notice how when somebody yells at you or says something in a way that rubs you the wrong way, you tend to bristle right back? Children are picking up on our tones and body language all the time. When you go into a conflict, the first thing you want to do is check in how you yourself feel in this moment. Do what you need to do to calm yourself down whether that be taking a deep breath or counting to 10. Recognize how you feel, and remind yourself that this moment won’t last forever and you can do it. Your child is not trying to give you a hard time, they’re just having a hard time.
  2. Listen, validate, and use positive language: We have a tendency to want to fix the problem right away, but we don’t even know what the actual problem is. Listen to the words and the tone of your child, notice their behaviors and first try to validate that you understand how they’re feeling before correcting or trying to offer help. If you can avoid using the word no, try.

3. Give the situation time and space: This isn’t always possible to do if your child starts having a meltdown in public, but if you have some privacy at home or are able to, do not rush the child out of their emotions. It’s helpful to think about in your head, that you can have a 15 minute crying and yelling fit, or you can have a 45 minute verbal fight with those previously mentioned behaviors and more.

4. Try a calming distraction: If there is an item of comfort that is easily accessible, offering that can be extremely helpful as it invokes a different emotional response. If you can catch your child early enough, trying calming activities like blowing bubbles or balloons or even doing yoga, stretching, or using a weighted blanket can teach a more positive way to get feelings out before verbally explaining and interacting with others about the needs are. If the child is throwing things, hitting, or running, be sure to assess the situation for anything that could threaten the child’s or anyone else’s safety. If possible, remove your child from the situation in which the tantrum began. Hugging can also be very beneficial, but be sure to ask your child if they need a hug first.

5. Be prepared, consistent, and don’t cave! If you give into a situation, you are more likely to see the same behaviors repeatedly. We want to use tantrum behaviors as a way to teach children that their emotions are natural, but how we express them and have our needs met must be controlled. Be consistent and confident in your choices, even when it may be easier to just end the behaviors. When you know that your child has had a tantrum in a specific situation before, it’s also helpful to prepare your child and yourself for the situation to come. Use the same phrases and have your child practice what they will say and do before going into a triggering situation.

Above all, remember that you’re human. Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes we get upset or give in. Do your best, and remember that a tantrum is typically not personal, but simply an expression and an opportunity to grow and learn.

Parenting your Child who has ADHD

Parenting itself is not easy. And when we add on mental health diagnoses it can be much more difficult. You may not know what to expect even if your child doesn’t have a mental health diagnosis, and if they do, you really don’t know what is typical or not.

ADHD is typically diagnosed pretty early. Once a child is in school, it can be even more apparent that there are difficulties concentrating, staying still, getting along with peers etc. However, you may notice this at home as well. And if not, you may start to notice once your child has been identified in a school system. It can be difficult for parents and children to be put on the spot and told that there is something wrong. Many children with ADHD are “othered” within their classroom and labeled as being the problem and always needing to be spoken to. The calls that teachers make home are typically behavior reports (and not the good kind). This can be stressful for parents as well because you want your child to succeed, not receive a negative label, and be successful in school.

So, what you can you do to make your child’s life positive and successful, and your own life a little less stressful?

One of the best things you can do, is make a predictable routine for you and your child. When things are predictable and organized, there is no gray area to question what is expected. Be clear about your expectations from the beginning and what the consequences (positive or negative) are. The more predictable, the more likely, that your child will start to learn things and practice them on autopilot. They can be as simple as coming home every day and hanging up a book-bag in the same place, and opening up the same folder for work, and sitting at the same spot at the table to work.

Children with ADHD are often “in trouble” because they are distracted, interrupting, or forgetting things. While it’s important to correct behavior and encourage the behavior you want, we also don’t want to get stuck always correcting a child. Children with ADHD are more likely to have low self esteem from constantly being told they are doing something wrong. For every correction you give a child, tell them one or two things they did right. Catch your child doing what you would expect them to do. You don’t need to be overjoyed for a simple act of completing a task, but validate and recognize it because you know that was more difficult compared to other children. Give your child things to be proud of in themselves. It will encourage them to keep trying and know that they aren’t the problem, they just have more difficulties in certain areas than others.

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, getting your child, and even yourself into individual or family counseling can help with knowing where to start. Every child is unique and different. Some children may not have the hyperactive piece of ADHD and only require certain skills to be in place. It’s important for you and your child to be on the same page and know what the expectations are. The more wishy washy and unclear, the more likely you and your child will feel frustrated.