Gabe Gab – starting school off right!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve gabbed about my son, Gabe.  Gabe has ADHD and anger management issues that has been a challenge to deal with at times.  I gab about our frustrations and triumphs in hopes that it helps others out there going through similar stuff. 

Gabe started 4th grade Monday and so far so good…  The first morning was CRAZY but he didn’t have any melt downs.  Here is what went wrong…

Gabe woke up and I asked him to get dressed…  10 min later he’s sitting on his floor in his undies playing.  UGH!!!  Then I helped him get dressed.  I asked Gabe what he wanted for snack.  “I don’t know…”  UGH!!!  I threw something in his bag.  I told him to brush his teeth and retainer.  “Oh no Mom, I don’t have my retainer…  I think I left it at the restaurant.”  Ugh!!! (This was a replacement retainer we had only bought 1 1/2 weeks ago.)   I asked him about lunch and he wanted hot lunch so I grabbed a check and made it out and put it in his bag.  I had Jay take some pictures and we drank our coffee anxiously awaiting the bus…  Oh no, I thought…  I didn’t give him breakfast. I ran in the house grabbed 1/2 a  bagel and a banana and shoved it down his throat…  I go back to my rocking chair on the porch with my coffee….  Oh no, I thought…  I didn’t give him his ADHD medication.  I run back into the house and grab that.  He took the meds just in time for the bus to come.  Even with all that CRAZINESS, he still had a great first day!  Yesterday my daughter comes walking in the house and says “Mom, I found Gabe’s retainer in the middle of the driveway.”  PRAISE GOD!!!

He has an assignment book that he is required to use.  So I thought we need to make this a pattern so he’ll remember to utilize it.  When he comes through the door he has to do 2 things: 1) Take care of his shoes   2) Read his homework assignments. 

He is expected to do chores at home so rather than have all kinds of different lists, we utilize his assignment book and write them in the “Other’ section.  So he knows that picking up his room, laying out clothes for tomorrow and packing his snack is something he needs to do before bed.  This is working GREAT.  My husband had the kids last night and he commented to me on how well the system is working.  Gabe woke up and was FOCUSED… 🙂  I think this is going to be a GREAT year! 

How did your first days go?


Gabe Gab – What to do when they have a bad day after so many good ones.

We had our first camping trip of the season.  We were at a new place that does free clean up weekends and they let you leave your camper there.  We spent the weekend with family.  We did a little raking, had a great fire, rode bikes, met lots of new people at a pot luck and tried to catch some fish.  Most importantly we all got to relax.  Gabe didn’t know what to do with himself.  He was great.  Played with the fire did a little raking to earn his keep.  🙂

We got back home and we were only home for 1 1/2 hours and had to go to our life group.  Well Gabe has been around my friends kids more time than I can count and actually really looks forward to seeing all 5 of them, but he had enough this weekend.  He hadn’t been home in 2 days and he did not want to be at my friends house at all. 

I was really beside myself.  Luckily my friend knows and cares for Gabe so she understood.  I let him sit by himself for a while and on the way home I spoke with him about his actions and told him next time, he needed to come to me before getting to upset.  I’ll make sure we have time at home. 

These are the times I have to slow down and make sure that we get enough “at home” time.  I LOVE being on the go and I have to realize that I need to plan time to be home because both my son and hubby need that.  Moral of the story, know your kid and don’t fill their schedules with more than what they can handle.

Gabe Gab – Creating appropriate chores and following through so he gets them DONE.

I have a 13-year-old daughter whom I do not deserve.  She is an amazing person and is constantly helping Jay and I get things done around the house.  Her monthly iphone bill gets paid for by doing 90% of the laundry and probably 1/2 the vacuuming and picking up the house once a week at least.  She does whatever she can without too much grief.  I think she enjoys our busy fun life and knows that to continue it we need her help.

With ALL that being said…  What do I have Gabe do?  I believe that even though chores are work and most kids don’t like them, they give kids self-worth and a feeling of accomplishment.  So finding the right chores and the right amount for the right kids is very important.  Especially if your child has ADHD or other issues where focusing can be an issue. 

