In the United States, providers have diagnosed 6.4 million children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Although there are millions of families living with similar struggles, raising a child with ADHD can feel isolating, especially when your child is newly diagnosed.
While it may feel overwhelming at first, raising a happy, healthy child with ADHD is absolutely possible. With a few changes, you can make a big difference in how your child experiences the disorder and manages the symptoms. In addition to getting professional guidance for your child, consider taking the following steps.
Learn About ADHD
While ADHD affects millions of lives, plenty of myths and misunderstandings continue to circulate about the disorder. For example, did you know that there are three types of ADHD and that ADD is not a formal diagnosis anymore? As mental health researchers learn more about this disorder, it’s important for parents to stay up-to-date on best practices as well.
Staying in contact with a reputable behavioral health care provider can help you learn everything you need to know about ADHD without harmful myths. You should feel free to ask your child’s provider any questions you have about ADHD and your child’s treatment plan. When parents and providers work as a team, children benefit.
Stick to a Routine
Structure and routine are vital to people with ADHD and their families. When major sections of their days are predictable, it’s easier for children with ADHD to meet expectations. Consider establishing routines for morning, meal times, homework time, and bedtime.
You do not have to come up with all these schedules at once and plan out every second of the day. Instead, try adding one predictable thing to each part of the day at first. For example, you could take walks together in the mornings, say a prayer or rhyme before each meal, set up a space for homework time, and allow the child to pick a book for bedtime. As these become habit, add other pieces to the routines.
Prioritize Exercise and Healthy Sleep
For children with ADHD, plenty of exercise and rest can make a night-and-day difference in their behavior and mood. Many children with ADHD have more energy than their peers. Getting them involved in sports that require lots of movement can help them regulate easier. Depending on your child’s interests and needs, you may consider getting them involved in:
- Martial arts
Rest is just as important as movement. Even without ADHD, not getting enough sleep can make concentration difficult for anyone. For children with ADHD, inadequate sleep intensifies their symptoms. Establishing a healthy bedtime routine (see above) and giving your child a relatively early bedtime can help.
Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem
When a child is diagnosed with ADHD, it can take a toll on their self-esteem. Furthermore, the constant redirection and discipline can make them feel bad about themselves. Making a conscious effort to increase your child’s confidence can help:
- Spend special time with them each day
- Praise all positive behaviors, no matter how small
- Consistently tell your child how much you love them and that your love is unconditional
- Teach your child how to make friends
- Build on your child’s strengths
These positive reinforcement techniques can strengthen the bond you have with your child and help them feel more confident. As their self-esteem grows, they may feel ready to try new things and learn positive behaviors.
Get Help for Yourself
Parenting is hard, no matter what challenges your child faces. Even with all the tips and tricks in the world, keeping up with a child who has ADHD can be difficult. Be sure to take time for self-care and support.
That support may come from therapy groups, peer groups, or individual therapy. Either way, it can be helpful to open up about your stresses and experiences. You may also wish to be evaluated for ADHD because the disorder can exist in family groups.
If your family is struggling with your child’s ADHD, please contact PsyCare. We can connect your family with mental health care providers who can help. You can also share this article with the buttons above to help another family in need.