Parenting and ADHD with Dr. Marcy Caldwell

Parents are faced with an extraordinary set of new responsibilities under at-home directives around the country. Being able to work at home, if possible, and take on the additional roles of schedule-keepers, quarantine teachers, and more can be an incredible strain on the parent-child relationship.

This week on the show, Dr. Marcy Caldwell joins Nikki and Pete to talk about the pillars of successful parenting, and how to maintain your reserves when you’re feeling tested. She introduces us to the STOPP model, which is a comforting acronym for your own emotional regulation (S: Separate, T: Take a Breath, O: Observe yourself first, then observe what just happened, P: Perspective, P: Proceed).

Links & Notes


Episode Transcript

Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon

Pete Wright:
Hello everybody, and welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on RashPixel.FM, I’m Pete Wright, and I am here with Nikki Kinzer. Hello Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hello, Pete. Hello, everyone. Welcome.

Pete Wright:
Very excited about yet another podcast with you today and we are finally talking about parenting, oh, parenting. And given the story that you told me about your night last night, I’m not going to out you, but my goodness, it sounds like, what a timely day for you and I to hear about parenting in a pandemic, the pandemic parenting.

Nikki Kinzer:
The emotional management, yeah, that’s good. That’s going to be something we’re going to really highlight.

Pete Wright:
I actually noticed in our show notes, I’m not kidding, emotional management is the only thing that’s been colored in red in our show notes today. I wonder what that is, that’ll be good.

Nikki Kinzer:
Got the self care, got the routine, yeah-

Pete Wright:
Yeah, that’s good.

Nikki Kinzer:
And we’ll talk about all those things-

Pete Wright:
Oh, my god, I can’t wait-

Nikki Kinzer:
But yeah, emotional management is going to be good.

Pete Wright:
But before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com, and get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list, and we’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released. Of course, you can connect with us on twitter or Facebook @takecontroladhd, and if this show has ever touched you, if it’s helped you change the way you live your life, if you’ve learned something from one of our fantastic guests about how you live your life with ADHD, we invite you to consider supporting the show directly through Patreon. Patreon is listener supported podcasting, with a few dollars a month, you can help guarantee that we continue to grow the show, add new features, invest more heavily in our community. Visit patreon.com/theadhdpodcast to learn more.

Pete Wright:
And I have to say, in our online Discord community, this week, we had a Brain Playground guest that did an incredible job. The Brain Playground, it’s this place where every weekend, somebody gets to take ownership of the stage, right? This channel is all theirs to do whatever they want, post whatever is on their brain. And I have to give a shout out to Tracy because I learned so much. It was one of those emotional… I laughed, I cried, it was better than cats. It was great. And so, thank you, big shout out to member Tracy for doing an incredible job with the Brain Playground. Can’t wait to see what our next post does with the Brain Playground. So, patreon.com/theadhdpodcast, hope to see more of you there. Marcy Caldwell is a psychologist, a writer, and speaker from the great city of Philadelphia PA, and she’s behind ADDept, ADDept, how do you say that-

Marcy Caldwell:
ADDept.

Pete Wright:
ADDept, we go with ADDept.

Marcy Caldwell:
ADDept.

Pete Wright:
ADDept with an extra D. It’s a blog behind the strategy skills and tools to help you thrive with ADHD. Marcy Caldwell, welcome to the ADHD Podcast, so glad to have you here.

Marcy Caldwell:
Thank you for having me.

Nikki Kinzer:
Welcome, Marcy.

Marcy Caldwell:
Thank you.

Nikki Kinzer:
So, before we get started, I’ll tell everybody because now that Pete has opened the door, my situation I had. So, I have a 17 year old and a 14 year old, and my 17 year old is taking the shelter-in-place, let’s say in stride. But the last few nights, he’s been home later than he’s supposed to be home, and I had a conversation with him yesterday morning about what he needs to do, when his curfew is, what he’s doing, clearing out all the parenting stuff that you have to do. And then last night, he’s an hour late. I was a little bit upset, and I texted him some pretty harsh words about getting home, which is not like me, and even he thought he was going to come home and I was going to kill him, so-

Pete Wright:
He comes home and the godfather is sitting in an arm chair-

Nikki Kinzer:
I was sitting waiting for him, yeah, because I-

Pete Wright:
It’s dark and all you see is a lit cigar-

Nikki Kinzer:
Really, pretty much, except for, was my phone but yeah.

