PAP 148

Your Child’s Brain Is Not Broken

with Tamara Rosier, Ph.D.

When we choose to view ADHD as a difference, we show our kids that they’re not broken and help them harness their strengths. As ADHD Coach, Tamara Rosier, Ph.D., tells us in this episode, people with ADHD eventually grow into their brains. It’s our job as parents to help them navigate big emotions and develop strategies to get things done despite having an ADHD brain. Tamara provides strategies for this and also shares many of her own methods learned from being an adult with ADHD and raising kids with ADHD.

Resources in this Episode

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Tamara Rosier, Ph.D.

Dr. Rosier has been a college administrator, a professor, a leadership consultant, a high school teacher, a national public speaker, and an ADHD coach. Through those adventures, Dr. Rosier has developed valuable insight into ADHD and how it affects one’s life. As founder of the ADHD Center of West Michigan, she leads a team of coaches, therapists, and speech pathologists to help individuals, parents, and families develop an understanding and learn effective skills to live with ADHD effectively. Her book, Your Brain’s Not Broken, provides strategies for navigating the powerful emotions accompanied by ADHD.

Thanks for joining me!

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Tamara Rosier 0:03

What you can't give your kid his executive functioning skills, that's for darn sure. But you can give them all this other character building stuff. And you can teach them how to be strong, how to be responsible, how to have courage, and that's the stuff you can teach.

Penny Williams 0:22

Welcome to the parenting ADHD Podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD a Holic and mindset Mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started. Welcome back to the parenting ADHD podcast. I'm really excited today to be talking to Tamara Rosier, and we're going to talk about how your child's brain is not broken, and what that means for your family and your parenting. And most importantly, thanks for being here. Tamara, will you start? just introduce yourself to everyone, let us know who you are and what you do?

Tamara Rosier 1:11

Well, as you said, I'm Tamara Rosier. And I'm the founder of the ADHD center of West Michigan. I have a history from a high school teacher to a college professor, and have a very ADHD resume. But I landed with the ADHD center. And so I work with individuals and families to help them learn how to live with ADHD.

Penny Williams 1:33

Awesome. You have had a wide range of experience, but I think that makes you even more helpful as a coach. You've been in that school environment, you know what the kids are kind of going through?

Tamara Rosier 1:44

Yes. And I have three children who have ADHD. And I have ADHD.

Penny Williams 1:51

So you know, full well.

Tamara Rosier 1:53

I have front row seats.

Penny Williams 1:55

Yes. Such a good way to put it. So let's dive in. Our kids brains are not broken as adults with ADHD. Adult brains are not broken. I know you have a book out by that title. Now, what does that mean to you?

Tamara Rosier 2:10

Well, I'm going to get a little sappy just for a second. Sure. I really felt led to write this book. And I felt led to write this book in a certain way. Every day, my clients just experienced such pain, and shame from having ADHD. And so I'm a parent coach, I also coach, adults and children. And so I wrote this book in the title, kind of says you're not broken. And we go through life kind of feeling like we're broken, that we're definitely misfits. By the way, the smarter you are, the more you tend to feel like a misfit. Yeah, I work with a lot of really smart young. I call them the little men in my practice, they're usually between six and nine years old, and they talk like little men. Yeah. high IQ, little guys. And they say, Well, actually, Tamara, you know that kind of thing. Yeah, but already, they're picking up the stigma, but also the pain within themselves of how come I feel like I'm not stupid, but I can't remember to do this at recess time. We're really, really not good at the mundane, daily events of our life. Right? So I wrote this book, as a letter of hope to people.

Penny Williams 3:27

I love that. And kids do, I think absorbed very early on the fact that they're different, but they're having a hard time. And in the absence of an explanation, like ADHD, or your brand were told differently, they do blame themselves, they do think something must be wrong with them.

