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Mom Asks for Tools to Help Reduce Anger & Impatience with Her ADHD Kid

18 May

Ms. Naparstek,
 
My name is Janie.  My 6-year-old daughter is currently being seen by clinical psychologist.  My daughter has been diagnosed with social anxiety and possible ADHD [attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder].  These things bring out some negative behaviors on a daily basis that can be very stressful for me to experience.  My therapist thought that some of your audio imagery might be very useful to me.
 
As a full-time mom I am with my daughter most of the time. Therefore the stress can be prolonged on bad days.  I have tried psychotherapy to help cope with feelings of impatience, frustration, and sometimes anger.  The psychotherapy helped up to a point. Then I took up yoga and found it also helped, particularly the attention to breathing techniques.  I love yoga but cannot often attend.
   
I viewed your CD selections on healthjourneys.com and was unsure which to begin with.  Basically I am seeking help to cope with the frustration and stress that I experience before they build up into anger, yelling, and so on.  I adore my daughter, and naturally I want to not only restrain myself from getting angry and yelling at her, but also to be a good role model.

To add to my situation, I am peri-menopausal, so my roller-coaster hormones are a complicating factor.  Even on a low-dose contraceptive pill to regulate moods, I find my moods varying, based on where I am in my monthly cycle.  This often makes it more difficult to remain calm in the face of highly negative behaviors when they occur.
   
Is there a particular CD that you recommend I begin with?

Thank you in advance for your help.  I am ready to dive in.

Sincerely,

Janie D.

Dear Janie,

This is not easy, to have a kid with special needs plus your own fluctuating hormones.

First off, (and I know this is a sidebar to the answer to your question, so forgive me in advance for the digression), I hope you're structuring in some regular, weekly getaway time for you and you alone, where your daughter is with somebody or something else, and you get to have some guilt-free time to do something nourishing for yourself - enjoy that yoga, hang with a friend, get a massage or read a book in a restaurant - whatever.
 
I'm speaking both as a family therapist here and the mother of 3 (now grown but once little) kids here.  Because, trust me, you can do therapy, yoga and guided imagery 'til the cows come home - if you're not getting away from your child on a regular basis, getting some distance and perspective from day-to-day parenting, you're still going to be frustrated and angry.  There's a reason why it used to take a village! So please consider that.

The other thing I want to say is, no matter what you do, perfect parenting will elude you.  I can tell from the gorgeous way you framed your carefully crafted question (on email format, no less, where one is allowed to be half-assed!!  :-) ), that you have high standards and like to do things really well.
 
On top of that, when parents have only one kid, they tend to hang on to the sweetly misguided illusion that, with enough effort, they could get this parenting thing exactly right. The arrival of a second kid tends - blessedly - to kill that idea, but, absent that, unrealistic expectations stay alive and well.  This backfires sooner or later.
 
Now, here’s the thing: if you have less stress on yourself by cutting yourself some parenting slack in the expectations department - for both you and your daughter - you'll be a more relaxed and nourishing parent.  Honest.  I know your Inner Mom is arguing with me, even as you read this, but I believe I'm on pretty solid ground here.

Now, to (finally) answer your question:  as for picking CDs, there are several that would do, but I'd start with one and see how you like it before buying a whole bunch.  Maybe Relieve Stress - which has 4 different exercises on it, and might be a good way to start.  If you don't like the imagery for Peaceful Perspective on there, you could try the Affirmations track, or go to the Walking Meditation - that should clear your head and ease some stress - and get you out of the house, too!
 
If you find that you respond well to guided imagery, you might also enjoy Caregiver Stress or Anger & Forgiveness. Another one that might help, during this time of pesky hormone fluctuations and sleep deficiency is Mastering Menopause or Healthful Sleep. But, as I said, take it one at a time and with the topics you feel you need the most.

And I know you didn’t ask for her, but your daughter might enjoy Mellisa Dormoy’s Calm & Clarity: Guided Meditations for ADHD, Hyperactive or Busy Kids, to help her with her hyperactivity. And if you see she likes it, you could branch out to Betty Mehling's Magic Island or Tami Peckham’s I Am the Sky! She can gain some important skills for managing anxiety and self-soothing that would last her a lifetime.  And, contrary to what you might expect, kids with ADHD tend to do well with a right-brained intervention like guided imagery.

I hope this helps!
All best to you,

(And please keep up your yoga!  Give yourself that time!)
Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award