Tuning out her son army crawling across the floor to grab his headphones and helping her daughter make homemade tortillas for her Spanish class all while running a virtual team meeting was the breaking point for one of my executive clients.

Let’s call this client Claire. During our last conversation I could hear her exhaustion, frustration and overwhelm.

She sighed, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I’ve hit the wall!”

Can you relate?

After weeks and weeks “safe-at-home” we are hearing more and more that people are feeling overworked, distracted, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Adrenaline got us through those first weeks. Now we’re reaching into our energy reserves to get us through.

Claire knows she is not showing up for her team or family like she wants to or like they need her to. Not only is she distracted, but she’s got a short fuse. She says she doesn’t have any patience to listen to her family or team. She wants to simply tell them what to do and move on. Her stress is at an all-time high.

When our brains are flooded with stress chemicals, we lose the ability to show up with empathy.

Add to that, we are no longer getting that great energy from being with others in person.

And the cherry on top is that connecting virtually comes at a cost. According to Harvard Business Review, we are suffering from “Zoom fatigue”. They have found that when we are on virtual calls, we have to use so much more energy to focus. This explains why Claire is so exhausted after meeting on-screen at least 6 hours a day.

Meeting in person is like having a healthy, well-balanced meal and meeting virtually is like eating cheetos for dinner.

After talking more, we discovered Claire is not taking care of herself. Her sleep is erratic at best. Exercise is non-existent. She has her leaded coffee for breakfast, cheez itz for lunch and M&M’s for dinner.

Claire wants to do better.

I asked her what she could do now to empty all the crap out of her cup and fill it with things to reduce her stress and give her more energy and focus.

She said, “I think I need to make wellness part of my job description. Framing it that way will help me make it a priority.”

I usually don’t encourage clients to take on more than one change at a time. But Claire is ready to do radical self-care. She decided to tackle three areas that will have the greatest positive impact on her overall well-being.

Eating

  • Claire has committed to eating something high in protein with her morning coffee.
  • She’s blocking 30 minutes at noon each day to eat a healthy lunch with her daughter and catch up with her.
  • She’s telling her team that her workday is done at 6pm and will make a weekly plan with her family for getting a healthy meal on the table every night.

Movement (Exercise has a negative connotation for Claire.)

  • Claire committed to doing 15 push-ups as she rolls out of bed.
  • Claire will set her timer to go off 30 minutes into each meeting and have everyone get up and move for 5 minutes.
  • She committed to walking the dog with her husband every night after dinner.

Sleep

  • Claire will go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:30am every day.
  • She will do a 5-10 minute meditation to wind down from the day and clear her mind.
  • She will not check her phone in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. She will check her phone after she has had her breakfast.

This is the time to double down on our self-care.

In fact, Claire told me she was never this “messy” with her self-care. She can’t even believe what bad habits she has adopted these past several weeks. She’s confident she can get back on track.

If you’ve got some messy self-care going on, make your own action plan of specific things you’re going to do to start feeling better.

Kids with ADHD often interact in ways that can provoke negative reactions from peers.

Do any of these ADHD Behaviors sound like your child?

Dominating: Tries to dominate play or engage in ways that are too aggressive, demanding, and intrusive.

Bossy & Uncooperative: They may have trouble joining in with peers in the things their peers like to do. Instead, they may want to make their own set of rules, or engage in bossy, “unfair” or non-compliant ways, and generally may have a hard time knowing how to cooperate with other kids the same age.

Unaware of Social Cues: Many kids with ADHD have a hard time picking up on and reading social cues because of their struggle with attention.

Boredom and Distraction: Kids may become bored easily, get distracted and “check out” on friends.

Emotionally Reactive: Many kids with ADHD also have a hard time managing difficult feelings and can very quickly become overwhelmed, frustrated, and emotionally reactive.

What’s a Parent To Do?

Our kids do not want to talk with us about their challenges, and certainly not their social challenges.

Even so, there are things you can do to start building trust with your child. You want to be their safe place. They need a safe place.

