Parenting an ADHD Child – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has become a fairly controversial topic with many on the fence as to whether it really exists. All children can be easily distracted, interrupt and fidget. But in their extreme form, these can also be symptoms of ADHD.
ADHD usually shows quite early in a child and many are diagnosed before seven.
A pediatrician or mental health specialist will be able to diagnose the condition based on a review of the child’s life history and behaviour patterns. For parents, a diagnosis of ADHD can be a concern but knowing your child has the condition means you can guide them through their difficulties and help to develop their strengths, of which there are plenty.
ADHD children respond best to structure and so establishing a set routine with clear (written out) rules for how to behave is useful. Having a structure in place at home can make it easier for the child when they go to school. School can present one of the biggest challenges for an ADHD child.
Parenting an ADHD Child
As a parent, work hard to establish a good relationship the teachers. Schedule regular meetings to discuss your child’s behaviour and to keep each other updated on techniques used at school and home. While the teachers can help an ADHD child at school with tasks, homework can be a trial for both child and parent.
Establish a set time for homework and remove any distractions such as pets or the tv from the area. Work with your child and teach them how to monitor time. ADHD children cannot concentrate for long periods so take a break every twenty minutes and, if possible, encourage a run outside to clear their head.
Once a task has been completed, show them how to mark it off on a list. It can be useful to get a folder for completed tasks. Establishing a set time and place for homework can help the child form a routine which gives a structure to the day and helps to focus their minds.
Parents are very important in supporting an ADHD child through some of the difficulties presented by the condition. ADHD children often battle with tasks at first, sometimes just due to lack of concentration, and parents can encourage their child by helping them to recognize why they are battling. Perhaps it is a hard exercise and not that they are not capable. Create a bonding time with your child to chat in which they will feel comfortable to share their feelings.
It can also be beneficial to show family photos or their old artwork to make them feel less ‘different’ if they feel self-conscious about their condition. Play lots of games as children with ADHD often are tactile and like to feel and take part in new activities. Reading to your child and encouraging them to imagine their own stories can help to make reading, an often difficult task, more exciting.
Ritalin® is often recommended as medication to treat ADHD. While many enthuse about the benefits, others feel it is not necessary. Ultimately, it is up to each parent to discuss all possible treatments with their doctors and to decide for themselves on an individualised course of action.
There is no reason why ADHD children cannot succeed at school. ADHD children are often wonderful creative and free thinkers and see solutions or ideas that other children cannot see. If motivated, ADHD children can have great energy and drive to complete a task. And, living or working with an ADHD child is never dull and their enthusiasm and spontaneity can be catching!