Parenting Tips

ACCEPT THE ASSIST IN ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY: LESSONS FROM COVID-19 AND GRETZKY-99

by Brenda S Miles, PhD, C PsychClinical Paediatric Neuropsychologist Welcome back to our Possibilities Word of the Week. Admittedly, it’s been a few weeks. But during that time we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to determine how best to assist you going forward. This Word of the Work will be our last—at least in its weekly format—because we’ve listened to you and found new ways to assist.  If you haven’t caught the key word I’ve used twice already, it’s assist. Assist is our word of the week—and assistance is something we could all use right now in the midst of a global pandemic. COVID-19 is a threat the world wasn’t prepared for. Scientists are rallying to find a vaccine. The rest of us are rallying to adapt, looking for different ways to do the same things we’ve always loved doing. When science comes through with a vaccine, our lives will hopefully return to hugs, concerts, and dinners with friends we remember so fondly. But some things may never return to their pre-COVID state—and some things may be changed forever. How we view Assistive Technology is one of those things I hope gets a reframe. At Possibilities, computers and secure video connections like Zoom...

POSSIBILITIES WORD OF THE WEEK: MATCH

by Brenda S Miles, PhD, C PsychClinical Paediatric Neuropsychologist A few weeks ago we kicked off our new Possibilities Word of the Week Project. As COVID-19 continues, so does this initiative. We hope you find a small dose of direction—and a big dose of inspiration—amidst so much uncertainty. This week’s word is match. It feels like the right word for right now, especially with so many parents telling us that school expectations for on-line learning have been a struggle. One mother described a fire-hose effect—a constant stream of worksheets and assignments coming from cyberspace with such force and frequency the family feels like they’re drowning. And often, little or no work is getting done. So what does the word match have to do with these struggles? Well, I’m a hopeless romantic. And yes, I love all those movies where lonely people meet and fall in love. The subplots vary, but all happily-ever-after stories have one thing in common: love happens when there is a match. Mismatches, on the other hand, are disastrous. They are heartbreaking, painful, and draining. When your child’s skills don’t align with work that is expected, there is a mismatch. And the tantrums, and refusals and frustrations that happen are heartbreaking, painful and draining.  At...

Remote Learning During COVID-19: How Strategies from Occupational Therapy Can Help

by Sarah Ohana, OT Reg. (Ont.) & Paula Riczker, OT Reg. (Ont.), The Possibilities Clinic COVID-19 as a rapidly evolving situation; we hear that every day. What has evolved for you, as parents, are more responsibilities, more concerns, more stressors, and more unknowns in a time of great uncertainty. We imagine you are wearing multiple hats right now. At least three come to mind: parent, teacher, tutor (not to mention cook, cleaner, washer of dishes and clothes, and the list goes on). It’s normal to feel overwhelmed right now. These are unprecedented times for everyone. And for children and adults with ADD or ADHD, many challenges have intensified. Routines have changed, and on-line learning and remote work are new expectations.  As Occupational Therapists, we’re hearing lots of concerns from families about remote learning. How can you support your child or teen with this new reality? Here are some common questions we’ve been answering, and strategies we hope you find helpful.  How can I get remote learning started at home?  Collaborate with your child to determine the most helpful organizational system for assignments and deadlines (e.g., Google Docs, a smartphone, an agenda, a whiteboard?).Leave one browser open on a computer—or as few as possible—to minimize visual distractions and support attention. Model self-talk and discuss...

POSSIBILITIES WORD OF THE WEEK: OFF-SEASON

by Brenda S Miles, PhD, C PsychClinical Paediatric Neuropsychologist Last week we kicked off our new Possibilities Word of the Week Project. We’ll provide one word each week. You choose how to run with it. The goal is to inspire you; not to frustrate or overwhelm you. During this difficult time of COVID-19, we’re not asking—or even suggesting—that you structure every hour of every day to recreate your child’s school day or keep your children amused. If you’re trying your best to keep your family safe, then you are doing a tremendously good job. Think of our word of the week not as a mandate, but as a small dose of direction to help you navigate this challenging time. Our new word is off-season.  COVID-19 has stopped visits to the gym. It has stopped professional athletes from entering stadiums and arenas. It has stopped your children from playing sports with teammates. Physical distancing makes team sports impossible—and games with groups of neighborhood friends are not advised, either. For children and teens who thrive on physical activity—and that’s most of them!—these restrictions might feel unbearable. But here’s something to keep in mind. No professional athlete ever plays a team sport throughout the year. Professional athletes...

POSSIBILITIES WORD OF THE WEEK: IGNITE

by Brenda S Miles, PhD, C PsychClinical Paediatric Neuropsychologist Raising children is challenging—joyous, but challenging. COVID-19 hasn’t made parenting any easier. Of course you have concerns. Protecting your family’s health is first and foremost. If you’re also concerned about learning while schools remain closed, you’re not alone. We hope this series can help.  This is the first posting from our new Possibilities Word of the Week Project. This week’s word is IGNITE. How can you ignite learning in your child or teen when schools remain closed?  You can, because the brain is an incredible thing. But before we talk brain, you might have a more pressing question. How can a single word be helpful at a time like this? Does that sound right? It’s a good question.  Single words can inspire. Single words can motivate. Single words can ignite action.  COVID-19 is a heartbreaking time for the world. But if we must find an upside, this extended break from school presents a unique and unprecedented opportunity for the brain to come out swinging. It can learn, and it’s ready to learn. So we’ll give you one word a week. You choose how to run with it.  Please trust that one word is enough—especially if your child’s...

