ADHD parent: I have a 3 year old... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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ADHD parent

Spacehead profile image

I have a 3 year old. Parents know that a toddler need slots of attention. I feel so bad but it’s so hard to keep up the energy to focus on what he is doing. I often put on the tv and stare at my phone or not focus on what me and him are doing. I’m missing moments with him that I can’t get back. Makes me feel like a bad father at times.

10 Replies

Wish I had something more useful and insightful to share with you, but all I can say is that I relate. My son was born last year during the pandemic, so my wife and I have been able to spend a lot of time with him. It's a real struggle to be as mentally present for him at all times, though. I'm pretty sure neurotypical people must struggle with this to some degree as well, but not as much as us. But sometimes it can be hard to know where the lines are between an "ADHD thing" and an "everybody thing." And a lifetime of hits to your self esteem can make explanations involving failures and self blame all too plausible to us.

Thank you. Like you read my mind. I hate ADHD. I feel like it’s stolen and continues to steal parts of my life away. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I know it can be incredibly frustrating at times to see results falling so short of your intentions, but I find that it's much better to try and make peace with your strengths and limitations as they are, not just as you wish they were. That doesn't mean you stop trying to pay attention and accomplish things that matter, but at a certain point, you just have to stop beating yourself up and accept that you are wired differently. It could mean finding new ways of working with your brain rather than against it. Maybe you can find an activity to do with your son that will trigger hyperfocus? Maybe adjusting your medication will make it easier? And at the end of the day, if you know you have have tried your best to support the people who are important to you, then it doesn't seem unreasonable that to expect a little of patience and forgiveness in return, both from others and yourself.

Thank you. Yeah, just met with my psychiatric nurse and we are switching meds. Vyvanse was actually making my symptoms worse. Thanks for the kind advice and words. Trying to not to let this get to me too much.

My partner with ADHD regularly feels the same way. And ADHD is a big factor, because the thing kids constantly call for is attention, and that's what's hardest. Two things have helped.

1) instead of expecting yourself to be able to control your attention all day every day, make dedicated blocks in the day. My partner takes ten minutes in the afternoon everyday (at least on days that aren't really hard) to intentionally be present. Setting that expectation has allowed for deeper connection. It sounds counter-intuitive that expecting less of yourself can make you succeed more, but it's the difference between always failing or having a little success every day. Also, this time restriction helps with getting started and not feeling trapped.

2) this is the therapy one. Recognize and believe that your ability to direct your attention does not reflect how much you care. The size of your feelings, however, are a good measure of how much you care. My partner feels so strongly about their role as a parent, just as you do, and that is why it is so hard to feel like you're not doing a good job at it. Emotion, not attention, is the measurement of importance, and that is especially pronounced for people with ADHD.

Parenting is hard, especially at 3 years old, especially during the pandemic, especially with ADHD.

Spacehead profile image
Spacehead in reply to Clayfox

Thank you. I really appreciate that. I will try that. It actually makes a lot of sense.

Bro, you have attention deficit disorder. I sense that you love him and when he needs you, you are there. We all have a reservoir of energy and some tasks tap that reservoir more than other tasks. When it comes to ; attention, planning, organizing, etc.. many of us have to pay a higher cost to achieve these goals. Your story haunts some people on this site (me for one). Honestly, it’s a task just to keep life together. I don’t have the answer, but I certainly understand how you feel.

I know this, Your son will remember having his Dad there with him and knowing he could count on you when he needed you.

Spacehead profile image
Spacehead in reply to Tim_Othy

Thank you. Appreciate the support.

I so badly wish I could find a local parents with adhd support group. I just find I’m comig up against struggles my husband isn’t that I think are related to the disorder, and it just seems like it would be so helpful to hear how other adhd parents worked around the problem. For example, I finally bought a toddler leash for when we go on walks, and my husband doesn’t understand it’s not because I’m worried my kid is gonna let go of my hand, but that I will space out at the wrong moment and not realize I’ve let go of his. I already had a time where I got distracted by a big bird flying by and didn’t notice we had stopped next to a piece of dog poo that was now in his hand. An easy thing to fix thankfully, but I have nightmares all the time that worse things could happen when I space out. It would be nice to know of whatever tips and tricks others have developed over the years to help circumvent what they can.

I’m having similar fears. I no longer trust myself in safety, memory and attention. I wish ADHD Wasn’t called ADHD. That name only covers the inattentive and hyperactive part. Not sure what a good name would be (Executive Function Disorder? Free Jazz Brain? Conductorless Orchestral Brain disorder that gets frustrated easily )? Nah those suck too. But the current name makes people think you are only hyper and can’t pay attention. It’s Much more than that. So many symptoms and it affects pretty much how you think and operate all the time. I heard the woman on “how to ADHD” say that the disorder is her operating system. Good way of putting it. Maybe I’ll check out kid harnesses also. Thank you.

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