Let’s be clear that bad parenting doesn’t cause ADHD, but it does certainly make it worse. Working with hundreds of families, I’ve observed particular things that improve ADHD in a client simply with changes in parenting. As mature adults, it is our responsibility to rise above any negative default behaviors that we may have observed from our own parents growing up. Be honest with yourself and realize that you weren’t able to choose your parents, but you can choose your own behaviors now. I’ve listed 7 areas below that parents I work with all strive to improve.
It is well know that people with ADD/ADHD can act different than other ‘normal’ kids. Decide ahead of time which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. If a behavior is not causing physical harm, but it seems peculiar or odd, let it go. Trying to dampen the creative imagination or behavior can have drastic consequences later in life. Discuss with them that you understand what they want to do, but set a time when that behavior may be more appropriate. In this way, you’re not stopping it dead in their tracks, but giving them a place and time that they can fully explore and behave as they want to express themselves. When it comes to managing aggression, be sure that the discipline matches the crime. This particular subject has its strength in the consistency of the parents; their own personal confidence and love.
When it comes to the word ‘stress’, we need to remember that stress is a perspective. It can be caused by many things, but predominantly there are several things that can be done to make it less of a problem. Expectations, schedules, society, personal feelings are all included. When you define the rules, allow some flexibility – some leeway. Many times, by simply allowing a slightly wider berth the situation lowers in stressfulness. Check your schedules and make sure that they aren’t too busy and placing excessive strain on the person with ADHD. Being honest with yourself and determining if the stress is coming from school, community, or other family members, then be aware of that. Realize that ADD/ADHD is a clinical neurological diagnosis; not just a behavior thing. Imagine for a moment that someone with autism is behaving unacceptably – how are you going to handle yourself?
It becomes very helpful to take breaks. Be aware that you can become overwhelmed or frustrated. Encourage out-loud thinking; the ADD Brain thinks really fast and sometimes there is a need to tell people and talk about it a lot. Help the thoughts and reasoning process; also having them write things down in a journal is very helpful. ADHD folks can be very impulsive with emotions, so it’s important to promote wait time or a ‘pause’ button. Working on extending that gap between stimulus and response. The work we do with neurofeedback and the Myndplay company has proven invaluable to improving the emotional intelligence of clients.
It’s been established that by creating structure help. Building routines, good habits and rituals creates a successful environment. Be sure that people who are willing to perform a task will take more responsibility for the outcome than if they are forced to perform said task. Show the person with ADD/ADHD how to break tasks into manageable pieces. We all can use calendars, smartphone apps, colors, homework & chores charts. Strive to simplify and organize your child’s life; talk with them and find out how they work best. Taking responsibility instead of placing blame can begin on the smallest level. People with ADHD typically aren’t the most self-aware. Gently helping them to see where their actions caused something to happen is very important. Begin with positive things that they caused. Soon they will begin to connect the dots.
Growing up with ADD/ADHD brings with it fear, shame, and guilt from messing up, not following through, forgetting, blanking out, losing things, etc. It is imperative that as adult role models that we believe in your child. Look for them to do the right thing. When they aren’t performing or behaving correctly, guide them into a behavior that can be praised and recognized for. This goes for all parents, coaches, daycare providers, grandparents; anyone involved in the person’s life.
The human body loves rhythm. The way we walk, breathe, heart beats, sleep patterns, eating. What many people may not understand is that the ADD brain has special times during the day when it’s in “Turbo Mode”. These are the most important times of the day to harness this power and handle important tasks. Be aware of the levels of inattention, recklessness, or hyperactivity. When the brain moves the body into “Turbo”, the it’s time to be outside, or exercising, running around, using the body as many healthy ways as possible during that time. (If the teacher is punishing behavior by taking away recess, they are shooting themselves in the foot.) Patterns also occur with the triggers that can cause the negative aspects of ADHD to rear their ugly head. It’s important to help the person with ADHD see this for themselves, just like we discussed above.
Realize that the ADD brain has the ability to do things that are amazing and inspirational. Limiting distractions helps the majority of people with ADHD. It’s mandatory to decrease screen time, encourage creativity, and connection to other human beings. There are many groups and communities forming daily that cater to the super creative, imaginative, fast-thinkers. Remember that this brain can handle putting concepts together better than a ‘normal’ brain. Placing the person in an environment where they will be successful with that type of brain will thrive can be monumental. Encourage exercise. Decide on the best times for concentrating on brain tasks, then also body tasks. Integrative ways of improving body awareness are very important to the success of our ADHD program.
This has been a fairly exhaustive discussion on helping parents handle ADD/ADHD better. Be sure to comment below and share this with other parents. There are many people out there who can use this information to create a better life.