Tips for Parents With Children With ADHD
Parenting a child suffering from ADHD is nothing like raising a child without it. When it comes to making normal rules along with regular household routines generally can be nearly impossible to do. Of course, it will also depend on the kind and severity of the child’s ADHD symptoms. Having a child like this will force parents to find different ways to teach their children. This can be extremely frustrating and hard to cope with but, there are things that can be done that will make life much easier.
One key thing here is that parents need to be able to accept the fact that their child is suffering from ADHD. This means that their brains are different from other children. Even though kids who have this disorder can learn what is good and acceptable behavior and what is not, this disorder can make them far more prone to more impulsive behavior than other kids.
When helping a child develop when they are suffering from ADHD, parents will not only have to accept this but they will have to modify their own behavior and will need to learn how to manage the behavior of the child suffering from it. Many times, medication may be the initial step in treating their child. There are also behavioral techniques that can help manage the symptoms of their child’s ADHD. If a parent follows the guidelines, they can actually limit the destructive behavior of their child and help them to overcome any self-doubt that they might have.
Behavior Management Therapy
When it comes to behavior management therapy there tend to be too simple and basic principles. The first principle is to encourage and reward all good behavior that their child exhibits. The second principle is to remove rewards when there is bad behavior and include the appropriate consequences following bad behavior. This is an effort to stop the bad behavior Through this type of therapy parents can teach their child to learn how to understand that their actions all have consequences. Parents can do this by setting down rules with clear outcomes for both disobeying and following the rules. These simple principles need to be followed in all aspects of a child’s life like at home, at school, and in their social life.
Decide Which Behaviors are Acceptable and What is Not
The main goal of any kind of behavior modification is to try and help kids learn how to consider the consequences of their actions and how they can control their impulses to act on them. For parents, this will require empathy, affection, energy, patience, and a lot of strength.
Parents need to decide right away what types of behavior they are not going to tolerate any behavior they will. It is extremely important that parents stick to their guidelines and rules. For example, if a parent punishes bad behavior one day and then ignore it the next day is extremely harmful to the child and their ability to be able to improve. It is important to note, that there are some behaviors that need to be unacceptable at all times. Behaviors such as outbursts that are physical, unwillingness to get off the phone, computer, or turn off the TV when asked to, or refusing to get up in the morning. These are some common bad behaviors that really should not be tolerated at any time.
Rules Should Be Clear and Simple
Some children might have a difficult time enacting and internalizing the guidelines parents put in place. This is why it’s important that these rules are very clear and simple. The children also need to be rewarded always when they follow the rules. A way to do this is to use a points system. For instance, a parent might let their child build up points for all their good behavior and then allow them to redeem the points for some spending money, more time watching TV, or buy them a new game.
Parents who have made a list of their rules need to write them all down and then display the list where their child can see them. It’s important that children with ADHD have a lot of repetition in their life along with a lot of positive reinforcement because this will help their child understand the rules much better.
Define Rules But Allow for Some Flexibility
When it comes to the family rules, it’s extremely important to always reward good behavior on a consistent basis and to consistently discourage bad behaviors. However, parents should not be overly strict with their child either. It’s important to point out that children suffering from ADHD may find it difficult to adapt to change. Parents need to learn to let their child make mistakes as they are learning. For example, if a child showing odd behavior that isn’t hurting them or others should just be considered as part of their child’s personality and not bad behavior. It can be harmful if a child is discouraged about their quirky behavior just because the parents might think it’s unusual.
Aggression Needs to Be Managed
Children who have aggressive outbursts can be a very common problem that comes with ADHD. Putting them in a “time out” can be a very effective thing to do to help calm the parent and the child down. If a child starts to act out in public, they need to be removed immediately from the scene in a very decisive and calm manner. Timeouts really need to be explained to a child as a time for them to slow down and cool off. They also need to understand that it’s also a time for them to think about the bad behavior they’ve exhibited.
Parents need to try and ignore the mild disruptive behavior and consider it as just a way for their child to be able to let off some of their pent-up energy. But, when the behavior is abusive, destructive, or intentional and goes totally against the rules need to be punished at all times.
Structure Needs to Be Created
It’s very important that a parent provide a routine for a child to stick to on a daily basis. It’s important to create a ritual around their homework, meals, bedtime, and their playtime. Basic simple day to day tasks like having their child lay out their clothes for the next day is a simple thing that can give them some structure in life.
Break Down Tasks Into Segments That are Manageable
One good thing to do is to use a big wall calendar to help children with remembering their duties on a daily basis. Parents should use color coding to distinguish between their homework and chores. They need to try and break down their daily tasks and school items into smaller chunks to help keep them from becoming extremely overwhelmed. Even things they do in their morning routine should be broken down into smaller tasks.
