Parents do the best with what they know and then do better when they know more. So, the more you get educated about childhood ADHD, the more strategies and tools are available to you to manage the challenges and speed bumps that are going to arise from living with this disorder.
Here are some tips that you as a parent can use to manage the symptoms:
1. Be on the lookout for ways to minimize possible distractions. To deal with loud noises or things like the television, have your child use headphones or try playing white noise systems to block the noise. Or better yet, turn off the devices making the noise. If visual distractions are a problem such as a cluttered or messy work area, have them move to another location and take only what they are working on. When you can’t eliminate the distractions at least try to minimize them in some way.
2. Keep an eye on your child’s sleep habits. Since so many with ADHD tend to have sleep issues, keep a log of when they go to bed every night, when they wake up and if there were any sleep disturbances and getting up in the night. Also, make sure they disconnect from all screens (e.g., computers, smartphones, television) at least an hour before the regular bedtime. Have them do something calming and not stimulating such as read a book, work a puzzle, or color a picture. Make sure your child goes to bed and gets up at the same time every day to help their body regulate when it’s time to wind down or power-up. If there are still issues, be sure to check with their doctor about natural sleep remedies or medications to help.
3. Become a stress detective to uncover your child’s biggest stresses in her day. Encourage her to list what she considers the biggest stresses and then discuss how she might eliminate or turn down the volume on each one. However, recognize that many times children aren’t always able to pinpoint the stress, especially when it’s hidden stressors. Stress can come in all shapes and from all places like environmental, physical, cognitive and social areas of life. So it’s up to the parents to become a detective and look for possible stress culprits. We did this when they were infants who were not able to speak for themselves. We need to continue to help with their self-regulation until they are able to do this for themselves.
4. Discover ways to help your child find their “calm” level. Practice some simple techniques such as breathing methods like the “4-7-8 Method” which can be utilized any time of the day. Here’s all you have to do: 1) Breathe in through your nose for a count of four seconds. 2) Hold your breath for seven seconds. 3) Exhale for eight seconds, making a “whoosh” sound through pursed lips. Repeat up to four times.
5. To be the kind of parent you want to be, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Remind yourself to take time for self-care and make it a priority. Don’t let this practice slip because even a few minutes a day can have an impact on your energy and patience.
Parenting a child with ADHD can be overwhelming and confusing. But remember that as the parent, you can help your child deal with their symptoms by designing and supporting healthy routines and self-awareness.
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach, Owner/Founder