Raising a Child With ADHD
While the ADHD is known for its hyperactivity and inattention, it is actually much more complicated than that. First of all, there are three different subtypes of ADHD, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive; predominantly inattentive; and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive, which is the subtype most children with ADHD have. Raising a child with ADHD can be exhausting however with information, effort, and the right tools, you can bring up the child to be successful despite their disorder. Here are some tips to help you manage raising a child with ADHD:
1. Impulse Control
Often misunderstood and overlooked, the lack of impulse control can be just as troubling as the other symptoms if not more. Impulse control is the thought process of foreseeing the reaction to a behavior. For example, a child may see a piece of candy on the counter. In simple terms, a neurotypical child may control their body and not reach for the candy while a child with ADHD is likely to grab the candy and eat it. This lack of impulse control extends to social behavior such as blurting out comments, impatience, acting without regard for consequences, difficulty waiting for their turn and interrupting other’s conversations. For this reason, children with ADHD often spend much of their childhood in time out, grounded, or otherwise in trouble. While sweet and loving, children with ADHD are often considered unruly, naughty, and troubling due to their poor impulse control.
It is important to try to be proactive with their behavior. Instead of reacting to the negative behavior you will be able to prevent the behavior from occuring in the first place. Help them self regulate their behavior by talking about the consequences of their actions. Go over what could result if they took the action or review the negative consequences that occurred as a result of their actions. Eventually, they will have to learn to self-regulate their impulse control but you can help them by guiding them through their impulsive behavior. Reward their good behavior with praise and attention as this will encourage them to repeat their behavior in the future.
A child with ADHD likely struggles with hyperactivity. This looks like a child fidgeting, having difficulty standing in line or keeping calm while indoors. One way to combat this symptom is to enroll the child in an extracurricular activity such as soccer or swimming. Provide a trampoline at home for the child to get out their energy. A child with ADHD may need to get up from their student desk and pace the hallway for a while before they are able to return to their studies. Work with their teacher and reward them for good days at school such as taking them out for ice cream after five good days. Several studies have shown that a change of diet may improve hyperactivity in children with ADHD. Avoiding certain foods and increasing others is shown to not only lessen hyperactivity but also improve other symptoms of the disorder.
Another major symptom of ADHD is inattention. This is the inability to pay attention or focus on a task such as homework. This can be a child daydreaming instead of focusing in class or making simple mistakes. Children with ADHD also often struggle with the organization due to inattention. They may lose their textbook or shoes regularly. They may also have difficulty focusing in class which will likely impact their grades. One way to manage this symptom is to develop a behavior reward system. Giving them a sticker when they complete their homework or allowing them to play a video game after church will give them the motivation to repeat the good behavior. Also, creating to-do lists can help keep them on track in their daily activities. Another way to deal with this symptom is to create an organization system. All their homework goes in a folder in their backpack or their shoes go in a cubby in their room. You will still have to regularly remind them to put things where they go however having a designated place for their belongings will help them stay organized.
Raising a child with ADHD can be challenging as much of their disorder causes them to act out. Your reaction may be to punish them however it is best to be proactive as opposed to reactive. Set up their world to make them more successful. Find activities for them to participate in that allow for movement and running. Help them stay organized, reward their good behavior and have patience. Work with their teacher and create a system to encourage good behavior at school.
Educate yourself on the disorder as you are their first teacher and biggest fan. Learn about them by reading books, researching online and talking to others that have a child with ADHD. Lastly, love them through it. A child with ADHD often feels like a failure. They struggle with self-esteem due to their challenges. Remind them of their success and focus on the positive. When raising a child with ADHD, it is important to shape their world to make them more successful. Keep in mind that often, their behavior is a result of their disorder and they want to be happy and thrive just like any other child and with your help, they will thrive.