Reboot: Parenting Adult Kids
Penny Williams (00:32): Welcome to the Parenting ADHD Podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD, straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD-aholic and Mindset Mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started.
Reboot: parenting adult kids
Rebecca Branstetter (01:28): Yes, thanks for having me. So I'm Rebecca Branstetter and I'm a school psychologist. I'm also a mom of two elementary school aged daughters, myself. And it's interesting when this whole pandemic started, I really thought I would be prepared. And I would be prepared for whatever came my way. And then little did I know months and months and months into the pandemic, that there would still be challenges. So I'd literally done all the things, right. I created a cute space. I did visual aides. I primed my kids for what's going to happen. And we had a calming menu on the fridge and so should anyone have an outburst? We can go to our calming toolkit. Right. And I did everything right. And I literally, co-created a parenting course on distance learning and parenting.
Rebecca Branstetter (02:20): And I did another parenting course on how to cope with parenting yourself. And 50% of my children's children hated distance learning. Anyway my little one was so not having it. She's six. Despite all of my efforts. So I know that distance learning is hard for everyone. It's even hard for school psychologists to have PhDs on birthdays tough, but it's even tougher for like little ones. They're used to our hands on play guidance, instructions, visual cues, and then for kids with additional needs, it's really challenging. So parents, I think right now who are experiencing challenges or you're about to reboot might need some strategies to get out of what I call like a negativity spiral. Right. You can just get so, so stuck and I've been there. So I have some tried and tested strategies to get, how did that negativity spiral
Rebecca Branstetter (05:58): Nice segue into our first strategy. So as parents and as adults with frontal lobes that are fully developed, we often jump in with problem solving, right. We sit down and go, well, let's just start this first one. Or well, let's ask your teacher or what do you like? We jumped straight to cognitive functions, but when our kids are stressed, they're not available. They're in fight or flight. Their thinking and reasoning skills are not neurologically available. I mean, just think of the last time you were stressed, were you at your peak cognitive performance to like solve problems and dig in, deep focus, probably not. There's zero chance of success of problem solving until your child is regulated. And a lot of kids have families with additional needs really understand this. So my first strategy is when in doubt choose empathy, it is the neurologically fastest way to get your child to work with you, which is counterintuitive, right?
Rebecca Branstetter (06:55): It's hold off on problem solving process before problem solved. My favorite phrase that I've been using that down-regulates my kids and actually adults work with is it makes sense. You're feeling this way or I get why this is so tricky right now. I get why this is hard for you. It brings your kid back to that baseline level of calm for problem solving with you. Yeah, love that. So the second strategy is to, and this is something we all know, but kind of sometimes forget. And it's to build fun movement breaks throughout the day. And I emphasize fun because I know like my kids are in distance learning and if your kids are at home and they come on break and some kids just want to have a break, or some kids want to like actually even go onto some like computer game during break, which is like no eyeballs off screen.
Rebecca Branstetter (07:51): Right. So my new favorite and a lot of folks might know this one, but is go noodle for little ones. Go noodle is a YouTube channel. And it has really fun things. Like you can do little, two minute dance with Sonic, the hedgehog or Elsa or whoever. You can jump over a pickle with a moose, like these crazy little things that are super fun. And what's kind of a fun side effect is that my kids come in and I go to GoNoodle. And I take a break from my inbox and I'm like, wow, I needed that. I need to do adult adult recess tag. These things are mental reboots for kids. And then kids with ADHD or extra wiggly friends or kids who get overloaded need sensory breaks. I mean, you can just have them do some jumping jacks, push up fun stuff, right. Like chase me around the backyard, chase the puppy, whatever you need to do. But go noodle is one of my favorites for that quick break. And it's something that it's, yes, it's still a screen, but if you can do it with your kid, it's a nice break or you're not familiar with GoNoodle. Do you have any other movement breaks?
Rebecca Branstetter (11:47): We have been sorted into houses. You'll be happy to know my kids sorted me into Slitherin. But it was by default. They already took the other ones and they needed to fill a house. So I'm not going to take it personally. But one of the things that we did when our kids were sort of over it and we were about to start on like round two of distance learning is we collaborated on a school workspace make-over so the research for adult shows that clean workspaces trigger positive emotions and increased focus and productivity. And so this is true for kids too. So making a tidy and contained workspace make it fun instead of like a chore. Like if your kid loves Harry Potter, like my, we set up a little Hogwarts desk, right? We put little snitch lights above it.
Rebecca Branstetter (14:54): One day. They will literally never take no for an answer. But once we did that little five minute experiment, it didn't work. They moved on. So if your kid's like, I want to read upside down and you're like, that's a no, they're gonna balk at that. But if you say let's try that. And if you can still finish your worksheet, when you're done, go for it, kiddo. I mean, as an adult, I'm at a standing desk right now. I love it. It's almost like you got to sit down, I'd be like, come on. I don't want to, I don't work that way. All right. So again, you treat your kids how you wouldn't want someone to clean up your desk space for you. You wouldn't want someone to tell you how to sit. It's an experiment. So it would just be a little flexible with your kid. And especially during this time, give them a little control in a world of chaos.
Rebecca Branstetter (28:25): Yeah, absolutely. It just any kind of outdoor time is a counterbalance to the screen time. So one of the other strategies that I want to make sure we get to, and this is something that probably any any folks who have been listening to your podcast or have kids with additional needs know already where the reminder is remembering that your kids' behavior is communication. So if your kid's acting out, they're refusing to do their work. You may totally understandably get frustrated. It makes sense. You feel that way. Right. There's my phrase. And if you, you might even wonder like, Oh, are they giving me such a hard time? Like, why can't you just sit down and whatever, right? But in these moments, it's important to remember. They're not giving you a hard time. They're having a hard time. This is something that my co-creator of make it stick parenting.
Rebecca Branstetter (29:13): And I, Elizabeth Sautter, who you've had on a little while ago are constantly reinforcing. And it's actually just shifts that lens right back to that first strategy of empathy. There are behaviors communicating and unmet needs. So the next time your kid walks at the math worksheet instead of clamping down on compliance, just one of my strategies is notice and explore is a math too easy. Is it too hard? Are they distracted? Cause their birthday party just got canceled. Like get curious about what they're really to tell you with their behavior lean in with empathy. It makes sense that this is tough right now, instead of clamping down, just notice and explore like, Oh, what's up with your math today? What's going on for you? I, and we as adults have a lot of hypotheses about why kids are balking at stuff. And I'm telling you, when you ask them, like, I'm usually wrong.
Penny Williams (43:26): Fantastic. And we so appreciate it. For the show notes for everyone listening, go to parentingADHDandautism.com/113. I want to thank you again, Rebecca, for sharing some of your time and wisdom. It was so fun to talk to you and really dive into some amazing strategies to help our kids, which is also helping ourselves right through real, super challenging times. So I'll see everyone next time.
So while the trailer looks pretty family-friendly, the show is pretty much an adult one. Parents might want to watch an episode or two first before showing it to their kids. Mark your calendars for June 17!
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