8 Keys To Parenting Children With ADHD
ADHD is a neurological disorder. Children with ADHD have less activity in their prefrontal cortex, which means they have delayed development of their executive functioning - which can result in symptoms such as a hard time to delay gratification, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness. Since different children display different symptoms - the guideline is to “parent the child you have” - help him with his own difficulties, and notice his own needs - it also means that we need to look at the child as a whole and beyond his ADHD, and look at the ADHD as a trait, or barrier the child has.
With a lot of persistence, you can work on your child’s executive skills and teach him the skills he needs, in addition, or instead of taking medications.
If a child cannot concentrate while sitting in class, he might do better when walking around, fidgeting (manipulating an object, in the background) and so on.
Many times being in a hurry or under stress may aggravate the symptoms as it can further interfere with the frontal cortex function, and reduce the child’s ability to organize his actions - try to keep calm and not hurry your child. Instead, teach him how to read a clock, practice looking at the watch every now and then, and see how long are 5 minutes, etc. When he comes back from school - let him unwind before discussing his potentially difficult day. When kids are stressed they cannot learn. Some kids completely shut down. Keeping calm will also improve the mood at the house and will help present you as a leader.
We can not control others - only ourselves - work on yourself to model calm. Stop yelling by adjusting your expectations. Teach your child that he is in control of his actions and how his brain works, and how being hungry or tired affects him.
Many children with ADHD find it hard to start new tasks - try to make her notice this, in a non-judgemental way, help her set a routine to start working - like cleaning the desk or setting a timer.
Teach your child how to use a calendar to keep appointments. Keep digital clocks around the house. Also - keep a timer to help your child learn time duration and be consistent with allowing 5 minutes of extra play. Be sensitive and respectful when asking your child to stop an activity, and help him find a good place to stop.
Many children may be distracted easily, or the opposite - be hyper-focused and not notice you talking to them. You can stand there and support them with your presence.
Many children have problems holding a number of items in their working memory and then acting on them (go to your room and get a sweater, and put back the toy), they might also have difficulty summarizing information - Teach them to write bullet points on the steps or characters on a small piece of paper. Put up todo lists and list of steps in strategic places. Help your child learn how to break down tasks by practicing with him. Remind your child what to do - but not too much and not too often.
If you practice and improve your executive functions - you can help your child learn it from you.
Children with ADHD sometimes have social problems - less because they can not notice social cues when they are hyper-focused on something else, and more when they can not regulate their feelings.
When things heat up, break the tension by playing or by removing the child (or yourself) from the situation or by giving your child a calm box - with bubbles (regulates breathing), paper and pen (to vent and brainstorm solutions), relaxation suggestions like meditation or thinking of things they are grateful for.
Teach your child mindfulness (try a mindful eating exercise).
Notice, name and nourish your child - praise helps, build confidence and strengthen the connection - make sure to praise the effort and not the result, and connect it to a positive trait in him like patience, persistence or focus.
Routinely spend one on one time with your child - no other goal than having fun. Let the child choose. No corrections unless absolutely necessary. Set the time and duration and let your child know. Only one kid at a time. Go over pictures together to build memories.
Scolding can stop behavior, praise can improve behavior. It’s especially important to praise a child with ADHD, in order to compensate for all the negative feedback he is getting in school.
Also, research shows that defiance occurs more in houses there is less praise (defiance can be postponing, ignoring or just saying no).
Connect before you correct or use the “correction sandwich” - praise, correction and praise again. “Be quick, be firm and be gone.”
Don’t attend every fight - ADHD kids sometimes feeds from the energy of people around them. If there is no energy - they might start a fight to stir things up.
When an issue arises - instead of repeating yourself, threatening or punishing - try to problem solve together - after listening to your child’s side and understanding his point of view. Present the facts in a non-judgmental way. Make a final decision after understanding him - be clear and consistent.
What are your values? Make sure you and your partner in sync, to create clarity.
Teach your child what are his rights and privileges, so he will know what to expect the world - this will also allow you to understand what can be fair game to restrict. If you have a rewards program - make sure to keep it simple, have a visual reminder. Never take already earned points.
Children do well when they can.
Punishments hurt the relationship - plan consequences - be proactive and use them to teach your child responsibility and do what’s needed. Discipline is *for* your child, and should help your child to stop, think and make a better decision, and not assert your power. Keep the consequence measured, as close to the bad behavior as possible, plan them ahead and say it calmly and assertively. Give a grace period - to make sure your child is indeed capable and have time to learn the new habit. Allow a re-do when your child is disrespectful, and regardless of possible consequences, show him how to make amends. Make sure to emphasize that the behavior is the problem and not the feelings. Suggest better ways to handle the situation, or alternative explanation to other’s actions. Separate from your child to calm the situation if needed.