Here’s Lessia Bonn, from I am Bullyproof Music, on addressing ADHD with increased kindness and understanding!
ADHD: We flit, we float. We sail on quirky boats. We talk about tangerines when you asked us about pumpernickel. Oh jeez.
My mom used to groan in my direction, “Look how you get!” I’ve had mud on my face my whole life. ADHD life is disorderly. Squirrels rule me. Yes, it’s a “condition,” … which Ryan Gosling has. Okay, now I’ve got your attention.
I’d like to suggest a few simple things teachers can do to help ADHD-challenged kids position themselves more gracefully within the classroom and the world. I’d also like to point out how ‘annoying’ can become ‘endearing’ with just a little more understanding. And then there’s the thing about pepper.
I spent a year in Jerusalem once. It was absolutely liberating having my blunders go unnoticed. Why didn’t anyone notice?
I’m guessing because, in that part of the world, having “pillpell” (pepper) in one’s personality is encouraged. People with no “pillpell” are considered a snore. Sharing a weird opinion – going off on tangents? No biggie. Just don’t be a bore!
And when in France…
Blurt out something awkward? We’re good. Overly honest observation? No worries. But never eat an apple on an elevator. Heaven forbid! That’s so pagan!
Conclusion? I’m beginning to think “appropriate behavior” could be culturally relative.
Point This Out to Kids
I suggest we spend a bit of time examining what’s okay – and what’s not – within other cultures. It’s so educational! Let’s teach kids to consider the source. What does “appropriate behavior” really mean exactly? Your green could be my blue. “She’s not that odd. She just acts a little French!”
Cool in “Tween”
From one of my tweens: “You’re so random! I LOVE it!”
Have you ever noticed most middle school kids find disorderly conduct amusing? Maybe that’s because, with all their raging hormones, a bit of added chaos can seem kind of normal.
It’s embarrassing being the blurt-y person who walks around filter-less. It’s a mess. I can’t tell you how often I’ve asked myself in horror, “Did I just say that?” This funny song puts a gentle spin on the ADHD tendency to overshare. Below: a cute lyric video. Both serve as a gentle way to start conversations around integrity and better listening.
A kind-hearted teacher might offer: “It must be fun to be so verbal! Ideas are obviously your friends!”
ADHD people are very attracted to spanking new ideas. But after that, we often get tangled up in a avalanche of our own words. We lose our map. What to do?
Have ADHD kids write their thoughts down. Next, have them cut what they wrote down by half. Do that again – then again. A hundred words, then fifty, then twenty four – no more!
“Waiting for your final answer is always so worth it!”
When it’s obvious you find us colorful, not annoying, we can relax. Scatter-y style individuals get much more accomplished when not stuck on the defensive.
“Wow, do you have a lot to share! Could you please write it all down for me so I’m sure to absorb it all? I don’t want to miss a detail!”
That sweet statement, presented with affection, would promote giggles and re-focusing. Just one supportive statement that shows you “get” our struggles makes all the difference.
Whenever I’m overwhelmed, I write a song. I do this for my students, too. That’s where BP songs come from. I include the kids I counsel in my process. As students watch me work, I offer them choices. After that, many are inspired to write themselves.
“I need to write a song so I can organize my reactions!” I love hearing that. Better to write than to moan. Rhyming rhythmically helps organize thoughts, is fun, and becomes a useful skill for life. If the music part is a stretch, kids can pen a poem or a rap.
Meaningful lyrics empower kids. Even breathing centers everybody. Double win! But no singing “out” please. That promotes yelling. Sing “in” instead. (producer’s trick) Students love the feeling. It’s calming.
Many ADHD personalities connect people by instinct. “You know Max? Yay! I know Joshua and Jeremy! I ate lunch with them once. We ordered fries.”
Surprise human connections can hold deep meaning for sensitive souls. Random-seeming connections serve as an exciting reminder we’re in this together, not alone. How sweet is that to know? It’s solid proof we are the world!
Fun prompts: Do you believe we’re all six degrees separate from each other? What exactly is the meaning of the universe?
I had a teacher ask that “meaning of life” question once. Mr. Montz became my favorite teacher overnight. ADHD kids absorb more social information than the average kid. They can come up with the most unusual life philosophies when asked. So ask!
Arm your ADHD students with clever comebacks to use automatically when encountering non-supportive people. If anyone should treat their energy as annoying, a good response from the ADHD kid might be: “Hmm… yes… I guess I can see your point. I do kind of land all over the map. But then again, lots of geniuses are random. Look at Einstein.”
Einstein was absent-minded. The man could never find his keys. He was often oblivious to his environment. Still, he did okay.
Inspiring Einstein music video
Hugs and Trees
“Wow. I really needed a hug! Thanks for sensing that!”
Even if you needed that hug because we’ve been driving you crazy, a hug is still a hug (oxytocins!). Hugs are a win for all.
Distracted kids can take their shoes off and wiggle their toes into something interesting. Grass is good. Suggest the hugging of trees. And jumping jacks work wonders for re-focusing. I usually ask for ten.
This Tip is Amazing!
Have your student, feet flat on the ground, try to lift the edge of a solid counter with their fingertips. I don’t know why this works, but every ADHD kid I’ve ever worked with swears it works. Add in a friendly touch on the shoulder, a smile that says clearly, “I’ve got you,” “I get you,” or “You’re fun!”
This nature video is on target for squirrely kids. It contains a rough word but makes its point. For traits in a nutshell, check out these 17 awesome graphics.
I was hired as songwriting consultant for the band Loomis. This music video shares their singer’s tracking issues. Will’s presentation is mature for tikes but awesome for older boys. Notice how Will spins his challenges and makes them endearing! Here is some information about the video.
Here’s a useful unit about whatever that helps kids remember they have the power to chill at will. After all, everyone knows that whatever feels better! And here are some posters that say as much. The idea of “Whatever” is especially useful with ADHD kids.
Here is a full page of ADHD links.
Big hug to Rachel Lynette – queen of blooming beautifully, for allowing me to share a bit of insight on my “people.”
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a squirrel to catch. 🙂
Lessia Bonn is the force behind I am Bullyproof Music. As an award-winning songwriter, producer, and counselor, she helps kids of all ages dig deep and fill their pockets up with wisdom. Co-creator of BR’s year-long behavior management program, Lessia mixes ELA with thought-provoking lyrics that light the way. Her material is colorful and personal – based on VBL adventures she has shared with students over the years. Find Lessia on TpT, IaBPm website, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.
*All photos used with permission.