Parenting a child with ADHD can feel like an overwhelming task. As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to help your child conquer their challenges, channel their energy in a positive way, and bring a sense of peace and calm to your family. The earlier you create a plan of action to manage how ADHD will impact your family dynamic, the better. In this article, we’ll share some of the best do’s and don’ts for busy parents doing their best to maintain balance with a child with ADHD.
ADHD parenting “Do’s”
Determine your behavior management therapy
There are two principles of behavior management therapy. The first rewards and encourages positive behavior (positive reinforcement), the second removes rewards following negative behavior with appropriate consequences (punishment). Regardless of which you choose, you must clearly define with your child how they will be held accountable and stick to this in every aspect of their life. This includes home, school, and when they are socializing.
Define rules but allow for flexibility
While it’s important to reward good behavior and discourage bad behavior, you need to allow a little wiggle room for your child. It’s important to remember that it can be challenging for children with ADHD to adapt to change. Your child needs room to learn from their mistakes without fear of being punished. For example, quirky behaviors that are not harmful to others should be accepted as part of your child’s personality. The idea is to encourage your child to be themselves in a manner that is not harmful to themselves or others.
As parents, we set the tone for our children’s physical and emotional health. Ultimately, you have control over many factors that can positively impact your child’s disorder. Maintain a positive attitude and try to keep things in perspective. Remind yourself that your child’s neighbor is a result of their disorder. Don’t sweat the small things and look at the bigger picture. What may seem embarrassing or frustrating today will not mean as many years down the road.
Create a routine
Children with ADHD are more likely to succeed when their responsibilities occur in reliable and predictable patterns. As a parent, your job is to create a sustainable routine to help them succeed.
- Establish a routine clearly defining a time and place for everything.
- Use clocks and timers to stay on task (i.e., for homework, transitional times, getting ready in the morning, etc.).
- Create a calm space for your child to relax and unwind that is not the same space they are sent for time out or consequences.
- Strive to remain neat and organized and hold your child accountable for placing things where they belong (such as their toys, shoes, bookbags, and other items in the house).
Limit distractions and encourage exercise
Children with ADHD can become easily distracted. Video games, television, and computers encourage impulsive behavior and should be limited and monitored. Set screen time limits and stick to them. Instead, encourage physical activity, such as playing outside or going for a long family walk. Physical activity helps to burn energy and helps your child focus their attention on specific motion. Exercise also helps to increase concentration and focus.
Set a sleep schedule
Lack of sleep is extremely detrimental to kids with ADHD. Children With ADHD need as much, if not more, sleep than children without ADHD. However, for children with ADHD, overstimulation can lead to trouble falling asleep.
- Set a consistent and early bedtime
- Decrease television time
- Establish screen time limits
- Include quiet time before bedtime (such as coloring or reading)
- Spend time cuddling or rubbing your child’s back before bedtime.
- Use relaxation tapes or brown noise to create soothing background noise
If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for your family. When you are stressed, rundown, and tired it becomes more challenging to stick to the routine that benefits your child with ADHD. Ask for help when you need it and remember to take time for yourself. Perhaps you have family or friends who can babysit so you can run errands for a few hours or take in a movie. Whatever you choose, the idea is to take some time away from caregiving to refresh and reset. It’s also important to eat healthy, exercise and find ways to minimize your stress. From meditating to taking a relaxing bath or reading a book with a cup of hot tea, the idea is to find time to relax and unwind daily.
ADHD parenting “Don’ts”
Don’t focus on the small things
Compromise is important. If you assign five tasks and your child completes three of them, consider being flexible with the remaining tasks. Give them a break and let them revisit the remaining chores later or even the next day. Remind yourself that for children with ADHD it’s a learning process, and every accomplishment is a step toward success.
Don’t yell or lash out in anger
This can be a hard one, but it’s important to remember that your child’s behavior is caused by their disorder. ADHD, like any other disorder, should be treated like any other physical or emotional medical condition. When you start to feel frustrated or angry, remind yourself that your child can’t just “snap out of it” or “be normal.” They are trying their best and it is a process that takes time, patience, and understanding.
Don’t become negative
Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but it’s important to remain positive. Your child will feed off your negative energy and it can make them lash out or feel bad. Take it one day at a time and remember to keep things in perspective. What may feel stressful or embarrassing today will not matter in a few months’ time.
Don’t let your child take control
At the end of the day, you are the parent. You set the rules and boundaries and hold your child accountable. Don’t allow yourself to be controlled or intimidated by your child’s behavior.
More tips from the Brain Workshop
At the Brain Workshop, our brain training programs are designed to strengthen the cognitive skills that translate into real-life improvements in attention, memory, clarity, logic, and processing speed. Not only can brain training help children and teens improve their skills, but it also provides the perfect platform for parents to learn and understand how they can help parent children with ADHD.
If you are interested in learning more, contact a member of our team today!