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Warning: It's Time to Get Serious About Boundaries

Boundaries are extremely important for adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Here are 3 simple strategies that you can use to set boundaries and take care of yourself.

Copyright (c) 2007 Jennifer Koretsky

I have two dogs. Punky is a 9-year-old lab mix and Rascal is a 1-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix.

Punky is a good girl. Rascal is insane.

Wherever Punky goes, Rascal tags along. He steals her toys. He licks her face when she's trying to sleep. And he demands that she play with him every waking hour.

When she doesn't want to play, he tries to get her riled up. He barks at her - and even bites her - until she's had enough and runs after him... which is exactly what he wants.

Every once in a while, though, Punky makes it clear that she doesn't want to play. She sets her boundaries. First, she shows her teeth. If Rascal continues to annoy her, she growls. And if he still persists, she snaps at him. It's a dog's way of warning another dog and saying, "I'm in charge here!"

There's a lot we can learn from Punky.

What Every ADDer Ought to Know About Boundaries

Adults with ADD very often have trouble creating boundaries. September, in particular, can be a difficult time as the world picks up its pace. It's back to school for the students. More projects suddenly appear at work. Retailers are beginning to drop hints about the holiday season. And any minute now your phone will start ringing as people begin asking you to help out with various causes and functions.

There's a lot going on - and you can get overwhelmed just thinking about it! Without the appropriate boundaries, adults with ADD fall victim to the overwhelm-burnout cycle. You get completely overwhelmed trying to accomplish everything that you're 'supposed to,' and then you burnout from all the mental and physical stress.

Fortunately, humans don't need to resort to barking or biting to set boundaries. Here are 3 simple strategies that you can use to set boundaries and take care of yourself.

1. Put yourself first. You're no use to anyone - family, friends, or coworkers - when you're stressed out and overwhelmed. Make sure you get what you need to function at your best before committing to helping anyone else.

2. Set your own hours. Decide when you're willing to help out or do things for other people. This includes spouses and kids! If you want a night off to relax, you're entitled to it.

3. Just say "No." Never be afraid to turn down the requests that people make of you. You don't need an excuse to decline, either. If you truly want to do something and you have the time for it, then great. But you don't need to say "yes" just because you were asked.

Remember, good boundaries help protect adults with ADD from succumbing to overwhelm.

So the next time someone wants to cross your boundariesFeature Articles, take a cue from Punky and communicate who's in charge!

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Jennifer Koretsky is the Founder of the ADD Management Group, Inc. and the author of the new book Odd One Out: The Maverick's Guide to Adult ADD. Jennifer and her team work with ADD adults who are overwhelmed with everyday life in order to help them simplify, focus, and succeed. For free resources and information on adult ADD, visit To learn more about Odd One Out, visit

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