Sharon Collon (00:00.574)
Welcome to another episode of the ADHD Families Podcast. I am so happy that you are here. I'm your host, Sharon Collin, and I'm going to be talking to you today about solving those problems that keep coming up in your family again and again. I've got a really cool free resource of videos and some tools for you for you to download after today's podcast as well. So let's get to it. Let's solve some predictable problems.
Sharon Collon (00:56.098)
So you're in the middle of the morning rush and you're helping your child with their morning routine. You're trying to do all the things yourself as well, get yourselves ready, get the kids out of the house. The house looks like there's some sort of bomb gone off. You're feeding the animals, you're doing all the things, trying to get yourself ready and look like you haven't been attacked by birds in the morning. There's all these things coming at you in the morning. And you go, you get them through and you're trying to go down to the car.
and you feel your body tense in anticipation because you know that every time you put your kids in the car, it's a major debacle. Your child doesn't like the car seat, doesn't like the feeling of the seatbelt coming across, doesn't like the smell of the car, doesn't like where their seat is, doesn't like the feeling of anything, right? And even if on that day,
they don't have a problem or they don't kick off based on getting in the car, your body still tenses as if they do. This is a very personal example of a predictable problem that my family faces on a regular basis. My son Harvey hates the car. He has to have the window fully completely down. He has since he was a child, since he was like a baby, he loved the window being down. He thinks my car stinks. I've...
tried to confirm with multiple other people it doesn't smell and if it does smell it's probably because of all the biscuits that are crushed in there and you know he made it smell in the first place and we have this predictable problem of getting in the car every morning. So what I want to talk about today is we all have these moments, we all have predictable problems and I know from working with families where they have beautiful family members with ADHD right?
Meltdowns, the big, big meltdowns, they're distressing, but we tend to cope pretty well with these. We know that when they come, we put supports around and we support our children through those meltdowns. However, they're a bit, they're not every couple of minutes, right? Predictable problems are really frequent. They happen all the time. And even when they don't happen,
Sharon Collon (03:17.014)
our body tenses anticipating that they are going to happen. We're anticipating friction even if it doesn't occur. Now ADHD at its core is a dysregulated nervous system but here's the bit that we might not have discussed before. The people that support people with ADHD also end up with dysregulated nervous systems because they anticipate friction all the time.
And this is exactly what happened to my body as it went into hyper alert supporting and doing all the scaffolding for my four beautiful family members that have ADHD. So how do we claw our way out of this? How do we make life easier and more fun and more joyful with ADHD? The answer is what I've got for you today. It is solving predictable problems. We can't keep going through life, hitting our heads against a
brick wall. We have to be proactively problem solving as a family. And it doesn't really matter what the solutions are for my family. It's not about that. It's what the solutions are for your family uniquely. And this is one of the coolest parts that I get to do as an ADHD coach is uncover what works for your family. And we tend to look at what the strengths are and we pull them across into areas that we're struggling.
So that example that I gave at the start of this podcast of going down to the car and my body tensing, that is a very real example. That happens every day. It's a predictable problem. So when something happens repeatedly or frequently, that is a predictable problem. And I bet you, you can think of a thousand that you face on a daily basis. And all of these things, all of these little moments of friction that you face as a family, I tend to think of it as like death by a thousand cuts, right?
So it's not the big meltdowns that drain all our energy, although they are distressing. It's these little bits of friction that we encounter throughout the day. So what if there's something that we can do about these little bits of friction? Sometimes there isn't anything we can do. There's just friction and we have to put scaffolding around it to support our families through that problem. However, there is a lot that we can do. And the key is to involve our
Sharon Collon (05:41.27)
beautiful family members in it. We have to collaborate. Cause I don't know about you guys, but I have you ever noticed that people with ADHD hate being told what to do? They hate it. Right? So we have to collaborate. They have to come up with their own solutions to things. And that is where the power is. We teach them, we, and we work with them to come up with their own solutions because you hear me say this saying all the time, how I view life and what I want to give my kids.
as we're going through life is to teach them that Marie Forleo saying that everything is figure outable. We can figure it out together. And I also want them to know that life throws problems at us all the time and things come up, we handle it. Another thing comes up, we handle it. Okay, it's not all ruined. It's not game over. There's just things that come up and we handle it. And that's how it's a nice calm approach to counteract some of the all or nothing approach that...