Tamara Rosier 3:47

Exactly. In the book I write about one of my daughters were watching the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer stop gap video are, back then it was on TV. And she and I were talking about how she felt like a misfit toy. And that was in third grade. And so I just remember cuddling her on the couch, and reassuring her that we were on the island together, and that we would figure it out, and that there is a place for Misfit Toys. Yeah, notice I didn't tell her she wasn't a misfit toy. Right? The more we start to argue with our children that Oh, no, you're great, you're brilliant, everything's fine. Then they immediately have to dig in and think, well, mom's lying to me now. Yeah. And so I tend to just rest where the kids are, and say, Wow, this really hurts. If we can examine truth later, but I really want to meet the kids where they are.

Penny Williams 4:41

Absolutely. And how do we talk to them about that pain? You know, we see it. It's really obvious when our kids are struggling, that they are hurting, that they may even feel a lot of shame and blaming themselves. How do we have those conversations with them to help them work through those feelings?

Tamara Rosier 5:01

Yeah, I want to answer that question, but I'm going to answer two questions before that first, okay? And please keep me honest and go. But Tamar, you said you would answer this one. So first, I want to remind everyone that our kids run about three years behind emotionally and organizationally, but not intellectual. And so they can see what's happening. But they're really lacking the emotional development to know what to do with that, right? And so because of that, a lot of kids and adults have big emotions. Yep. And kids will have big emotional meltdowns. Well, I work with so many kids, either through their parents or family coaching. And the kids will just be ugly and just spew pure hatred toward their parents. Mm hmm. And then you're doing the like, Oh, yeah, I've been there with that. Yeah. And you know how horrible that feels. But then the child comes back crying. Yep. say that's not who I want to be. And I'm so sorry. At that point, the child has no one to blame, but himself. And so he starts, I'm just a stupid boy. And I, I'm horrible, and I'm unlovable. And from there, the child's actually trying to teach his or her brain not to behave like that anymore. And so because of that, they're trying to self punish. Yeah, and and remember, most, if not all of us with ADHD, have something called rejection sensitivity, dysphoria. And so now I have ugly emotions, I blow up at you. And now, I just feel horrible, that I just yelled at my mom. She said nothing but love me and support me, I must be a horrible human being right? So what I coach parents to do in those times, not to fight go, No, no, you're great. Because that behavior wasn't great. But to really slow down and say, behaving like this really makes you feel horrible, too, doesn't it? It just kind of stay in the emotion into stay. questioning, we have a brilliant opportunity to really teach so much to our children, when we just sit and listen with them. Yeah. So how I talk with kids about ADHD, is we talk about having big emotions. And sometimes the big emotions get the best of us. And what do we do to get out of it? So cam got in, I developed a metaphor that he doesn't work with children who works with adults, but I use with children and families quite a bit is the metaphor of the pool. And so I asked kids to envision a pool, and the pool is filled with their big emotions. And unlike non ADHD people, we don't have a lifeguard on duty. So sometimes we just take a running leap into the pool, in our clothes, and everything. And so we need to learn strategies for swimming to the side of the pool and getting out. What we don't need is to be in our big pool of emotion and have someone yell at us or shame us. Instead, we need people to hand us a pool noodle and say, you might need this to get out of the pool.

Penny Williams 8:25

I love that analogy. Because kids get so adults too. And even we neurotypical parents, sometimes get flooded with emotions it's difficult to watch your child struggle. Oh, it's heartbreak. So yeah, the analogy of a pool for all these big emotions, and not as sort of getting pulled under it, right. But being able to sort of help yourself out of it is amazing. And that is, something that parents really have to be very aware of is, that's really hard for our kids, because they are delayed in emotional regulation, awareness, intelligence, it is much harder, they do need our support for that. And we can't just say, you're acting like a baby or you need to grow up or whatever, right. It's not a switch that they can flip, right?

