Attention deficit disorder or Parent deficit disorder?

I read an interesting book recently on my quest to become an ever better parent called Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph. In it he quotes a story about a dad whose son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD). On reading the diagnosis, and for want of better information, he decided it meant his son wasn’t getting enough attention. That surely was, what “attention deficit” meant?! He therefore set himself the task of spending more time with his son and the result was that his son was abMatthew’s 3rd birthdayle to come off his medication.

Dan and I were reminded of this the night before last at bedtime. I had spent most of the day  struggling through the ever growing ironing pile which meant my 3 year old son Matthew had played a lot on his own . On top of that, Danhad a lot to get through at work so arrived home just in time to put the kids to bed. I lost count how many times that evening, Matthew “popped” out of bed. The excuses varied from needing a wee, needing fresh water in his water bottle, his duvet was “all wrong” etc. etc. Now my children are not always angels about going to bed but this was extreme. Each time Dan took him back he tried to do as all good parenting books suggest of saying little and being firm about it being bedtime. But each time he said goodnight he was met by a beaming smile and a satisfied son, who only seemed to want a little attention.

In his book Steve Biddulph was not suggesting that all ADD was due to a lack of parental attention and neither am I saying it’s the prime reason that your children won’t go to bed. But it does give you something to think about.

3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Heidri said,

    At the moment my 18 month old is crying her heart out, it is twenty to 8 at night and she’s been up since 10:30 this morning with no nap in between. We spend the morning together, had swimming lessons, then from about 3 to 5:30 she went to the park and played in the paddling pool with our neighbour’s kids. I’d say she’s had a lot of attention today, except from Dad who played with her for about 10min. during dinner. and read her bedtime stories with me. She didn’t want him to put her to bed though, but keeps on crying for me. It feels as if she can never get enough attention esp. from me. When I’m not around she is much easier to deal with, but the moment I appear she gets moany and crying. She can easily stay awake till 10 at night, but also sleeps till 9 in the morning. We have a hard time to change her routine to 8 to 8 kind of a thing. How do you think could one go about it? I’ve also tried to get her used to having Daddy put her to bed so I can get some work done at night, but she refuses to sleep if I haven’t also gone through the ritual with her. She is still crying. From one tired mom.

  2. 2

    Amanda said,

    Dear Heidri
    I am so sorry you are having such a hard time. I almost cried with you. It’s amazing how one small child can cause so much anguish! You are obviously a loving, caring mum who is trying everything to do the best for her little girl. I wish I had the perfect answer for you but I don’t. I am no parenting expert just a mum who wants to try and help others from the little experience I’ve had so far. It’s also difficult making suggestions without knowing you or your family well. It certainly doesn’t appear to be a lack of attention though! Here are a couple of thoughts I have had.
    1) Have a look at the supernanny website and search on sleep. There are lots of ideas there on how to get a sleep routine that suits both of you and how to move the time . If you both get more sleep I am sure it will help you both feel better.
    2) Make sure you and your partner have time together whilst she is awake. Security is a big thing to toddlers so making sure she sees you together for just a few minutes in the evening,talking together or even preparing the meal , can help her feel her world is secure.
    3) Check out a parenting course that may be running near you. I found the NSPCC positive parenting course invaluble. Check with you health visitor or local library. And don’t see it as a sign of weakness or that you are not a good parent. For every other job there is a training course. This will just help you realise you are not on your own with the struggles of parenting.
    I hope that helps a little. Us parents definitely need to stick together!

  3. 3

    Tami said,

    Hi Heidri

    Wow- your little girl sounds like she is very attached to mummy, which sometimes can be such an ego boost except when you really need a break and it sounds like you really need a break. I had the same problem with Gaby- not even wanting to have Dad look after her at all. It took quite a lot of crying and fixed routine to break her “addiction” to mummy. Like you said- when I wasn’t there she was much better, but she just had to catch sight of me and the screams would start.

    Supernanny is great for giving you a tool to break these sort of habits, but it won’t happen without crying, and lots of commitment from your husband. Another great book I used to help with sleep is the Baby Whisperer. I would choose your method though first and stick to it from the beginning- not chop and change from book to book as that will probably cause more problems.

    Here arre some of the thoughts I had- don’t feel pressured to use them- they worked for me but may not help your family.

    When your husband gets home have a 10 minute chat together- in the kitchen making dinner, on the couch with some tea- anywhwere but try to have some time together, with a good hug and kiss as well- it will show your daughter that all is well with you 2 and she will feel that her Dad is a part of her family.

    Then encourage him to spend some good time with her- building towers and knocking them down, playing in the garden or even get him to give her her bath and play with the bath toys together- that could be their “Thing”- Daddy does baths. This will mean one less thing for you to do. If he does this consistently and makes it fun she will look forward to Daddy doing things with her.
    Having dinner together is really great- make sure you talk to each other and not just to her, but include her as well.

    Make sure her bedtime is the same every night as a rule- one night every now and then is okay but then it needs to be back to routine- For her age 7pm or 8 pm is the best time, depending on how late your husband gets home- as you want him to have some time with her.
    It is great to have story time together as a family, but perhaps while you try to break her hold on you it would be best for Dad to tell her stories- maybe get a special dad book from the bookshop that they could choose together- snuggle up on some cushions and make it a real quiet special time for the 2 of them: So you give her a kiss goodnight and tell her:Right mummy is going to work now and Daddy is going to put you to bed. Make sure that he does whatever you would usually do so that she still knows it is bedtime. Try to do the same thing every night- so that she gets used to routine. It can be tempting to think after 2 nights of screaming that this not working and try something else, but consistency usually wins out in the end if your nerves can stand it.

    Toddlers are frustrating and can be so tiring. It sounds like your little girl gets lots of wonderful attention- so know that this is a phase that many children go through- you are not alone and your are certainly not a bad mum.

    Just keep telling yourself- she will grow out of it!

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