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How can I help my child with ADHD?
Management Strategies forParents
Raising a child with ADHD can be incredibly challenging for
Russell Barkley, 2000
The challenge of raising a child with ADHD
Child with ADHD experiences difficulty
Parent sets increased limits/punishes child
Child continues to experience failureBecomes angry and defiant
Parent also becomes angry Sees child as having
bad attitudeNot a real neurological problem
Both parents and children become unhappy and miserable
Children with ADHD have
a need for increased activity, may be impulsive may have uninhibited or uncontrolled behaviour have poor concentration need constant input from you as a parent
These difficulties all impact your role as parent in ways that you never thought were possible when you first thought about or were aware that you were having a child.
These childrens need for increased guidance, love, protection, nurturance and advocacy from a parent can sometimes be hidden behind a faade of demanding and at times obnoxious or difficult behaviour!
Parents of children with ADHDneed to teach, monitor, supervise,plan, structure, reward, discipline,protect and nurture their childrenin far more ways than would beneeded by a typical parent.
Parents will need to meet more often with other adults involved in a childs life such as teachers, doctors, mental health professionals as well as others in the community such as sports coaches etc, as a result of other behaviouraldifficulties these children may have.
A lot may be required of you asa parent of your child with ADHD!
So, what to do?
Understand the diagnosis
Make sure that everyone in the family knows what ADHD or ADD is and what it means in terms of how a child with ADHD behaves.
Understanding how ADHD can affect a childs behaviour
and their emotional understanding and perception of the world is very important!
Separate the child from the Diagnosis
As soon as you are aware that your child may have ADHD or ADD, separate your child from their medical condition.
ADHD isnt anyones fault, it just is, and must be managed.
Be positiveA child who is always in trouble is likely not to have good self-esteem and possibly a strong dislike of themselves. It is thus vital that parents repeatedly let their child know that they love them
regardless of their behaviour.
Noticing and commenting on good behaviour as well as praising a child when one sees that an effort is being made, however small, everytime it happens can really help.
Dont assume a child is simply lazy or defiant. When failures occur, ones comments need to always be constructive.
For example, if a child loses an especially precious toy and cannot find it, rather than tell them off for not keeping their toys tidy, it would be better to agree together on a good place for the toy to be put so that it can be more easily
found the next time.
If a child is expected to succeed, they probably will. A child who is expected to fail will too.
Provide your child with statementsof approval, praise or positive feedback.
Here are some ideas (Barkley, 2000)
SuperI like it whenIts nice when youFantastic.You sure are a big girl/boy for
That was terrific the way you
TerrificNice goingGreat jobWow, you sure act grown up when you.
You know six months ago, you couldnt do that as well as you do now, you are
really growing up fast.
I am very proud of you when youWhat a nice thing to doWait until I tell .how well youve
You did that all byyourself.way to go!
If words dont come easily, try somenonverbal signs of approval a hug,pat on the head or shoulder, placingan arm around a child, smiling,giving a thumbs up or a wink.
Involve the whole family!
Involve the whole family in helping to find solutions, since ADHD behaviouraffects everyone.
Family meetings on how to deal with a specific problem can be helpful. Only
discuss one problem at a time!
In a family, a child with ADHD will most likely get the most attention. As a result, other children in the family may acquire negative behaviour patterns and the message is given that only bad behaviour gets
It is thus very important for parents to make sure that each child in their family gets the attention they deserve. Non ADHD children also need opportunity to voice how they feel in order that their views are also seen as important and that they
Giving children the attention theyneed
Scheduling dedicated parent andindividual child time on a regular basiscan be very helpful.In this way one is able to give a child awhole meal of attention and they areless likely to keep snacking on you
(particularly in negative ways) duringthe day!
Child below nine years: choose a 20minute time that is your specialtime.For school children after school orsupper may be good.If your child is preschool after youhave dropped the other children
off. It is important that noother children are involved.
If your child is older, you dont need to set a time, just find a timewhen your child is enjoying a playactivity and ask if you can join in.
Dont try and control the play, justrelax and watch for a few minutes.
After watching a while you can begin todescribe out loud what your child isdoing. Dont ask questions or givecommands as these can be disruptive. Only ask questions if you are unsure ofwhat your child is doing.
This is your childs special time toenjoy your attention, not to teach ortake over the childs play. Occasionallygive your child statements of positivefeedback.
Some additional suggestions:
Create a daily routine for your childfor example, homework, bedtime,mealtime routines.
Clear communication is important
Be specific in your instructions, andmake clear and reasonable requestsAsk your child what will help andcommunicate honestly and clearly with
Have clear and easily understoodboundaries and expectations
Rules make life predictable andtherefore safe for children. Theseshould be few, clearly stated and
repeated often. It is very confusing for a child to be told different
things by different caregivers. If possible, have rules visible.
Be consistent in your handling ofyour child
Reward your childs good behaviourquickly and often
Use sanctions (eg loss of privileges)for unacceptable behaviour oroverstepping of boundaries
Remove disturbing or disruptiveelements from their daily routine
Encourage and praise yourchilds good behaviour!!!!!
Let yourself be playful, have fun, beunconventional.
Children with ADHD love novelty
Its okay to admit that you areuncertain about something/Its okayto ask questions!
Be open to trying new ways.
Seek out and underscore success asmuch as possible.
Bringing up a child with ADHD may be the hardest thing you ever have to do.
But if you rise to the challenge, raising a child with ADHD can provide a tremendous opportunity for fulfillment as a parent, as you watch the direct investment of time and energy pay off in the happiness and well being of your child. To know that you are needed by such a child
can bring a deeper purpose to yourlife than many other things can do. Barkley, 2000
References and Resources
Barkley, R (2000) Taking charge of ADHD: the complete, authoritative guide for parents, The Guilford Press, New York.
Faber, A. & Mazlish, E (1999) How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk. London: Piccadilly Press.