Parenting a child or teen with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or sometime also called ADD) can be frustrating.  Sometimes even plain overwhelming. But as a parent you can help your child overcome daily challenges, channel their energy into positive arenas, and bring greater calm to your family.

 

Tip 1: In order to help a child with ADD you need to first stay healthy and positive yourself

Remember that you set the stage for your child’s emotional and physical health. And it’s good that know that you have control over many of the factors that can positively influence his symptoms.

Maintain a positive attitude. Mom , dad … you are their everything. And your positive attitude and reasonable approach are what is going to help your support your child in meeting the challenges of ADHD.  When you are calm and focused, you are more likely to be able to connect with your child.  This in turn helps them to be calm and focused as well.

Keep things in perspective. Remember that your child’s behaviour is related to a disorder. And frustrating as it may be, most of their behaviour is not intentional. Hold on to your sense of humour. What’s embarrassing today may be a funny family story ten years from now. And know that you’re not alone – here’s a wonderfully light article on ADHD parenting humour that I loved.  Check it out to help brighten your day.

Tip 2: Establish structure and stick to it

When tasks occur in predictable patterns and in predictable places, children with ADHD are more likely to succeed in completing them. If you are able to create and sustain structure in your home, your child will know what to expect and also what is expected of them.

Follow a routine. It is important to set a time and a place for everything to help the child with ADHD understand and meet expectations. Being organised needn’t only relate to school. Establishing simple and predictable rituals and routines for mealtimes, homework, play, and bedtime will take a lot of the stress out of your day. Have your child lay out his school uniform the night before. Make a checklist together, so that he can be sure whatever he needs to take to school is packed. Make it work for you.  One of the moms I work with got so tired of searching for her child’s pencil case that she now has bottles of pencils placed all through the house.

Use clocks and timers. Since time management is often a big concern when trying to help a child with ADD, you may want to consider placing clocks all throughout the house. And remember to put on in your child’s bedroom too. Since children with ADD are easily distracted, you may want to work in some extra time into tasks such as homework or getting ready in the morning. I also really like this idea of colour coding a clock to help children visually understand when they should be doing what. Transitioning from one activity to the next can be hard for children with ADHD.   Finish up play and getting ready for better usually happens more smoothly when you’ve set a timer.

Tip 3: Encourage movement and sleep

Energy for days?  Feel like you’re living with the Energizer Bunny? Organized sports and other physical activities can help your child get their energy out in healthy ways. It also helps to focus their attention on specific movements and skills. In fact the benefits of physical activity are countless: it improves concentration, decreases depression and anxiety, and promotes brain growth among other things. So get them started today.

Rest is also very important.  Help your child sleep better by trying out one or more of the following strategies:

  • Eliminate caffeine from your child’s diet.  They might be hiding in soft drinks and sweet treats.
  • Decrease television time and increase your child’s activities and exercise levels during the day.
  • Create a buffer time to lower down the activity level for an hour or so before bedtime.
  • Use lavender or Valerian extract aromas in your child’s room.
  • Spend ten minutes cuddling with your child.
  • Use relaxation music as background noise for your child when falling asleep.

 It will be a lot easier to respond in positive, supportive ways if you keep in mind that having ADHD is equally frustrating for your child. A little client once told me: “It’s so difficult to live with my own brain”. Be patient. Have compassion. And make sure you get plenty of support. It is possible to manage childhood ADHD while enjoying a stable, happy – somewhat calm 🙂  – home.

For more information about helping your child with ADD, contact Anel Annandale at 083 711 5267 or via email at  anel@childpsych.co.za.