Parenting is already a tough job in itself. The word “tough,” however, then becomes an understatement when you’re parenting a child with a behavioral disorder like ADHD.
Parents, even those who are already aware of their children’s condition, can still feel frustrated, stressed, or even embarrassed when their children exhibit a slew of behaviors that seem “erratic.” Nonetheless, with professional support, education, and the right approaches, no matter how insurmountable a challenge ADHD might seem, families can rise to it and help their children improve and thrive.
If your child has just been diagnosed with ADHD, here are some tips from our board-certified developmental pediatricians here at Children’s Medical Center to help you handle your child positively, patiently, and compassionately while ensuring you and the rest of your family enjoy a stable, happy home.
Tip #1 Learn as Much as You Can About ADHD.
The resources available online are almost endless, so read up and learn as much as you can about your child’s condition. Also, be sure to discuss things with your child’s pediatrician and any outside professionals, such as a behavioral therapist or neuropsychologist.
Knowledge is empowering: the more you know about your child’s condition, the more capable you are of taking a level-headed approach to dealing with it.
Tip #2 Give Clear, Specific, and Concise Instructions.
Listening, staying focused, and understanding instructions don’t come easily to children with ADHD. If what you’re telling your child involves multiple steps, they may only remember a thing or two.
Giving your child straightforward, specific, and concise instructions enhances your child’s ability to comply with them. For instance, don’t just say, “Clean up your room.” Rather, say, “Stack your notebooks on your desk.” Give one instruction at a time, repeat if you have to and, if your child gets sidetracked, redirect them.
Tip #3 Be as Positive and Affirming as Possible.
One of the keys to helping children with ADHD succeed is to keep in mind that they are individuals with unique strengths and challenges. Instead of just focusing on your child’s symptoms and viewing them as problems to be tackled or suppressed, work on discovering your child’s strengths and celebrating them.
Have your child come up with a list of everything they like about themselves—their good characteristics, skills, interests, etc. Encourage your child to add to the list whenever something comes across their mind, then support their interests and team up with them to develop their skills. These will go a long way toward boosting your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem, both of which may have already taken enough battering from people judging them as “stupid,” “naughty,” or “bad.”
Tip #4 Set Up a Reward System.
Managing their own behavior doesn’t come naturally to children with ADHD, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never learn to do so. Rewards are a great tool to hold your child’s attention and keep them on track for good habits that they’d otherwise be unmotivated to try. Incorporating a reward system into your behavioral management strategy can also show your child that they’re doing something that’s making a difference.
However small your child’s successes are, make sure to celebrate them. Even an immediate pat on the shoulder or a hug can do wonders for their behavior.
Tip #5 Discipline Without Yelling.
It can understandably be tempting to yell at your child, especially with all their incessant talking and seemingly boundless energy. Sometimes, it can seem as though it is the only way to make them do what you want them to do. However, yelling does more harm than good. It incites fear—not respect.
Studies also show that yelling can give your child a “brain zap,” which can kickstart their alertness. Doing it often is similar to programming your child’s brain to crave for the yelling to get the buzz. This means they may do something to purposely anger you, so they can feel more alert.
Tip #6 Trust and Love.
There shouldn’t be any conditions attached to your love and affections for your child. Let them know that you love them regardless of their behavior. Remind them how special they are, and that they you respect and trust them.
Tip #7 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.
Being willing to make some compromises here and there can leave you a lot less dissatisfied and frustrated when your child fails to do what you told them to do.
Tip #8 Be an Advocate for Your Child at Their School.
Get in touch with your child’s teachers and the school administrators, so your child can have the right accommodations in their academic environment.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that children with disabilities are provided with special services to meet their unique needs. This means your youngster can have extended test times, separate test locations, noise canceling headphones, and other special accommodations in school.
Tip #9 Set Aside Time for Yourself.
Parenting a child with ADHD can leave even the toughest parent physically and emotionally drained.
Keep in mind that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Taking time to relax and pamper yourself as well as seeking the company and support of good friends and other people you trust can provide you with that much-needed physical and emotional vitality. Find out about support groups online or within your area for parents of children with ADHD. If you think you may be depressed or are experiencing emotional difficulties, seek professional help.
Tip #10 Know What to Feed Your Child.
While diet isn’t a direct cause of ADHD, food can affect your child’s mental state, and consequently, their behavior. Knowing what to feed your child, when, and how much can help control their symptoms. It helps to seek your pediatrician’s recommendations for which foods your child needs to eat and to avoid.
Behavioral Health and Developmental Services in Palm Beach, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz, FL
At Children’s Medical Center, our developmental pediatricians have earned the trust and confidence of the families in the communities we serve for the exceptional care and support they provide for children living with ADHD and other behavioral problems.
We utilize objective, evidence-based assessments and connect our patients to the most effective interventions. We work closely with families, and together, we empower children to stay focused, build confidence, and flourish in every aspect of their lives.
To arrange a visit with one of our development pediatricians, call us at (727) 787-6355. We look forward to serving you!