Tips for parenting a child with ADHD

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  • Remember the child will have more energy and needs less sleep than you do. To be safe and successful, he also needs more structure and more supervision to an older age than other children. He will never handle free time well – that’s when to expect trouble. He will be disorganised and socially immature but does want to please.
  • Read as much as you can about ADHD and keep asking questions until you understand your child’s disability.
  • Explain to your child and his siblings that he does have a "hidden handicap" so will need to be managed differently and needs everyone’s patience.
  • Don’t expect normal sequencing of developmental behaviours, as they will be scattered.
  • The busier he is, the happier he will be, so plan many structured, supervised activities that expend a lot of energy, e.g. swim team, hiking, athletics, weight-lifting, tennis, trampolining, long-distance walking or running, hiking.
  • Seek social skill development classes or opportunities for the child.
  • Attempt to be consistent with rules and discipline. Set firm limits, and follow-up consistently with predictable consequences when limits are exceeded.
  • Speak quietly, slowly and only when the child is looking at you directly – never yell!! The child’s nervous system becomes so over-stimulated in response to yelling that he cannot ever year what is being said. If you want the child to hear you, whisper when you feel like yelling!
  • Have a clear routine for the child.
  • Demonstrate new or different tasks rather than just asking the child to do them.
  • Give one direct at a time, and expect the child to perform one task at a time. Tell him what he is TO DO not what is he NOT TO DO.
  • Give the child appropriate responsibility.
  • Restrict playmates to one at a time, and encourage friendships with quieter children.
  • Never pity or over-indulge a child because of his handicap
  • Know the name, dose and side-effects of his medicine.
  • Lock-up medication and supervise the taking of meds.
  • Use "time out" or early bedtime as consequences for problem behaviours. Do not spank or use other physical punishment.
  • Become an advocate for your child outside the home, especially with his teacher.
  • Emphasise successes no matter how small. Be sure to praise correct behaviour.
  • Actively teach the child how to response to problems using a specific problem-solving approach.
  • Speak clearly in brief, understandable sentences.
  • Ignore minor difficulties. Choose your battles with your child.
  • Take time away for yourself to avoid exhaustion and resentment.
  • Develop your own support system. Consider the .A.D.D. Organisation.
  • Seek the help of a mental health professional to help keep a healthy perspective.

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