More than 1 in 10 children struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder & Hyperactivity, abbreviated to ADHD (ADD for kids without hyperactivity). Kids as young as 4 can receive a diagnosis, and often, symptoms of ADHD may carry on into adult life. While some kids may have symptoms that go unnoticed, there are many who are labeled as ‘naughty’ and ‘mischievous’ due to their need to constantly move around and find stimulation, and may struggle to read or do well in school as a result. It may seem daunting to be given a diagnosis at a young age, but ADHD can be easily manageable with a positive attitude and a holistic understanding of the condition.
Below are four essential tips for parents of kids struggling with ADHD. All the information in this blog is taken from the US Healthline and trusted medical sources, but ultimately, each child will have their own requirements when receiving support on this condition. Don’t be afraid to consult your local doctor or pediatrician for a personalized approach when taking care of your kid’s needs.
1. Channel Focus
Channeling focus is the ultimate hurdle for all kids with ADHD. On the one hand, kids can get easily distracted if the task isn’t challenging or engaging enough. On the other hand, if a child is passionate about a certain task, they can hyperfocus to the point of being completely unaware of their surroundings. While this may sound like a useful skill on the surface – it probably isn’t when they end up hyperfocusing on the TV for 7 hours while you’re away!
Finding the perfect balance between engagement and distraction can be moderated in several ways. Firstly, you should reduce distractions such as TV or radio noises to a minimum when working. Secondly, interchanging important but menial tasks with hobbies or pastimes that they love and enjoy can also ensure they don’t burnout too quickly. You can also break tasks down into smaller components so that they are more approachable – for example, when asking your kid to clean their room, you can break it down into 1) making the bed, 2) putting away dirty laundry, 3) folding clean clothes, and so forth.
2. Provide Structure
Other than breaking tasks down, you can also help provide a structured schedule for your kids. They may struggle to stay on schedule, and will need your help prioritizing. Do also remember to take breaks between tasks if your child has a lot of homework to complete that day. As kids with ADHD also often struggle with impulse control, you can help keep this in check by encouraging them to think out loud and pause before acting on impulses. Not only does this give you insight into their thought process, it also helps your child put their thoughts into place, instead of allowing jumbled ideas clutter headspace.
Another way you can incorporate structure into their daily routine is by encouraging a healthier lifestyle. While this may seem obvious, a healthy lifestyle can work wonders for a kid with ADHD. The fact of the matter is, only 1 in 4 American children meet the guidelines for exercise. Not only does exercise help improve concentration span, it also releases chemicals (endorphins) that help improve mood and reduce anxiety. Check out our other blog on fun exercises to do at home if you’re stuck at home during this pandemic! Other than exercise, making sure that your kid also gets good quality sleep will similarly help regulate energy levels and reduce stress, so that they don’t burnout the next day.
3. Be Mindful of Language
The attitude with which you approach your child can have vital implications on their ability to deal with ADHD. Do remember to explain the importance of tasks rather than make commands. It will be useful to reinforce good behavior with praise, and try your best to avoid using negative language when they fail to complete something on time. Kids with ADHD deal with enough insecurity as it is, and the unrequited love and affection from their parents is what will help them get through difficult times. Consistency in communication is vital, and will help a child flourish.
If you find your kid drawn to specific hobbies or areas of interest, do encourage them to pursue these passions. Their ability to hyperfocus when engaged will prove to be a useful skill when honed correctly. On the other hand, taking their interests away will encourage them to dissociate and withdraw. While it is probably a good idea to limit TV time, an educational toy is a fun alternative that might just be the perfect balance of engagement and stimulation for your child to continue learning while playing. Incorporating Montessori philosophies into your kid’s education by ensuring their learning experience is enjoyable and engaging will provide tons of value in the long term. You can learn more about Montessori education and its benefits by clicking into this link: https://www.montessori-nw.org/.
4. Be Good to Yourself
Last but not least, do remember to treat yourself with kindness. It is easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated with your kids when they seem to be naughty and misbehaving. Oftentimes, your kid is just as frustrated with themselves as you might be with their inability to sit still and concentrate. If your child is struggling with anxiety, check out our other blog on methods to reduce anxiety in children.
There may be other parents out there who will form a false perception of your parenting abilities by the hyperactive nature of your child. Try your best not to see them as the enemy, and instead, refer them to the advocacy organizations (mentioned below) who are doing great work in advocacy. It is not your responsibility to explain your child’s symptoms nor make excuses for their behavior. It is, really, their responsibility to be more educated on the subject!
If you do find yourself overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional. Alternatively, there are support groups out there for parents with ADHD that you can join. CHADD and the Attention Deficit Disorder Association are two of many organizations that provide support for parents on both a national and regional level. There is no need to pressure yourself into thinking you must shoulder the burden yourself.
P.S.: you may want to consider gifting your child a Jooki, an educational toy that might just be the perfect balance of engagement and stimulation for your child to continue learning while playing. To stay up to date, sign up for our newsletter today to receive exclusive updates and special deals.