Children with ADHD can be challenging, there is no doubt about that. Their attention span is shorter than with most kids, their activity levels are higher and they may be prone to more tantrums and meltdowns. Parenting a child with ADHD won’t be easy, but with the right tips it can be done.
Structure is Everything
Life can seem confusing for the child with ADHD, and that can lead to frustration for everyone. Establish clear routines early on and provide plenty of structure. The more your child can establish set routines, the more successful she will be. Regular routines should be part of your child’s life for waking, moving throughout the day and preparing for bed. Changes should be done in stages, because these children usually have difficulty handling changes in their lives.
Consequences and Reinforcements
This also applies to consequences and reinforcements. Negative consequences should be given for failure to complete a task, and praise should be freely given anytime the child does something right. While you must address negative behaviors, you should also build their self-esteem by noticing when they do something right and complimenting them. If you have trouble remembering the praise part, put a handful of paperclips in one pocket. When you notice your child doing something positive and you remember to praise her, move one paperclip to the opposite pocket. Over the course of the day, the paperclips should all transfer from one pocket to the other.
Calming, Relaxing Environment
Clutter can be upsetting to everyone in the house, especially children with this disorder. You can improve their chances of finding success by removing as much clutter as possible from the home, especially in your child’s bedroom. Provide your child with a calm quiet place to study and do homework. Most importantly, try to speak to your child in calming and relaxing tones. Moods are contagious, but you don’t have to let your child’s mood transfer to you. Work on staying calm yourself and transferring that relaxation to your child.
Enlist the Teacher’s Help
Teachers can be your best friend during this time, or they can really hinder how your child develops and grows. It is important to communicate with your child’s teacher early and often. Meet with the teachers and school officials before the year starts to talk about your child’s needs, discipline methods that work at home and any other concerns you may have. Simply knowing what is going on with a child can make a huge difference in how a teacher responds to problems at school.
If there are behavior problems at school, meet with the teacher and school psychologist to create a behavior plan. Reinforce the plan at home with rewards and consequences. You will also need to help your child with homework. Provide breaks if necessary to keep frustration levels in check, and remember to stay patient with them throughout the process.
Children with ADHD know that they are different from other kids. They don’t know why they are different, but they still know it. Low self-esteem is a common problem for these children, but it doesn’t have to be. Using these tips at home and enlisting the teacher’s help at school can help you create a positive and nurturing environment for your child that will help him succeed and feel good about himself.