Children with ADHD are spontaneous, impulsive and free-spirited. They are always ready for an adventure or spur-of –the-moment trip to anywhere. Kids with ADHD are bursting toward tomorrow with a sense of wonder and energy unmatched by any other group of people. Why, then, are they so challenging to parent? Ask a teacher how it feels to run a classroom with a few kids with ADHD in the mix. She might liken it to trying to herd kittens.
Your household doesn’t have to lose itself to the chaos of ADHD. A few resourceful parenting ideas and a dose of common sense, together with a great sense of humor can help you create order in the disorderly world of a child battling ADHD. Let’s look at a few ideas that will help you and your child create an atmosphere of harmonious composure in your household.
Create a Working Schedule
Today’s families are busier than ever. There are work schedules, overtime, school schedules, ball practice, dance lessons, weekend chores, dinner plans, and the list just keeps on growing. It isn’t any wonder that stress levels are high and kids are feeling the pressure of their busy lives. Children with ADHD do not do well when things are hectic. Taking a little time to create a schedule with everything mapped out is a helpful tool for every family member, especially the child with ADHD. Post a large calendar or dry erase board in a central location with the week’s schedule clearly defined. Make it part of the nightly routine to call attention to the next day’s activities, such as ball practice and dance lessons and be sure everyone knows where he or she is going. Try to keep the evening meal- time as consistent as possible. Make it a relaxing time for the family to come together to share a meal and chill after a busy day.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Children with ADHD have problems with impulse control, self-esteem and feelings of embarrassment or isolation. Try to model the behavior you would like your child to exhibit. Keep things light and upbeat. Help him find positive ways to take on the challenges of life. Give him positive praise or a high five when he does the right thing to encourage the appropriate behavior. Let your child know that a bad day at school isn’t the end of the world. Tomorrow is a new day and things will be better. Laugh and have fun with your child. Tell jokes, give lots of hugs and don’t be afraid to dance together like nobody’s watching. The child with ADHD will flourish in an environment where he feels unconditional love and support.
Believe in Your Child and Let Him Know It
If your child gets discouraged while doing homework or studying for a test, remind him how his studying paid off for the last test. The child with ADHD sometimes feels awkward or out of place in school or other social settings. Encourage him by letting him know you are proud of him. A simple “I know you can do it” will go a long way when your child faces a new challenge or difficult task.
Help Your Child Stay Organized
Set your child up for success by helping him with organization at home and in the classroom. A place for everything and everything in it’s place is a good rule of thumb. Help him sort through his school backpack and supplies in the evening and throw away unnecessary papers, wrappers and clutter. Prompt him to do the same with his desk at school so he can keep up with the important stuff. Encourage and help him get everything ready for the next day before he goes to bed. A few minutes of preparation in the evening will assure a more pleasant morning.
Make Sure Your Child and His Brain Get Plenty of Exercise
Exercising the body and the mind contributes to overall well-being. C8 Sciences’ ACTIVATE™ program for home use is a wonderful tool to provide a range of brain-training exercises combined with a strategic physical exercise program. ACTIVATE™ is an innovative software program designed to provide kids with ADHD a way to learn at their own pace while having fun on their electronic device or computer. The program is designed to help children develop better self-control, sustained attention and cognitive flexibility. The physical exercise component encourages structured and individualized physical exercise in conjunction with the brain-training activities. This balanced, well-researched brain training formula has helped kids with ADHD across the globe achieve the highest academic and physical fitness goals.
Pick Your Battles
ADHD can bring out the worst in your child. If he is agitated, defiant, or obviously “in a mood,” it might not be the best time to insist he do the dishes, do his homework or clean his room. Give him 30 minutes of downtime to regain his composure and try again. If he mutters or gripes about having to do it, but still accomplishes the task, that’s ok. Set priorities and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Make Sure Your Child Gets Plenty of Sleep
A sleep-deprived child is cranky, unreasonable and difficult to deal with. Check on your child at night to make sure he isn’t staying up way past his bedtime watching TV or playing on his electronic device. Light’s out will promote better sleep. Encourage good sleep habits by having a wind-down time beginning 30 minutes before bedtime. Reading, a warm bath or listening to soft music are good ways to relax before going to bed.
Set Reasonable Consequences for Unacceptable Behavior and Stick to Them
Let your child know what the boundaries are regarding his behavior. Make sure he understands the consequences for inappropriate behavior. If he is aware of expectations and chooses to step outside the boundaries that have been set for him, he should have to accept a reasonable consequence. Keep calm, even if your child is out of control. Do not argue with him or give him the impression he can talk or whine his way out of trouble. Firmly enforce the consequence that has been agreed upon, and walk away. Consequences might be things like no television tonight, read instead, or doing something kind for a sibling after screaming at her in a rage. Use your imagination to come up with positive consequences that teach lessons.
Take Care of Yourself
Be sure you give yourself some alone time and a pat on the back occasionally. Time away from the stress of everyday life, even if it’s just for an evening, will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. Parenting is hard stuff. Your child needs you to be his advocate and his mentor. Taking care of yourself will help you be a better parent, so your son or daughter with ADHD can achieve great things. Remember, if these strategies don’t work all of the time, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and count to ten. There… don’t you feel better already?