Pete Wright:
Right.

Nikki Kinzer:
And I’m sure I had red in my eyes, I was so angry, and he’s like, “I’m really sorry, I made a bad choice.” I’m like, "Really, you think you made a bad choice? So, anyway, that was my parenting emotional… I don’t know if I managed it, but I think he did get the point across. So, that was good.

Nikki Kinzer:
So obviously, in today’s world right now with the chaotic Coronavirus, parenting is extra stressful, I think, right? Because daily life is not normal. I know you did a presentation at [inaudible 00:05:04] last November, and it was around parenting with ADHD, we have a lot of parents who are listeners of the show, who have ADHD, who do not have ADHD. The majority of them though, I would say have ADHD, and are either parenting somebody with ADHD or not, doesn’t really matter, ADHD is in their family one way or the other.

Nikki Kinzer:
And you had five different strategies that you talked about. And I thought today, it would be great to have you talk about those five different pillars, I guess is what they’re called, right? Pillars. But yes, I definitely want us to look at that emotional management piece, because it will certainly help me out, so. Where do you want to start?

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah, I’d love to. So, I got into this because I work with adults with ADHD and when you do, you see lots of parents, right? And when I went looking for resources for people, I found that there really weren’t that many. There aren’t really any books written about parenting with ADHD. There are, of course, tons of books about parenting children with ADHD, but not when the parent has ADHD. And so, I ended up going to the research and kind of seeing what the scientific literature said. And from there, you kind of [inaudible 00:06:26] the outcome stuff, but it doesn’t talk about kind of what to do. And really, most of us just want to know what to do, right? And so, I put all of the outcome research kind of together and then from there, I delineated what I’m calling the five pillars of positive parenting with ADHD.

Marcy Caldwell:
And so, those five pillars are self care, which I put as first, because I think we so often put it last, right? All the other things feel so important, and so we put self care last. But I think particularly with ADHD, it has to be number one. Because none of the other stuff is really possible unless the sleep and medication, if medications is on board, nutrition and exercise, when all of those things are present and accounted for, then the other ones are so much more accessible, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcy Caldwell:
So, that’s number one. Then I talk about routines and habits, that’s kind of creating some structure for the family and structure for the parents. Communication, both in terms of kind of connection, as well as communication of roles and discipline and expectations. And distraction management, kind of putting in the external structures to keep as much distraction at bay as possible, so that we’re not constantly having to resist it, but instead it’s kind of done for us. And then, emotional management. And I agree, I think right now, emotional management is really key. Because, I mean, even just the annoyance level can get so much higher when everybody is around all the time.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right, yeah. There’s no space.

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
That’s amazing just how small my home feels, just because they’re… It’s weird there’s so many bodies in it.

Nikki Kinzer:
And they don’t leave.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, they don’t leave. I think it’s interesting then to just look back to self care because it feels so much like… Part of the emotional response challenge that I might be having is usually because my self care routine is interrupted, it is compromised in some way, shape or form.

Marcy Caldwell:
Exactly. Yeah. I mean, I think that self care really is the doorway to the other channels basically, right? That if you’ve gotten your exercise, if you’ve gotten enough sleep, if your nutrition is on point, if you have medication on board, if that’s something that you’re doing, then you have more ability to be monitoring any issues as they’re unfolding, as opposed to once they’ve totally blown up, right? You have more ability to kind of take some space when you’re feeling extra irritated, and you have more ability to come back and repair in case a blow up has happened.

Nikki Kinzer:
So, I’m curious about that. What are the strategies that you would offer to people now around self care when we are quarantined? And we’re not as… The possibilities aren’t there to go out and do a gym class, or to go run with a friend, or whatever, yeah.

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah. So, I mean, I think there are a lot of… I’ve really great options in terms of at home workout, in terms of exercise, right? There are a lot of at home workouts that have been put forth. A lot of the gyms have put forth free workouts, there’s a really kind of an endless supply of them. But if it’s safe for people, I’m really recommending that people leave their house-

Nikki Kinzer:
And go outside-

Marcy Caldwell:
… and go for a walk. Yeah, go for a walk, go for a run, because I think that you get such added benefit if you’re actually outdoors. And then of course, there’s all the research around kind of green space, and what that does for our focus and concentration and mood, right? So, if you have the ability to safely go outside and be in green space, that’s my number one recommendation, it’s just get out.

