Children who have ADHD have to learn to deal with a number of issues, from hyperactivity to inattention. Oftentimes, ADHD presents with another condition, such as anxiety or depression. Having these issues presents another challenge for these kids: managing the stress of ADHD. ADHD and stress go hand-in-hand because children with ADHD can experience many frustrations over the course of a day as a result of their symptoms.
The stress children with ADHD experience can often lead to meltdowns, defiance or other negative behaviors as they attempt to feel in control of the situation. Their relative inability to manage stress is the result of the conflict between their desire to do well and the symptoms of their disorder that sometimes prevent them from doing so. Additionally, studies have shown that some children with ADHD have a dysfunction in the right parietal lobe, the part of the brain that helps cope with stress.
Some researchers also believe that children with ADHD have difficulty dealing with stress because of Sensory Integration Disorder (SID). Children who have SID cannot regulate incoming sensory information – they are overloaded by sights, sounds, smells and the like. Without that filter in place, sensory information that most people wouldn’t attend to, such as the ticking of a clock in a loud room, ring loud and clear for a child with SID. Trying to process and filter out all that information just adds more stress to a child who is already overwhelmed by their ADHD.
There are a number of strategies to help your child cope with stress. First and foremost, maintain your child’s treatment plan. Whether the plan involves drug therapy, behavioral therapy, vestibular training or some combination thereof, keeping your child on a consistent therapeutic plan is essential for managing the stress of ADHD. If you feel like the treatment plan needs to be updated or changed, consult with your child’s physician before any changes take place.
Maintaining a consistent environment is also very helpful for managing the stress of ADHD. Write down behavioral expectations and post them in a place where your child can easily see them. Also include the punishments your child will receive for negative behavior and reinforcements they will receive for positive behavior. Having a predictable daily schedule will also help lessen your child’s stress and anxiety, and will help manage other symptoms of their ADHD.
Lastly, provide your child with some techniques to manage their stress. Work on communication skills by role-playing with them. Take turns speaking and listening, expressing how you feel and making requests in a respectful manner. Also include your child in decision-making so they feel more in control of their environment. For example, allow them to pick between two shirts to wear to school the next day. Giving your child a little bit of control over their environment, a predictable schedule and a few tools to cope will help them in managing the stress of ADHD.
For more information about ADHD and drug-free treatments for ADHD, go to https://learningbreakthrough.com/specific-challenges/drug-free-add/adhd-alternative-treatment.