Now that Jay and I have gotten back on our feet financially, we are now couponing and saving for Disney.  The kids know this is 1 1/2 years away but realize that in order to have a vacation of a lifetime, we’ll have to save for what FEELS like a lifetime.   The kids are assigned chores and money is getting deposited into our Disney Account based on that.  This is different from Gabe’s reward system for target behaviors.  I don’t have a set chart or timeline for this.  I leave the chores more off-the-cuff. 

So last Thursday as I was going to kickboxing.   The kiddos were eating dinner and I said.  “I’ll deposit a large chunk of money into the Disney account if you guys get the house all picked-up.   Gabe you HAVE to pick-up your room, make my bed, take care of shoes and pick up the living room.  Abby you pick up the kitchen and do laundry and help Gabe remember his list.”  Both kids went above and beyond where they needed to be.  They know that this trip is going to cost the family around $3000 so if we are saving for 15 months we need $200 a month.  After I made the large deposit, I told them how much $ we needed by the end of the month so they were EXCITED, PROUD, and MOTIVATED to reach the savings goals as a family. 

So what have I learned about getting Gabe to do chores?

  • He needs cueing, encouragement and someone to show him how to do it correctly.  This may need to be several times…  Last Thursday he did a great job, but often he’ll just throw shoes in someone’s closet and I have to tell him…  “It’s not done if it’s not done to best of your ability.  I know you can do better than that, buddy.”  Then he’ll go re-do it.  Or…  he’ll do shoes and start his bedroom and end up playing.  I often have to yell down the hall, “How’s the bedroom coming?”
  • He needs to understand how much Jay and I appreciate what he is doing.  Coming home and saying, “Oh buddy, you did a terrific job!  Because the house is all set, I know can have some cuddle time with you!”  or something like that.
  • He also needs to feel how proud we are of him.  We OPENLY acknowledge his accomplishments to other people.  and tell people how the kids are working and saving $ for Disney.   
  • He needs to feel that he’s getting rewarded in HIS love language which at this time is gifts.  By showing him the savings account, he recognizes that he’s doing something that will get him to Disney World. 

So even though it’s TOUGHER to get Gabe help with chores than our daughter, he NEEDS to be a contributing part of our family and feel his purpose.  So for all the prodding, reminding, explaining that I have to do to GET him to do his chores, it’s all worth it knowing he feels proud of what he’s done!

Gabe Gab – How to ensure kids with ADHD don’t use it as an excuse.

I know that ADHD often gives Gabe an out or an excuse not to do something he should be doing.  Whether it is homework, chores, patiently waiting, or participating in an activity.  So how do you set up fair boundaries and not let the child use their ADHD as an excuse?

I think this all depends on your child.  For a long time Gabe needed an out.  He would get so worked up or excited and really did not know how to get himself out without some sort of outburst and it usually was with anger.  So for quite some time his teachers and Jay and I would excuse him from activities that might get him worked up or if it was a fun activity we might give him extra time so he didn’t feel cheated.  But as he is getting older, he needs to be held accountable for things just like other 8 yr old boys. 

This year if he gets worked-up at school and needs a break, he’s still responsible for all the reading and work he missed and he has to bring it home.  At home if he’s having a moment, he’s allowed to be excused but is still required to do the chore or finish his supper etc when he regroups.  We had tried this at home for several years and created hour-long stand-offs that got Gabe completely in the red and Jay and I in the red too.  That is not healthy for ANYBODY…  This year though, he’s getting it.  He understands what part each of us has as a family unit.  He’s understanding that school work is so he learns and not how fast anybody does it.  He’s doing chores and getting any missed work done.

This “enlightenment” so to say, didn’t come before hours of appt’s with his psychologist and MANY calm discussions It took some time for Gabe’s idea of fairness to be corrected since he thought it was fair for him to get out of stuff.  I think this is because he’d always been allowed more time, less chores, to skip out of activities for so long.  His idea of what was fair to HIM was actually unfair to everyone else. 

So what have I learned?

