when to not be flexible with your ADHD kids?

so, I recently wrote a post about flexibility in the morning with my youngest in terms of him brushing his teeth after breakfast. You can refer to that if you’d like. But, there is another side. Not everything can be flexed to make it optimal for him. I use it glib and hyperbolic term to refer to the stuff we really need to focus on as “the hill we die on.”

so the morning routine, in large part, doesn’t have to go in a certain order. As I discussed, there is a logical order. There is an order that makes at least likely that we will forget stuff. But ultimately, when you go to the bathroom, when you brush your teeth, when you eat breakfast, as long as all those things happen, doesn’t really matter.

of course, my 8-year-old wanted to change the one thing that is sequentially important. He wanted to start taking his pills after breakfast. That’s a no-go, for several reasons. One, we want those pills in him as quickly as possible so that he’s medicated for camp / summer school, and maybe even getting out of the house if he takes them early enough. Two, if he takes them too late it may mean more overlap in the midday with his afternoon pills. Actually, that’s not the end of the world. You take such a small dose that it doesn’t really affect his appetite. If anything he eats better cuz you can focus. But I’d still like to avoid that overlap if it all possible. Third, unlike brushing teeth, taking the pills is 100% essential. If he doesn’t brush his teeth, no small children will die and to no empires will fall. Not taking his pills would not be great. He could survive a morning without the stimulants. But I really don’t want to get into the effects of missing the mood stabilizer.

and really, that’s also the straw that breaks my executive function camel’s back. Trying to get him to finish breakfast while I make sure his bag is ready and then having to remember the backpack, the lunch, the shoes, the teeth, the sunscreen, the bug spray… And make sure the pills are taken. That’s too much for me and putting the only really important thing in that list feels like an opportunity for me to miss it. It’s very rare, but there have been a couple of days over the last year that I’ve had to take pills to school on a day that I wasn’t in charge in the morning because they didn’t get taken.

and one last thing. His desire to take the pills after breakfast has no bearing on reality. And this is a really difficult thing with a dysregulated 8-year-old who has a hard time expressing himself and also has a bunch of sensory issues. We can’t always tell why he wants to do something the way he wants to do it. Sometimes that’s because there is no rhyme or reason and he’s just dysregulated. Sometimes he can tell us what the issue is. Sometimes we have to figure out or Intuit what the issue is. And sometimes it’s just not worth the fight whether or not there is a real issue. So maybe he doesn’t like brushing his teeth before breakfast cuz it affects the taste of his breakfast. Maybe it’s just a line he’s drawn in the sand because he’s somewhat oppositional. Doesn’t really matter. We have the ability to be flexible on that. Whereas with the pills, he’s taking his pills before breakfast every day for the last year and a half. There’s no reason to try to be flexible about this, especially considering the stakes, when there doesn’t seem to be any reason to do it.

so what’s my point? I’m not sure. Parenting kids with issues is hard. I can’t wait until he’s old enough to be able to express himself better. But also something I’m working on as a parent is to be less intimidating so that when he does come to me with his thoughts and feelings, I don’t dismiss them. Because I do think sometimes he does know what’s going on and is afraid to tell me. No, that’s not all my fault. He also has to learn to understand that sometimes the answer is no. Not as strong suit. I guess my point is, be flexible everywhere you can because there’s no sense fighting a fight you don’t need to fight and be really selective about the things you do go to the wall for.

Standard disclaimer: I promised myself when I started this blog that I would post regularly, hopefully weekly. In order to achieve this goal, I have to fight against my own perfectionists. That means I edit very little if at all. I’m focusing on content not on detail. So please forgive any mypellings grammatical / punctuation mishaps, and anything Strange like weird capitalizations due to my using voice recognition.