often comes along with ADHD with black or white thinking. We're good, we're bad, we're on, we're off. If something, if we miss a day, ah, it's all ruined now and now we have to find something new. No, no, there's something coming up. If we drop it, we can just pick it back up. If something comes up, we handle it. So that's what I wanna try and pass on to my kids as well. So collaborating with them to problem solve is a really great strategy for them to come up with their own solutions and for them to know.
that they can come up with their own solutions. It's not all lost, it's not all ruined. They can come up with their own solutions. And the best thing about the ADHD brain is their ideas factories. They're incredible at coming up with solutions. They have the best ideas. They have ideas that blow my mind every time. They're things that I can only dream of thinking about. And so we really want to give them confidence to work through their predictable problems and see if we can eliminate some.
What can we eliminate? What can we put some framework around? What can we live with? Which bits are not, you know, like we can, these are the powers of these conversations because we can open the dialogue instead of just hitting our heads against a brick wall or coming up with a point of friction every time we face a predictable problem, we can have these conversations and have empowered conversations about them and decide, be intentional about what we're gonna do about them. So I'm gonna...
Sharon Collon (08:04.45)
talk you through how to address a predictable problem. And I've also got a really great resource for you. So you can, I've recorded a little video with instructions. I've got the predictable problem sheet. I've got everything for you there. So you can start working through this with your family and have those prompts there. So that web address, so you can download that. I'll put it in the notes for you as well, but it is.
www.thefunctionalfamily.com backslash worksheet. So I would love for you to jump on and download that. And you know, there's a video there you can watch to refresh yourself about the instructions but we're gonna go through it now as well. So firstly, we talked about what is a predictable problem. It is something that's happening repeatedly. It's often not the big things it's those little points of friction. So say something like,
I use this example a lot because it really stuck out in my memory. You know, if you have a favorite cup and you go to get, you make yourself a coffee, but that cup's never available. Cause it's in the dishwasher or whatever. And it's just that mild annoyance. This would, this is what we would call it toleration as well in ADHD coaching. It's a mild annoyance. And so a solution that you might come up with to that predictable problem is to just buy all of that.
So you don't have to look and have that decision made every morning or that little bit of energy looking for your favorite cup. They're just all your favorite cup or maybe you buy a lot of them so you've always got one of those. So that is a little really very simple solution to a predictable problem. But let's workshop it together so we can address some of the more complicated ones. So we've talked about what is a predictable problem, why it's important for the dysregulated
Others around people with ADHD also end up with dysregulated nervous systems. I've got my hand up here. We're talking about that body response to friction, you know, that guarding that we often see people do. We're guarding our body, we're holding our tensions in our shoulders. We roll forward. We're protecting our vital organs in our body language and it's guarding behavior because we encounter so much friction on a day to day basis. And this is something that we have to be really careful of as a parent that we
Sharon Collon (10:25.518)
you know, we regulate our nervous system as well, because otherwise you can end up with all sorts of intense symptoms and conditions and stress and sleep patterns from having a dysregulated nervous system. So it's not just the people with ADHD, but it is those that support them as well. So let's have a look at how you would work through a predictable problem with your child. I'm gonna go for child in this example, but you can really do this with anyone.
It doesn't have to be a child. It can be with your partner. It can be as a family. You can, if you know, if there's multiple children involved, you can ask everyone to collaborate together. There is no rules in this. It's just a guideline for you to work out what works for your family. So first of all, we have to look at when to address a predictable problem. We definitely don't do it in the heat of the moment. We don't do anything in the heat of the moment. We just wait it out. We support, we might take them outside. We wait till everyone's regulated because you cannot.
We have to be regulated ourselves because an unregulated person can't regulate someone else. But we also have to wait till our children are calm or, you know, regulated to be able to address predictable problems. Otherwise, it's going to feel really jarring for them. So we wait till everyone's calm. I usually wait till, you know, it might be like one of those lovely calming moments when we when we're actually driving in the car, we've got over that friction of getting in the car. And now we're
where just having that general chit chat. And I use those car trips, this is just a little segue, I use those car trips as the time that I do those prepping conversations. And I have to do an episode about prepping conversations because I feel like that's really important for the anxious brain. I like to prepare my kids for different scenarios because the ADHD brain is a very anxious brain. So I'll do an episode on that later as well. So in those car trips where you've got everyone's attention and...
and everyone's just having that lovely, nice chatter on the way to somewhere. Or it might be for you, it might be up as part of your family meeting or a picnic when you're sitting outside, you can address these predictive problems. Choose your moments carefully so that you don't have dysregulation in there or heightened emotions. You definitely don't wanna do this when someone is emotional. And so you've got your sheet.
