February is the month of LOVE.
We all know that we love the crap out of our kids, right? We’d do anything for them. Climb any mountain… walk through any fire… and – like we do on the daily – stand by them through all this ADHD “stuff”.
But the question I have for you today is this: Does your child FEEL loved?
You may think your love is obvious. I mean, when you love someone more than you love yourself, it’s easy to assume someone is 100% aware of that.
But really… when you think about your daily interactions, is it possible that your child isn’t feeling loved? Maybe they don’t feel seen or understood?
Maybe instead of love, the leading emotion in in your child’s mind is dread, embarrassment, or shame. Maybe they feel like a disappointment to you. I mean, they’re constantly screwing up… aren’t they?
The past few years I’ve participated in a Valentine’s Day tradition that has seen growing popularity online. Each day of the month of February, parents place a heart on their child’s door. On the heart is one reason you love your child. They get to wake up in the morning to ANOTHER reason they are loved.
My kids love the reminders so much that they end up staying on their doors all year long.
In today’s post I thought I’d address some of the struggles parents of kids with ADHD sometimes have with this exercise and help you overcome them so you feel good about participating in the activity AND your kiddos get to feel the love you truly feel for them.
1. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly.
If you’re like me, raising kids makes my mind crazy. If something is outside of the normal routine there’s about a 15% chance I’ll remember to do it. So the first year I tried this challenge I felt like a failure much of the time.
I’d forget to put the hearts up or run out of things to write about that felt important enough to love (what mom does that?!?!). The whole thing left me feeling bad about myself – which was totally the opposite of what it was supposed to accomplish.
What I’ve learned is this… the only people who care about whether we’ve done it perfectly is ourselves. Make the activity what you can handle. Here are some ways to make the activity more successful:
- Cut out all the hearts and write them out in one marathon sesh so all you have to do is put them on their door.
- Set an alarm for yourself to put them up so that you remember!
- Limit the amount of time you’re going to do it for. Just because some picture-perfect-mom on Pinterest does it every day doesn’t mean that’s what it has to look like in your house. If a month is too long, do it for the week leading up to V-Day! Or maybe just do it ON Valentine’s Day. There’s no “right” or wrong here.
Your kiddo doesn’t care about any of the details. So you can stop caring about them, too!
2. Do it regardless of how much your child got in trouble that day.
Some days are harder than others. Some days our kids are disrespectful, rude, or cruel. Some days they hit their brothers or end up in the principal’s office. Some days it just seems impossible to give them praise.
These are the days I want you to dig deep and tell your child something you love about them anyway. That message – the one that says, “you screwed up today, AND I love you. My love for you is not conditional” – is a critical one for your child to hear.
They have enough people who reject them based on their behavior. You can’t be in that camp. You have to be different.
3. Include Your Love for Your Child’s ADHD.
Once you’ve gone through the usual list of “I love you because….” some parents begin to blank on more creative things they can include on their door hearts. I like to use this opportunity to help kids (and parents) embrace parts of their ADHD they didn’t know existed.
An easy way to do this is to find something your child struggles with and find it’s positive counterpart. For example, if I have a distractible child I might say, “I love your ability to notice things that no one else does.” If I have an impulsive child, I might say, “I love that you aren’t afraid to take risks.” If my child is stubborn, maybe I write, “I love the part of you who knows what you want and are willing to fight for it.” If your child is emotionally volatile I may say, “I love your ability to feel your emotions so intensely.”
One day – with a lot of guidance and help from you – these attributes will become the things that help them stand out from the crowd and make them the unique and amazing people they are destined to become.
Most of all, mama, have fun with this exercise. Leave a comment below – what does this activity look like in your house?