By Fatima Kazee, mum to a professor, a super hero and a little princess. Part-time wife to a fanatical fisherman. She’s addicted to sneakers anything chocolatey & is an invaluable part of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.
The battle still continues within me about whether ADHD actually exists and whether my son indeed has been blessed with its tendencies. Other days I wonder if perhaps motherhood has simply drained all patience, rationality and soundness of mind from me and in turn I have become super sensitive to someone who constantly has a problem with every possible thing in his little life. Either way, there are definitely a few parenting rules I have learnt along the way and which I try to apply most days:
1. A strict and structured routine for your child. They seem to thrive on the monotony (so do I) and become accustomed to what to expect next. (no surprises)
2. Always give warnings. “We’re leaving in 10 minutes, you need to be ready” That way there is enough time to find your shoes, jump on the bed while putting them on, find the piece of fluff to put in your brothers ear and get to the car to fight for the front seat.
3. Do not make promises you can’t keep. Ever. Because he will remember it days and months later as it seems only the negative sticks in his mind. “Mum, remember last year when you promised to make me pancakes but then you said you were too tired?” “Me: Remember that time I went through labour without painkillers with you for 6 hours?”
4. Try not to stress him out unnecessarily. So if he doesn’t want to go across the highest shaky bridge in SA (Oribi Gorge), then pretend that you’re scared and he is staying behind to “look” after you (really, I wasn’t scared). Don’t ever force the issue unless it’s a matter of life and death, which it rarely is.
5. Explain in detail where you are going and what is to be expected. So if you’re going on holiday show him some photos of the place you’ll be staying at so he has a picture of what to expect in his mind. Also add in details of whether there is wifi, TV, ice-cream…
6. Give him some time to unwind every day. With the routines in place he also needs time out to just relax and do nothing. I guess I could do with that as well.
7. Don’t feed the frenzy. Tricky one but try not to indulge the behaviour when he becomes uncontrollable because he is losing the game of Uno. It’s not fair. Don’t allow it.
8. Give one instruction at a time. “Go make your bed, put your shoes away and hang the towel up” Nope, this doesn’t work. One at a time.
9. Always, always be emotionally uplifting. These kids seem to have an innate negative energy absorber that will conveniently negate all attempts at encouragement. “But no-one passes me the ball in soccer.” “Me in my head: Yes but you were looking at the birds all through the game, maybe that’s why” “Me to him: Of course they did, remember that time it hit you on your leg?” But seriously, do remain positive and reinforcing.
10. Let him have plenty of outdoor activity. It’s difficult these days because there is so much going on in our lives but they need it. The sun. The grass. The air. Maybe kick a ball around to improve those soccer skills.
11. Don’t lose your cool. At least not too often. They are testing, as I know my other 2 kids are too but you need to just breath, let go and take it easy.
12. Spend one-on-one time with him. Dad should too. Just so that he feels the love and attention by himself and so that he can connect with you.
13. Now that it is Ramadaan and we’ve been fasting, I’ve seen him have a completely passive temperament which I can only attribute to the consistent blood sugar levels he has. I feel it too, less anxious and calmer. So that means there is great merit to a good healthy, low sugar and natural diet for everyone.
Looking at it now perhaps these self-imposed parenting rules ought to apply to any parent of any kind of kid. And so the learning continues…