Tamara Rosier 9:18

No, no, in fact, I think the biggest gift we can give our kids is this kind of really stubborn love, where it's not that we allow our children to yell at us. We know it, I'm sure you've done this, and I'm sure the parents listening have already done this. We know that if our kids having a meltdown, we don't meet with the same energy. Exactly. We go very calm, looks like you're going to need to calm down, we'll talk after you calm down, and then we help them go to a safe place, but then not not to be the victim. I'm really sad when I meet with parents who see themselves as a victim in this story. And I get it having at He kids, it is not fun for us at all. But we need to be our kids heroes. And we need to not fight against our kids, but work with them.

Penny Williams 10:11

Yeah. And the more we fight against them, the more they fight back. Oh, absolutely escalating. Right? And that, yeah, that's so much of the work that I do with parents, and that's a big part of our behavior course is, are you co escalating? Are you co regulating? What are you offering your child exactly, offering them more big emotions and a bigger meltdown? Are you offering them a way forward? to help them to calm down? That's exactly it. Yeah. And it's so so important to recognize, like, we're wired to respond in kind. So as a parent, I'm wired to yell at my kid if they're yelling at me, right? Because, we're wired to self protect. And we have to override that as a parent and say, Oh, wait a minute, yeah, this sucks. And my kid is being really ugly to me right now. And I feel really uncomfortable, or I feel threatened. But I have to help my child calm, I have to help my child through those because they're the one that's having a hard time.

Tamara Rosier 11:10

Yeah. The other thing I'd like to add to that, and I'm sure you already talked about this is teaching your child emotional resilience. Because life doesn't go our way. And what do we do? You know, we have rejection sensitivity. How do we kind of go into the world when we're emotionally naked? And so parents can really say your brains not broken. But you know what, honey, you have big emotions. And you're constantly sensing and picking things up. And we need to figure out how to create some resilience around that.

Penny Williams 11:44

Yeah. So so important. And I can remember my son is about to turn 19 now, but I remember when he was younger, elementary, and even middle school age, and, gosh, he would get so flooded with emotion, but just really, yeah, it was heartbreaking to watch but also felt a little bit threatening, especially when he was in middle school, he was getting bigger, he was angrier at that time, because life was so much harder in middle school, right? When your brain works differently. And I just I remember him then later coming to me crying. So hurt, that he had hurt me. Yes. And that was always kind of that lightbulb moment to say, he didn't mean any of that. Like he wasn't in control of that, necessarily. his emotions took over, his super sensitivity took over. And everything came kind of spewing out to try to really protect himself. But that was the point where it really clicked for me that he didn't intend any of that behavior that was so challenging and difficult and felt like a personal attack, right? Yes. Because he's coming to me saying, Oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean any of that. That was kind of a gift. Really, for me, it was a gift to be able to then see, okay, he was not able to manage that other situation in a different way yet. But we will get there. We're going to work on this. Right?

Tamara Rosier 13:20

Exactly. You know, I make a joke with a lot of my kids, with great emotions comes great responsibility. And, obviously, I'm ripping off Peter Parker, Spider Man, with great power comes great responsibility. But you know, it's very important that we teach children emotional responsibility. So we have big emotions, and those big emotions are going to leak out or burst out. But then we need to get really good at how do we take appropriate responsibility for them and fix what we can.

Penny Williams 13:53

Yeah, I love that. And we do, ADHD is not an excuse. And it can be pretty easy to lead your child down that road, when they're small. And when they're hurting, and you're trying to protect them. We have to be really careful not to teach them that it's an excuse, but it is an explanation. Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it's, it's a way forward. And it's understanding and then that understanding helps us as parents to do the right thing to be able to help our kids take responsibility, have the tools to do that, and also have the tools to do better.