  • The rules are the same for every kid especially when they have a condition that doesn’t allow their minds to do something.
  • There comes a time when kids have to start doing what they previously were allowed to ‘get-out of’.  This time will be different for each kid.  But it will come when you start to have the suspicion that they are using it as an excuse.
  • When kids start having to do missed activities, it may require a lot of verbal explanation of why it’s fair.  You will probably get…  “It’s not fair because all the other kids did it in school and I couldn’t because of my ADHD.  Nobody else has homework, so I shouldn’t”.  Here his Dr and I had to explain that everyone has to learn and working at things is how we learn.  So are faster than others and some don’t need breaks but we still have to do the work.  Gabe started responding better when the teacher had all the assignments for the day written on the board when he came into class with the times they were going to do them.  It gave him a visual of what he had to do that day and if any of it wasn’t done, he had it for homework. 
  • PRAISING your child for completing tasks is a GREAT way to positively enforce getting things done. 


Gabe Gab – How to measure progress for kids with ADHD

I have blogged about Cues, Target Behaviors, and a Reward System.  So How do you do ALL THIS in the midst of working, their school, basketball practice, working out, cooking dinner, doing laundry, family time…  Well I’ve found out that if you put energy towards something, kids are going to realize that it’s important to you and hopefully them too.  So I’ve come up with a paper that we go over each night and discuss the day. 

  1. It helps me remember to do things. Which also helps the morning go so much smoother!
  2. It helps Gabe use his frontal lobe and become an expert on himself since he has to remember what he’d done to earn points.
  3. It helps me become more connected with him and find out about his day. 
  4. It gives me written accounts I can then take to his psychologist so I can discuss areas that we need to work on. 

Taking 10 minutes a day is allowing Gabe and Jay and I to focus on him and helping him deal with his ADHD.  We’ve been doing this for several weeks and things are drastically getting better.  The first day he had NO IDEA what he had done in school, but by day 3 he could go through his entire day.  Telling Jay and I where he’d made good choices and bad choices.  We can reward him for the good choices he made and then talk about how NOT to make the bad choices again the next day. 

Here is my sheet…  Gabe’s sheet  Again it’s very custom to Gabe, but maybe you can use it to do one for yourself.  Do it for 1 week and see what happens!  Let me know if you have any questions on the lingo, but I think I’ve covered this in past Gabe Gabs…

Gabe Gab – How to utilize a reward system for kids with ADHD

The most important thing about a reward system is that the kid buys into it.   For the first few weeks you just GIVE points and then after that you can start taking away.  What you don’t want is the child not to have ANY points or get points taken away and give up on the whole system. 

What is the Child getting rewarded for? 

There should be 5 or 6 target behaviors you want your child to accomplish.  These should be what they get rewarded for doing.   Here are what we use:

  • 1) You woke up and got ready for school without and arguing, whining, and yelling. (5pts)
  • 2) You did your work at school without and arguing, whining, and yelling with your teachers. (5pts)
  • 3) You use manors throughout the day without being asked. (5pts)
  • 4) You let someone know if Abby is bugging you and you don’t yell at or hit her. (5pts)
  • 5) You do your chores (cleaning your room/Shoes).  BONUS if you do them without being asked. (5-10pts)

At the end of the day I have Gabe tell me what he did and figure out his points.  I will help him a bit or ask specific questions about specifics. 

What are the Rewards?

For us, we have a poster board and I printed out pictures of different things.  The poster is divided up into a section for each picture.  We use hash marks to determine how far we’ve gotten towards each one.  The rewards are all worth different points.  The thing about rewards is you should MAKE a kid put things in each section so they are seeing daily rewards, weekly rewards and others that take a little time to ‘save-up’ for.  For Gabe we have daily such as dessert, TV time.  We have weekly like a hot dog after Wrestling practice or an ice cream out, and bigger ones like Skylander figures, $25 etc.  These prizes are worth 10 – 200 points.    There are MANY ways to do this.  You can do chips in a jar, tickets, etc. 

Tips to make this work.

Post these where the child can see them.

Use cues throughout the day so you child doesn’t forget. 

As target behaviors start becoming routine for your child, start adding new behaviors

Make the rewards stuff that the child should be earning.  Example- the child should not be earning expensive stuff daily.  Also, if you do something as a family, you should include this stuff.  If my family went out to ice cream once a week then I wouldn’t have included this on the sheet because you wouldn’t want to exclude your child.

