ADHD Help at Home
Living with ADHD can be stressful but there are things you can do to help yourself and your child.
15 tips for parenting a child with ADHD:
- Let your love show: It can be all too easy to find yourself focused exclusively on difficult behavior and the challenges of raising your child. Remind yourself about all the things you love about your child, and make sure you share those with your child. Be affectionate, using not only words but also smiles and hugs and kisses. These signals of support will not only boost your child’s self-esteem but may boost your spirit as well.
- Keep your cool: Though sometimes it may seem all but impossible to stay calm and patient when your child is misbehaving, do your best to keep it together. If you freak out, it may only serve to escalate the chaos, whereas if you’re calm, there’s a better chance your child can calm down as well.
- Keep your expectations realistic: Don’t expect things to improve overnight. Celebrate incremental signs of progress.
- Stay positive: Give your child lots of encouragement and positive feedback for good behavior.
- Spend some quality time: Make sure to schedule in some one-on-one time with your child every day to remind yourself about all the things you appreciate about your child and stay connected in a positive way.
- Stick to a reliable schedule: Meals, naps, bedtime and wake-up time should happen according to a consistent schedule. The consistency will help you ensure that your child is well rested and well fed, and schedules are often comforting for children.
- Don’t push it: Try not to rush transitions; moving from one activity to another can be stressful for children with ADHD. Ease into the transition from one activity to the next by giving plenty of warning. Also try to anticipate and avoid situations that may be difficult for your child, like sitting still through a long show or going to a venue that may prove over-stimulating.
- Emphasize adequate sleep: Exhaustion and fatigue can exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD. Make sure your child gets enough sleep.
- Discipline effectively: Timeouts may be one of your best discipline tools. Removing your child from a socially stimulating environment for a short period of time can interrupt their misbehavior and allow them to regain control. Removing privileges can also be an effective way to communicate that inappropriate behavior has consequences.
- Get (and stay) organized: Keep schoolbooks and supplies, toys and other household objects in specific spots. Try to minimize clutter. Help your child track assignments in a notebook and create a quiet place free from distraction for your child to do homework.
- Minimize screen time: Turn off the radio, TV, computer and video games when your child needs to focus on schoolwork or other tasks.
- Help your child find successes: Boost your child’s sense of self-esteem by enrolling him in activities in which he can excel: martial arts, sports, arts and crafts, playing a musical instrument – whatever interests your child.
- Make directions clear and concise: Kids with ADHD may get lost in elaborate, wordy directions. Give directions one step at a time – calmly, clearly and very specifically. Make eye contact. Use your hands to demonstrate if you think it will make your meaning clearer.
- Enlist your child’s teacher or other caregivers: Make sure to keep your child’s teacher, school administrators and other caregivers in the loop. They might also have great ideas about the best ways to help your child. You might also consider:
- Finding out if your child qualifies for special programs that might help him get any extra help he may need. (Public schools are required by law to help children with disabilities that may interfere with their learning.) Accommodations may include making adjustments to the curriculum, the classroom setup or teaching techniques so that your child may better learn.
- Working with your child’s teachers to make sure they are attuned to your child’s needs; are flexible, patient and attentive; provide your child with clear instructions, achievable goals and positive reinforcement for good behavior.
- Asking about specific technology that may help your child. For instance, computers can be helpful for a child with ADHD who struggles with handwriting.
- Cut yourself some slack: Make sure you take some time for yourself to exercise, read a book, putter around in the kitchen, have a conversation with your spouse or partner or just pause to take a deep breath. Recharge and refuel. After all, you’ll be of little use to your child – or anyone else – if you’re exhausted and stressed out.
- Maintain your family relationships: Take the time to ensure family harmony and support siblings and make sure that you and your partner nurture your own relationship. You will be better equipped to parent your ADHD child – and support your other children – if your own bond is strong.