Being a parent is hard. There is no way around it, parenting is hard and none of us were given instructions on how to do it (at least I wasn’t, if you were please share!). So, when something happens to make parenting a little harder you are always looking for advice.
Parenting a child with ADHD can be especially frustrating and trying. There are many things that you can do though to help you and your child make through your day to day life.
Children with ADHD often have difficulty planning ahead, organizing, controlling impulses and completing tasks. This is where you come in, you have to be in control and plan ahead.
The first, and most valuable piece of information I can give you about parenting an ADHD child is to find what works for you and do that. Not everything will work for everyone and you have to learn what works for you and your child. As a nurse I have dealt with a lot of children who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and they can be a challenge, but once you learn what works for your child, it will make everything easier.
One of the best things you can do to help your child with ADHD is to establish a routine and stick to it.
Because children with ADHD have trouble planning ahead, having a routine that is the same every day helps them understand and know what is coming next. They have trouble staying focused and organized so setting a timer and having clocks can help. When they know what time dinner will be and when bedtime is they function better.
Make sure you set clear rules and expectations. Children with ADHD function better when things are established and the same is true for rules. Make sure the rules are clear and write them down and post them on the refrigerator or somewhere else your child will see them. Make a reward and punishment system and stick to it. This is often where parents fall short. Make sure your child knows what is expected of him and what happens when he obeys and disobeys and make sure you are consistent. You should change the rewards often as they will get bored with the same reward all the time. Charts with stickers work great and immediate rewards work better than a promise of a reward in the future. Don’t forget about praise and positive reinforcement. The consequences should be spelled out in advance and try something as simple as a time out or loss of privileges for misbehavior. You need to follow through on both the rewards and the consequences.
Encourage movement and sleep whenever possible. Children with ADHD often have a lot of extra energy to burn off, so the extra physical activity can help them burn off that extra energy and help them focus. This can be in the form of organized physical activity such as school sports, or just playing outside with friends, family, and siblings. The increased activity can even help with sleep, helping to reduce the side effects of ADHD. Kids with ADHD often do not get enough sleep and this tends to increase the severity of symptoms.
Make sure your child is eating a healthy diet. As with any medical condition, a healthy diet can help with some of the symptoms. Although diet is not a direct cause of ADHD, diet can affect your child’s mental state which in turn affects their behavior. Children with ADHD are also known to not eat for hours, then binge on whatever is around when they finally do eat. Helping your child eat small, frequent, nutritious meals can benefit any child.
Teach your child how to interact with others. Children with ADHD often have trouble in social situations and miss social cues. Encourage your child to make friends and help them learn how to make friends. Children with ADHD often come off as loud, aggressive, or overly talkative. You can help your child with this by role playing certain social situations and only invite one or two friends over at a time.
Find a school that deals with children with ADHD. There are schools and teachers that deal exclusively with children with ADHD and know how they learn best. If you can find a school like this close to where you live your child will benefit because the learning will be structured in a way that will help your child reach his full potential.
There is no reason a child with ADHD cannot be just as smart, or even smarter, than a child without ADHD.
Remain patient and calm. Parenting a child with ADHD can be a huge challenge but one of the best things you can do is to remain patient and calm. If you are not calm your child will not respond in the way you want them to.
Find a support group. There are groups out there for parents who have a child that was diagnosed with ADHD and these groups can be your biggest resource because they will be full of parents who have gone through or are going through what you are going through now. You are not alone and sometimes all you need is another person to talk to and help you through.
Educate others about your child. One of the worst things is when another adult doesn’t understand your child or what your family is doing to help your child. Many people think that a child with ADHD is “slow” or “unmotivated” but that is simply not the case. Help others by explaining to them what ADHD is and how they can help you and your child when you are around.
Medicine may help, but it may not. For some kids medicine works wonders, while for others it doesn’t help at all and actually makes things worse. Learn what works for your child and go with it. You don’t have to use medicine just because your doctor suggests it. Try helping your child without medication first and if you want to try it later, you always can.
Having a child with ADHD can be a huge challenge because these children are often very hyper and rarely sit still for long periods of time. You have to learn what works for your child and go with that, not just listen to what other parents say works.
How have you dealt with ADHD in your household?