The best place to start is by shedding your parenting cloak and show up as a coach for your child.

Here’s how to have a coaching conversation with anyone!

Use the PAUSE Method

Pause. Stop. Breath. Understand and take control of your emotions. The difference between an emotional reaction and a thoughtful response is the Pause.

Acknowledge. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings. Say, “I can see how important this is to you. I know this is a hard situation. I notice how much you care about this. I can hear in your voice how hurt you are.”

Understand. Get curious. Seek to understand the situation better before trying to fix it. Ask, “What else happened? What made you think that? What are you assuming? What is the worst thing about this? What is the best thing about this?

Solve. Partner with the other person to come up with solutions. You are not to fix-it for them. Ask, “What can you do about this? What do you have control over? What are your options? If you could do anything to fix this, no matter how crazy it sounds what would it be?”

Encourage. Nurture continued and future communication. Remind the person you are always available to listen. Be in a state of support, not judgement.

Coaching Conversations Guide Posts:

  1. Always ask “What” Questions. Never “Why”. Why puts people on the defensive.
  2. Always ask permission to share your opinion or your own story.
This takes practice. Be patient with yourself.

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Video 1 – Is It Social Anxiety?

Learn where social anxiety comes from and what it looks like. Use the Social Anxiety Symptom Checklist to discover if you or your kids have Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

 

SAD & ADHD   Right Click to Download

Social Anxiety Symptom Checklist Right Click to Download

I INVITE YOU TO SHARE YOUR KEY TAKE AWAYS BELOW IN THE LEAVE A REPLY BOX Read More

As I send my two oldest daughters off to college my fear of them sitting alone at lunch or hiding by the gym lockers have moved to fear of them locking themselves up in their dorm rooms isolated and lonely.

I think my own social anxiety is triggering these fears. In my heart, I know my girls will push through the “uncomfortable” that always accompanies new experiences. I’m also a realist and know anxiety is a heavy load to carry.

For some students, be it 6th graders, high schoolers or college students, another year of school is another year of anxiety filled moments. Academic stress, athletic competition, social pressures and personal insecurity makes the start of school overwhelming and intimidating.

So much focus is put on academics and we forget the highest anxiety moments are the social ones. Since when is lunch the highest stress point of a student’s day? Sadly, it is the reality for more students than you’d think.

For students who live with ADHD, anxiety and depression, the “back-to-school” period is especially troubling. For many the fear of the unknown – like a new teacher, new school, or new schedule – can cause or exacerbate feelings of social anxiety. For students with ADHD these fears are magnified as their over-active minds play out one potential social catastrophe after another.

Read More

College drop-off day is around the corner – Again!

Two years ago I hugged my oldest of 3 daughters goodbye at college and watched her walk into the next chapter of her life.

It was hard.

Really hard.
It was one of the hardest, most dreaded days of parenthood I’d ever experienced.

Sounds dramatic. I know I was sending her off to college, not war.

And still, the memory of that day is seared into my brain, along with some unexpected painful moments that snuck up on me in the weeks and months that followed.

And now only two years later I have another child packing up her room to head to college.

Recently, I’ve been rehashing what I learned the first time around. What I know for sure is that looking back and feeling sad robs me of being present for the moment I’m in now.

This time I give myself permission to feel sad, to miss them and then to get on with finding my new normal.

From drop-off day to the months that followed, this is how finding my new normal went down the first time.

Read More

Wouldn’t you just love to see your teen beaming with confidence, accepting herself for who she is, not for what others want her to be, and feeling strong on the inside?

It’s so important that your teen cultivate self-confidence now.Following are  5 powerful strategies that can help build up your teens confidence from the inside out.
Read More

The shocking answer…anyone who is in your teen’s contact list or in their social media feeds. That’s a lot of people your teen is curling up with every night.

Statistics bore me. But these stats hit a chord with me.

  • 95% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their phone right next to their bed.
  • 25% of people don’t silence their phone before going to bed.
  • 10 % of people are woken by notifications of texts, tweets, snapchats and emails.
  • 50% of people will check their phone if they wake in the night.