Sharon Collon (12:48.706)
that I've created for you, thefunctionalfamily.com backslash worksheet, and you're working through it. So you might say something, how do you bring it up? So you might say something like, I've noticed that, and you name the moment, is a bit challenging for you. And I'm wondering if there's a way that we can work together to make it easier. It's just like an invitation to have a discussion about the challenge or that point of friction or that predictable.
So you ask your child to tell you about the problem. So this is where we really wanna do active listening. So what is active listening? We're definitely not trying to solve the problem. We're gonna lose them if we solve the problem, right? So we're really engaged, we're being present, we're not looking at our phone, we're not thinking about we're gonna cook for dinner, we're being really, really present with our kids. And we might try and parrot some of their language back to them. So to show that we understood what they just said.
So you can say, you know, I heard that you were saying that you were frustrated because, you know, X, Y, Z happened. You might ask some questions to clarify, to show that you are really actively listening. So can you tell me more about that? You know, what happened after this happened? You know, really be engaged in that conversation, be present and do that active listening and definitely don't offer any solutions. We want them to feel heard. And then we might ask your child why they think this problem is happening.
Now this is really awesome, this bit. I used to skip past this bit, because I'd do the listening, I'd go, yep, check that off. And then I would want it, because my personality is all about problem solving. And so I have to watch myself all the time with this. So what I wanna do is I want your child to understand the why. When it comes to people with ADHD, the why piece about why they do what they do, why it's...
why it's happening, why they think a problem is occurring, is really, really important. You need to stay there for a little while. So why? So ask your child why they think this problem is happening and really listen to them about why. We want to understand that why piece. And then we want to ask them, or to work with you, to come up with three possible solutions.
Sharon Collon (15:09.13)
So what are three things that we could try to make this problem easier for you? It might not be about solving the problem, it might just be making it 10% easier. So we really want them to be able to come up with their own ideas, because we want them to have buy-in, and we don't wanna give them something to push back against if they have oppositional behaviors like all my kids do. And we want them to really be able to turn on this part of their brain where they're problem solving.
So if they can't think of any reasons or any solutions, we have to ask more questions. So can you tell me more about the problem? Go back to that why piece, to the question piece, to the listening piece. And they might say something, you know, like a throwaway thing, like, you know, why do you wanna, you know, why don't you wanna go to school? I don't hate school, I don't wanna go. Or the solution is I don't go, right?
That's, it's not your opportunity to get frustrated there. It's just asking more questions. Can you tell me why you said that? Can you talk to me a little bit about how, why you feel that way? That would be your opportunity to go a little bit deeper into questions. And I find that after that initial resistance, they do get there. They do want to talk about it. And they do want to come up with solutions. Now, why do I ask you to come up with three possible solutions? The reason that I ask you to come up with three
is because I don't want them to feel like if one doesn't work that it's all ruined. So we're moving away from the black or white thinking, from the all or nothing approach. So we have three different solutions. We're not emotionally invested in any of the solutions. We are just, we're just experimenting. So we really want to portray to our kids that it's just an experiment. We're just going to try it and we're going to see what works. And if something fails...
You know, even a spectacular failure. Well, it's just more information. It's more information that we'll use to find the right solution. So it's no problem. It's absolutely no problem. We're not going to be black or white thinking. We're not going to be all or nothing in our approach here. So that's why we come up with three. So we write down the three solutions on the chart and we let them know that it's an experiment and that we'll use the outcome as more information to know what works. And then we monitor, we roll it out.
Sharon Collon (17:26.39)
we roll out the experiment, it doesn't matter how, what you think of their possible solutions, as long as it's safe, it is okay with me. Because sometimes what they need from us in that moment is just to experiment and to take what they, to trust in what they said. You know, I've had some really interesting solutions over the time, like sometimes the solution.