Nikki Kinzer:
And then, would you put that then as part of your routine to make it a priority?

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah, exactly.

Nikki Kinzer:
Is that what you would recommend. Okay.

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah, I think sleep and exercise right now have to be the number one priority, right? And I’m finding that this is really a challenge for a lot of people now that things are so much more flexible, right? It’s hard to get to bed right now. We’re binging Tiger King on Netflix and it’s hard to turn it off. And yet, when that sleep schedule gets thrown off, oftentimes, we still have a Zoom meeting at nine in the morning. And so, that just means that you get less and less sleep-

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Marcy Caldwell:
… rather than actually kind of being able to sleep in. And particularly for parents of young kids, you get up no matter what. And so, getting to bed, if we’re really going to kind of zero in on top priorities, I’m going to say getting to bed on time, it’s the number, number one priority.

Nikki Kinzer:
So, that kind of, I think, ties into distraction management. Because when I talk to many of my clients, and almost all of them have sleep issues, a lot of the distraction is the phone or a device, right? So, do you recommend something else? I mean, I know that there’s times where people will recommend, shut off devices at a certain time or, I don’t know, what are your thoughts around that?

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah, with my clients, I often will say, “Okay, so what time do you want to be asleep?” And I start with, “What time do you want to wake up?” So, if you’re going to be waking up at 7:00, let’s say, then you want to be asleep at 11, right? Because if we’re asleep at 11, then maybe we’ll get between seven and eight hours sleep. So, that means you want to be in bed at 10:30. And so, let’s turn screens off at 10:00, let’s give you an hour before you expect your brain to totally turn off from when you have screens on and you have simulation kind of bombarding you, right?

Marcy Caldwell:
So, if you want screens off at 10, they’re not just going to turn off on their own. And so, we need to kind of put some systems in place. And there’re any number of ways of doing that, and I look at which three tend to be the most used. So, if they’re on their phone, then I talk about putting on some Do Not Disturb and screen time limits on their phone. You can do that for computers too, right? Like the Freedom app is one that I often recommend for the computer that will just turn it off. And then, TV is a little bit more complicated. I’ve heard of people who put timers on their TV and stuff like that, which is definitely a possibility. You can also put a timer on your modem. But one of those old fashioned Christmas light timers.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, just literally have power shut down on your internet-

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah, literally. Exactly.

Pete Wright:
A nuclear option.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Marcy Caldwell:
Yap. Or I just have people… A step before that is put some reoccurring reminders on their phone, kind of 9:30, 9:45, 9:50 of-

Pete Wright:
Yeah signals.

Marcy Caldwell:
… it’s getting to be time. Yeah.

Pete Wright:
I think, possibly, it seems like so much of the challenge, at least, in the last four to six weeks is that… Yeah, I mean, we’re used to trying to fight the distraction of our devices. But the real challenge is, you know what? We’re literally looking for distractions right now, our brains are focused on finding things to help us not think about, the world is burning, right? So, that sort of cognitive dissonance is like, okay, if I shut down my screens, then what? Then I’m left with my own thoughts, and my own thoughts are fireworks right now, that’s a real struggle. Especially at bedtime, you expect me to sit for an hour and just be with my own head, are you kidding?

Nikki Kinzer:
Calm. I don’t know about Marcy but, I mean, that’s one of the things that I’ll recommend to clients, is to do a meditation app, Calm, Headspace and listen to some of those stories, because then you don’t have to be in your own head. But it’s calming you down.

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah. I love Calm for that.

Pete Wright:
Totally. I’m a big advocate and I have one by my bed. This will surprise nobody but I have a HomePod by my bed. And I love the HomePod because it’s a screenless speaker, right? It is a thing that I can talk to, sure, but I can also play these meditations. I can play ambient sounds, I can play oceans and whatever, I can play that stuff. And that is one of those things that does help me [inaudible 00:16:01] because when I shut my screen off, it’s like, the last person I want to be alone with is myself, because that guy can be damaging, right? I need to have something going on to drive me. Audiobooks too, I’m a big audiobook fan. And so, setting a timer and just letting it go is important. Screenless speakers, some might call them radios, but I prefer screenless.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s a nice word for that Pete, really, very fancy. Well I think that’s-

Marcy Caldwell:
Also just regular books work really well, too.

