succeed in school and at home

There are many challenges of parenting a child with ADHD. This is Part 2 of Strategies and Tips to Help children with ADHD. If you missed Part 1,  read here. I hope you find these tips helpful in your parenting journey:

parenting tips for children with adhd

 

(1) Be open and honest with your child about their struggles so there is no shame associated with it. Children with ADHD needs compassion, empathy and support.

Having open lines of communication is crucial. Brielle is aware of her challenges, which include focusing and impulsivity, 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

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, children 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. I then give her ten-minute and five-minute reminders.

Limit Screen Time

(3) Discuss strategies in advance to use when your child has difficulty regulating emotions

I created a “calming corner” for my daughter that is comprised of a bean bag chair, a weighted blanker, 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 our children with ADHD 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.

(5) Advocate for your child with ADHD, and make sure your child has a 504 plan or an IEP (Individualized Education Program).

As I discussed in 6 strategies and tips for parenting a special needs child , it is important that you are on the same page as your child’s teacher and school.  Strategies need to be 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. 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) 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.

(9) Take time for yourself!

We love our children so much that we often take our own well-being for granted. 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.

(10) 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. Set a good example that flaws are part of life, but we can learn and grow from them.

love and accept your child for who they are

challenges of parenting a child with adhd 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.

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. Parenting a child with ADHD is challenging. 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.

parenting tips and strategies and tips to help

parenting a child with adhd

This article is part 1 of a 2-part article devoted to parenting and providing tips to help children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

I have not been shy about how hard it is to be a parent. My daughter wasn’t officially diagnosed with ADHD until she was 6. However, we suspected she had ADHD long before she was diagnosed. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, and more importantly, as a mother, I came up with some strategies to help my daughter:

tips to help children with adhd

Strategies to Help Children with ADHD

(1) Structure and routines are crucial

Most kids like routine, but stability is extra important for children with ADHD. If you subscribed to my blog, you have the daily routine I use with my daughter for homeschooling/remote learning. Involve your child in the implementation of their routine (within reason) so your child has some input. For example, I give my daughter options of what she gets to do when she takes a break.

(2) Establish clear boundaries and expectations in advance

Make sure these boundaries are reasonable. It is crucial to understand your child’s capabilities and set expectations accordingly to promote success. That means expecting your child to calmly walk throughout the grocery store while you to do a full grocery shopping is unreasonable. A more reasonable expectation (that is more likely to be successful) is making a list of a few essential items and playing a game to see who will spot the items first.

(3) Transitions are especially challenging for children with ADHD

Make sure to discuss transitions in advance, so your child is prepared for it. Give reminders of upcoming transitions as well. I try to give a ten minute and then five minute warning before transitions (like leaving the park, stop playing with a friend, leaving the house).

Pick Your Battles

(4) Give your child opportunities to make choices

Kids like to feel some sense of control. Power struggles are common, but if you give your child some options, you give them a sense of power while still having control of the situation. Try to provide options rather than ask an open-ended question. I provide my daughter with choices throughout the day such as offering carrots or strawberries for a snack, whether she wants to wear sneakers or sandals when we leave the house, picking two books out of five that she wants me to read to her, what stuffed animal she wants to sleep with, etc.

(5) Pick your battles

Children with ADHD struggle with impulse control and emotional regulation, so understand your child and be mindful of their struggles. Praise them for their accomplishments, and unless they are putting themselves or someone else in danger, try to ignore the small stuff. This promotes a calmer environment for you and your child. It’s a win-win!

(6) Choose quality over quantity

It is better to give your child ten minutes of interaction without distraction (checking your phone, answering an email, thinking about something else) than twenty minutes with numerous interruptions. I spend ten minutes a day with Brielle everyday doing “fun time”. During these ten minutes, she gets to pick any activity she wants to play with me (within reason, of course), and there are no phones, computers, or any other distractions. Kids need attention and they want to feel like they have some control.

This is especially true for children with ADHD because there is so much that isn’t within their control. This daily activity honors both of those components. My daughter knows this is something we do together each day, and it can never be taken away as a punishment.

(7) Be mindful of what you are feeding your child

I don’t give Brielle anything with Red-40, and I try to limit her sugar intake as much as possible. That’s not to say your child should never get a special treat. However, don’t give something with a ton of sugar and then be surprised when your child is bouncing off the walls. FYI- Brielle literally tried to bounce off the wall one time when she had a huge piece of cake- lesson learned!

(8) If possible, provide visual and auditory prompts when asking your child to do something

For example, when I am homeschooling my daughter I start off by pointing to my eyes and asking her to put on her “focusing eyes”, pointing to my ears and ask her to put on her “listening ears”, and pointing to my head and asking her to put on her “thinking cap”. I also read aloud instructions to her and underline or highlight key words. I then ask her to explain the instructions in her own words. We also have a saying that accompanies gestures, which is “Stop, Think, then Act”. Reminders are crucial with a child that has ADHD.

(9) Sleep

It’s important for every child to get adequate sleep, but especially a child with ADHD. I can tell when she didn’t get enough sleep the day before, as she’s even more hyper on those days. Establish a routine that provides ample time for sleep and naps, and stick to it as much as possible.

(10) Children with ADHD need breaks

Included in my homeschool/ remote learning routine are intervals and suggestions for breaks throughout the day. My daughter gets numerous breaks so she has the opportunity to “get her wiggles out”. If your child is at school, discuss with the teacher opportunities for brain breaks.  For example, letting your child get up and stretch or a being a helper that gives out something. When your kid gets home from school let your child play outside. Your child can just run or play active games such as Simon Says, tag, hopscotch or Red Light, Green Light. Make sure your child knows that asking for breaks is okay when doing homework. Set a timer for a specific amount of time for your child to recharge.

Reminder about parenting

I hope that these strategies and tips to help children with ADHD are helpful! Remember that parenting is challenging, and it is no easy task to parent a child with special needs. It will take time and patience to implement these strategies.  Just as it is important to be your child’s biggest advocate and supporter, don’t forget to do the same for yourself!