Gabe Gab – How to help produce target behaviors for kids with ADHD

Gabe’s behavioral issues will often get so BIG that you can’t reason with him.  Generally if we keep his inattention in check and do a good job at cueing rather than nagging and yelling at him, we can help control his behavior so it stays in the GREEN.  ADHD kids have trouble using their frontal lobe of their brain or the thinking part.  So you need to help train them.  The feeling part is where emotions are and often where ADHD kids want to stay.  So you can use a thermometer and start getting the kids aware of where their emotions are. 

Emotion Thermometer:

  • GREEN is a healthy emotion, anger, happy, sad, etc but it is done in a way that is healthy for them and people around them.  It’s important they all know that these emotions need to come out and not be pushed down, but just need to come out in a healthy way.
  • YELLOW is an unhealthy emotion. This is when attitude, facial expressions and hurtful words or yelling start coming out.  When they get here you can cue with “Where are you on the thermometer?  Hopefully they say yellow and then you can say, “What do we need to do to get you back into the green?”
  • RED is when physical signs of emotions start.  This could be  hitting, stomping, throwing, thrashing…  The kid often thinks the situation is a catastrophe and will ruin their life.  It is very easy to yell and do a harsh punishment here out of our own frustration, but that is JUST going to promote the idea that their life is ruined.  Get on the kids level, ask where they are at on the thermometer and hopefully they tell you red and ask them is that OK?  Try and calm them down to yellow and talk them down.  If they can get back to down, PRAISE THEM!!!   That is so hard for kids to do especially those with ADHD…  gosh it’s hard for adults to do.  If they are beyond talking to them and they want nothing to do with the thermometer, then take them to a quiet place and hug them and tell them you love them.  Once they have calmed down, then go through this and try to talk to them. 

Once you have established this, you will often find very specific behaviors and situations where you kid goes into yellow and red.  These specific behaviors need to be addressed and a clear expected reaction needs to be set up.  Right now Gabe has 5 target behaviors that he is expected to follow.  These behaviors can start with 1 or go up to 10…  It is all dependant on how much the kid can process.  These behavior and expected results are supposed to get their frontal lobe working so that when the situation happens rather than going right to the ‘feeling’ part, they go to the ‘thinking’ part of the brain and do what is expected.

Target behaviors:

  • It should be a very specific situation.  Example – when you and your sister start to argue…
  • Next there should be what they are NOT to do.  Example – you do NOT yell or hurt her.
  • Finally there should be what they are supposed to do.  Example – , rather come tell and adult what’s going on.

So explain to your kids their emotions are like a thermometer – green, yellow and red zones.  Start asking them where they are at to start promoting them being an expert on themself and self-awareness.  Then start figuring out situations where their emotions get too big.  Have a written list of these situations, what they are not supposed to do and what they are expected to do. 

So next week I’ll share our reward program for when Gabe hits his target behaviors!  (This is Gabe’s favorite part!!!)



Gabe Gab – How to help ADHD and inattention with Cues

Gabe’s inattention will often cause me, his dad, and teachers a lot of frustration because whatever he is suppose to be doing, he isn’t.   How do you keep kids with overly active imaginations on task?


  • Visual Cues– Hanging up his coat and school bag and flushing the toilet have always been things he can’t remember to do.  So we’ve stuck pictures up to help cue him.  We have a picture stuck on the front door to remind him when he comes in.  We also have pictures on the bathroom mirror. 
  • Vocal Cues – Giving him reminders.  Gabe’s mind will often “change channels” so we will often say, “Gabe, what channel are you on?”  This helps exercise his frontal lobe to think about it.  The more you ask what channel, the more they will be thinking about it automatically and HOPEFULLY be able to stay more focused.  I will use this type of cue when he’s picking up his room and when he’s doing homework. 
  • Audible Cues – We haven’t started using this one yet but it anything that can make noise that will help him stay focused.  This could be a kitchen timer or headphones with white noise or other controlled noise.  As soon as I can get over to my fil’s kitchen shop I’m going to pick up one.  I am going to use that when he’s got a set amt of time to do something…  Like taking a shower or eating breakfast.

Cues may need to be updated if they are becoming ineffective because the child is getting used to them.  Like the pictures may need to be moved or new pictures put up so they are still new and not overlooked.

Can anyone think of other cues or situations where they’d be helpful?

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