Pete Wright:
I’m sorry, what is this?

Marcy Caldwell:
Well, that’s true, right?

Pete Wright:
What is this thing you call books?

Marcy Caldwell:
[crosstalk 00:16:38].

Pete Wright:
You mean a book is something people don’t read to you.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. You know something I’ve noticed about books now, I think it’s because of my old age, when you’re reading them on an iPad or Kindle or whatever, you can zoom them in, so that they’re bigger words, and you can’t do that with the regular book.

Pete Wright:
I could just see you pinching and zooming the paper.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know, it’s like, come on, get a little bit bigger-

Pete Wright:
Why won’t it work?

Marcy Caldwell:
I have to tell you, my three year old the other day took out a book and started trying to poke at it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, that’s funny.

Marcy Caldwell:
And I was like, “Oh no.”

Nikki Kinzer:
No, that’s different.

Marcy Caldwell:
Screens have definitely been present in our life recently.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, as everybody else, I’m sure too. Okay, so let’s talk about the emotions, because they’re definitely running high. And I know that a couple of our listeners talked about dealing with meltdowns more often right now, angry outbursts, this is especially for younger kids, not young, young… Well, gosh, it’s all over the board, right? This particular person, I think, has a nine year old son. You have three, five, we have teenagers, how do we deal with that? How do we deal even with the [inaudible 00:17:56] of my 14 year old who’s like, “Well, I’m going to start my new day, doing nothing. Doing my part for the community.” It’s like, “Well, good job.” So, I don’t know. I mean, yeah, anything you can give us to help us, please. Please help us Marcy.

Marcy Caldwell:
I like to think of ADHD as a issue with regulation, right? That it’s about regulating… Of course, talk about regulating attention and focus and things like that. But it also regulates kind of the two main domains of parenting, which are control and connection. And so, the control being kind of the rules and guidelines and boundaries, traits, connection being that kind of emotional, just time with people, talking, communication, affection, that sort of thing. And because ADHD impacts regulation, it impacts kind of the on-off, right? That the ADHD brain doesn’t have a dimmer switch. It has on-off switches. And so, I think this is part of what happens with the blow ups and the meltdowns is that, the ADHD brain might not be completely aware as it’s getting more and more upset, and more and more irritated, right? Until it hits that on-off switch, and now it’s really irritated.

Marcy Caldwell:
So, it’s kind of, it’s building, it’s building, it’s building, and it’s not completely aware of it. It’s distracted over here, but as it’s building, then it hits that crescendo and now it’s like, oh, my god, I am so pissed off right now. And the only thing I can do is blow up and let off some steam, right? And then, we react in a way that we don’t like. And then, we feel the guilt and shame thereafter, right? And so, I see it as kind of a three part process, and you can kind of intervene at any spot.

Marcy Caldwell:
Obviously, the sooner you intervene, the better, in terms of kind of how it plays out. But really, intervention at any spot is useful. So, the first spot would be as the annoyance and as the bad behavior is building, right? So, whether the kid is… Oftentimes, the meltdowns happen when kids are feeling out of balance. And right now, everything feels particularly out of balance, so kids are much more vulnerable to it.

Marcy Caldwell:
And so, this is where kind of routines and habits really come in, because routines and habits help at least account for some of that, right? It accounts for… Because what do we put into our routines? We put sleep, we put in meals, we put in time outside, we put in play, we put in school, right? Creates the balance for us. And so, it makes sure that all of those things that kind of can get little kids, and bigger kids, and adults for that matter, start to feel irritated and out of whack. It makes sure that those are taken care of. So, routines and habits come into play here, but it can also just be kind of being aware and being kind of tuned in enough that you’re seeing the little signals. And this is hard for the ADHD brain, right? It’s hard to attend to the little things because that requires consistency. It requires zoning out of the other extraneous details and honing in on what’s going on with the kid, and that’s not always what is bright and shiny to the ADHD brain.

Nikki Kinzer:
Can I ask you a question about habits and routines? That is something that’s also really difficult for an ADHD adult to have. And I know that a lot of parents feel like they’re just not getting it right for their kids. And so, I understand the importance of having those things, but what if you’re not feeling good about what you have in place? Or it’s not consistent? Or it just feels different every day when you would rather it not be?

