Tip of the Day: ADHD

by | Nov 9, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Have you ever grocery shopped with an ADHD child? It’s an…experience.

Once upon a time, my children and I moved through the grocery store in a whirlwind. Children everywhere, stopping and starting through the aisles, lots of fussing (from the Momma) and one word on repeat: the name of my child with ADHD. 

Blondie, where are you?


Where’s Blondie?

Blondie, come here. No, not there. Here. 

Blondie, I told you to stay with the group. 

Blondie. Blondie?! Oh, there you are.

For those wondering, currently, Blondie is 103 lbs and almost 5’0″ tall so putting him in the cart hasn’t been an option for years, but he still needs a lot of assistance.

The problem persisted, and grocery stores were a nightmare. We’d leave, limping to the car, some of us crying or others beaten down with the scoldings they’d received, and all of us discouraged.

But then I had a thought. Safety and obedience were always a priority, but what if taking my easily distracted kiddo into a grocery store and asking him to walk without stopping to look at something or picking something up asked too much? There’s a difference between a demand for obedience and setting a child up for failure. This child spent his entire grocery store visits with mom and brothers scolded, fussed at, and in trouble. And, as his mom, I hated it.

According to CHADD.org, “Psychiatrist and author William W. Dodson, MD, estimates that by age 12, children who have ADHD receive 20,000 more negative messages from parents, teachers, and other adults than their friends and siblings who do not have ADHD.”

I needed to empower my child with ADHD to obey and keep him busy in healthy ways. 

I made one simple change, and it changed our grocery visits completely. 

Are you ready for it? Are you sure?

Take the ADHD child by the hand and don’t let go.

Sounds overly simplistic, yes? 

However, with this simple tweak, our visits became calm and – dare I say – uneventful. A challenge to be sure – I do have four very active boys! But no longer traumatic or chaotic.

Ways to make this work for you:

  • Give your child instructions, but expect them to forget. I cannot overstate the importance of obedience. However, with ADHD, directions and instructions jump from synapse to synapse in the brain before being stored in memory. About halfway through jumping, a little trash can comes along, sweeps multi-step instructions into the trash bin, and throws it away. Adjust your expectations as the parent to accommodate some forgetfulness.
  • Walk slowly.  Rushing a child with ADHD asks for a meltdown or a fight between parent and child. If you’re late, you’re late. If you are behind in what you need to get done, then just let it go. The well-being of your child comes first. Sashay or saunter, amble or stroll, but don’t rush.
  • As an alternative, have the child place their hand on the cart where you can gently lay yours on top. As they grow older, there’s less embarrasment this way. When they stop or stray, you’ll feel a gentle tug, and you gently tug back. It serves as a silent reminder of their instructions and also keeps them with you. Remember GENTLE tugging.
  • Have your “hand-holder” pick needed items off the shelf and place them in the cart. Busy hands stay occupied, and the burst of dopamine helps their little brains remain focused. According to healthline.com, “dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that’s an important part of your brain’s reward system. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more.” In other words, it helps keep them regulated while in the store.

But what about smaller siblings, you may ask.

Baby goes in the buggy, facing you. If a child is old enough to walk beside you and reasonably follow directions, let them walk. Give each sibling a buddy, and they hold hands but walk alongside you. I often have bigger sibs have one hand on the cart and the other holding hands with little sibs. My instinct directed me to take hands of the little ones. However, I had to curb this (within reason). Now, older siblings help guide younger ones, but I always have *my* buddy’s hand.

We’ve let this hand-holding concept bleed over into other areas as well. Parking lots, navigating church lobbies after service, and crowded events.

I can’t wait for you to try this tweak to your parenting and see how it goes! It’s simple but very effective. Go forth and grocery shop!


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