Time Out Strategies for Mums of Children With ADHD

Time Out We are working with Kurt’s new school to help find strategies for him in the classroom, so that he and his teachers have some chance of survival until the end of the school year.

Common strategies might include a shared signal that the teacher will give to him when he is beginning to be too disruptive or loud.

The rude finger is apparently not currently in the Department of Education’s Guide to Good Teaching Handbook.

Another strategy is that the school has provided Kurt with is a fantastic ‘get out of jail free’ red card, which is a way of showing respect for his special needs (but which he has unfortunately renamed the ‘Loser Card’, and vowed never to implement). He can show this card to the teacher if he is beginning to feel frustrated or overwhelmed and needs some time out.

Time out options do not include having a fag, popping down to the shop for an iced bun or chatting up the Year 12 girls, much to his disgust. He is given ten minutes in either the library or with a nominated teacher in which to calm down.

Due to the well-meaning, rather avant-garde methodology of his new psychiatrist, who believes that ultimately we need Kurt to come off his medication and learn to manage his ADHD, (which we agree with, even though the psychiatrist doesn’t actually live with Kurt and his foibles), Kurt has now decided not to take his medication at the weekends.

This decision actually has nothing to do with Kurt wanting to manage his ADHD but is primarily for the aesthetic reason that the medication suppresses his appetite and he finds it hard to gain weight.

Poor Kurt!

Entering Year 11 and a new school, he is becoming increasingly more aware of his body image and his physical appeal to girls. Ironically, girls don’t like male stick insects that have no pause button on their vocal chords, even if they do play guitar, so he reckons if he can build some muscle tone, the girls will be so overcome by his physical beauty and charm, they will overlook his skinny frame and obsessions with quoting Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, being an Eminem clone (and I believe the only white or black rapper on the Lower North Shore) and drumming everything in sight.

This weekend was a particularly trying one for me due to the excitement/anxiety created by his impending school camp this week (what we like to call our 3 day holiday). So I jokingly asked Kurt last night if I could have my own red card for when I need time out.

What people who have no experience of ADHD fail to understand is that unlike the ADHD kids shown on ill-researched and sensationalist programmes generally transmitted by the ABC, the problems associated with ADHD do not only stem from hyperactivity and there are a several social situations where that red card could come in pretty fucking handy at times for close family members:

Like when Kurt has talked loudly and persistently for six hours, generally within 2” of your face at all times and without the understanding that taking turns to talk is a social grace.

Or when you try to watch a film like we did last night and have to pause it a minimum of eight times while he interrupts with ‘ something really important’ to tell you, like what he is wearing to school the following day, the Arctic Monkeys new song, how hot this girl in English is and if I think his pecs have grown over the past twenty-four hours. He will come and sit with us half way through the film and ask question after question about who is who, what has happened over the past hour and when will it finish while simultaneously fiddling with at least three different things on the coffee table, noisily.

Or when he starts drumming at 10pm at night.

Or when you go to the beach and he calls at least six times to ask when you are coming home.

So I asked him what signal or card would work for us, so that instead of shouting at him I could ask for time out. My suggestion of making the cross sign with my thumb and forefinger was received with shock (obviously too far!) as was my suggestion of a dummy remote control. So for the moment, we remain at the strategy that has worked for the past sixteen years whereby I eventually lose the plot’ and flip my lid because I begin to feel like a caged animal in my own home,  (because I’m human and not perfect), then run away and lock myself in my bedroom and Kurt knocks on my door until I come back out again.

10 thoughts on “Time Out Strategies for Mums of Children With ADHD

  1. I live this, too, though more with my husband (whose ADHD is very severe) than with our son, whose diagnosis is “mild to moderate.” My most often-used phrases: “Stop bouncing,” “stop touching that,” “no more words,” and “I’m right next to you, so you don’t have to talk SO LOUDLY!!!!” And, oh, what joy they are when together – constantly snapping at each other to stop the ADHD behaviors because they’re driving each other nuts. Actually, that’s pretty funny to watch….
    -Amy at http://www.momgoeson.wordpress.com


    1. Gosh, how do you cope? Love them to death but sometimes the noise is unbearable! Funny how often ADHD kids drive other ADHD kids mad. My son will say, ‘it would have been okay if that annoying ADHD kid hadn’t been there!’


  2. Ya know when ‘they’ ( the people who do not live this life) say.. ‘Just stop and take a deep breath and drink it all in and calm yourself ..’ I believe they are sending me a coded message to drink the entire bottle of wine… 🙂

    If only the red cards and hand signals that worked magically… but unfortunately, those need training much like the more subtle social cues.

    Has your son ever been able to express why he is upset/ angry or frustrated? If so maybe you can try pairing your situation to his so that he can understand how you might feel some of the time ( by using his own experience as a reference).

    Wishing you the best of luck and a full liquor cabinet…


  3. As a teacher of students with ADHD (and other conditions) in a mainstream high school, I’m aware of just how difficult and challenging it must be for parents. So I won’t send you any trite platitudes, just some good karma and wishes. I have heard it abates the older the individual is. But you’ve got to get through Year 12 – a stressful time for all.Best of luck 🙂


    1. Thanks Lee-Anne, I don’t know how you cope. The new school is encouraging in that they have resources and strategies set up for kids with needs so all we can do is cross our fingers and drink lots of wine.


  4. I soooooo get what you are saying. My son has add they took the H part out two years ago lol like it makes a difference. I am constantly repeating over and over to do some think, it grades on your brain. However my son went off hiss add meds last year. I felt they made him socially awkward and never ate but his grades where good. Now he’s off them, he’s now 14, and he is still add but I rather him not be delayed socially then forget to do his homework. A interesting thing when he went off the meds he grew 6 inches! Coincidence? However over the years I feel like the add has a obsessive compulsive factor. He also will ask you some thing over and over again. There have been time I too locked myself in the bathroom and that was before his diagnosis and I was a single mom. But I do have to say now he’s older he know enough that when he’s distracted in class he goes to the guidance counselors office and he can finish his work. I think the more mature they become they will find their own way to cope better. Good luck, there are plenty of us out here who understand


  5. My heart goes out to you. It is such a difficult life struggle. You are right , when people hear about children with ADHD they think about kids having problems focusing at school. unfortunately this disorder is much more than that. We should have some special programs preparing parents to handle with it. Wishing you the best of luck.


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