Tamara Rosier 14:29

Another thing I was wondering, I would love for parents, I'm sure again, I'm sure you talk about this, but ADHD has a hereditary component. That means if a parent has ADHD, there's a point five likelihood or 50% that they will have a child with it. Yeah. And so I wonder if we can just spend some time talking to the parents with ad. Absolutely. Because I think they're pretty frustrated, scared and really sad. Okay, at least I was maybe I'm just projecting. But I remember thinking, I don't know how these kids are going to be okay? Because I'm not okay. I can barely make my lunch for the next day, I can barely keep my own calendar, I have nothing to teach my children. And I know that's not true. And by the way, the three ADHD kids are all grown up, they're in their 20s. And I am so proud of these women. I mean, they're wonderful professionals. They're really fantastic. They're good leaders, they turned out, okay, so I just want to kind of offer hope to the ADHD parent, that you know what, you can't give your kid his executive functioning skills, right? That's for darn sure. But you can give them all this other character building stuff. And you can teach them how to be strong, how to be responsible, how to have courage. And that's the stuff you can teach, though. And so if you have ADHD, you have a special bond with your ADHD kids. Because you have the same kind of brain. And you use the same ADHD logic. Yeah, so in a way, you can be the Sherpa leading them up the mountain.

Penny Williams 16:11

I love that. Yeah, I see parents so often, I have ADHD too. How in the world? Am I supposed to manage this? How am I supposed to teach skills that I struggle with? And right for me? That's a hard question. Because I don't have that experience. Right? I am, like Uber organized. I'm the opposite of my kid, in so many ways. And so it's hard. And I can't imagine how you would really get caught up emotionally in that to like, right. I don't know how to help them. What am I going to do, but I think there's always right support for that, and strategies and leading them up the mountain, like doing it together. I think there's so much power in that.

Tamara Rosier 16:53

Yeah. So a few things I suggest to parents, those who have ADHD is, be very honest, hey, my brain works differently. And I gave birth to you. And so your brain looks like mine. But that means we do things differently. So we're going to have five minutes before we start our bedtime ritual, to go through the house and clean it up all together, we'll put out dance music, and we'll just do a quick pickup. And that's a very ADHD friendly way to get something done. Yeah. Usually, if you can make something fun, which ADHD people are really good at doing, then the kids will join you, in your teaching, actually a life hack there. of Yes, I have to do this stupid task, and I don't want to do it. How can I make a game of?

Penny Williams 17:40

Yeah, it's so helpful. I learned how to do that with my son, too. How do you engage this brain? Right, right brain that maybe works differently that has a really hard time being motivated by only importance, and not urgency or interest? How do you take that and make it interesting, make it fun, and make it something that they want to do. And also making things doable as part of that, too. We have to make sure that our expectations meet the child that we have,

Tamara Rosier 18:10

You know, can I just give you a quick example of how to make things fun, because I can hear the listener going well, you can make everything fun. And that is very true. But you can make it more palatable. Yeah. So there was a time I was a full time professor. I have four children, my youngest was still an infant. And so laundry, laundry was my great Nemesis in those days. And so I would take all the clothing, put it on my bed, and I fold it and I fold it into piles. And I had a bell from a game. And I would ring the bell and I'd yell pickup and I'd say the child's name. And they would come in with like a shopping cart or something to carry their laundry in. And we would kind of pretend almost like a weird little post office exchange, like more Hi, how are you today? You know, it was it was goofy. It was funny. But you know what? It got the job done? Yeah. And the older one was like, Mom, can I just get the laundry? I'm like, No, we're gonna do it this way. It was for the sake of younger kids, but my kids have great memories from that. Yeah, we did the same with you know, lunchtime. A lot of times children don't want to eat. Well, they do want to eat it in a diner where the waitress is really snotty. So, having fun, so I want to give all of the ADHD parents really clear permission. Have fun. your brains wired that way anyway, stop trying to pretend to be a grown up. Just have fun with your kids.

