I make my living helping ADHD parents. As a doctor who treats Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and as the mother of a son with ADHD, I know firsthand the challenges of raising a child with ADHD.
Did you know that studies indicate that ADHD parents experience higher levels of anxiety and stress compared to other parents? If you are like me, you probably know this reality all too well.
The good news is that while raising a child with ADHD can be frustrating and overwhelming at times, there are a number of things parents can do to help their children become successful and achieve a peaceful home environment.
The earlier you address your child's challenges, the more likely you will see positive results for the entire family.
One of the main challenges of ADHD is deficits in executive decision making, which is the ability to plan ahead, organize, control impulses, and complete tasks. As a result, children with ADHD require a bit of guidance in this area and are more likely to succeed in completing tasks when the tasks occur in predictable patterns and familiar places.
One of the main tasks for ADHD parents is to create and sustain a structured environment in your home. This way, your child knows what to expect and what they are expected to do. If anything is scheduled that is outside of their normal routine, inform them and teach them how to cope with changes.
Some tips to help follow a routine are to set established mealtimes, homework times, play times, bedtimes, etc. Use clocks and timers if necessary.
Create A Quiet Place
Read How To Calm Hyperactive Children and how to Create A Calm Home For Children With ADHD, one of the suggestions is to make sure your child has a quiet, private space of his or her own where they can engage in pleasurable activities (drawing, playing quietly, etc). This is different from a time out space. The quiet place should have a positive association and be rewarding.
Remove your child from situations and environments that trigger inappropriate behavior.
Set Clear Expectations With Rewards And Consequences
Children suffering from Attention Deficit respond well to organized systems of rewards and consequences.
Therefore, explain what will happen when the rules are obeyed and when they are broken. For example, reward your child with praise and privileges as opposed to food or toys.
A chart with a reward system based on points or stars awarded for good behavior is an effective way for your child to get visual reminders of successful behaviors.
For consequences, time outs (for young children) and the removal of privileges tend to be most effective. Consequences should occur immediately after misbehaving. After misbehaving, ask what alternative behaviors your child could have done instead. Have your child demonstrate these desired behaviors.
Be consistent! It will not work if you do not follow through each and every time with a reward or a consequence. Be sure to praise good behavior.
Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD because it provides an outlet for hyperactivity. Physical activity improves concentration, decreases anxiety, promotes brain growth, and enhances overall health in a multitude of ways. As an ancillary benefit, physical activity results in more restful sleep which also improves symptoms of ADHD.
Conversely, idle time and time in front of the TV and computer screens are shown to increase hyperactivity and impulsivity. Signing up for a sport, music lessons, or some other class can be effective ways to use up energy and learn new skills. This can also include playing board games at home, or having your child help you cook. Try turning cleaning or other household chores into a a fun game.
Research indicates that ADHD symptoms are exacerbated when children consume fatty, sugary, and processed foods. See this guide to the ADHD diet and the best ADHD foods. Also, check out this guide to ADD natural remedies.
Consistency Is Key
When creating and maintaining consequences, consistency is the most important factor. If you don't follow through regarding what you said you would do, your child's behavior will worsen.
Be A Role Model
For ADHD parents, it all begins and ends with modeling proper behavior. If you yell, lose your patience, or act out violently in terms of physical discipline, you will only worsen your child's challenging behaviors. Also, by behaving in such a manner you are indirectly teaching your child that it is acceptable to become verbally or physically aggressive. If you remain calm and focused, you can help your child remain calm and focused.
Engage In Self-Care
Put simply, when you take care of yourself, you’re better able to take care of your family. Your ability to manage any adversity and be present in the moment will be bolstered. If you find yourself losing patience, give yourself a needed time out. Leave the room or take a walk to clear your head and gather yourself. Take breaks.
Also, since you are teaching your child healthy habits such as diet and exercise, remember to engage in those healthy activities with them. Diet and exercise reduce stress, too. Remember you are not alone and there are other ADHD parents out there who are experiencing the same challenges. To seek support try these ADHD support groups. Support groups, either online or in person, are a great place for ADHD parents to gain and share advice.
A positive attitude is perhaps the most resilient quality one can have when dealing with adversity. Remember that your child suffers from a condition, and most of their challenging behaviors are not intentional. If you maintain a sense of humor, what is an embarrassing incident today may be a funny story in a few years time. For inspiration, remember that some of the most successful and famous people in the world suffer from ADHD. These famous people with ADHD view their condition as a gift, not a liability.
Recommended Treatment Programs
I want to highlight what I feel is the most effective easy-to-use programs that ADHD parents can use in the privacy of their own home to manage challenging ADHD behaviors. The Overcoming ADHD: A Guide For Parents program is a handy instructional guide that teaches parents how to manage ADHD behaviors and achieve a peaceful home.
My most important message for ADHD parents is this: Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder can be managed and overcome, and children with
ADHD can learn to thrive and lead successful lives.