Episode 39: Caring for Mothers of Kids with ADHD and Anxiety 


Shivani Gupta (00:16)

I'm Shivani Gupta, and welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. I believe that one of the best presents that you can give yourself is time to be able to sit down and ask yourself some questions. I believe that the quality of the question that you ask yourself will determine the quality of your life.

Sharon Collon (1:28)

Thank you very much for having me. Shivani. It's an honor to be here.

Shivani Gupta (1:31)

Oh, thank you. Now tell us a little bit about it's fascinating work that you do and very much needed. I know that we ended up having a really deep conversation at that conference where we met. So, tell us a little bit about your journey. What's got you here, tell us some of the ups and downs, maybe some of the pivotal moments. Good, bad and ugly as we have to, you know, to get you doing this kind of work?

Sharon Collon (01:54)

Yes, sure. So basically, I married a man that has a very, very severe ADHD still to this day, and I work with ADHD people every day, the most severe I've come across, he only has two modes, there's full on doing everything everywhere, very hyperactive or asleep. And we went on to have three beautiful little boys and those boys all have ADHD and learning difficulties as well.

So, what I what I sort of realized, and one of the pivotal moments was when my son first got diagnosed, and we went into the pediatrician’s office, and I knew it was coming, because he's exactly like my husband. And I was able to identify that we were gonna walk out of there with a diagnosis. And they said, okay, here are your options for treatment. And I said, okay, and and what what else, you know, what else? How do I raise him and I just felt very under qualified to deal with the level of energy and what he was putting out there, and his emotional regulation and, and everything. And I just felt like there was no support for the parents. And there was, you know, medication for the child and maybe child psychology for the child.

But there was just nothing there to guide the parents through raising these beautiful humans. And that's where I felt that there was a big lacking. And over the years of raising Xavier, he's 12 now and obviously, having more children with this diagnosis, it's been sort of 

reinforced to me again, and again, that we've got to look after these parents, because it's really, really tough out there for them. And, and so I decided to create that support. And that's what I wanted to give people that are coming that are new to the diagnosis or, you know, have a child that's struggling, everything that I wish that someone had told me 12 years ago, when I first had Xavier, so that that if we can help the moms, especially these beautiful, exhausted moms, then they can help their child and that has this beautiful flow on effect for these families. And that's where we see this magic happening with the functional family.

If we're talking about pivotal moments, the one of the big motivations was that this, you know, the lack of support, and what I was dealing with, actually had a huge effect on my health. And so that was one of the driving forces as well that I had to learn how to work out how to look after me as well. And then using that to help others as well.

Shivani Gupta (04:25)

I think that's amazing, Sharon, I come across so many parents, as I'm sure you do, not only in your programs that are a little bit lost. I know at times I've been lost. And I know we were speaking about that at that conference I was speaking about earlier. And you know, you just feel like a failed parent. So, to have somebody that's actually providing these strategies is really awesome.

So, there's this business and this online programs that you've run to really help families, particularly the parents, particularly the mothers. And then you know, when you look at other challenges that come your way, so do you approach them in a similar way that you have done this particular part of your life in your business, or do you have other philosophies or methodologies that you use? When challenges come your way? And how do you go about dealing with them?

Sharon Collon (05:14)

Well, I think my, I think my strategy has actually changed over the years. Initially, I was very about fixing it, you know, so very, very, like, I'm going to fix savior, you know, we're going to do like, it's not, he's not gonna have ADHD anymore. And we did have Rhys diet, and we did everything like we did. I think we dropped about $30,000 on trying to cure it.

And it was just exhausting. It was exhausting for us as a family. Yes, some things helped us and some things didn't, you know, we kind of went through that roller coaster. But our home life was horrific. It was just awful. We didn't enjoy being together as a family. And so, my philosophy kind of changed and it went from - hold on, this kid doesn't actually need to be fixed. He's not broken. Like, he's actually magnificent and I needed to work with him instead of fighting against him all the time. And, and so what I decided is that I was going to change the environment around the ADHD brain.

