5 Tips for Being a Supportive Parent of a Child with ADHD
Parenting a child with ADHD is a very different type of challenge than parenting other kids.Let's take a look at some ways you can give your child the best support possible and ensure they grow into a happy, healthy individual.
Supporting a Child With ADHD
Parenting is difficult with any child. For parents of a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, this challenge can prove to be even more trying. The lack of control over executive function can make it more difficult for your child to think before they act, control impulses, and stay organized. And so, it takes a great deal of patience, understanding, and, most importantly, love. Keep the following tips in mind to be supportive of your child with ADHD.
1. Establish a Routine
One of the most important things that you can do to support the struggles of your ADHD child is to establish a normal routine. That means using both schedules and language that are consistent, as well as showing unconditional love. As Brandi Paluska, a licensed clinical professional counselor with the Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois, told Live Well Magazine, ''inconsistency can make the world a scary place. A consistent schedule makes their days as predictable as possible. Consistent discipline reinforces what behaviors are appropriate. But, most importantly, consistent love lets the child know you love them, even if you do not love their behavior all the time.''
Paluska reminds us that routine is not just about the everyday actions we take on a daily basis with our ADHD children–love and support are a very important parts of that routine.
If your child is acting out, you can address and correct their behavior in a way that sticks to a routine of love, compassion, and understanding. As frustrating as things can get for you as the parent, these things are also frustrating for a child, especially when there is inconsistency in their daily routine, disciplinary measures, or with the amount of love and affection they are receiving.
2. Get Involved
As a parent of a child with ADHD, it's important to be involved in all areas of your child's life. This includes not just home life, but also their school and social lives.
It's a great idea to talk with your child's teachers and other school officials. While many teachers are well aware of the symptoms of ADHD and how to interact with these kids, every child is different. There may be things that you can share about your child specifically that will help school staff meet your child's individual needs. Don't be afraid to set up a meeting with teachers or disciplinary staff to share the unique aspects of your child's disorder.
To get involved with your child's social life, you might meet their friends and friends' parents. Share with them and be open about your child's struggles. You may be surprised with how open most people are and the ways in which they are willing to help.
It is also important to instill manners and morals into your child on a daily basis. You should not let them get away with certain things at home that you would not want them to do outside the home. After all, the routine, habits, and behaviors that you instill in them will affect their relationships with others. You want your child to have a healthy and happy social life, so you should be making sure that they have the knowledge and tools to interact with others in positive ways.
3. Consider Dietary Changes
Support goes beyond just talking and interacting. You can provide some of the best support to your child by teaching lifestyle habits and emphasizing the link between diet and the symptoms of ADHD in adolescents. Dietary interventions are being studied in regards to this disorder now more than ever, and the results are showing the scientific community the importance of diet in these children.
According to a 2015 meta-analysis published in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, elimination diets and fish oil supplementation provide the most promising effects in the alleviation of ADHD symptoms, including inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. But what are elimination diets? They're dietary interventions in which specific foods are restricted from the patient's diet. This starts with keeping some basic foods in the child's diet that are not likely to cause undesired symptoms. Over time, you slowly add foods and monitor your child's behavior to see if certain foods affect ADHD symptoms. Talk with your child's primary care provider to find out how you can begin to implement a healthy dietary intervention.
Providing dietary changes can do more than just correct behavior. Your child may also be better acclimated to life at home, at school, and in social situations. This can help them build more healthy and positive relationships with their peers, teachers, family, and others. Keep in mind that there is thus far limited research on elimination diets. While elimination diets have shown success for some, they are not successful for all children with ADHD, and more research is needed.
4. Encourage Exercise
Exercise not only helps to keep your child healthy, but it will also help them to burn off a lot of the excess energy that many ADHD children carry around. Exercise can also create great bonding time between parent and child. You can run together, play basketball, throw a baseball or football, swim, or engage in really any physical activity. A 2016 study from the department of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois suggested that ADHD children who engaged in after-school exercise displayed an improvement in areas of hyperactivity, disruptive behavior, and cognitive function.
5. Support Yourself
Before you can provide the best support to your child, you must first make sure that you as the parent have a reliable support system. If you are overly stressed, you will not be able to provide the level of care that your ADHD child requires. This support for yourself can be in the form of time off or time alone, family and friends, or even local support groups for parents of children with special needs.
We also live in a day and age where you can find support groups online through social networking sites like Facebook or online ADHD forums. You can also utilize the plethora of information provided on the internet for parents of ADHD children. Just ensure that you are finding reliable and valid sources for tips with parenting. It is not recommended to take the advice of every parent you come across in an ADHD forum. These forums are much better for talking, sharing, and confiding, rather than getting advice on parenting dos and don'ts.
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