While raising any child can be an exhausting process, a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD can be even more of a challenge, with their need for constant motion, short attention spans, excessively talking and inability to focus in on tasks. This neurological disorder can have a big impact on their success in school and on relationships with family and friends — and good parenting can make a big difference in their quality of life.
Here are some tips for raising kids with ADHD.
Kids with ADHD have serious challenges staying organized — so help them out. Have things like cubbies, wall hangers, and other storage spaces so that there is a place for everything. Make sure that your child’s schedule for the day is written up in their room and on the refrigerator and that they also have a daily planner to keep track of what is going on. This will take a lot of stress off of you both.
ADHD kids need a lot of structure and discipline in their surroundings if they are going to thrive. So make sure that you stay consistent. For one thing, set up rules for behavior and make sure that you enforce those rules the same way each time and not give in or let behavior go. Don’t argue or debate with your child, simply let them know that certain actions will have negative consequences — every time. This will help to curb some of the less desirable behaviors associated with ADHD.
It is easy to get frustrated or even angry at a child when they are being hyper, belligerent or are simply not listening to you. But stay positive and realize that this is part of the ADHD diagnosis. Letting your child know that you love him even when you are disciplining him will prevent him from feeling as though he is being “picked on” or singled out — and that it is the behavior you object to, not him as a person.
Reinforce Good Behavior
When your ADHD child does do their homework, gets their chores done or achieves some other small success, make sure to praise them to reinforce this good behavior. For some kids, it helps to have a progress chart with stars or stickers on it to track the days that they have done well with school work, housework, etc. Tie these stars to certain rewards — such as going on to a favorite restaurant or a trip to the zoo — to help give them the motivation they need to follow your rules.
While being active is important for any child growing up, it is extra important for kids who are struggling with ADHD. So make sure that your child has time throughout the day where they can run outside and play, participate in a school or extracurricular sport or even have access to a trampoline or other indoor equipment on days when the weather is too cold or too wet to go out. This provides an outlet for some of that activity — and also can help kids to focus on quiet activities like homework when the time comes.
Promote an Overall Healthy Lifestyle
Again, any child benefits from an overall healthy lifestyle — but it has a particularly big impact on kids with ADHD. Diet is very important to this condition and kids on a healthy diet with few things like sugars or artificial additives or preservatives present with fewer ADHD-related behaviors. Sleep is also incredibly important — and can also present a challenge for hyper ADHD kids. Making sure that a child goes to bed and gets up at a good hour and gets plenty of rest in between can help to reduce unwanted symptoms.
While every child and situation is unique, these general tips above can help you to raise your ADHD child with less fuss and also help them reach their full potential at school and with friends and family as they grow up.