Are you the parent of a child, particularly a smaller child, who has recently been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD? Do you worry that some of the symptoms associated with this disorder—hyperactivity, acting impulsively, etc.—could jeopardize your child’s safety at home? ADHD can present multiple challenges for parents, among them the daily challenge of keeping their children safe from everyday harms. To help you begin to child-proof your home, in this article we will explain why ADHD can pose such a safety challenge for children, followed by several tips on how parents can secure and organize their homes to ensure the utmost safety and security.
Why Does ADHD in Children Pose a Safety Challenge?
According to studies, the parents of ADHD children report injuries at more than twice the rate of parents with non-affected children in the same age group. There are many possible reasons for this discrepancy, and all of them are related to the manner in which ADHD symptoms tend to affect children.
ADHD is characterized by three main symptoms: hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. The hyperactivity symptom may cause children to run and climb on objects when it is inappropriate to do so, often resulting in falls and other accidents around the home. Inattention in ADHD children makes it difficult for them to concentrate and pay attention to their surroundings and the established house rules, and the impulsivity symptom causes children to act before they think through the potential consequences of that action, ultimately resulting in a much higher rate of in-home accidents and injuries. Collectively, these factors can be overwhelming for parents, but fortunately, by initiating just a few small changes in the home environment, many of these accidents and injuries can be reduced or avoided altogether.
How to Provide a Safe Home Environment for the ADHD Child
- Elect for Sturdy Furniture. Furniture that is lightweight and/or improperly secured can be a recipe for disaster with an ADHD child in the home. Parents should instead choose heavy, sturdy furniture that is not easily moved to reduce the possibility of unwanted accidents and injury.
- Secure the Bathroom and the Kitchen. The bathroom and the kitchen can often be the two most dangerous areas of a home. Parents need to make sure they lock up all medications, including over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and Tylenol. They should also adjust the water temperature to below 120 degrees to avoid scalding-type injuries, and securely lock up all detergents, cleaners and bleach to avoid accidental poisoning and burns.
- Secure the Bedroom. Parents of ADHD children need to make sure their child’s bedroom is secure and free from any potential risk. Beds, for example, should be moved away from all windows, and heavier items, such as bookcases and desks, need to be properly secured.
- Institute a Routine. A structured routine is perhaps a parent’s best weapon against accidents and injury in the home. Too much unstructured free time can ultimately lead to chaos, rough play and damage. However, when each hour of the day is well-structured—when parents consistently know exactly what their children are doing—much of this chaos can be mitigated and the resultant accidents avoided.
Providing the right home environment for the ADHD child is absolutely essential for preventing falls and other accidents that could lead to injury. This can largely be accomplished by using common sense and removing any hazards that pose a danger. By making just a few small changes, such as the strategies listed above, parents can help to reduce the total overall risk to ADHD children in their home, and reduce the number of accidents and injuries their children might otherwise face.