As a parent, it’s very hard to manage your child’s ADHD symptoms. It goes without saying that you just want to help them feel better, function at their best level, and socialize safely. Yet, even in the most ideal situations, children with ADHD need to adjust their coping mechanisms (as do parents) to manage day-to-day symptoms. These tips can offer some help.
It seems simple to adults to know what’s right or wrong, but it’s not that easy for children with ADHD. In advance of any punishment, sit down with your child to discuss what types of behaviors are unacceptable. It’s also important to explain the consequences for those wrong behaviors. Parents need to determine which types of behaviors they will not tolerate, and then follow through with sticking to the appropriate consequences decided upon.
To minimize frustration and tension, keep rules as simple and as straightforward as possible. You want your child to be able to see a direct cause and effect relationship. For example, hitting someone means no television for a day. Keeping things simple helps your child avoid acting out because something is confusing. They learn what options he or she has.
Many children with ADHD benefit from a time-out approach. Removing the child from his or her surroundings and allowing the child to calm down in a time-out may be best in situations of severe aggression or emotional distress. This time-out period gives the child time for emotions to settle while also allowing time to process what’s happening and why.
There may be times when you’ve done everything you can to keep your child calm. Yet, that “calmness” may work in the worst way. Often, children with ADHD have a lot of energy, and, if they do not have the ability to act on it and release that energy, it builds. That’s why it may be beneficial to ignore mildly disruptive behaviors, that may not be directly against the rules, if they allow the child to burn off energy. Running through a park, for example, may mean breaking away from a parent. Yet, if you can still see the child and monitor his or her safety from afar, that release of energy is going to be more beneficial for the child in the long run.
Make tasks as easy to manage as possible. A routine in the morning, for example, helps everyone get out the door more effectively. Use calendars with your child – even those who are as young as 3 or 4 – so they can learn when they should do things. Keep everyday tasks as scheduled as possible. This type of structured environment makes things easier to manage for a child with ADHD. They know what to expect.
When things don’t go as planned, it’s important to address why this happened and what your goals are for getting back on track. Distractions tend to be a big concern for many children with ADHD. That’s important to minimize. Impulsive behavior is a key concern. This is a good time to let out that pent-up energy, such as allowing a child to spend some time outdoors. Reward them for good behavior when the circumstances are complicated.
While coping skills are important, children also need a comprehensive plan to manage their ADHD. Many don’t require medication, while others live significantly improved lives with it. Work with your pediatrician to create a plan that gives your child the support he or she needs in either case.
Getting the proper diagnosis and treatment plan is always important, and we can help!
At Penguin Pediatrics, PLLC, we work closely with our patients and their families to create effective treatment plans for ADHD as well as other needs. There’s no simple solution that works for everyone, but with a range of options to choose from, we can help. Contact us today to request an appointment at one of our offices.