Parenting is a challenge, but especially so if you’re parenting a child with ADHD. The disorganization, impulsivity, forgetfulness and inability to sustain attention that children with ADHD often exhibit can be exasperating for you both. But while there are many challenges, there are also many strategies you can use to help manage your child’s symptoms and make home a comfortable place for your entire family.
First and foremost, remaining calm is paramount. Children with ADHD can display quick-reaction tempers and you mustn’t do the same. Engaging in an argument with your child will only make matters worse and continue to involve you both in a non-productive exchange. Instead, diffuse the situation by expressing your understanding of their point of view and your expectations for a positive outcome. For example, rather than saying, “Go to bed because I told you to,” you might say, “I understand that bedtime is no fun, but you’re a good boy and I expect you to go to bed on time.”
A second strategy for parenting a child with ADHD is to establish a clear structure and schedule at home. Children with ADHD need predictability in their daily lives, so setting an established time for eating, bathing, homework, chores and bedtime will help your child immensely. For younger kids, consider a token economy to reward them for following their schedule. For older kids, provide them with a calendar or organizer in which you both can write down assignment due dates, appointment reminders or lists of chores. Above all, be sure that the expectations you place on your child are realistic for them. For example, allow plenty of time for them to complete their chores, and when completed, reward them to reinforce their positive behavior.
Third, when things don’t quite go right, don’t take it personally. All children act out now and then and make a mistake. What’s important is that you use those occasions as teaching moments. Ask your child what he thinks happened that got him in trouble, helping him if necessary. Be very matter-of-fact, yet supportive, and always be consistent in your demeanor and the punishment you dole out. Do the same for praise – establish a system of rewards for positive behaviors and consistently give them out. Again, predictability helps manage the symptoms of ADHD, so providing clear and consistent consequences will help minimize negative behaviors and reinforce positive ones.
There is no secret formula for parenting a child with ADHD. However, using these three strategies can help make your home lives a little bit easier. With a lot of patience, perseverance and planning, you can structure your home life to best accommodate your child’s needs while still having high expectations for their behavior. Facilitating their successes will bring your child a great sense of satisfaction, boost their self-confidence and improve their self-esteem. In so doing, you will give them the confidence and the skills they need to best manage their ADHD.
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