And our teens are always “on” because of FOMO (aka Fear Of Missing Out) Read More

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just flick a switch and make your kids shyness go “POOF’”?

Your child wouldn’t worry anymore about what others think, no more embarrassment in front of other people. Your kid could just relax and feel comfortable and confident.

You could feel some relief from worrying about if your shy kid is going to get taken advantage of later in life.

It’s typical for our kids to not want help from us in their social lives. But, you CAN help. And here’s how.

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Who is this older gentleman feverishly taking notes, wearing a business suit at the CHADD Conference? I assumed him a physician or school administrator. WRONG! He raises his hand and asks, “How can I be there for my granddaughter to support all her interests. She has so many. I want her to know I care but it’s hard when her interests change daily.” Wow. What a lucky girl his granddaughter is to call this gentleman Grandpa.

In another session, for women with ADHD, many women stood up and shared their struggles with ADHD and what they’ve learned to do to live with more ease. Their honesty, vulnerability, and sense of humor moved me beyond words. Talking about it with each other gives us community, support and understanding. Ladies, we are all stronger when we lean on each other. I urge you to find support in your community or start your own group!

For some at the conference, they would come out of a session and say, “I thought the speaker was talking about me! He described me, my habits, my fears, my goofs, my oops, my need for speed. He even knew of my desires to do more, to do it better, to do it without reminders, to not let others down, to not let myself down. I came here for someone else I care about with ADHD and discovered my own ADHD.”

That first self-diagnosis can leave many unsettled. Not knowing how to tell others. Not wanting judgment. Not knowing what to do next.

I’m  grateful for the ADHD community of professionals who work tirelessly to reach others who could really start rocking and rolling in their lives with just a little support.

Mostly, I’m grateful for those who are already stepping up and supporting someone they love living with ADHD.

What can you do when someone shares they suspect or know they’re living with ADHD?

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Parents speak out on “what things are keeping them up at night about ADHD for their family.

  • “Will my daughter find people who can support her while she works on her social skills? Friends that can understand she can be inappropriate or come off as thoughtless. She just doesn’t have that awareness yet.
  • “Can my son learn skills he needs to take care of himself?
  • “I worry about my daughter socially more than ever. She gets bored with things…..and people very quickly.”
  • “The biggest concern I now have with my son is how to help him deal with anxiety.”
  • “I worry a lot about how my son would fit in, in the real world as an adult.”
  • “Will my daughter be able to manage on her own, get a job, hold a job, get bills paid?

Can you relate?
Worrying about how our kids will manage as adults is natural. We spend so much time worrying about algebra test scores we miss what is “missing”. Do we know our kids social intelligence score? Our kids need social muscle to achieve independence.

Those with ADHD frequently struggle with friendships. They’re often isolated and withdrawn. Some choose not to socialize. If they do, they may be rejected.

Worse, isolation and rejection may lead to other problems like depression and anxiety.

Read More

 The most overlooked distraction is our thoughts. For those with ADHD it is often the biggest barrier to paying attention.

Efforts we make to lessen external distractions don’t work for tuning-out our own thoughts.

Music, TV, bright neon lights are distracting to most. For others, those are crucial to keeping focused. What works for the neurotypical brain does not work for the complex ADHD brain.

When you notice your kids distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds, quickly bouncing from one activity to another, or becoming bored quickly, what do you offer?

If you tell your kids, “Go study in your room where it is quiet,” you are not alone.
I did it.
I didn’t know better.

Other well-meaning parents and experts share this as an effective focusing strategy. It may be for some, but not others.

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Managing emotions is tough. For those with ADHD, self-regulation is a tremendous challenge.

Emotions, yours and your child’s, are the biggest obstacles to getting homework done.

When your kid is fired-up crying, screaming, throwing and crumpling homework, how do you react? Do you yell and threaten punishment?

Is your kid being rude, angry, hostile and disrespectful on purpose?

Read More