The day you’re told your child may have ADHD, you are issued a challenge. The challenge is to give your child the skills and confidence s/he needs to cope with the symptoms of ADHD. Here are a few tips for parenting your ADHD child that can help you both get through the day.
1. Accept your child just as s/he is. Children with ADHD often develop low-self esteem. Statements that include “if you would just (fill in the blank),” really can do a LOT of damage to a child’s self esteem. Many ADHD children would interpret statements like that as “I’m not loveable now,” or “I’m only loveable if I do what she wants.”
2. Fidgeting doesn’t equal distraction. Some children who are hyper need to move while they listen. Find an acceptable way to incorporate quiet or silent movement. Doodling is one example. Bouncing a knee and wiggling a foot are other examples.
3. Quiet and still don’t equal attention. If your child happens to be sitting still, it doesn’t mean that s/he is paying attention. Has your mind ever wandered while on the phone or watching TV?
4. Model ways to remember things. Many ADHD kids get distracted and forget. Make notes, set timers, and come up with ways to remind your child where s/he left off. Did you ever sit down to relax only to jump up because you forgot to do something? Multiply this by ten (or more) and you get a glimpse of what it may be like for your child.
5. Let your child succeed. ADHD children are challenged on so many levels. Literally, daily life can feel like a constant struggle just to accomplish basic tasks. That can be very tiring and frustrating for both of you. Encourage your child’s talents and gifts will help to alleviate stress (for both of you), build confidence, and build a sense of self-worth.
6. ADHD is not an excuse! When you or your child get tired, it is tempting to lower your expectations and just stop trying. Don’t let that happen. Perfection is not expected, but honestly trying to do your best is.
7. Pick your battles. When things seem to spiral out of control and you are fighting an uphill battle, get out. Go to the park or change the scenery/location. This gives you both time to cool down and rethink things. When you do make a stand or pick a battle, stick with it and be consistent. Waffling at this point is not helpful.
These seven tips for parenting your ADHD child are just a few of the things I’ve learned as a parent and a teacher. Although they are a wonderful starting point, you will want to modify things to meet your child’s individual needs. You know your child better than anyone. Make notes of what works, what doesn’t, and what you want to try or modify.