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Five Tips for Parents of a Child with ADHD
Being the parent of a child with ADHD can sometimes be overwhelming, especially since there’s no universal how-to guide on navigating the challenges. While there are certain battles your son or daughter will have to face alone, there are still ways for you to make his or her life a little less stressful. Here are a few tips for parents of children living with ADHD:
Ensure your child’s bedroom creates a soothing atmosphere. Paint the walls a calming, serene color and eliminate distractions like too many posters and/or toys. My son was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and one of the first things we did was organize his bedroom and paint it a relaxing blue color. The bedroom should be a place for your child to unwind and relax, so limit the presence of electronics like televisions and video games, both of which can impede sleep quality. If possible, avoid keeping a desk in the bedroom as messy desks can cause anxiety in those with ADHD.
Provide structure, but don’t be overbearing. Reward charts and chore wheels are a great way to keep younger kids on top of their responsibilities while still keeping it positive, and as they get older, this can evolve into keeping a planner or calendar. Set a standard for homework, both when it should be done and which activities can and can’t be done until then. For example, my son knows he has 30 minutes when he gets home from school to do whatever he wants. And then he has to work on homework for at least 45 minutes. Make expectations reasonable, and never use threats or fear to entice your child to keep up. The goal is to keep your child responsible and organized, but not overwhelmed.
Take time to point out your child’s “wins” each day. Set a goal to acknowledge at least three positive behaviors your child has exhibited every single day. Tell him or her specifically what was done well and why it’s important. It becomes habitual to spot and correct negative behaviors, but avoid making those moments a focus. Celebrate behavioral wins as they happen so that your child knows that not only do you recognize their progress, you also appreciate it.
Make homework time fun. As I touched on above, kids with ADHD have to spend a lot of time hearing about what they’ve done wrong and being told “no.” So, I try to make my son’s time at home as fun as possible, especially the time he’s meant to be doing homework. I realized when I took time to find ways to make his work more engaging he’d tackle his assignments more quickly and with a lot more enthusiasm.
He loves Star Wars so lately making homework time fun has meant doing his homework in the Jedi costume I recently got him. We created a chart where he could mark a month’s worth of homework assignments. Each assignment completed during his allotted homework time got him one step closer to defeating Darth Vader and “winning” tickets to see the new Star Wars movie. He’s had a lot of fun wearing the costume, and I think it makes him feel like he’s really on an important mission when he’s working on his homework.
Get active. Exercise helps children with ADHD expend excess energy or simply burn off the stress of the day. The result is that they’re able to concentrate and control impulses better. Find something your child loves to do—be it swimming, karate, basketball, etc—and make sure they’re able to take part in that physical exercise as often as possible. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be overly strenuous. WebMD.com cites a study that found that “a 20-minute walk in the park helped kids with ADHD concentrate better.”
There are many paths to follow when deciding what’s best for your child with ADHD. Reach out to others and explore different approaches, keeping in mind that not every method is right for everyone. Creating a structured, calm living space with a positive focus and strong support system is a fantastic road on which your child can begin a happy, healthy journey.
Vee Cecil is a personal trainer and wellness coach. She is passionate about keeping others informed on all things health-related on her blog. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children.
Ms. Vee Cecil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org