Possibilities Pick

The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years Authors: B. Janet Hibbs, PhD, MFT and Anthony Rostain, MD, MA Publisher: St Martin’s Press, 2019 Whether you have a young adult currently in post-secondary school, or a child who dreams of university or college, this Possibilities Pick is a must-read! Written by psychologist B. Janet Hibbs and psychiatrist Anthony Rostain, The Stressed Years of Their Lives examines the joyous, and often turbulent, transition from home to school during young adulthood. Dr. Hibbs and Dr. Rostain are experts in the subject of adolescent transitions—both as clinicians and as parents—and their book benefits from very personal and clinical accounts of young adults struggling to find their way.  There is great breadth and depth of content here—all skillfully written with accessible language, clever analogies and sensitive observations. As adolescents face monumental challenges—like being away from home amidst the onslaught of new academic demands—the teen brain is fraught with hormonal and developmental changes. Risky decisions and impulsive behaviors—everything that keeps parents up at night—are products of an evolving brain whose frontal lobes aren’t fully developed enough to put on the brakes. This is also the time in the brain’s transformation...

Worried About Too Much Gaming? It Could be ADHD

Play has changed dramatically over the years—and so have our ideas about what it means to stay connected. For kids and teens, screens are commonplace, and gaming with friends seems to be the new pretend play that used to happen on bikes, in fields, or at the beach. But how much gaming is too much? Are you worried that you or your child is immersed in screens and missing out on other things? There are lots of reasons why gaming might become concerning and all-consuming—and ADHD is one of them. In this article, we’ll cover some basics about gaming and ADHD. Why is ADHD a risk factor for excessive gaming? And can treatment for ADHD help? (Spoiler alert: Yes, it can.) Does ADHD mean more gaming? Research on gaming in children, teens and adults is producing a consistent picture: ADHD is a big risk factor for excessive gaming. So, what does that mean, exactly? It means that when researchers study different levels of gaming in people signed up for research studies, the most intense gamers are the ones who also have symptoms of ADHD. So, if you or your child has ADHD and enjoys gaming, chances are very high that the gaming...

Smart with ADHD: Lessons From Ross Greene

Smart People Don’t Always Get Work Done When it comes to Attention Deficit Disorders and being smart—even gifted—things can be confusing. Smart brains can absorb complex information quickly—and make sense of that information when others can’t. But here’s the confusing part. When work needs to get done—even easy work—smart people can feel unmotivated, deadlines can get missed, and work can go undone.  Does this sound familiar? Think about your own life. Maybe on parent-teacher nights the teacher praises your child’s brilliance and creativity. Then, like every other year, the teacher adds this: “But he needs to take responsibility for his learning” or “she’s not working to her full potential.” Maybe you, too, feel like you’re working in a job that doesn’t capitalize on your tremendous strengths. Is it Boredom and Just Not Wanting to Do the Work? At the Possibilities Clinic in Toronto, parents with smart children often blame boredom—and not wanting to do the work—for procrastination and missed deadlines. “It’s not interesting enough for him. He’s bored.” Why would she finish easy tasks when what she really wants is a challenge? She doesn’t want to do the simple work the teacher gives her.” Explanations like this—blaming boredom or just not wanting to do the work—might apply...

ADD and ADHD in College: Are You Ready?

With summer in full swing, you probably prefer to think about hitting the beach rather than hitting the books. Heading back to high school is one thing, but heading to college or university is something else entirely. Are you ready? It’s exciting to think about new friends, new experiences, and new possibilities. There is so much to be positive about. Being optimistic helps you look forward and dream big!  But your new Psych 101 professor will probably tell you this: the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. So, if you’ve always left your assignments until the last minute, that’s probably going to happen when you hit campus, too. If you’ve lost your wallet, cell phone or keys over and over again, that’s probably going to happen at college, too. If you‘ve struggled to follow your high school teachers—because taking notes and listening at the same time seemed impossible—that’s probably going to happen at university, too. And university or college means new and tougher challenges will be thrown your way, as well. Bigger classes, more reading, more deadlines. Okay. Enough said. You get the idea. If challenges at school are part of your past, they’ll probably be part of your future. And...

Fun (and Functioning) for the Whole Family!

With summer in full swing, you’re probably doing some vacation planning. Maybe you’re seeking “fun for the whole family,” as some venues and theme parks advertise. Not an easy task. How do you plan an experience captivating for your 8-year-old, fun for your preteen, and even entertaining for you and your college-bound young adult? Inherently you know an inclusive experience—one that includes everyone—is key. You are a family, after all.  When thinking about whole-family fun this summer, don’t forget about other things that require a family-focused perspective. You know from experience that when one child is struggling, it can be upsetting—not just for you but for everyone else in your family. Social-emotional functioning can suffer, and so can whole family functioning, if challenges aren’t addressed with an inclusive perspective. Because you are, after all, a family.  When it comes to ADHD, a whole family perspective is also key. If you or your spouse has ADHD, then there’s a 50% chance that one of your children has it, too. And if your 8-year-old child has ADHD, chances are also high that your pre-teen or college-bound kid is heading to high school or university with it, too, threatening mental health and academic success if...