7 strategies for creating order and consistency for you and your ADHD child
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) complicates a child's ability to function at home and at school. A child with ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity may feel compelled to move around and explore at inappropriate times. Short of pulling your hair out, what can a parent do? Carole Jacobs and Isadore Wendel, authors of The Everything Parent's Guide to ADHD In Children, offer these seven strategies for quieting chaos in the home:
1. Lose the Supermom (or Superdad) cape: You can't make life perfect for your child, but you can make it easier. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your son or daughter.
2. Be consistent: Say what you mean to avoid confusion and frustration for your child. Say "no" when you mean no; and don't turn it into a "maybe."
3. Keep a calendar: A child with ADHD may have difficulty focusing or processing information, so encourage your youngster to write down important dates, such as when a school project is due. Parents should also record dates, such as meetings with the teacher for a child's benefit.
4. Create and stick to simple daily routines: Kids with ADHD are comforted by daily routines. To minimize frustration at homework time, use a checklist for each assignment. When a task is complete, your child can place a check mark next to it. Use the same strategy for household chores. If you need to alter the routine, tell your child about it before the change occurs.
5. Set the timer: Using a timer (or a mobile phone with an alarm) can help a hyper-focused child move from one task to the next.
6. Create a family station: Designate areas for items your child uses every day. Keep cubbies for a child's backpack and shoes, a key rack for keys and a shelf for eyeglasses and sunglasses (Jacobs & Wendel, 2010).
7. Celebrate success: When your child does something well, praise him. Positive reinforcement helps your child feel valued and supported.
Take Care Of Yourself, Too
Parents need to take care of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally to successfully handle stressors. According to Grad Flick, author of Power Parenting for Children with ADD/ADHD, the knowledge that you are not totally responsible for your child's behaviors is a giant step forward.
As you teach your child how to cope, teach yourself too:
- Focus on one problem at a time
- Take breaks
- Practice stress management/relaxation techniques
- Speak daily affirmations
By using these strategies at home every day, you and your ADHD child can experience less stress and more calm.
Written by: Laura Middleton, M.S.W.
Sources: Flick, G. L. (1996). Power parenting for children with ADD/ADHD: A practical parent's guide for managing difficult behaviors. New York: The Center For Applied Research In Education.
Jacobs, C. & Isadore, W. (2010). The everything parent’s guide to ADHD in children: A reassuring guide to getting the right diagnosis, understanding treatments, and helping your child focus. Massachusetts: Adams Media.