Dealing with ADHD Emotions in Children

Emotions can be difficult for your ADHD child to control.  But there are a few things you can do to help:

  • Provide Structure:  Provide as much structure as possible.  That doesn’t mean you have them over-scheduled, just that there is a very predictable structure with every daily task:  breakfast, getting dressed, dinner, homework, bedtime.
  • Stay calm:  If your child is acting out it’s important that you don’t get pulled into the chaos.  Stay calm and don’t raise your voice.  Allowing yourself to get upset just makes matters worse.  After the scene is over, go into your bedroom and scream into a pillow if needed.
  • Help them Self-Soothe:  I worked with a child with ADHD who just couldn’t sit still to concentrate on his schoolwork.  He was very bright, just couldn’t calm down.  I asked him what he did to calm himself down and he looked at me all confused as didn’t have a clue how to do that.  I tried several activities with him but the only thing that worked was swinging.  So that’s how we did his schoolwork.  We went to the playground and swung and worked.  Turns out I can’t swing and read so ended up soooo nauseous.  But, we got through tons of schoolwork that afternoon.  I wonder if fidget spinners were created with kids with ADHD in mind.  Their hands are spinning so their minds can focus on homework. 

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.  It includes my FREE “3 Step Parenting Plan” which is a great way to introduce structure into the family.  Sign up is at the top right of this page.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Childhood is NOT a disease

childhood not a disease

I deal with this all the time in my business.  Parents looking for medical reasons as to why their children are not behaving perfectly rather than doing a check-up on their parenting skills.

Our parents weren’t perfect either but they understood that kids weren’t always well behaved, clever, social, etc.  They didn’t sweat the small stuff.  They’d roll their eyes and say “kids will be kids”, and they’d discipline us as needed without thinking twice about it.  They understood that children need discipline and that’s their job, not the school’s.

Labels are one of my pet peeves.  I used to work with kids with so many labels after their names that I’d just call them the alphabet kids.  And if you think those labels don’t affect children, you’re wrong.  I can’t remember what I used to call it but to put them at ease I’d write my name with a bunch of letters after it and explain that I was “Crazy Old Lady Who Loves to Laugh” or something like that.  Their parents weren’t always impressed with that as were so hypersensitive and possessive of their child’s labels that they were almost afraid of their children and treated their labels as something to be framed or something … weird.  The kids loved it when I made fun of their labels and we’d make up new ones for them that were funny like mine.  Much better than treating it as something to be ashamed of … cheesh!

Once I was introduced to a teenager I was going to be working with and, right in front of the kid, the teacher said, “He has …” and recited about 3 labels this kid had.  I looked at him and said, “Wow … aren’t you a mess” and just laughed.  The teacher was horrified but the teenager laughed right along with me.  I just don’t care about any of that, I look for the person inside.  I can’t work with a label, only a child/teen.  Their behaviour is driven by feelings which may be altered by certain “conditions”.  Yes, some need medication, but that’s extremely rare.  I took it upon myself to understand their feelings and alter my methods to meet their needs. I had zero interest in their labels as they never gave me one speck of information I could use.

Here is the best advice I will give you if you are struggling with your children:

Lower your expectations for your children; and raise your expectations for yourself. 

In order to do this you have to put your children first, and you second.  Once you do this I guarantee you’ll be more empowered to learn more about their needs and how to meet them.  Children need discipline, they crave it.  Of course they’re not going to ask you for it by using their words, they use bad behaviour.  I’ve never seen a really naughty child who looks happy, they look miserable as their parents aren’t meeting their needs:  DISCIPLINE!!!

Discipline is:

  1. Rules
  2. Manners
  3. Chores

Discipline is taught by using consequences as necessary.

If your child is acting out, you’re not meeting his needs which may be more attention, more discipline, more sleep, or all 3.  If your teen is a snotty brat, you’re not meeting her needs which may be more attention, more space, more understanding, more chores, less nagging, more discipline, etc.

I believe so strongly in the power of parenting as have seen it metamorphis tons of children AND their parents.  Parents who came to me with all these alphabet children learned how to set up a disciplining system and have more fun with their children and couldn’t believe the difference.  Most of the time the medical diagnoses were thrown out the window, along with the medication.

