Health & Wellness Child Developement
Parenting a Child with ADHD
Parenting a child with ADHD can be challenging, but there are many things you can do as a parent to help your child manage symptoms of ADHD. You can help your child overcome daily challenges, channel his or her energy into positive arenas, and bring greater calm to your family. The earlier and more consistently you address your child’s ADHD, the greater chance they have for success in life. Here are some simple steps you can take to make positive changes in your child’s life and in your family life.
1. Educate yourself
Reading this article is a great first step! Educate yourself about the main symptoms of ADHD and about executive functioning issues since many kids with ADHD have them. Knowing that your child isn’t wilfully ignoring your directions or fidgeting on purpose makes it easier to find real solutions rather than treating it as a discipline issue.
2. Observe and take notes
Watching your child more closely and taking notes on his behavior may help you recognize common patterns and triggers. Your notes will be helpful when you’re talking to family members, your child’s doctor, teachers and anyone else helping your child.
3. Make sure your directions are understood
Communicating rules and tasks to kids with ADHD can be especially difficult. First, get your child’s attention. Look directly into his or her eyes. Then tell your child in a clear, calm voice specifically just what you want. Ask your child to repeat the directions back to you. It’s usually better to keep directions simple and short. For difficult tasks, give only one or two directions at a time. Then congratulate your child when he or she completes each step.
4. Listen to your child
What does he say (or not say) about his behavior and how it makes him feel? What does he say about strategies that help? Can he sense how medication helps or hinders him? Try to figure out what your child is expressing when he acts out or avoids situations or tasks.
5. Create structure at home
Many kids with ADHD find security in routine. Be the planner your child isn’t yet ready to be. You can help by putting a daily routine into place. Post weekly schedules with pictures for young children and short simple sentences for older ones. If your child has trouble making transitions to a different schedule or activity, learn how to help him through it.
6. Provide easy ways to organize
Try labeling storage bins, drawers and cupboards. Your child will know exactly where everything goes when he puts things away. You can make other simple changes at home. Teach your child to use checklists and help him break tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps.
7. Set up house rules
Invent a system at home to remind your child what needs to be done and what is appropriate behaviour. Consider a hand on the shoulder, a finger to the lips, a few key words or a cell phone alarm.
8. Make sure your child is supervised
As they are impulsive, children with ADHD need more adult supervision than other children their age. Make sure adults supervise your child all day.
9. Be positive
Tell your child what you want rather than what you don’t want. Reward your child regularly for any good behavior–even little things such as getting dressed and closing doors quietly. Children with ADHD often spend most of their day being told what they are doing wrong. They need to be praised for good behavior.
10. Catch your child doing well
When you’re tired and frustrated, it’s easy to criticise. Remember to praise your child when you notice something specific that he did well. Being praised for effort and genuine achievement can help your child feel loved and supported. It can give him the confidence to work harder at building skills and the motivation to try new things.
11. Be consistent
Only promise what you will deliver. Do what you say you are going to do. Knowing that the rules, rewards and consequences always stay the same gives kids a structure they can rely on. (Avoid physical punishment. This often makes matters worse)
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