Caring for children with ADHD can be grueling. And the difficulty factor doubles if you’re enduring depression or anxiety. Reliable information is crucial, so let’s dig right in…
To help your child develop their self-esteem, one of the most important things you can do is to build a positive and loving connection with them. This includes providing emotional support…
So you can imagine how I felt when child and family therapist Michael Vallejo asked if he could submit a guest article. And you know what he wanted to write about? Yep.
This is a comprehensive aka long article, so don’t think you have to absorb it all in one sitting. In fact, why not save or print it for ongoing reference?
The floor is yours, Michael…
Parenting a child with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) comes with its own set of challenges. This disorder can cause behavioral problems, academic struggles, emotional outbursts, stigma, and judgment from others.
Moreover, it requires your time and energy to manage the demands of medication, therapy, school, and family life.
Understanding how ADHD can impact your child and developing effective strategies can help you and your child better cope with daily challenges brought by the condition.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means that it is a condition that affects the growth and development of the brain.
The hallmarks of ADHD include having difficulties with paying attention, being overly active or restless, and having a tendency to make hasty decisions.
ADHD is commonly diagnosed in childhood, although it can persist into adulthood. According to the CDC, there are 6 million children aged 3 – 17 years old who have been diagnosed with ADHD in the US. This is based on a national survey and data from 2016 to 2019.
The highest percentage is seen in 12-17-year-olds, where around 13% (approximately 3.3 million children) have received an ADHD diagnosis. 10% are aged 6-11 years, while 2% of the total are 3-5 years old.
Boys have a higher chance of being diagnosed with the disorder compared to girls. Additionally, a ratio of 3 in 4 children with ADHD receive treatment.
Definition and symptoms of ADHD
ADHD is characterized by inattention (difficulty focusing on a task), hyperactivity (moving constantly or restlessness), and impulsivity (acting without thinking).
For example, a child with ADHD might easily get distracted and seem absent-minded. They might also show hyperactive behavior by having difficulty staying still or being quiet. Kids who are impulsive might also have little to no sense for danger and they’re likely to take more risks.
Children can exhibit all symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. They may also only show either symptoms of inattention, or only of hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Types of ADHD
There are three types of ADHD in children, which would depend on the symptoms they present:..
- Inattentive type, also formerly known as attention deficit disorder (ADD). Children with this type of ADHD have difficulty paying attention or focusing on a task. They typically have short attention spans and have difficulty listening to instructions. Additionally, kids who have an inattentive type of ADHD might struggle with organization.
- Hyperactive and impulsive type, which is mainly characterized by excessive movement (hyperactivity) and deciding or acting without thinking of the outcome (impulsiveness). You might notice that they are always fidgeting, have difficulty sitting still, talk too much, or interrupt other people’s conversations or activities.
- Combined type, which is diagnosed when symptoms fit both types of ADHD. It is also the most common type of ADHD.
Impact of ADHD on daily life
ADHD can make it harder for children to focus their attention on a task or listen to instructions attentively, which can affect their performance in school. They might also need frequent reminders to perform their responsibilities at home.
Other than that, being hyperactive and impulsive can cause plenty of mistakes because they tend to rush through things and do things without thinking of the consequences. All these behaviors can make it seem that a child with ADHD is defiant, non-compliant, or actively misbehaving.
Effective support strategies for children with ADHD
Parents play an important role in helping children with ADHD manage their symptoms effectively. Here are support strategies you can incorporate in your child’s life:
Building a support network
Consult with healthcare professionals for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for your child. Treatment for ADHD will include medication and therapy that can help them develop skills to help manage their behaviors. Ask your child’s therapist how you can respond to your child’s ADHD behaviors to help manage them better.
You can also find support groups for parents who have children with ADHD. In these groups, you can receive valuable advice from other parents. Don’t forget to connect with your child’s teacher to get updates on how your child is doing at school.
Establishing structure and routine
You can help your child build organization skills by establishing a daily routine. This can help them know what to expect. By having a structure in their life, they are more likely to finish tasks.
List down the things that need to be done every day, such as homework, getting ready for bed, preparing for school, and others. Then try to set a time for these tasks and stick to them. You can use visual aids, such as a calendar with pictures, to help them visualize their daily routine.
Communicating and collaborating with teachers
The symptoms of ADHD can lead to challenges in a child’s learning experience at school. Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity can make it difficult for them to focus or complete their schoolwork. They might also struggle sitting still during lessons and cause interruptions in class.
That’s why it’s important to let your child’s teachers know that your child has ADHD. They can help you track your child’s behavior and progress at school so you can find out if your treatment plan is working.
Teachers can also help provide what your child needs at school, such as reducing distractions during class, enforcing classroom routines, and guiding them when they’re rushing through their tasks.
Tailoring learning strategies
Children with ADHD are easily distracted, so limiting distractions and providing a clutter-free space for studying is helpful. Make sure to reduce noise and turn off electronic devices in the homework area.
When it comes to homework, guide them and check if they understand the instructions because children with ADHD tend to miss important details. It would also be beneficial to break up homework and tasks into smaller chunks so they complete one part at a time.