Pete Wright:
Yeah, I think particularly, because there’s a role model behavior in there too. If you don’t have your own routines and habits on lock, it’s very challenging to have any sort of expectation other than that for somebody else.

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah, of course. Yeah. And it is really hard, right? One of the biggest issues with an ADHD brain is consistency, and what do you need in order to develop a habit? Is consistency. And so, I often talk about it as a routine rather than a habit. And because routines… I mean, habits really need to be built up over time and have to happen all the time in order for it to really work. Whereas routine, you can fall off of and come back on to, and fall off of and come back on to.

Pete Wright:
That is a great point. I hope that people really emphasize… I mean, listen to that. I think that, that’s a great point, the difference between a habit and a routine. Routines you can go back and forth on, and no shame should be a part of that. Yeah.

Marcy Caldwell:
I spend a lot of time on my clients on that as, just like, what I want to emphasize is resiliency, not consistency, right? That I just want people to come back to it. When you realize you’ve fallen off of it, that’s fine, no big deal, come back to it. That oftentimes it’s that shame that then builds up a barrier to getting back on the horse. And it’s not useful at all. What really is useful it’s just coming back. And so, once you fall off, just get right back on.

Pete Wright:
Well, and that’s actually… For me, part of that challenge is that it’s not just a demotivator to get back into the habit, it’s a motivator to do other things, right? If I’m not good at x, I better go have another bowl of cereal, right? I better go do something else that is not in my best interests, right? That I think is the challenge, because it’s so easy for me to become distracted from my own failure, right? Or from my own challenge then, that it makes it nearly impossible to get back to it. It’s so easy to break a routine for me.

Marcy Caldwell:
And I think something you said there is really interesting too, though, because there’s a mindset thing there, right? It’s that fixed mindset versus growth mindset, where if you fall off of something, then that means you’re a failure. But it doesn’t. It means that your brain kind of doesn’t regulate its dopamine as effectively, and sometimes has it, and sometimes doesn’t, right? Has nothing to do with you as a failure, it has to do with this regulation of dopamine in your prefrontal cortex. And when you can kind of have that mindset shift of seeing it as, okay, here’s the opportunity to start again, here’s the opportunity to get back into it, this isn’t a signal of me being a bad person, it’s just a signal that I need to regulate back in, then you kind of open that door again.

Pete Wright:
That’s a really good point because… As the ADHD vessel on the show, it’s easy. I just sometimes want to hammer home for everybody listening that I understand the instinct. And the instinct is fixed. And it’s so easy for us to sit here on this show, and talk about fixed versus growth and all of this, and I totally get it. And then also, in another time, when I screw something up or forget something, my instinct kicks in, and I’m no longer in the context of being rational and growth mindset. And I’m eating cereal that I didn’t even know it. You know what I mean? And so, I think it’s really important. I want to highlight what you just said, because this is the big lesson for me that, it’s not just about, I’m not going to sit there and drop my cereal because that’s a mess, metaphorically and literally. What I’m going to do is look for, again, the opportunity to get back into the routine. That might not be today, it might be tomorrow when my strength is up, and my intention is up, and my awareness is up.

Marcy Caldwell:
Well, and I think that’s a good point is having some space between eating the cereal and then, opening up the growth mindset again, right? It doesn’t have to be in the moment or immediate. So, I think that, that’s an expectation or pressure you can let go of.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. And that’s the muscle to work on, right? That’s the exercise that we’re practicing to improve our experience with.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright:
That’s great.

Marcy Caldwell:
And even Carol Dweck, the originator of Growth Mindset, talks about the times that she flips back into her fixed mindset, right? We all do it. And having some awareness of those signals for when we have done it is kind of the first step in then being able to kind of come back to it and walk and talk ourselves through it. So, I was kind of talking about the three steps where you can intervene, right? As the behavior is kind of escalating and doing that by kind of honing in and trying to stay as present with kids as possible. And then, there’s one set that switch has been flipped. And so, now you’re irritated. And self care really helps here because it kind of increases the amount of irritation that you can withstand, basically.

Nikki Kinzer:
The tolerance level.

