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
Set small, attainable goals
Think of changing your child's less positive behaviors like training for a marathon. Just like no one would expect you or anyone else to go from never running at all to completing 26+ miles, it is unfair and unrealistic to expect your child to change 15, 10, or even five behaviors immediately. Don't expect dramatic changes overnight. If your goal is to have your child sit still politely through a restaurant meal or family outing, break the process down into small and attainable goals like not interrupting a conversation for five minutes, remaining seated for 10 minutes, etc. Be sure to offer plenty of praise and rewards when these small goals are met.
Focus on one or two challenging behaviors at a time
Changing all of a child's negative behaviors at once is never possible, and attempting to do so can create unbearable stress for both parent and child, setting both up for failure. Instead, pick one or two challenging behaviors that you'd like to improve and focus on those. Examples might be interrupting, not remaining seated, forgetting to put toys away, or arguing about bedtime. Whichever behaviors you choose to modify, understand the behavior changes must be gradual to be successful over time. Create a system of nonmonetary rewards and fair, swift consequences as described above and stick to it. You might offer the child a larger privilege or reward (for example, going to bed a half hour later one weekend night) when the behavior has been eliminated or significantly reduced (such as a complete week of putting away toys properly). Don't forget to praise the small successes along the way.
Find areas in which the child excels or succeeds
No one enjoys being subjected to constant criticism or complaints about their behavior. As every individual needs to feel good at something, constant criticizing can result in the child unwittingly working more at perfecting negative behaviors they get attention for rather than the positive behaviors if he or she is not praised.
Help your child find an area or interest in which he or she is successful. This can be a sport, musical instrument, academic subject, art form, or other hobby. Even less defined strengths like public speaking, constructive debating skills, or getting along with their peers or adults can promote the child's success and are therefore worthy of praise. Being successful or having a strong interest in a hobby can greatly improve your child's self-esteem and well-being. Many parents have found that martial arts classes that combine physical movement with mental discipline training are helpful for their kids with ADHD. However, there is no single "best" activity for children with ADHD. Let their interests and enthusiasm be your guide.
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