Author Archives: Heather Bach

4 Tips for Parenting your Child with ADHD

Posted on April 21, 2022

ADHD is one of the most common mental health conditions in children.

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health conditions in children according to Statistics Canada. It is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, although these symptoms vary. According to children’s therapy specialists, ADHD usually arises in the preschool years but is typically identified in the elementary school grades. Drop-out rates for these kids are higher. Proper assessment of ADHD and dealing with the disorder through ADHD treatment and child play therapy are critical because approximately 75% of children will continue to have the diagnosis through adolescence and over half continue into adulthood. So how do we as parents deal with our kids who display these symptoms? Parenting is challenging enough. But parenting a child with ADHD takes even more patience, strategy, energy, and support.

Here are 4 tips you’ll find helpful:

1. Stay calm

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of staying calm as one of the best supports you can give your child. ADHD is a neurological difference, therefore reacting to your child as if they are doing these things on purpose is destructive. Dan Siegel, a pioneering UCLA psychiatrist, emphasizes the importance of attachment relationships for brain development.

He explains how the child’s brain responds to the stress of an upset parent’s response:
Children with ADHD tend to lash out more when they are frustrated.  When a parent is outwardly upset, the child’s sympathetic nervous system engages, leaving them to either further escalate or retract. This is the natural fight or flight response. So, the result will likely be negative for both of you if you don’t stay calm; more arguing and/or raised voices. It’s likely you’ll find yourself in a bigger mess than when you began. So pay attention to yourself, especially if you are quick to escalate and react.

Teach children ways to express their frustration constructively by your example.
Your role in helping your child calm down is essential in supporting them to think more clearly. Staying calm is critical in helping them to develop neuropathways (“wiring their brains”) to develop effective critical thinking skills. If you or your child are too excited to engage in logical reasoning, then it’s up to you, the adult, to take a ‘time-in’ (some moment to calm down), before revisiting the issue. By doing so, you can support your child’s development of more effective reasoning skills.
Active listening will also help your child calm down. You need to be calm to offer authentic active listening. You are your child’s primary attachment figure, and when they feel heard by you it helps them calm down. This isn’t always easy, but it is very important and it works.

Your child needs to know that they can trust you to help them. They need you to be consistent so that they can live their lives with some measure of predictability about what will happen and how you will react.

 

2. Set limits to your over-functioning behaviours

Again, monitoring your own behaviour is key to providing positive support for your child. If you’re inclined to be worried and in turn over function, remind yourself that the more you do for your child, the less they learn to do for themselves. This will ultimately frustrate them. Remember your role is to support their healthy functioning.

However, children with ADHD are slower to develop in the area of executive functioning, namely time management and organization. They will need you to provide greater structure and follow through to help them succeed.  For example, during a homework session, it’s fine to ask “Do you need more lined paper?” But taking your child’s pencil and saying you’ll both work on their math can be problematic and disempowering for your child. It’s fine to help, but doing the work for them can undermine confidence.

If you’d still like to keep an eye on your child during homework, sit close by to help them focus but bring your own work to the table. This will help them learn about independent self-regulation.

 

3. Set structure for daily functioning

Structure helps reduce disorganization, distractibility, and anxiety. Use strategies and tools for organization and time management, such as charts, lists, agendas, post-its, calendars, timers, reminders, and alarms. Set a consistent time to do homework, with certain privileges available when the work is complete. Reward charts for young children and calendars and planners for older ones, with clear rules and routines, effectively provide external support for internally challenged children.

It’s best to avoid imposing pressure as much as possible. It can be stress-inducing. But what does a pressure-free structure look like?

Avoid using threats or unreasonable deadlines or punishments that contribute to hostility, fear, or drama. Start with smaller achievable tasks. Then review and celebrate those small successes. This will build confidence and assist your child in seeing where they are winning with school, and with you!

 

4. You can help your child make wise choices they feel good about

ADHD can be anxiety-provoking. Predictability and a sense of control are an effective remedies. So, when dealing with an issue or decision that your child must make, provide them with just 2-3 positive options from which to choose. Again this lessens the stress but supports the development of their critical thinking. Creating some structure for them to make decisions is less anxiety-provoking and more likely to result in their success and confidence. With this, you’re helping your child learn to focus on what they can control.

How Do I Prepare for Family Court

Posted on April 21, 2022

Having counselled many families and couples to restore a more fulfilling connection in their relationship, I’ve also had the opportunity to assist many couples through the separation process. Sometimes this process is collaborative and respectfully cooperative however there are certainly times when this is not the case. So here are a few points on how to present before the court when sorting access to your children.

Differential parenting styles can have a negative effect on the family and is a frequent cause of family conflict and separation or divorce. With that being said, concerns about changes in a spouse’s behavior can also lead to the end of the relationship, ultimately causing stress and anxiety. This can also lead one party to believe that the other is incapable of being a ‘good’ parent. Encompassing all of these concerns could lead to one parent even going so far as to prevent the children from having regular contact with the other parent.

Voluntarily leaving the family home and taking the children, or otherwise acting unilaterally will create a very unfavorable position for one parent in family court. If children are denied post-separation contact with a parent by the other parent, then invariably, the parents will be heading to family court. The emergency family court may be the only option to restrict or allow a parent to have parenting time.

Any parent going to family court on the premise of an emergency will need to convince the judge that there is a valid reason for this request. So being prepared is essential to ensure you are presenting material that helps your child gain reasonable access to both parents. 

