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Parents Guide to Managing an ADHD Child

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 28 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Adhd Child Parent Attention Deficit

If you are the parent of a child who has been given an ADHD diagnosis, coming to terms with the fact that your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be hard. It may be an explanation for the way your child behaves but it also means your child will have deal with ADHD for the rest of their lives. It is natural for most parents to want to help as much as possible, but what can you do?

A Parents’ Guide to Managing ADHD

Managing ADHD needs many different people to be involved – your GP, ADHD specialists and advisors, teachers and staff at your child’s school, friends and relatives and, most importantly you, the parents. Your care over the next few years will be crucial. Combined with any ADHD treatment that your doctor thinks will help, creating a stable and ordered home environment will help your child develop the resources to learn to control some aspects of behaviour that go with ADHD and to emerge as an adult who is able to cope with everyday life.

It is not possible to be an ideal parent every minute of every day, and managing ADHD involves making mistakes, having lots of bad days and accepting that that is just the way things are. However, as well as being a loving parent and being there for your child generally, there are a few practical things that might help.

Household Organisation

Children who have attention deficit disorder without the hyperactivity component still find it very difficult to be organised. Having hyperactivity as well makes things even more difficult and a child who is constantly restless does make a great deal of mess that needs to be cleared up.

Create a play area for your child where they can leave toys out and they can make a mess – but restrict the number of toys and small things that need to be cleared up and tidy everything away into boxes at the end of the day. Encourage your child to start helping and praise them for doing things well.

Make some simple and straightforward rules that you never break – inconsistency for an ADHD child is very confusing. If you decide always to eat meals at the table to encourage interaction with your children, do it every evening. Don’t slide into eating in front of the TV every other night. If your child is not allowed to watch TV until they have done some of their homework, don’t give in.

A Daily Routine

Set up a good daily routine – always important for school days – but ADHD children also need order in their lives at weekends and holidays. Regular meals are very important anchors in the day, as is bed time and getting up time. More supervision is required for a child with ADHD even as they get older. Make sure you encourage your child to play with other children and reward good play but avoid situations in which a child with ADHD gets restless, angry and disruptive.

When you ask your child to do things, keep the instructions short – don’t give them a list of 10 things, just one. Make sure you take time to talk to them about what you want them to do. Its difficult not to nag and not to shout at times, but recognise that these are causing far more harm in the long term.

Get Good Support

Find out how you can best help your child by reading as much as you can and see if you can find a local ADHD support group. You can share your experiences with other parents, you can discover new approaches and ways to manage your life and you will feel better knowing you are not alone.

Ask for help from family and friends too – don’t think you are only doing a good job when you battle on alone, getting more tired and worried. You need time out too and time to relax. Get a grandparent or an aunty or uncle to play with your child or take them on a short trip so that you can have some quality time to relax or to go out to see a film or for a meal with your partner.

Talk to Your Child’s School

Staff at schools are usually quite aware of ADHD and they will have several children in their care with an ADHD diagnosis. Set up a regular communication forum with your child’s form teacher and go into school regularly to find out what happens in the classroom and in the social situations at playtime and during lunch breaks. If your child is having problems, finding out sooner rather than later is always a good idea.

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