Raising a child with ADHD can be very demanding and stressful, so demanding, in fact, that it can often cause problems in marriages and within the family, disrupting any peace or harmony that was previously present. While the exact cause for ADHD is still unknown, many studies show that, while an ADHD child can be disruptive, impulsive and inattentive, he or she, at least in most cases, is also likely to be gifted, albeit with a different perspective on the world.
Due to a lack of available resources, raising a child with ADHD can often make parents second guess their parenting skills. They blame themselves, which only compounds the problem, when in reality the only thing parents need is just a little old-fashioned advice.
5 Tips for Raising a Child with ADHD
If you are raising a child with ADHD it’s important to know that you are not dealing with an impossible situation. Feelings of despair and hopelessness, while certainly normal, are unnecessary. Try following these 5 helpful hints on raising a child with ADHD and see if they don’t help to reestablish a sense of normalcy in your home and empower both you and your child:
- Patience is a virtue. Above everything, raising a child with ADHD requires an abundance of patience. Because he or she is not a typical child, and because he or she has needs that are greater than other children of the same age, your child will require a greater degree of focus and attention. Keep in mind that during those times when your child is misbehaving, it is usually the disorder that is largely responsible, and you, as the parent, are the only one who completely understands what your child is going through.
- Be your child’s greatest fan. The world can sap the energy and enthusiasm from a child, particularly a child coping with ADHD. Make a consistent effort to encourage your child and make him feel safe and loved, and you will usually get most of that love back.
- Remain current with your child. Raising a child with ADHD will be made much easier if you remain up-to-date with what is going on in his or her life. Stay in touch with your child as much as possible. Wake him up in the morning with a smile and speak to him in a reassuring manner. Ask him about school and what’s going on with his classmates, teachers and friends. This may sound a bit like smothering, trying too hard or going overboard, but studies have shown that making this effort can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and restlessness, and will help to build and maintain a lifelong bond with your child.
- Be firm and consistent with discipline. While raising a child can be greatly facilitated by proximity, support and love, there will be occasions when your child misbehaves or acts out—this is quite normal and you must expect this. When this does happen, you need to be firm in order to reinforce to your child that you find that type of behavior inappropriate. Consistency is equally important. Set up some very basic ground rules, and consequences for breaking those rules, and be consistent with your discipline. Empty threats will only demonstrate to your child that his behavior will “occasionally” be tolerated, which could lead to even more inappropriate incidents in the future.
- Watch the Diet. Research has shown unequivocally that the proper diet, one that includes fresh meat sources, fruits and vegetables and plenty of water, can help optimize brain performance. On the other hand, a diet that is high in sugar, fried foods and foods that have been artificially processed, can significantly worsen ADHD symptoms and can reverse the effects of many medication-based ADHD treatments.
Raising a child with ADHD is certainly demanding, but with lots of love and attention, a healthy diet and a consistent system of discipline and reward, the joys of raising a child with ADHD will far outweigh the disappointment of the occasional outburst.