Teaching a Child with ADD/ADHD about the Mind

Dear Mystical Mama,

I know you suggest that to live in your health, as a parent, is the best course.

[Note: in 3 Principles psychology, this means "mental health," as in: a quiet mind, receptivity to insight, grounded feeling states (when possible!), & love. --M.M.]

But, besides this, do you know of how to best describe the principles, say, to a 5-year-old? Or what to suggest to parents on how to explain the principles to a five-year-old diagnosed with ADD or ADHD? Can a five-year-old with extreme hyperactivity, impulsiveness, short attention span, etc. grasp or understand how their own mind works?

If so, how would one explain it to the child themselves? Do you explain in story form, parables to them ...or is it fine to just live in it yourself? How do you explain the principles to your own children? Just curious here.

--Robert "Walking Rabbit"

Dear Robert "Walking Rabbit"

and Dear Parents, everywhere! We cannot underestimate the importance of "putting our own oxygen masks on first." (See the two posts below.) Indeed, how will we teach our children about their minds, when we do not even know how to handle, or understand our own?

Are we not all a little ADD/ADHD from time to time? Can we investigate within ourselves, becoming gently curious, as to why? What occurs in Thought to create a sort of "running mind?" How is it that we can run to the store and spend all kinds of money on unnecessary items in a sort of frantic frenzy--what is that state of mind? Or, what creates the need to always be stimulated by some form of entertainment, be that people, TV, books, radio, Internet, and now, gotta-love-it Facebook?

And what happens when, rather than respond and react to this sort of running thinking, we simply allow this mental frenzy to be, understanding that our Health lies beneath this, our Health is the container for this ... ?

Children, it's been said many times, also respond mostly to how we are, much more so than to what we say. This is actually true for adults, too, is it not? We respond to each other's energy. Thus, our own calm-mindedness, our own grounding, guides us around our children, and helps them to calm down, too.

My dear friend and 3 Principles colleague, Gabriela, used to work closely with autistic children. She noticed that the children "behaved better" around those adults whose energy was present with them, who were Mind-full with them (and here I mean the "big Mind" as Mr. Banks defines it.) Finally, our own grounding and understanding speaks to our effectiveness with children if we do decide to share: How attached are we to their "changing" and "getting" what we are saying? How urgent do we become in trying to share our message? Is our trying to teach them really our way of trying to save or protect ourselves somehow? Are we overly invested in the whole thing?

Therefore, do put your own oxygen mask on first! As another wise colleague, Elsie Spittle, has written: "When we change the way we see things, the things we see seem to change." And the "problems" we see in our children look far less insurmountable. In my own case, with my own children (4 and 6), many problems have simply disappeared with the withdrawel of my worry and attention. I "kid" you not!

Finally, please note that I am not advocating walking around in a false kind of "calm," in which you are stirring and unhappy underneath, but showing a placid face. We are going for total self-honesty here. This must be first, above all: self-honesty, ruthless self-honesty. And being truly calm-minded does not mean that one's physical actions are slow and evenly paced, somehow. It simply means that all action comes from the place of wisdom, within.

OK, now, I will actually answer your question Robert. (Geez! I know!) ... What are these many diagnoses for our children--and ourselves--that we face today? I am by no means the expert, but are they not all made up names to describe some condition we believe is somehow the same across individuals? As we have created the words "tree," "faucet," "lawnmower," so have we created "ADD," "manic-depressive," "bi-polar," "anxiety disorder." It is also true that when we rely on the word to convey meaning, we lose touch with the reality of our own, or our child's situation now. We stop exploring for ourselves, we stop observing. Let the experts handle that, we say. What do I know?

Do I believe that children and people with ADD can learn about their own minds? Yes. Do I believe they have mental health and wisdom? Yes. We have a 14-year-old with an ADHD diagnoses in a school with us now who can sit for 45 minutes as we talk about the 3 Principles in his classroom. His teacher says this is phenomenal. How is it so? Because we don't care if he does or not, actually. Because we love him anyway.

Now, I am not arguing for or against medication. I have seen Wisdom point in both directions on this one. But I am suggesting that a "diagnosis" is merely the current and latest thinking of a society that, generally speaking, does not really understand itself at all.

Can a five-year-old learn how their own mind works? Yes. Can we teach them directly? Yes. Can we use a parable? Yes. Is it enough to just live the Truth ourselves? Yes.

I have done all of the above with my own older daughter, and I notice that if I am invested in her learning, or anxious about her learning, she tends to tune out. When our dialogue takes place within a context of love and real curiosity, she gets a lot of it, as do I. But truly, what has been most effective for me is moving into the space and spirit of Love, for myself, within myself. Love for Life, Love for myself, Love for her. So healing. Love is Mental Health.

One final story: I worked with a mother of three rambunctious and "diagnosed" young boys (two of them were.) She wound up with some of the Sydney Banks DVD's and played them on her television one day--just for herself really. She told me that as Syd talked, the boys started to slowly stop what they were doing and come around the television to listen.

And so it seems that the truth is the truth is the truth--for us all. And it can emerge in our families in many forms, "principles" or not. Going back to check our own feeling state, (do we move from Love or anxiety?) is the key. If we are not getting oxygen, we have no oxygen, really, to give to our children, or anyone else, no matter what words we use.

I appreciate and invite your further comments or questions.

With Love,

Your Mystical Mama