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah, exactly. But it still won’t do everything, right? If your kid will not stop drawing on the wall or whatever, you’re eventually going to get irritated. And so, I often talk about the STOPP method. And the STOPP method, is an acronym. So, S being space, or separate, kind of just getting away from the situation. I live in a townhouse, so I’ve been known to go into my basement. I just say, “I’ll be back.” That’s normally all I can kind of get out in the moment and say, “I’ll be back.” I go down in the basement where I can get some space. I have a friend who goes into her pantry. But just anywhere where you can be alone, shut them out for a minute.

Marcy Caldwell:
And then take a breath, big, deep cleansing breath. Maybe more than once, that’s the T for STOPP. The O is observe, so first, I say observe kind of your own body, what’s going on. Is your heart racing? Is your breath shallow? Have you gotten into that fight or flight mode? And then, the next is kind of to observe what just happened, right?

Marcy Caldwell:
So, I’m just trying to think the last time my kid really annoyed me. It was that my two boys were fighting. And so, kind of thinking like, okay, what just happened? They’ve both been together for a long time, now I’m kind of moving into perspective, which is the first P of STOPP. So, what just happened? They were fighting. Why were they fighting? They’ve been together for a month just the two of them, there’s nobody else for them to play with. Mommy and Daddy are working all the time, right? They’re really annoyed with each other. They’ve had it up to here with each other. They’re not the right developmental level for each other. And they’re trying to make it work. So yeah, they’re going to fight, right? So, we bring in some perspective, we kind of broaden the horizon from just like, oh my god, they won’t stop yelling, to, okay, what’s going on? Big picture.

Marcy Caldwell:
Now, I have a little bit more empathy, right? Now that I’ve added some perspective, I have a little bit more empathy. And this has taken a little while. So, as I’ve been doing this, I’ve been breathing and my system has been calming down a little bit more. And so, now it’s… STOPP is spelled with two Ps, by the way, the STOPP method. So, the second P is proceed. So, then you say, “Okay, what am I going to do?” And so, then, now that my system has calm down, I have some perspective. What are my next steps?

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcy Caldwell:
And so, then you kind of reenter and you practice what works.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s so interesting. I really like the perspective piece, because you’re really taking the time to look at it from their point of view for a moment, right? It’s not just what you see or how you feel. That’s interesting. Yeah, I like that.

Pete Wright:
I wondered, Nikki, if you workshop that, how does that change your reflection on your experience last night?

Nikki Kinzer:
Still mad? No, it’s interesting that you say that though, Pete, because I do understand what happened and I know why it happened, but it still wasn’t okay when I just had the conversation that morning of what to do in the situation-

Pete Wright:
Yeah, sure.

Nikki Kinzer:
But I do see it from the other person’s perspective. But like he said, he made a wrong choice and he knows it, so. But it is interesting, just taking the breath, observing yourself, I mean, all of that is so good because you’re kind of tuning into how you’re feeling, because I think, all of us… I mean, whether it’s in your stomach, or you get red, or you get tense, it’s like you can feel the emotions, and they come on strong and they come on fast, there’s no doubt. So this does, it gives you that separation and I really liked this.

Marcy Caldwell:
So, that’s the kind of when that energy is high, but let’s just say you blow up anyways, right? You totally had a meltdown and you yelled, you did things that you wish you didn’t do. And now you can come in and repair. And repair is kind of the third place where you can intervene, right? So, then you can connect with the child and say, “I’m really sorry, your mommy shouldn’t have reacted that way. I shouldn’t have yelled, I shouldn’t have said X, Y or Z. That was wrong in the moment.” Right? And so, you own it. And I-

Nikki Kinzer:
Which teaches them to own it as well, right?

Marcy Caldwell:
Exactly.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Marcy Caldwell:
Exactly. That’s why I say, intervening at any level is a good intervention because this is also really useful. It’s really useful for kids to see that, yeah, mommy and daddy blow up sometimes, mommy and daddy have meltdowns sometimes, just like I do. And when they do that, they then come around and they make it better. And this is how they make it better. And so, having that repair at that level is also really useful and also, good in terms of connection.

Nikki Kinzer:
Absolutely. Because then it’s not just the argument or everybody nagging, it’s the connection piece that you can get, that unconditional love, still love you, still think you’re great.