Here are 5 tips on how to obtain the correct and fair parenting order:

Family court judges typically aren’t interested in how one parent feels about the other parent even if that parent feels very strongly about the other’s behavior. The judge will focus primarily on what is in the best interest of the children. The parent who focuses on the children’s best interest and tells the judge what the children need will be the parent who succeeds. The parent who appears to be focused primarily on the relationships neglecting to directly address the children’s needs will lose influence in the judge’s decision.

  1. It’s best to base the case on the evidence, not speculation, no matter how incompetent one parent believes the other parent may be. Judges will focus on the evidence provided. They will not base a decision on suspicions unless there is some evidence those suspicions are correct.
  2. If a parent has not displayed evidence of bad parenting, there is no basis on which a judge can rule that he or she is not fit to parent. The only exception to this is where there is objective evidence (not just the other parent saying) that a parent has threatened to harm the children or has expressed comments that sound like he or she might allow the children to be in harm’s way.
  3. Judges view parents who try to undermine a child’s relationship with the other parent as ‘bad’ parents. They believe it shows poor judgment. So, if there are texts, social media posts, instant messages, emails, or other evidence of a parent conveying damaging things about the other parent, that can assist the judge in making a determination.
  4. Domestic violence, against any family member, is also a sign of ‘bad’ parenting. The Family Law Act specifically considers all forms of domestic violence when evaluating parenting and the safety of children. However, any party who makes false or exaggerated claims of domestic violence for personal gain will be viewed poorly. 
  5. Finally, it is almost certain that a judge will look unfavorably on a parent who defies court orders, or will not cooperate with a parenting coordinator, as a ‘bad’ parent. But again, a judge will not assume that a parent will breach a court order unless there is evidence of the parent doing so in the past or there is clear evidence of the parent’s breach of an Order.

The key to presenting your perspective, even on an emergency motion for child custody, is to have evidence of a parent’s ‘bad’ parenting and to express those concerns from the perspective of impact on the child. Once that is established, it is important to tell the judge, in light of the parenting concerns, what parenting arrangement is in the child’s best interest so that this is clear for the judge and they can then subsequently order it. Steer away from criticisms and focus on your ex-spouse and the relationship and instead, come prepared with a plan you believe is in your children’s best interest.

8 Tips for Success With Online Learning

Posted on March 3, 2022

By Heather Bach MA, CCC

Director of the Bach Counselling Group

Online learningSo you or someone you love is a student working online….at the clinic we find that students have been hit pretty hard with mental health challenges since the pandemic including increased anxiety, loneliness, and even hopelessness. It’s been hard to adapt to online learning and stay inspired!

For online learning, you have to set boundaries, limits, and goals for yourself.  It’s up to you to design the structure in your daily life for your studies, physical movement, and social connection. Now, this is way more responsibility than pre-pandemic learning time when much of this was built into daily life. 

Use these tips to prepare yourself for self-directed learning to keep your studies and your mental health on track!

1. SET GOALS 

Review the course outline and set your goal for the course. What grade would you like to achieve? What level of comprehension or competency with the material are you looking to reach. Be clear about the outcome you set for yourself and review the expectations set by the professor in the syllabus. How are they measuring the quality of your work? How will they measure your performance?

2. STUDY SPACE

Create a dedicated study space including ample light, comfort in seating, supplies, and ambiance. Make this space the kind of space you enjoy and be sure to limit all distractions so a clear and clutter-free space is best. Turn off all notifications on your devices before your study time begins.

3. PLAN

Build a study plan that includes a schedule in your calendar for the class time and a set schedule for the number of hours per week you estimate will be needed to achieve your goals for the course. Setting such a schedule with time limits will help you push through and limit your non-productive study time as well. (Use a calendar on your device with notifications along with a paper color-coded calendar set on your desk.

4. BREAKS 

Schedule your breaks to maintain your efficiency when studying. Sitting for long periods of time can fatigue your eyes and cause pain and strain in your body. Set a timer to get up and leave your desk, move your body and give your eyes a break from the computer at least every 20 minutes. Did you know that studying for too long can have serious consequences:

    • Insomnia
    • Loss of concentration
    • Eye strain fatigue
    • Poor knowledge retention
    • Inadequate performance on tests

5. GET HELP

Ask for help with your course material when you hit a wall. Don’t stay stuck. Reach out earlier to get in the habit of connecting with and accessing support from others whether this is from other students, your professor, tutors, or learning center. 

6. CONNECTION

Yes, we are social beings, and planning our social time is an essential element of our mental health plan. Participate in online discussions, be sure to ask questions, speak out to help others in the group know your ideas, thoughts, and your interest in theirs. Set outside of study time, daily social time with loved ones, or new friends. This could be as simple as a 15-minute check-in with family or a walk in the park while on facetime. You decide but do take charge to nurture your social connection time daily. 

7. BODY CARE 

Sitting for endless hours at the computer clearly does not serve your body. Consider your daily plan for self-nourishment: how am I nourishing my body with food and fluids today, what body movement plan have I set for myself today: a walk, run, visit the gym, yoga? Place the latter in your calendar and stick with your plan.

8. MOTIVATION

 Review your goals and remind yourself why you are taking the class and review other aspects of your life to be sure you’re getting your social time, not sitting for too long at your desk without breaks, and getting outside for fresh air. Each of these aspects of self-care will help you stay motivated and on track. 

 

Online learning can be very challenging and requires extra care and attention to details and schedules beyond regular classroom learning. You’re taking your goals and learning into your own hands but remember, you are not alone. Be sure to reach out and connect with others because isolation is not okay and does not work to support you to thrive! School is important and you are a whole human being with needs that need to be acknowledged and met to support your wellness and your success!

We hope you find these tips helpful and we are here to support your wellness!