It is also important to give your child scheduled breaks, so they can get up and move. You can set timers to help them manage their time.
Encouraging physical activity and mindfulness
Encouraging physical activity for children with ADHD comes with several benefits. Aside from helping them build healthy habits that can help them stay fit, exercise can also help them cope with other emotional and behavioral issues.
A 2019 study found that physical exercise can help improve depression, anxiety, aggressive behaviors, and thought and social issues for kids with ADHD.
There are plenty of ways for kids to exercise. You can find something that will match their preferences and interests. It could be team sports, or solo activities like swimming or biking.
Mindfulness is the act of focusing the mind on the present moment every time you get distracted, which is a problem for children with ADHD. It can be practiced through meditation or during daily activities, whether it’s showering, preparing for school, or making the bed. This can be done by focusing the attention on the breath and feeling each inhalation and exhalation whenever your mind starts to wander.
There are plenty of ways for children with ADHD to practice mindfulness. You can teach them deep breathing techniques to calm their minds and bodies. Encourage them to take slow breaths through their nose, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through their mouths.
Another example is to practice mindful eating, by teaching them to pay full attention to the taste, smell, and texture of their food. Ask them to describe their observations to you as they eat.
Implementing positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a strategy that involves providing praise or rewards after a desired behavior occurs. It is often used in the workplace, education, and parenting settings to reinforce positive behavior.
It would be helpful for your child to follow established rules and expectations when it comes to behavior. Explain the rewards for positive behavior and consequences for misbehavior and stick to them. Words of praise, extra privileges, or fun activities are great rewards to reinforce positive behavior.
Try to focus on positive reinforcement to motivate your child to behave positively. Negative consequences should be used carefully because they can cause discouragement and feelings of disappointment and anxiety.
Coping strategies for children with ADHD
There are several strategies your child can use to manage their ADHD symptoms:
Teaching self-regulation techniques
Kids with ADHD have trouble managing their emotions and behavior. Their emotions are often stronger and also last longer, too. That’s why it might take them more time or effort to learn how to self-regulate.
Self-regulation is the act of gaining control over one’s behavior or emotions. For example, a person who can self-regulate can perform their responsibilities even if they are feeling lazy or calm themself when they’re frustrated.
Teach your kids emotional regulation skills to help them feel better when they feel distressed. For instance, they can perform deep breathing, draw their emotions on paper, exercise, or talk to you.
Aggression in children with ADHD is another challenge for parents. They might display this by throwing tantrums or refusing to listen. You can help them deal with aggression by modeling self-control in stressful situations. Encourage them to communicate their emotions and teach them how to compromise.
Assisting with organizational skills
Organizational skills are important for children with ADHD, because they can help them manage their household tasks, homework, and other responsibilities more effectively. The most important thing is to model good organizational skills because kids learn by example.
Having a designated area for activities, such as studying, can also help. For instance, they need a study area that is free from distractions. Keep the site well-equipped with school supplies and instruct them to put things back where they belong. You can assign objects to specific drawers or bins with labels.
Color coding is useful when helping your child organize schoolwork by subject or category. You can also use checklists for daily tasks, homework, and chores to help them keep track of their responsibilities. Checking off completed tasks can also provide them with a sense of accomplishment.
Encourage them to take on one task at a time to help them focus. This can help them complete a task before moving on to the next. Lastly, always offer praise or rewards for staying organized.
Building resilience and self-esteem
ADHD can negatively impact your child’s self-esteem because of the stigma around mental health conditions.
Additionally, ADHD can make it difficult for your child to focus, so other people might easily get frustrated with them and criticize them. They also have trouble learning at school and socializing with peers, which can lead to bad grades and rejection. All of these can easily affect their self-esteem negatively.
To help your child develop their self-esteem, one of the most important things you can do is to build a positive and loving connection with them. This includes providing emotional support, being a positive role model, having open communication, and providing encouragement for them to reach their goals.
Moreover, it is also helpful to teach them skills to help them take on challenges in life. These include positive self-talk, problem-solving skills, social skills, stress management, and decision-making.
Transform your parenting with these strategies
Parenting a child with ADHD can be challenging, but always remember that you are doing your best to support them and make a positive impact in their life. It might be difficult, but it is also incredibly rewarding.
Embrace your child’s unique qualities and celebrate their strengths. Always lean on your support system and be patient with yourself and your child.
Don’t forget to practice self-care, so you can recharge and have the energy to better support your child. Lastly, don’t forget to keep educating yourself about ADHD and parenting strategies.
Learn and love
Dang, that was good – thank you, Michael. From both a clinical and personal perspective, you nailed.it. I’m really glad to have the piece on board.
Given what my grandson and his household are experiencing – and my mood and anxiety history – the subject matter is close to my heart.
Are you caring for a child with ADHD? Learn and love.
Michael didn’t ask me to share this; however, if you’re looking for high-quality digital mental health worksheets and handouts, he and his wife, Vanessa, can help you out. Head over to Mental Health Center Kids.
More info about Michael? Visit his website.
Finally, want to read more Chipur mood and anxiety info and inspiration articles? Hit those titles.