Although, there is no ‘perfect’ set of guidelines for parents to follow, here are some pointers to help your child with ADHD not merely survive their upbringing, but thrive.
- Accurate Diagnosis. It’s crucial to have your child accurately diagnosed by a licensed psychologist using standardized cognitive testing. Other issues such as poor sleep, situational stress and depression present with symptoms similar to ADHD but need very different paths of treatment.
- Individualized Integrated Treatment Plan. Your child needs a treatment plan that designed to treat all their specific treatment needs, including sleep and diet, and where the clinicians work closely with you so that you know how to support, prompt and motivate your child on a day to day basis to cope with their challenges.
- Medication, Skills Training and Therapy. Medication is an effective treatment but it does not improve your child’s organization, planning, or social skills or teach your child how to cope with common co-existing disorders such as anxiety, frustration or depression. A combination of medication, skills training and therapy will yield the highest level of success.
- Encourage your child to independently manage their ADHD. Help them understand what ADHD is, why they take medication, encourage them to use the skills they learn to cope more successfully with their academic, emotional and social challenges. One day they are going to college and you cannot go with them!
- Alternatives to medication. Don’t avoid treatment because you don’t want your child to use medication. Behavior modification, biofeedback, dietary adjustments, improvement of sleep, parent/teacher strategy coaching and supplementation can be successfully used as alternative treatments.
- Create healthy structure. Provide your child with a structured routine to help them function more effectively. ADHD children often struggle with prioritization, organization, and attention, but with a clear routine and expectations your child can build healthy habits.
- Create reasonable consequences and rewards. Positive reinforcement is the most effective method of behavior modification. Coupled with fair consequences, it will help your ADHD child to develop short and long-term thinking patterns.
- Patience & Consistency. Your child won’t be a success over night. Be patient with them. When they make a mistake, be patient and help them re-center. If they know that you are consistent and fair they will figure it out and make progress.
Parenting is one of the most difficult tasks, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. When a child struggles with ADHD and learns how to work through their limitations, they can conquer anything. Parents, hang in there, and celebrate life with your children.
Authors: Brodie Simmons, M.S., LPC, Melissa Mignogna, PhD, Pediatric Psychologist and Christie Jones, MEd, LPC-I are members of The Woodlands Behavioral Health and Wellness Treatment Team.