Penny Williams 19:44

Yeah, I love that. I think that's a good message for all of us. All of the parents you know, we get so caught up in the day to day and just getting things done. That we lose sight of having fun, enjoying the journey, actually living each day, being aware of what you're doing and enjoying it, we lose that I think, especially in our culture where it's always go, go Go do more, more and more, right. And we really just need to settle back and enjoy the moments and enjoy our kids. I think you could say the same thing as I will. It goes by really fast. Oh, yeah, one day. They're legal adults. And you look and you go, Wait a minute, what just happened? Like it just happened so fast for me. And there were certainly days when my son was young and things were so hard that it felt like we'd never get there. You know, that time was standing still. Yep. But when you do get there you go, Oh, I wish maybe I would have relished it a little more, I would have been present a little more, because it really does go

Tamara Rosier 20:47

Yeah, you know what I remember, having the three kids kind of all until and a cute little old lady saying value it now, sweetie, because it's going to go by fast. And I assure you, I would always share them. Yep, yep, I am. But now that I'm the old lady, looking at younger parents going value it it goes by so fast. It's kind of weird, because at the time, I'm like, Well, yeah, but the days are long. Yeah. And I couldn't wrap my head around that. And now that my youngest is 20. And the oldest is 29. It did go by fast. Yeah. And I have to tell you, I didn't love every minute of it. No, no, I have four girls. So you know, girls, and ADHD, and hormones can be a really rough cocktail.

Penny Williams 21:38

Oh, my gosh. All the emotions. I mean, young girls are pretty emotional anyway, it's pretty hard to especially like that middle school early wages. I can only imagine all the extra sensitivity and feelings of criticism and rejection all the time. It's so hard to navigate. Yes,

Tamara Rosier 21:57

it's a very complicated sociogram we could draw out, but we made it. We all still love each other. And the girls really know a lot about their ADHD. This book kind of forced them to reveal that they have ADHD. And so I sent them all a text saying, Hey, there's a few that I wrote about specifically and I, got permission ahead of time for that. But in the dedication, I said, Hey, this is the dedication I wrote to you guys, but it does out you is having ADHD, are you okay? And I have to tell you, their responses were just hilarious. One was like, Oh, wait, you think people might know that I have ADHD? They were just doing all kinds of bits with Oh, yeah, I've hidden it. So well, no one's ever gonna guess. So write this book has been a wonderful thing for our family, too, because I think it has caused us all to really kind of step back and appreciate the journey.

Penny Williams 22:53

Yeah. Absolutely. And to appreciate who each of you are, yeah, strengths and weaknesses all together, make an individual and they can make a really awesome. And Dr. Halliwell talks about this a lot to mirror traits, flipping them on their head, maybe and flexibility is determination, persistence, right? Yesterday, just really looking at it different.

Tamara Rosier 23:20

Yeah, I feel very fortunate as a parent, to see my kids through those tough times. But I have to tell you, some of the parents I work with are really there, they're at the bottom, they're scared. And their child is not thriving. And some of the parents I work with their child's in danger of not surviving. And I've always really humbled by those stories. And it's an honor to walk with those parents through that we can't make our kids do anything, right. All we can do is give them the environment, and hope that they accept the environment. And so, I just feel badly for that parent who's listening saying, Yeah, well, I've tried everything. And my teenage son is still, doing drugs or not making great choices. Yeah. And I just want to remind them, just to hold on, we, this developmental delay, really is a thing, and we don't see males mature, really, until 27. Yeah, and, I tell parents that and usually they start to cry a little bit more at that point. But then I'm like, but 27 we still have time, and there's hope. The summit isn't dry yet.

Penny Williams 24:37

Yeah. I love that. We worry so much about our kids future, even when they're super little, we're worried about you know, their adult life. And we have to step back and say, Okay, well, this is the trajectory that my kid is on, right as my kids brain is maturing later, right? And look at all this time that we have to still learn skills. To still mature to still pull things together, right? To get over the hump to get past some of the painful parts. And life is full of struggle anyway, right? You know, we're never going to create or help our kids create a life for themselves that is void of struggle and pain, because that's just part of life. But we can definitely help them to be really prepared to navigate that well,

Tamara Rosier 25:25

Yes, that's exactly it. Yeah, it's to navigate it well,

Penny Williams 25:28

Which can be hard. Some days are good some days. And we just have to kind of be okay with that. So much of it for parents is about just being okay with it, accepting what is, and then making something great from that, because that's totally possible. All of our kids have greatness within them.

