Currently, around 11% of American children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Since 2011, toddlers and children as young as 4 years old have been receiving accurate evaluations, enabling parents and caregivers to begin addressing behaviors typical to the disorder, earlier in life.
Children with ADHD face bigger challenges than the average child, but still have all the potential to become exceptional, well-balanced adults. It’s important for you as a parent not to overcomplicate or become stressful about everyday life with your ADHD child. By creating a set of foundational rules and routines and maintaining a positive outlook, life with ADHD can become a creative adventure, rather than a chore.
Basic Rules of Conduct
It’s important your ADHD child understands that everyone has rules to help them love each other better and be successful in life. When making rules, include rules for yourself, as well as your child. These rules should be simple, such as speaking softly to each other, never hitting, respecting each other, and waiting for their turn.
As children grow older, you might try posting rules for various rooms of the house, such as the kitchen, eating spaces, and bathroom. Make it clear these rules apply to everyone and create established consequences, such as a time-out for breaking any rule, with the understanding that life happens and rules sometimes just can’t and don’t apply.
ADHD children often thrive with structure, so long as it allows for plenty of outlets for expending pent-up energy. Encourage creative outlets, such as sports, playing an instrument, artwork, or dance.
Look for, and encourage, personal interests that can capture and hold your child’s attention, while encouraging them to learn new skills. However, video game time should be closely monitored and limited for ADHD children. Studies have indicated that both children and adults suffering from ADHD show a greater tendency to display addiction-type behaviors and heightened attention deficiencies with excessive video gaming. TV time should also be limited or made more useful as a reward for good behavior.
In order to establish an effective routine, you must commit to the following:
- Positive reinforcement
- Personal attention
- Acceptable consequences
- Family contributions, such as chores
Love Your Child’s Uniqueness
ADHD children are endowed with a unique outlook and reaction to life. Pay attention to your child’s quirks and enjoy and accept them for what they are. Talk about the good in them and how you appreciate who they are. Encourage them to be themselves, while still adhering to the set rules. Don’t give in to negative behaviors, and remember to laud the good.
Build a Support Network
You’re not alone in your struggles as a parent. Speak with your health care professional about one-on-one counseling for your child if there are ongoing issues with anger or physical acting-out.
Touch base with teachers and parents of other ADHD children in your child’s school and include other adult family members by sharing how they can help and encourage you and your child. There are also many online support opportunities that can keep you abreast of the latest useful parenting techniques to bring out the best in your child.
Take Time for You
Since parenting an ADHD child can be particularly challenging, make sure you take some quality self-time, preferably far away from ADHD concerns. Take a walk, go to the gym, visit a park, museum, or library, or spend time with a friend.
Take time to consider your personal health for the sake of your family. And don’t forget to plan date nights with your special someone in order to keep relationships healthy. Make time for the hobbies and activities you enjoy the most so that you can continue to be relaxed in your parenting role, ready to deal with the challenges and enjoy the triumphs in your ADHD child’s life.