Tips for Parenting a Child with ADHD (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
In this Article
- What is ADHD?
- What are the symptoms of ADHD?
- What should I do if I am concerned that my child might have ADHD?
- What are some behavioral treatments and parenting strategies for parents of children with ADHD?
- Think positively
- Define schedules and routines
- Set clear rules and expectations
- Give clear instructions
- Discipline, rewards, and consequences
- Use time-out effectively
- Ignore, within reason
- Develop organizational aids
- Eliminate distractions
- Set small, attainable goals
- Focus on one or two challenging behaviors at a time
- Find areas in which the child excels
- Promote a healthy lifestyle
- Show your unconditional love
- Take care of yourself
- ADHD resources
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
What should I do if I am concerned that my child might have ADHD?
Many of the symptoms of ADHD are also symptoms seen during normal childhood and development, and exhibiting one or more of the symptoms does not mean that a child has ADHD. In particular, the symptoms of ADHD are very common in toddlers and preschool children, so it can very hard to differentiate ADHD behaviors from normal developmental behaviors in young children. For this reason, the diagnosis of ADHD is more difficult in preschool children than in early school-aged children.
It is also important to note that for a health care professional to make a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms must have been present for at least six months in more than one setting (for example, home, school and/or in the community), usually beginning younger than 7 years of age, and the symptoms must be inconsistent with the developmental level of the child and severe enough to interfere with the child's social or academic functioning.
If you are concerned about your child's behavior, it is appropriate to communicate this to your child's primary health care professional. He or she can help you determine whether further evaluation may be necessary and whether your child's behavioral symptoms are suggestive of ADHD. If a formal evaluation is indicated, this evaluation will involve professionals from various disciplines to provide a comprehensive medical, developmental, educational, and psychosocial evaluation.
What are some behavioral treatments and parenting strategies for parents of children with ADHD?
While ADHD can certainly present unique and sometimes what can seem to be daunting challenges, being able to sincerely know and have confidence in your child's strengths can go a long way to help him or her be the very best person they can be. Many famous, accomplished, indeed brilliant people of the past and present have ADHD. An outstanding example of learning to have a positive outlook about ADHD is demonstrated in the children's movie called Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. In that movie, Percy tends to see himself as disadvantaged because he has ADHD and a learning disability. However, it is the very tendency those conditions have to cause him to be able to notice many things at once and to read differently that are important assets to him in a variety of adventures.
Another benefit to thinking positively about your child with ADHD is the infectious nature of positive thinking. It is much easier for the child's teacher, coaches, peers and in fact the child him- or herself to accept and harness strengths when the parent communicates and emphasizes those strengths. The challenge for parenting a child with ADHD is to be able to use the child's unique gifts and address his or her challenges to work toward achieving their child's fullest potential.
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