This post was originally published on Surviving Mom Blog:
This is Part 2 of Parenting a Child with ADHD. If you missed Part 1, read here: https://survivingmomblog.com/parenting/parenting-strategies-and-tip... . I hope you find these tips helpful in your parenting journey:
1- Be open and honest with your child about their struggles so there is no shame associated with it. Just as a kid with a broken leg wouldn’t be expected to run a marathon, a kid with ADHD needs compassion, empathy and support for what they find challenging. Having open lines of communication is crucial. Brielle is aware of her challenges, which include focusing and impulsivity (https://survivingmomblog.com/parenting/the-birthday-surprise-nobody...), but she understands that who she is as a person is what defines her. While struggles are important to address, it is just as important to emphasize your child’s strengths! Remember to emphasize their skills as well.
2- Limit screen time. Now I understand we all need a break, and there are times that we put our kids on the iPad or TV as a lifeline, so we don’t lose our minds. However, a child with ADHD tends to be so enthralled with the stimulation from the screen that it becomes a huge battle to take it away from them. Children with ADHD become hyper-focused on what fascinates them, and the transition from screen time to no screen time is incredibly hard for them. My daughter acts possessed after I take away the iPad. On the weekends, I allow her to pick between the iPad or TV for thirty minutes each time. I set a timer on her iPad that goes off in thirty minutes, and I give her ten-minute and five-minute reminders.
3- Discuss strategies in advance to use when your child has difficulty regulating emotions https://survivingmomblog.com/parenting/my-experiences-in-parenting-.... I created a "calming corner" for my daughter that is comprised of a bean bag chair, a weighted blanket (https://survivingmomblog.com/parenting/thirteen-sleep-solutions-to-...), squeeze ball and some books. Make a chart of different options/tools your child can use, and place it in various locations throughout the house that are easily accessible. Encourage your child to use the tools when needed.
4- Stay calm. I know how hard that is, believe me! However, if we want out children to learn strategies to emotionally regulate themselves, we have to model how we emotionally regulate ourselves. It is okay to let your child know that you need to use one of your tools, and model the importance of self-care and emotional well-being (https://survivingmomblog.com/parenting/6-parenting-tips-and-strateg....)
5- Advocate for your child, and make sure your child has a 504 plan or an IEP (Individualized Education Program). As I discussed in (https://survivingmomblog.com/parenting/6-strategies-and-tips-for-pa...). it is important that you are on the same page as your child's teacher and school. There needs to be strategies implemented in the school as well as the home to set your child up for success. It is important to communicate with your child's teacher on a regular basis.
6- Educate yourself about ADHD. Join support groups, read literature about it, speak to your child’s pediatrician, psychologist and any other related professional to discuss possible options. Knowledge is power, and you want to know all pertinent information to make an informed decision about what is best for your child. Have an open mind, and be willing to explore different options. If medication is suggested, find out about all possible side effects and be in constant communication with the psychiatrist. There is no shame in your child needing medication, but make sure you are well-informed before choosing any option.
7- ADHD can accompany other issues such as executive functioning delays, processing issues, anxiety, or autism. Make sure your child has a comprehensive evaluation so you are in the best position to help your child. As I mentioned in the last tip, knowledge is power.
8- Take time for yourself! We love our children so much that we often take our own well-being for granted (https://survivingmomblog.com/wellness/how-do-you-learn-to-love-your...). You are in a better position to support your child when you aren’t pouring from an empty cup. In order to properly care for your child, you need to love and care for yourself.
9- Mistakes are inevitable. Parenting is a challenge with any child, and children with ADHD require extra support. There will be times where you will say or do the wrong thing. Own up to your mistakes (https://survivingmomblog.com/wellness/15-life-lessons-every-child-a... ). Set a good example that flaws are part of life, but we can learn and grow from them.
10- There is no one size fits all solution. Be humble enough to seek help and gather information from others, but also trust your own intuition. Nobody knows your child better than you.
As parents, we have a responsibility to support our children, advocate for them, and love them for who they are, not the labels they have. Teach your children to accept themselves and to love all parts of themselves (https://survivingmomblog.com/wellness/how-to-find-happiness-give-yo...). Be your child’s biggest cheerleader and fan. Try to instill in them that although some things are challenging for them, they are capable and wonderful just as they are. As in all aspects of life, some days will be easier, and some days will be incredibly challenging. The journey of parenting is a bumpy road, but I feel blessed to be along for the ride with my daughter.