So, acknowledging that I couldn't, you know, I couldn't fix or I didn't need to cure the ADHD brain, but actually changing the environment, so we could work with him. And that's where my corporate background really came in. So I've got this corporate background, and all I did was create policies and procedures and strategy and, and everything like that. And so, I started to look at my family, from an outsider perspective, and I thought, okay, which bits of my day suck the most, you know, which bits are 

awful, let's have a look at what we can do to make those bits better. And I just started looking at each bit that caused friction in our house, and then create a different policies and strategies around those bits. And they were things like, how to get Xavier in the car, how to get him dressed, how, you know, all that all the really basic home stuff that I just couldn't get him to do. And so, I looked at different strategies of getting his brain to work with me on those things. And so, I could create, you know, I really wanted him to just be able to be a functional adult, I wanted to be him to be him. But for him to be able to, you know, do things that he would need to do as an adult, as well.

So, we looked at a lot about giving him the skills for those things. And using those policies and procedures, and just testing everything out. I mean, some things worked, and some things didn't, and I documented it. And then everyone started asking me in the community, you know, because I obviously have a lot of friends that have children with similar issues. How do you get him to do that? What are these charts around your house? Like, what is all this visual stuff that you've got going on? And then that's when I thought, oh, I've got something here, I have to share it. And I got in experts and doctors and you know, everyone on board to interview them, and talk to them about what I was doing. And everyone was very, very excited. And I wanted to share it, share it with families just like mine.

Shivani Gupta (07:58)

Yeah, that's amazing. Absolutely amazing. And so, what are the future aspirations for the business? What sort of things are you wanting to do in the next few years, and perhaps take us through some of the aspirations that you have personally as well?

Sharon Collon (08:12)

Well, I've got so much, I mean, my biggest goal is just for my boys to be happy, and safe, you know, and for them to feel that, you know, and to be happy within themselves, you know, safe with their own, you know, in their in this house, you know, and to feel secure and to know that they are loved and, and that that is my biggest goal for my children and for my family. Obviously, you know, our house isn't all smooth sailing, I don't want anyone to think it's a postcard, you know, like a Facebook highlight real or anything like that. You cannot have that with the dynamics of what we've got going on. But it works for us. And, and I want I want them to be to be, you know, having a joyful life.

And business wise, I want to help as many families as I can I every day, I meet women that are on the edge on the edge of walking out on the like fighting back tears, feeling unsupported feeling alone. And one of the things that I'm super proud of is the community that we've created, because there's some really beautiful, amazing people supporting each other and going through that journey. And so I really want to continue on with that, and see if we can get as to change the stigma about ADHD and try and make it something positive because a lot of parents are getting the diagnosis and not telling the school the teacher, their friends or the grandparents about the diagnosis. So, we really want to make sure that we're changing that conversation about it. So that they are my they're my aspirations. I mean, they're quite they're quite big one.

Shivani Gupta (09:52)

The fact that you've tackled something so big Sharon I'm not surprised. But as I said earlier, you know, very, very much needed. Do you have like leadership philosophies or quotes or books that you really go by and live by that become part of your DNA? Tell us a little bit about your leadership philosophies.

Sharon Collon (10:10)

I love the book that actually struck me the most over the years and I've read a lot is the Maya Angelou book. I'm really sorry that Oprah Winfrey book, what I know for sure, and she refers to Maya Angelou a lot in it. And that caught me down the path. I feel like that book is just like a big, warm hug from grandma or something. You know, like, whenever I feel unsettled within myself, or I feel like I'm, you know, maybe taking too many risks or things are not going my way. I always listened to the audiobook of that. And I feel like it's a big hug. Because it just makes so much sense to me. But the quote that really, really sticks in my mind is that Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. And that just brings so true for me, because a lot of my community feel alone and they feel, you know, they feel like they're struggling, they feel unheard. And, and I want to make them feel, you know, like that someone's got their back, and that someone's advocating for them. And that someone can help them. And, and that's, that's why I love that quote, in terms of leadership philosophy.

Shivani Gupta (11:21)

I love Oprah, I love that book and I love that quote. I think even just the way that she would speak like some of her videos of Angelou, where I think it's one that Oprah was interviewing her. It was just soulful, really, really deep, really soulful. Sharon, you're spending all this time, you know, you've talked about your husband and your three boys, you've now created a business to help other people. So, there's all this what I hear is getting out a few giving out of pieces of yourself. What are some of the things that you do to manage your own wellbeing your own wellness, what sort of whether you do them daily, or weekly or yearly, what are some of the things that you do to manage your own wellness?