doesn't appear to have anything to do with the actual problem, but it has worked because it's not about the problem, it's about the sequence of events that they need to be able to overcome that predictable problem, if that makes sense. So we're gonna monitor it, we're gonna keep track of what works, what doesn't on the sheet, and we're gonna document it, what works, because when you end up with a whole folder of these predictable problems solutions, like these predictable problems worksheets,
that I've got for you, you start to notice patterns about what works for your child. And so it's really good information because you can go back and go, hey, well, when we address this predictable problem, you mentioned that putting on a song really helped you or doing that with me, body doubling with me helped you. So perhaps we'd like to try that with this other predictable problem. So you get to know what strategies really work for the individual. So it's great to have a bit of
documentation around it. And of course, when you find something that works, even if it works 10% of the way, we really wanna celebrate it and mark it. People with ADHD are really great to move, moving on to the next. We don't mark it and you know, that we're quite quickly, quite quickly move on to the next, the next predictable problem that we're gonna solve. We really wanna mark our success and celebrate it a little bit and see if there's a way to improve
those moments of friction or predictable problems in your life because they are the energy drainers, right? They're the things that suck the whole family's energy. So I'm going to use a really simple example of to workshop a predictable problem with you. So every day when I, this is so many car examples, every day when I pick the boys up from school, they would be furious, furious at the world. And I'd be excited to see them. I'd be like, hi guys.
Sharon Collon (19:50.966)
How are you?" And they would be grumpy and nothing I said was right. And it was all like they were just angry and they were fighting and they just, it was just the worst. And I'd get home and I'd be like over it already because they just had such a terrible car ride with me. And I was like, ah, this sucks. And it was just, it was a predictable problem because it happened most days, right? And so we went through the sheet together and we said, you know, like, can you tell me about...
how we can make these car trips easier for you guys. And we looked at the why, and a lot of what came out in the why, although there was quite a lot because Harvey thinks my car smells, there was quite a lot in the why. But what I was hearing in a lot of the why was that they don't eat their lunch and they're quite hungry when they get in the car. And it's a really bit of a volatile time for them because.
they don't tend to stop too much at school and they get into the car and it's like this, they're getting to their safe place with me and they just let it all kind of go. They've been holding it in all day and they're hungry, hungry angry. So the solution that they came up with is that I am not to talk to them at the school gate. I don't ask them any questions about how the day was. We don't launch into Rose Butter Thorn or Sweet and Sour.
which is our tell me your sweet moment for the day and your sour moment for the day. So we don't log, we don't launch into any of that. I don't say anything, I just hand them something to eat at the school gate. So whether it's a cheese and bacon roll, a muesli bar, some fruit, whatever, easy, something easy for me to grab as I'm running out the door to pick them up. And I don't say anything until they've eaten. So they just eat from the walk from the school gate to the car and we don't say anything.
Okay. And then I don't actually ask them any questions about how their day was until they have finished eating. So once their blood sugar has returned to normal and they've had something to eat, then we can have the discussion about how our day was. And I can't tell you how incredible that strategy, that was just one of the strategies that they came up with, but it really hit the nail on the head in terms of its success.
Sharon Collon (22:08.598)
because it was such an easy strategy. It was what I was doing anyway, but just in a different order. I was waiting till we were getting home and then feeding them. But that little bit of time between the school gate and our front door was awful. But now once they've had something to eat and I've let it settle a little bit, the car trips have been so much better. So that is a example.
of an easy predictable problem to solve, that the kids came up with the solution and they were able to identify why, why that problem was occurring. And it was an easy solution. It was just a change of sequence for events that helped us overcome that predictable problem. Now, I'm not silly enough to believe that once you solve a predictable problem, that it will be solved forever. Because as kids grow up,
New levels, new devils, right? Like, problems change. Predictable problems change all the time. Solutions stop working. So it's not really about solving the problem. It's about collaborating with your kids for them to solve their own problems. And so we're teaching them problem solving skills. We're teaching them a really clever tactic on how to address problems or friction points in their lives, because this is something that I want them to do as adults as well.
and to move away from that all or nothing or black or white, to come up with possible solutions and then experiment with them and see how they feel for them as individuals. So I hope that you download that worksheet at www.thefunctionalfamily.com backslash worksheet, shameless plug, download that today, work through some predictable problems with your family, experiment with it, see what you can come up with.
collaborate with your beautiful family to see if we can make those points of friction a little bit easier for your family. And let's see if we can not have those moments in incredible tension. Even if we solve one or two, one or two a month. Oh my goodness, what an impact that makes if we can handle.
Sharon Collon (24:27.262)
one or two predictable problems a month. And whatever that looks like for your family, there's no right or wrong. It's what your family decides for those solutions, what your family decides on what works for you guys as a family unit. I really hope that you love this resource today and you use it to address some of these points of friction in your home. I hope you're having a great week.