Organize and Simplify a Child’s Life
Parents need to try and create a quiet and special space for their child to do homework, read, and be able to take a needed break from all the chaos of daily life. The home needs to be organized and neat in order to help their child with ADHD to learn where everything goes. This is a way to help reduce any unnecessary distractions that can be overwhelming to them.
Limit the Distractions
A child with ADHD will easily welcome distractions that are easily accessible. This means things like video games, TV, cell phones, and computers. These distractions can often encourage their impulsive behavior and they all should be regulated by their parents. When a parent decreases the time their child has with their electronics and increasing their time with more engaging activities such as activities outside of their home, a child is going to be able to release their pent-up energy.
Encourage Them to Exercise
Parents need to encourage their child to exercise more. By having them get involved in physical activity is going to help them burn off any excess energy they may have in a healthy manner. This will also help their child to focus their attention more on certain specific movements. Exercise can also decrease any ADHD impulsivity they might have. Exercising can also help them to improve their concentration, lower their anxiety and risk of getting depressed. It also stimulates their brain in a very healthy manner.
Regulate Their Sleeping Patterns
Going to bed when a child with ADHD can often be a very difficult time for them. However, the lack of sleep can exacerbate their hyperactivity, recklessness, and inattention. It’s important that parents help their child get much better sleep. Parents can help them get a better nights sleep by getting rid of things like caffeine and sugar. They should also decrease their TV viewing time. They should also create some sort of calming and healthy bedtime ritual.
Encourage Their Child to Think Out Loud
A lot of children with ADHD can experience a lack of self-control. This lack of self-control can cause them to act and speak before they think. It’s important that a parent ask their child to try and verbalize what their thoughts are and then use reasoning when they have an urge to act out when it arises. It is very important that a parent understand their child’s thought process so they can help them to curb their impulsive behavior.
Promote Waiting Time
Another good way to try and control a child’s impulse to speak before they think is to teach them how to pause for a bit before they reply or talk to someone. It’s important to encourage them to engage in more thoughtful responses by taking time out to work with them by helping them with their homework and to ask them some interactive questions about a favorite book, song, or television show.
Need to Believe in Their Child
A child suffering from ADHD more than likely does not realize all the stress their disorder can cause others in their life. It is very important that parents stay positive and very encouraging. They should praise their child for all their good behavior so the child knows when something they’ve done is right. Parents need to understand that even if their child is suffering from this disorder won’t have to deal with it forever. They need to have confidence in their child and have a positive attitude about their child’s future.
Get Individualized Counseling
Parents need to realize that they simply can’t do it all. Their child needs their encouragement, however, they will also need some professional help as well. It’s important that parents find a professional that will work with their child and give them an extra outlet. They shouldn’t be afraid to find help if they need it. Too many parents tend to be overly focused on their child that they tend to neglect their own needs. A professional will be able to help the parents to manage their own stress along with anxiety.
Parents Should Take Breaks
A parent simply cannot be totally supportive all of the time. It is absolutely normal for parents to become overwhelmed or even frustrated with their child and themselves. Just like a child needs breaks from their studies and other tasks, parents need their own breaks from it all. Parents need to schedule their own alone time. A parent or parents need to consider getting a babysitter so that they can take a good quality break from it all. Healthy breaks can include:
- Go for a walk
- Go to the gym
- Take a bubble bath
- Go to a day spa
- Go out to dinner
Parents Should Calm Themselves
If parents are aggravated, they aren’t going to be able to help a child that’s impulsive. All too often a child will mimic the behavior of what they see and if a parent can remain well composed and under control during a child’s outburst, it’s going to help the child to do the exact same thing. It’s important that parents learn how to take some time to breathe, collect their thoughts, and relax before they try to pacify their child. The calmer a parent is, the calmer their child is going to become.
Don’t Get Upset Over the Small Things
It’s important that parents with a child suffering from ADHD be willing to make a few compromises with them. If a child has finished two of three chores that have been assigned, a parent might want to consider trying to be more flexible when it comes to the third chore. This is a learning process and even the smallest of steps are going to count.
Avoid Lashing Out When Overwhelmed
Parents need to remember that their child’s behavior is being caused by a disorder. Even though it’s not something that is often visible from the outside, it is still considered a disability and it needs to be treated like that. So, when a parent starts to feel frustrated or angry they need to stop and remember that their child just can’t just act normal or snap out of it right then and there.
Avoid Being Negative
Not being negative might sound simple, however, things need to be taken one day at a time and they need to always try to keep things in perspective. They should always remember that what might be embarrassing or stressful one day will fade away the next day.
Never Allow the Disorder or Child Take Control
It’s extremely important that parents remember that ultimately, they are just that, the parents. They are the ones that need to establish the house rules for what acceptable behavior is in their home. At the same time, they need to be nurturing and patient. They should never let themselves be intimidated or bullied by the behavior of their child.