Sharon Collon (12:02)

Oh, that is such a big topic. And I've got to say, this is something that I haven't done very well. So over the years, I think it's sort of after I had my third child, I just my health just took hit after hit after hit, I got diagnosis after diagnosis after that, and not little ones either, but big, big diagnosis about cirrhotic arthritis, you know, the autoimmune disease, and, you know, all these big things that's we're gonna have a huge effect on my health and right, then I kind of had to make a decision that I had to make what we've been given, because we live in a very stressful, we run a very stressful life. And I had to make what I've been given work for me. And I really had to put in the effort to make looking after myself a priority. Otherwise, I'm not going to have mobility, and I'm not going to have things that, you know, I previously taken for granted. And I had to make sure that I think in a way, it actually made me a little bit more ruthless, having limited energy and things like that, because I stopped mum guilt, you know, when I didn't get things right all the time. And I really don't, I use that as just a little red flag that I'm just getting a bit exhausted, and I need some time out. And I know that I'm a much better parent when I have time out, even if it's just half an hour, or if I get up before the boys and I just do a 10-minute meditation or something, to give me those little pockets of calm throughout the day. And I sort of weave it in, throughout the day to make sure that I'm getting those moments because I can't run at the same intensity at which they are and, and what is better is if I don't match them at their intensity, because they all run red hot all the time. And if I match them at red hot, then we're all just running red hot, we'll burn ourselves out. 

So, I really try and find those pockets of calm take the time for myself, I love being in the sea, one of my biggest goals is to you know, has to be near the water. You know, I love I actually drive to the beach every day, I live near quinella beach, and I just drive there and sit in my car and do deep breaths by the ocean. Usually before I pick the boys up from school and just have a moment, I just steal those little moments where I can and I just stopped apologizing for my kid’s behavior. So sometimes I used to find myself, you know, I'd go to sport and then one of them would do something I'm sorry, I'm sorry. And I'm sorry, we're late because I couldn't get one of them in the car. And I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm always sorry. And then I thought - Actually, no, I'm just not gonna say sorry anymore unless we've actually physically hurt someone, you know, put down something that's really bad. So, I stopped apologizing for their behavior, and started explaining why they did what they did. Instead of saying sorry, all the time, because it was exhausting. And it used to suck the life out of me. And so, I think as moms we actually say sorry, way too much. And I don't know if dads, I haven't come across a lot of dads that say sorry all the time. So, I sort of decided want to change my philosophy about that, yeah and that's, that's been important. It's been an important journey for me as well to know that if we don't look after ourselves first, then we can't look after anyone.

Shivani Gupta (15:15)

Yeah, absolutely such wise words, you know, in terms of stopping, apologizing, I think we do that a lot as women and as lot as mums. But especially when we feel like somehow, we're responsible for everything, particularly with our kids, as I can so relate to that.


In terms of people want to contact you find out about your online programs, find out about where they could read about you in some of the amazing work you're doing what are the best platforms to find you?

Sharon Collon (15:40)

Yes, I have a website which is https://www.thefunctionalfamily.com/ . But also, you can find me on the on social set at the functional family on Facebook and Instagram, we've got some really great Facebook groups there that people can come and join and give and receive support if you're going along this journey. And it's not just for people with ADHD diagnosis, if your child has behavioral challenges as well, then, you know, we really, these are the kids that are a part of my tribe. And I love I love these kids. And I think we should all be supporting these beautiful parents that you know, that you know, are doing a great job raising them as well.

Shivani Gupta (16:22)

Thank you, Sharon, delightful, really moved by the some of the work that you're doing. Thank you for being here today.

Sharon Collon (16:30)

Thank you very much too, Shivani.

Shivani Gupta (16:32)

I'm Shivani Gupta. And you've been listening to the Ask Shivani podcast where I'd like to ask some questions. Thank you so much for listening. Please follow Ask Shivani on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And if you haven't done so, please go to the Apple podcasts and subscribe rate and review this podcast. It would mean a lot. Thank you.