I spent a lot of my energy last week reading through a book called “Smart but Scattered” which is designed to help parents of children with attention issues. I have been noticing a problem for a while, but it all came to a head the first week back to school. I am not, in any way, diagnosing my daughter with anything, but I knew she was struggling with something lately. Because I am with her all day, every day as her teacher and parent, I notice even the smallest shift in her attention and focus. These shifts do come and go, she will have weeks of focus and strong follow through and then boom, a few weeks of scattered thoughts and an inability to follow a simple, two-part instruction. She has a strong desire to do the right or correct thing, but sometimes she switches into a mode where she doesn’t listen to the instruction, and her thoughts move quickly ahead to what she thinks you are going to say. It is frustrating.
Of course my first thought was to grab a book and see what I could learn about attention disorders. Turns out, this is actually a great book for any parent because most children could use some help getting organized, planning, being resourceful, etc. The book lays out what executive decision-making skills are, what your strengths and weaknesses are and what your child’s strengths and weaknesses are. Then it shows you ways to work together so these weaknesses can improve and not drive you totally insane.
While I was reading the book though, it occurred to me that she has been mentioning weird dreams and sleep problems for the last few weeks. I decided to try Dr. Hyland’s Calm ‘n Restful for kids to help her get a better nights rest and see how this might help her attention and focus during the day. Dr. Hyland’s products are gentle homeopathic medicine. We used the teething tablets for her when she was very little and they worked well. So I gave her a few one night and wow, what a difference a good nights sleep made in her! After two nights of solid rest, she was back to her usual self. Her attention was better, her ability to follow through improved and her jittery self during school was more relaxed and willing to listen. Amazing!
I don’t plan on giving them to her every night, probably a few times a week while she moves through this transition. Her little 8.5 year old body and mind are going through some radical changes, I tend to forget that sometimes. A good nights sleep is probably more important than we realize.
Meanwhile, I do recommend the book to any parent struggling with their kids executive skills, or rather, the fundamental habits required to get organized, stay focused and manage their time better. It helped me view the dips in her attention as a correctable thing and not just a part of her personality. I know that sounds terrible right? But for me, some things about my children that drive me crazy are just their individual nature and no matter what I say or do or how I approach them, they will not change. But obviously this is not always the case. Just because something is exasperating, doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. Recognizing that your child wants to change but can’t on their own, is the clue. Parent ah-a moment #2,056! 🙂
Have a great week!