If you have an alphabet child, think about it, are they one of those extremely rare cases that truly needs medication?  Or do they just need you to hone your own skills of understanding their needs?

I’m here if you need help with this, this is my calling, my passion and I derive a tremendous amount of pride in seeing you become great at all this stuff.  Many of you have even gone on to help your friends struggling with disciplining their children.  It’s so easy once you get it up and running, a lot easier and healthier than relying on medication that may not even be necessary.  And if you medicate rather than discipline, the teen years are going to be very difficult for all of you.


Note:  My “8 Week Parenting Plans” are now “4 Week Parenting Plans” … as per your feedback, thank you for that :).  

Education System & ADHD

This is a fascinating video.  It’s not just about the education system and ADHD, it’s about an entirely different way of thinking.

As I’ve grown, and hopefully matured and mellowed, I’ve gone from being a right fighter where everything was black and white, to an open minded listener who sees pretty much everything in the world as gray.  I’ve gone from that youthful mindset of thinking I knew everything to realizing I don’t know much at all, none of us do.

I’m drawn to people with open minds.  They’re usually the ones most excited by life.  They’re adventuresome, warm, easy to talk to and just plain interesting.  Some have degrees coming out the wazoo and others have no degrees at all.  Some are rich, others poor, but they all possess that extra layer that so many of us lose as we grow, that divergent thinking 5 year olds are so brilliant at (see above video at the 8:34 point).  I think as you age you can strive to hang onto that divergent thinking.

So, as parents, how do we raise our children to fit into society while also maintaining their divergent/creative thinking?  What if they’ve been diagnosed with a disruptive condition such as ADHD?  I’ve worked with many “Alphabet Kids” (is what I call the kids with all those initials after their name).  These kids think they’re stupid just because they don’t fit the mould … ugh … frustrates the heck out of me!!!  What mould?  Who wants a mould?!  Unfortunately the antequated education system that still exists right into 2012 is still trying to mould kids instead of encourage and support their natural talents.

Now, I’m going to back up a bit here as I’m not all about “let kids do whatever they want” type of learning.  I think that leads to kids with compromised self-discipline and a heightened sense of self-entitlement.  They still have to learn how to respect rules, manners, chores, people, animals, etc.  But as they grow, let them negotiate how their lives go.  If they’re really struggling is school which is like a jail sentence to them, then maybe look into home schooling, private school, or just having a meeting with the teacher and principal about how to make the experience at the current school more pleasant.  Keep in mind that schools have limited resources and a ton of kids to deal with so obviously can’t customize learning to fit the individual needs of each child.  But by letting them know you’re involved and willing to do what it takes to support them in helping your child, they’re much more willing to listen.

Hmmm, I feel like this blog is all over the place.  Will try to sum it up eloquently here … ha ha … we all know I’m not going to be able to do that so will just end by saying that parenting is about guiding and supporting, not moulding.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach (604-944-7479)(Email:





Autism, ADD, ADHD, … wxyz

I’m so tired of hearing about how autism has increased 300% (or whatever) in the past couple of decades. Hasn’t it just been discovered??? How could something have increased when it wasn’t even on the map until recently??? What perfect fodder for hype and panic.

Didn’t we all grow up with those kids in school who were just different but we didn’t know why? My mother (now 88 years old) said she knew kids who were probably autistic but they didn’t have a word for them way back then.

Yes, perhaps there’s been an alarming increase in a whole range of learning disabilities, challenges, etc. but statistics are generated for headlines to generate more alarm to generate more readers. Scaring parents is always good for ratings. Don’t even get me started on ADD and ADHD!!!

We have to stop throwing labels at kids to rationalize their differences. I’ve worked with tons of Alphabet Kids (that’s what I call the kids who come with labels) and not once did I allow that to influence me. I let them guide me on how to communicate with and guide them. Children are our greatest teachers in life.

Yes, of course it’s necessary to take some challenges into consideration. I’m just saying that we, as a society, are far too quick to label children. And if you don’t think it’s affecting them, you’re wrong. I have dozens of stories under my belt of children who’ve been damaged by labels given to them.

Lisa Bunnage, WWLARC (Woman Who Loves and Respects Children) … I just made that up but I like it

Also check out Defiant Disorder.