Before giving birth to Pipay in June 2011, my unborn baby was moving a lot. There was even a point when I couldn’t sleep because of the movements inside my tummy. I wanted to know why she kept on moving so the doctor advised me to have an ultrasound.
I chose the traditional 2D since it was much cheaper than the 4D ultrasound price. The latter would have been more helpful to get a much better view. Unfortunately, my OB/GYN just told me that my baby just loved moving around. As a result, I endured sleepless nights, but I just enjoyed those moments until she was born.
The beginning of suspicions
Pipay is my only daughter and the only granddaughter of my parents. It was 2 years old when I started noticing how she never stayed put in one place. During those times, when I told her to sit down, she would run away. When I placed her in the crib, she managed to climb out from it. She never knew how to stay still even just for one second, and it was like she never got tired from all the playing and running around. It was like she brought out her activeness when she was still in my tummy.
At first, I didn’t mind it because I know it’s normal for children to move a lot during their toddler years. But because of how she could never stay put, my sister, at times, teased Pipay, saying that she has ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. I didn’t want to get that in my head since I knew it was just a joke.
However, I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of having an ADHD child, especially when my daughter couldn’t even say MOMMY at the age of two. She couldn’t look at me straight to the eyes, and she always got distracted. I begin to suspect. I did a bit of research myself and found out my observations coincided with the symptoms of inattention issues in children. I told myself to be calm and just wait until I consulted a doctor.
When suspicions caught you off guard
Two years passed, Pipay turned 4, and yet, nothing much has changed, or should I say, it was even much harder for me to control her. I have to admit that it has never been easy for me since I raise her on my own. I couldn’t fully give my attention to her because I was working and helping out at home.
Despite those circumstances, I enrolled Pipay in preschool, hoping that she would change. She was in a new environment, and she already had friends to play with. However, it was still all the same, and I felt so sorry for the teacher who took care of her. Handling Pipay was like having to look after a whole class.
Months after observing Pipay in school, I decided to consult a pediatrician in September 2015 since I didn’t know what type of doctor I should go to. As expected, the pediatrician suspected that she may have ADHD. But what broke me down to tears was when the doctor also suspected characteristics of mild autism. Honestly, I prepared myself for the ADHD, not the autism.
It was difficult for me to accept what the pediatrician said, but thankfully, she gave me the contact details of a child behavior specialist. I called the clinic the next month and asked for the price. It costed around $50 per hour.
I didn’t have enough money that time, so I made the schedule in December 2016. The scheduled day came, and to cut it short, the specialist gave a diagnosis of suspected ADHD. She advised me not to expose Pipay to gadgets, including television, and most importantly, I should be consistent yet authoritative with my rules and expectations.
Frankly speaking, I can’t follow the no-gadget rule for my daughter since it is one of the ways to keep her still, while I work. Yes, I know it’s not ideal to give her my smartphone or tablet, but there are times when you can’t handle the behavior.
However, being her mother for almost six years, I came up with 5 solutions to help me deal with her inattention and hyperactivity. I had no choice. Yelling at her will not work. I had to do find other ways since it’s costly to let her undergo a therapy. My methods are not scientific yet they work for me, and I’m hoping they will work for other parents as well.
Establish a routine and make sure that your child follows it every day.
I tell you, it’s a bit difficult to do this, and it takes a lot of time. But if you really want to see positive changes in your child, then you should do your best to let him or her follow certain routines and rituals. This will help them become predictable and can be comforting during undesirable situations.
For example, I tell Pipay to keep her toys after playing, to wash her hands before eating, and to urinate before going to sleep. These are simple, everyday activities, but they help your child remain organized and focused.
Be consistent in saying NO, but do it without raising your voice.
This is one of the best things I learned in raising my daughter. Children with ADHD have the tendency to make tantrums when they don’t get what they want. And to avoid being in an embarrassing situation, you just give in to what the child likes.
Well, I’ve done that so many times, and I end up spoiling my daughter. However, I keep on telling myself to be consistent as well. If I say NO to her, then I should be firm with it. If she ends up crying on the floor, then I try to distance myself and wait until she stops her whining. There’s no need for you to shout, especially when there are a lot of people. You may end up on Facebook for all we know.
Clearly set the rules and limitations.
When you set rules for your child, always makes sure that he or she understands it. As much as possible, write or draw the scenarios on a piece of board so that they can easily grasp what you’re trying to say. Plain words may not be enough, especially when they can’t read yet. Hang the board or stick it on the fridge so that they can see it clearly.
If you see them following your rules, then recognize their efforts or reward them with something they like. But if they refuse to abide by your limitations, then be sure to explain the consequences you have set for them. Apparently, children with ADHD are able to respond well when rules and limitations are organized with corresponding rewards and/or consequences
If you can’t control their energy, then join and play with them.
This actually boils down to the time you spend with them. My mother once told me that Pipay is having attention problems because she actually wants my attention. That struck me for real. I have realized that I need to spend some time with her and be as hyper as she is. Have one day or, at least, a few hours with our children and just be crazy with them.
No matter how busy we are, and whether we are single parents or not, it is important to have quality time with our kids. Maybe the reason why they misbehave is because they just want us to be with them. Our work is important, yes, but it’s definitely more worthwhile if we are hands-on in taking care of our kids. You get to see them grow while letting them feel that you are always there for them.
Always make them feel that you love them.
Personally, this is one of the most important things to do. Never ever let them feel that they are a burden to you. Never ever say bad things about them. And never ever get physical with them. I admit, I have spanked Pipay when she was too unbearable, but I felt so bad about it. I said sorry to her. Despite being angry, I really didn’t want to make her feel that I hate her. Most of all, give them hugs and kisses every day and every time they ask for those gestures.
You know, it’s still a learning process. I still get mad when she does something wrong, but the best part is, she says “sorry Mommy” right away. Unlike before, she listens to me now, and she seldom does her tantrums. Don’t rush things. Do it one step at a time. Be positive and believe that your child is going to get through his or her issues eventually, for as long as they know you are always with them.
Mary Josebelle H. Alusin is a single parent and sole provider of her 6-year-old suspected with ADHD. Despite the struggles and challenges, she remains happy and very much contented in her life.