Tips for Parenting Children with ADHD
Parenting is HARD! Parenting is TIRING! Parenting is full of failures and is full of successes. Parenting can be the most rewarding job there is. Parenting is not a one size fits all, because every child is different, and what works for one does not always mean it will work for the next child. So much of parenting is trial and error, figuring out what method of intervention works best. Parenting children with ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) can be even more challenging, due to some children struggling more with concentration, some struggling more with hyperactivity, and others struggling with a mix of both. I am sure we all wish there was a handbook written to tell us all how to parent perfectly in any situation that might come up, but the reality is that does not exist.
Facts, Signs, & Symptoms:
Here are some things we know about children with ADHD. ADHD symptoms can include:
Trouble with relationships
Trouble with concentration
Poor performance in school
Appearing that they are not listening but really they are having trouble listening
Having trouble completing and staying on task
Talking to much
Forgetting to do chores
Always wanting to be the leader when playing games
Difficulty in taking turns, and waiting to speak when with others
Being constantly on the go
These symptoms can look different in children depending on if they struggle more with concentration or hyperactivity. Let’s look at some tips that might help parents set themselves, and their children up for success, when it comes to parenting.
Maintain a positive attitude- Remember that children feed off of our emotions, and can sense when something is off. Children need to see positivity modeled for them, and for parents to use positivity to build up children who might be struggling with low self-esteem. Sometimes we have to really work to reframe negative thoughts, and find the silver linings in all situations.
Don’t fret over the small things- Learning to pick battles and focusing on what is something big vs. small will save you and your child from possible melt downs, and arguments. This also will help your child learn what is something to be focused on vs. something that maybe is small and they can let it go. If you have asked your child to clean their room and they forget to put one toy away in the process, maybe decide to let that go and focus on them getting their school work done.
Provide firm but gentle parenting- You want your child to know they are loved and heard, but you also want them to know there is structure and expectations. There is a time for children to voice their opinions on what they like vs. don’t like, but it is not appropriate for a child to be involved in how a parent decides to parent. Being able to make your parenting style as predictable as possible, will help your child know what to expect when they make a mistake, or when they need to talk to you about something that puts them in a vulnerable place.
Set limits- Children need to know that there are limits for everything. Children are not to be the ones in control of the limits, because then the limits become unpredictable. Children need to see parents follow through with limits. You may experience push back at first when setting limits, but over time, if you stick with them, children will learn to accept and appreciate the limits.
Keep a schedule/routine- A child thrives on structure, and routine.It also is helpful for a child to know their schedule to help promote independence. Be sure to build in some down time or flex time, for your child to get time to decompress from being over stimulated from all of the other activities of the day.
Use reminders- Due to children with ADHD struggling with staying on tasks, there will need to be some sort of clock, timer, or other way of reminding them it’s time to move onto the next activity. This will help promote smoother transitions, and ultimately less dysregulation.
Create a calming space- Be sure to have a space that is just your childs. A space where they get to go to regulate their emotions. A place where they feel safe. Let your child help you create this space for them.
Have a good support system- Be sure that you are leaning on your support system. If you do not have a good support system, try and find parent support groups in person and on social media. Find other parents where your child goes to school or daycare, to connect with that might have similar parenting struggles.
Lastly, practice good self care- Take time for yourself and know that you still have needs and wants, just like your child. Take time to recharge, and model for your child what it means to take a healthy break, to regulate your emotions.
You are not alone in this. Parenting can be hard, but you do not have to be in this alone!