Parenting a child with ADHD can be overwhelming and demanding. The challenges and stress can make you question yourself and your abilities at every turn. Although there is no perfect way to parent a special needs child, there are some things that you can do to provide a balance that nurtures your ADHD child while making life more manageable and a little less stressful for you both.
Stick to a routine
Kids with ADHD often thrive on routines because they like to know what’s happening and when. When things are disorganized, it can be scary for them. Make sure your child has the same routine every day that includes time for homework and playtime. Post this schedule in a prominent place in your home so expectations are clear and visible. If the routine is going to be different one day, let them know in advance so they are not surprised.
For many ADHD kids, their worlds feel out of control which leaves them struggling to find some wherever they can. The battles that pop up over what you are serving for dinner, the movie you are going to watch, or what outfit they’ll wear to school can be minimized by offering up some controlled options. Present your child with a few options that you are in control of instead of imposing one fixed decision. Letting your child make a choice allows them to have an active role in the process. Giving them the control they crave will make these times a little less stressful.
Start the day with the right breakfast
Try to avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates like waffles, pancakes, and sweet cereals. These types of foods can cause unstable blood sugars which can cause them to lose focus more easily, increase their restlessness, and make them more easily distracted. Avoid fat free foods because they are packed with sugars that negatively affect attention and feelings.
An ideal breakfast for an ADHD child includes protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Proteins stabilize blood sugars and nourish the brain helping to regulate attention, cognition, moods, and memory. Fruits and whole grains burn sugar more slowly and won’t affect your child’s behavior and emotions as negatively. Swap the sugary cereal out with a whole grain option for those mornings when you don’t have time to prepare breakfast.
Reinforce good behavior
Giving praise increases your child’s self-esteem, helps them understand the differences between good and bad behavior, and reinforces the behaviors you want to see. Recognize and congratulate everything that your child does right no matter how small. When your child misbehaves, always make it clear you’re disappointed and upset in the behavior and not the child. Over time, they will begin to understand what behaviors are acceptable and which are not.
Having a trusted pediatrician overseeing your child’s ADHD
It’s important to remember that while ADHD can’t be cured, it can be successfully managed. That’s why establishing a relationship with a pediatrician and having regular check-ups with them is so important. Yet your pediatrician isn’t just available for when your child is sick or has physical ailments. They can also build a treatment plan that is tailored to your child’s specific needs.
The pediatricians at CMC Pediatrics have experience with ADHD and understand that what works for one child won’t necessarily mean success in another. That’s why once a treatment plan is in place, we believe in regular follow-ups to monitor progress of the plan, your child’s development, and to ensure that you have the tools to parent with confidence.
You may be wondering about how to talk to your pediatrician about ADHD. You’ll want to bring as much information with you as you can so your pediatrician can have valuable conversations about each aspect of your child’s care and treatment. Some topics for discussion when you follow-up with your pediatrician may be but are not limited to the following:
Review your own observations of your child and his most recent teachers’ reports
Share information about the target behaviors and how they might have changed since the last visit
Review the treatment plan and the target behaviors
If your child is taking medication, review any possible side effects.
Talk about how your child is functioning at home, including their behavior and how they interact with different
Review how they are functioning at school: academics, behavior, and social interaction.
Discuss your child’s self-esteem, and review his behavioral, social, and academic self-management issues.
Talk about any problems they may be experiencing related to organizational skills, homework management, self-management and hygiene skills, and anger management.
Never forget that you are a great parent! As tough and parenting a special needs child can be sometimes, there are things that you can do to make it a little more manageable. And when you need a little extra help and guidance, CMC Pediatrics is here to help you along the way.