When people think about treatment for kids with ADHD, they tend to think about stimulant medications as the only viable option. That’s not the case. There are a variety of evidence-based behavioral interventions that have shown positive outcomes in helping kids with ADHD succeed in school and other environments. These strategies can also have a positive impact on family life because parents often provide essential support for their child with ADHD. It is important that parents be a part of their child’s treatment for ADHD. It is impossible to regulate a child without regulating the parents. Having a child with attention ADHD can put stress on the parent-child relationship. Parents may feel frustrated and unsure how to help their child with homework or other tasks that require sustained attention and self-control. Parents often feel powerless and like they are failing as they struggle to redirect their child’s attention. Fortunately, there are ways that parents can make things much easier on themselves while providing more support to their child. The following are some effective strategies for supporting your child with ADHD without sacrificing your own sanity:
If you have a child with ADHD, one of the best things you can do is create a predictable routine around their schedule. This can involve creating a daily schedule for homework, meals, and other tasks as well as finding ways to incorporate rituals into daily life. For example, eating at the same time each day can help a child with ADHD manage their blood sugar levels and ward off food allergies. Creating a daily schedule can help your child with ADHD stay on track and remember what’s coming next. Time is an abstract concept that requires higher level functioning to cope. Children do not master time management until later in life. You can also use a reward system to reinforce good behavior and provide incentives for reaching goals in the time you deem acceptable. This can be particularly helpful if your child is being treated with medication and needs additional encouragement to respond in a timely manner.
Kids with ADHD have a hard time anticipating what’s coming up next. They also tend to be reactive rather than proactive, often responding to situations and people in the moment instead of thinking ahead. They can be impulsive as they struggle with deferring gratification. By anticipating changes in their schedule, you minimize the anxiety your child experiences when they must respond without fair notice. Responding to instruction requires a higher level of information processing that takes more time for children than adults. This includes giving advance notice about the end of a school day or the transition from one activity to another or about plans to travel.
Kids with ADHD often struggle to regulate their own behavior that are mostly impulsive. They also struggle with focusing on task completion since they are easily distracted. This can make it very difficult for them to follow classroom rules or complete homework assignments or common chores around the house. The best way to create order in any environment is for your child to grow learning established reinforceable rules for appropriate and acceptable behavior. To make these rules most effective, you should follow the ABC approach:
– A – Anticipate what problems might occur.
– B – Brainstorm solutions with your child.
– C – Create rules based on the solutions you and your child come up with.
Kids with ADHD often process information better when it’s in a visual format. This can make a big difference in how well they retain information, how well they perform at school, and how they deal with stress. Visual aids can take many forms. You can use pictures, charts, graphs, and colour coding to help your child stay organized and keep track of assignments. You can also look for tools that can be helpful in this regard, like calendars with large boxes to represent each day. You can also create cues and reminders for your child to help them remember what they need to do. This can be as simple as writing something down so your child sees it or setting a timer to go off.
Behavioral interventions for kids with ADHD are often based on the application of behavioral therapy for adults with ADHD. Most of these strategies are designed to help your child develop self-regulation skills and become more self-aware. Remember, it is difficult to regulate a child without regulating a parent. Other strategies focus on reducing the distractions in your child’s environment and helping their brain function more easily.
Behavioral activation: This is a therapy designed to increase your child’s motivation and engagement. It can help kids with ADHD focus better and improve their work performance.
Cognitive restructuring: This is a type of therapy where you and your child examine and challenge the negative thoughts that may be holding them back. The child is encouraged to think about the possible negative consequences of the actions to the thoughts they are thinking about. Consequential thinking is a skill the children need to learn early if they are to make healthy choices later in life.
Cognitive Training: This is a form of brain training that’s designed to help your child with ADHD improve their attention span. Use of certain games and dialogues can facilitate this process.
Problem Solving: This is a helpful strategy for managing conflicts and avoiding power struggles between you and your child.
Reducing Distractions: There are a variety of environmental factors that can make it more difficult for a child with ADHD to focus. Because their brains are yet developing, children need to learn how to discriminate which among the many environmental stimuli they need to selectively focus on when interacting with others.
If you’re the parent of a child with ADHD, it’s understandable if you sometimes feel frustrated, powerless and as though you are failing as a parent. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that your frustration is likely to have a negative impact on your child. How you demonstrate your responsiveness to your child’s behavior could reinforce and perpetuate their problem behavior. There are some strategies you can use to keep your frustration to a minimum.
Try to be patient and compassionate. One of the best ways to be less frustrated is to be understanding. Remember that your child isn’t doing these things on purpose. Your child is not intentionally misbehaving to test your patience. Maybe they are testing your parenting skills, however, this is the opportunity to become better at parenting. Your child don’t know any better otherwise they would not be engaging in the type of behavior you are witnessing. They need your help.
Make a list of your child’s positive qualities. It’s important to remember that your child isn’t just their ADHD. ADHD is only a label clinicians use to objectively focus on helping you and your child. Your child is more than a label. Your child is your child that is struggling with behaviorally. Give yourself a break. Give your child a break. By focusing on your child’s strengths, you will be highlighting their growth and reinforce their self-esteem making it likely that they will repeat the behavior.
Don’t be ashamed. It can be tempting to feel like you should hide your frustrations or be ashamed of them especially when you are in the public. The truth is your feelings of shame or embarrassment is your impression of what you think the public is saying about you as a parent. However, impressions can be wrong since they originate and end in your head. If you think about it, only you are having this rapid discussion with yourself in your head at that moment. Consider not allowing yourself to feel shame, embarrassed, powerless or like a failure. You and your child are a team. You need to be able to talk about your frustrations. You and your child need to know that you aren’t ashamed of them. Focus your energy on solutions not on the problem. Try to identify what is triggering the behavior. Once you’ve identified what is triggering the behavior the how to resolve it becomes easy.
Your child’s ADHD doesn’t have to stand in the way of their success. A variety of evidence-based behavioral interventions can help your child with ADHD succeed in school and other environments and also improve family life by reducing friction between parents and their children. That’s not to say that living with a child who has ADHD is easy. It can be challenging and tiring for parents, and there will be times when it feels like it’s all too much. Learning how to handle these challenges and take advantage of the strategies that are available can make a world of difference, though. Seeking out help from a qualified therapist that is sensitive to your frustrations, culture and objective is critical helping your child.