Tamara Rosier 25:47

I love that you said that, because accepting the child where they are, I think is the biggest key. It's not where they should be. You know, I'm working with parents who, their child's not doing well in school, but we know the child is very smart. And parents saying, make my child study. And my response is, yeah, I can't do that. I can coach this child, as long as he wants to be coached. But I can't make your child do anything. And we have to be okay with right now. Some kids are doing the best they can. They're not emotionally or developmentally ready to even learn sometimes. Exactly, Petey. Just a quick side note. I wasn't emotionally ready to learn. No, I have a PhD. And I'm going to confess these things. Okay. Right. I did not know my left hand from right hand until I was in sixth grade. I could not figure it out. So I just kept faking it. Yeah. And I didn't know how to read it a clockface until sixth grade, either. So I you got there I was yes. And, okay. I just thought I was I must be stupid. But I was very ashamed of that. And so I hit it. I now know I wasn't stupid. I have dyscalculia and ADHD. And so those are two really hard things. Yeah. But when I was ready to learn it, I could learn it. And not all of our kids are going to memorize their multiplication tables. But that's okay. Your phone has a calculator on it. And so I can do high level statistics, but I'll be darned if I can remember some of my multiplication facts. And that's the short term and working memory issue. Yeah. So eventually, though, I grew into my brain. And eventually, it was my sophomore year in college. I'm like, oh, wait a minute. You mean people study it, you know? It just a lot of things dawned on me that year. And from then on out, I was a straight A student.

Penny Williams 27:49

That's amazing. Yeah. And, the hard things take hard work to achieve.

Tamara Rosier 27:55

Well, and I needed extra cooking time. Exactly. So I didn't learn at the same rate as everyone else. Yeah. And by the way, I mean, today, I'm not a slow learner, I wouldn't say I was a slow learner back then. It's just I couldn't get certain concepts. And I see parents kind of freaking out about that. Yeah, one of the very smart young men that I was working with, he's a freshman in high school. He was homeschooled. Now he's going to a different school. And his mom was worried because he's missing the basics. And he goes, Mom, I need you to relax. Because here's what I do. I'm like, I'm going to build this building a wait, I need to learn about plumbing, I'm going to go learn about plumbing. And it was a great metaphor. Of course, he went on and on about this metaphor, but he's really saying, look, I learned on a need to know basis. And you know, that I could do big things. Let me do the big things, and I'll fill in the gaps.

Penny Williams 28:52

Yeah, they all have greatness within them. I've reminded myself of that, as a parent over the years, we may get there later, we might take the really long, hard road, but we're gonna get there, right? And it's all gonna fall into place, as long as we're supportive and loving, and understanding who our kids are and meeting them where they are. Right? This has been such a fun conversation, I think so enlightening for so many parents who maybe don't have an ADHD brain like me, or who really longed to know what that experience is like. And also just to have that validation, that permission to take it more slowly that our kids will get there when they get there. But they will get there at some point, I think is kind of a relief for probably a lot of parents listening right now. So thank you so much for just sharing some of your time and your wisdom and your own personal story. It's so valuable to so many. I want to let everyone know who's listening, that you can get links to tamaraws book, website, social media, any resources that we've talked about here in the show notes which are at ParentingADHDandAutism.com/148 for Episode 148 thank you so much again Tamara,

Tamara Rosier 30:11

Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the conversation.

Penny Williams 30:14

Absolutely so much fun. I will see everybody on the next episode. Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and Mama retreats at ParentingADHDandAutism.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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