Pete Wright:
I wanted to change gears just a little bit, if you have insights on this. I think all of these tools are fantastic, and they all come to bear in one area that I think a lot of parents are living with, trying to grow through and structure appropriately, and that is quarantine schooling. How do you create an environment that exists to nurture and create a mood and perspective of learning? And also, by the way, you’re not a professional and a teacher, right? These responsibilities are hard for so many people who are also trying to work from home. Do you have any thoughts or insights on how you might help people manage that?

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah. I think it probably really depends on the age of the kids as to what’s necessary, right? For my own kids, who are three and five, the three year old, there’s really no schooling. For this five year old, he does actually have some responsibilities and some schoolwork to do, but it’s relatively limited. And for our experience… And I think this is hopefully true, for most kids up until seven, eight, where the school responsibilities are relatively limited, and the focus can be more on kind of entertainment and play, and so then it’s kind of finding the right time in the day where they can focus in, normally that’s going to be in the morning, and creating some kind of routine around that.

Marcy Caldwell:
And if schools have kind of a morning meeting, or any kind of actual check in, where they actually have to show up for something, that’s really useful, using that as kind of an anchor. And for the older kids, I think, it’s more about kind of meeting and connecting with them on, okay, what are your responsibilities? How can I as a parent help you structure this? So, kind of lending your own executive functioning capabilities to their more limited ones. And saying, what do you need? And what’s going to kind of best help support you in this time, with the requirements that you have?

Pete Wright:
And then, emotional management and STOPP method and all of those things.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Marcy Caldwell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright:
I have to keep reminding myself that even though I have two kids who are wonderful and adorable, and they are learning right along with me about their own experience with ADHD, I have more years behind me of managing them, even if… When I am feeling inadequate, right? My level of inadequacy still comes with more experience, and even that can be helpful. I just have to… That’s a mantra, right? I can still help support even when I feel like I’m struggling.

Marcy Caldwell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, and I think, from what we’ve been noticing, at least with our school district and with the work that the kids have been doing, we’re all doing the best that we can, our teachers are doing the best that they can with the resources they have. And I think that one of the benefits is, if your child is having a hard time, then give him a break, let him have a break. It’s like, don’t force it. I mean, I read something, an article about, the relationship is more important right now. So, we got to make sure we’re protecting that as well and not worry so much about the math assignment that will get done eventually, it just may not get done in that hour that you maybe thought it would. But I think everybody’s productivity is a little bit different right now, so, we have to give ourselves some grace, for sure.

Marcy Caldwell:
Yeah, I think that’s so important, that relationship piece. It’s funny, I actually just reposted… And I don’t do this very often, but I just reposted on social media a quote from a teacher saying, “I will get your kids back on track in September. What I need you guys to do right now is stay calm and stay connected and stay loving. And make this time not a traumatic time, because it’s the trauma that’s going to kind of lock kids brains. But if we can kind of make sure that this continues to be as calm and loving environment as possible, if we can kind of reduce the trauma of this event, then we can get them back on track. It’s a couple of months over the course of a lifetime, that we can totally do that. It’s not the end of the world. That it’s the emotional connection, it’s the relationship, that’s what’s important right now.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright:
Well, I love that because-

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, it’s a good point.

Pete Wright:
… the perspective there is something that’s just so pro learning, right? I mean, if I have one job, I feel like it’s, don’t let my kids forget what it’s like to love to learn something new. Because that’s going to be the anchor for them to go back into school and figure out how to love whatever there is to learn next.

Marcy Caldwell:
Exactly.

Pete Wright:
This is just fantastic, Marcy, thank you so much for taking the time from your quarantine base to join us-

Marcy Caldwell:
Thank you guys.

Pete Wright:
…. and talk to us about all of this stuff-

Marcy Caldwell:
And a lovely variety to my quarantine.

Pete Wright:
Truly.

Nikki Kinzer:
Us too.

Pete Wright:
Where would you like people to go to learn more about you?

Marcy Caldwell:
Sure, www.addept, A-D-D-E-P-T.org is my blog and digital resource, and from there you can also link to my professional, my practice and things like that, but addept.org is probably the best first place.

Pete Wright:
Outstanding-

Nikki Kinzer:
Great.

Pete Wright:
Links will be in the show notes. Thank you everybody for joining us and hanging out with us this fine day in the live stream. And thank you all for downloading and listening to the show, we appreciate your time and your attention. On behalf of Marcy Caldwell and Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright, we’ll catch you next time right here on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.