ADHD Part 3: What’s Worked for Us
Posted January 7, 2015 by BonitaBlueEyes - 4 comments
Although medicine can help a child who truly has ADHD (especially during school hours) stay focused, it doesn’t make life perfect! There are still morning battles, battles over testing limits, and everything that comes with caring for child until their head hits the pillow at bed time…when we all finally get a break! Here is what I found helped my son through the years thus far (he is now 11). These are really good for any child, but especially for children with ADHD. As with all advice on the site please remember I am NOT a doctor and it is always best to consult your child’s doctor for any big changes.
Routines and Clearly Communicating the Daily Schedule
All children feel safe with a routine. NiñoZ (and children with ADHD in general) especially loved his. One time on a Saturday when I was not planning on following our bedtime routine, he came and asked me “Isn’t it time for my bath then books? It’s dark outside!” I found that he behaved much better if I told him everything that was going to happen ahead of time in the morning. I often gave him updates throughout the day as well.
Limit Screen Time
As tempting as it is to put your child in front of the television or video game, too much screen time will not help your child gain an active attention span. I only let NiñoZ watch TV on weekends when he was little. Instead, I encourage you to enroll your child in activities that will build their confidence. Let them explore everything your community offers to find their own passions. Remember that ADHD children also have the gift of hyper-focusing. When they are passionate about something, they can focus on it more than others. Use that focus! Warning: Be careful to do this gradually as to not overextend your family commitments!
Children with ADHD probably need more support for a longer period of time than other children, but they are more than capable of helping around the house. Give them chores that interest them, when possible…perhaps let them pick what they want to help with. NiñoZ preferred to work alongside me with what I was doing, dusting, and anything involving a spray bottle! Take this time to teach your child how to be organized but, be prepared to support your child in organizing forever (at least that’s how I feel right now). NiñoZ still struggles with organization!
Create Positive Behavior Plans (include your child)
The world will tell your child everything that is wrong with him or her. Show them their strengths! Write it out and have them sign the paper and tuck it away to look at when they need some positive affirmation. When my son was very little, I would make a laminated construction paper animal that he would chose (in true boy style he always picked a snake). I would give him stickers to put on it as he behaved well. When he got to a certain amount of stickers, he would get a simple reward that he chose ahead of time. It may have been extra screen time or going for ice cream. There is no need for extravagant rewards here. Less is more.
When NiñoZ got a little older, he was way more motivated to get daily screen time. If I had to count to three at any time during that day, he would not get screen time that day. If he responded to my counting and corrected himself before three, got all of his chores and homework finished, and it was still early enough, he could have one hour of screen time. This system was one we came up with together, we wrote out every detail of the deal and signed it. It has worked for many years.
Revise and Reevaluate as Necessary
If your child is struggling in school even after help is given, there may be other factors to consider. NiñoZ did very well from kindergarten through third grade. Then all of a sudden he struggled socially, was refusing to complete assignments, and started to dislike going to school. When I brought this to Leslie’s (our therapist who prescribes medication) she encouraged me to get NiñoZ evaluated by the gifted and talented department in our district. She had mentioned this to me on several occasions, but I thought why fix what’s not broken? At the time NiñoZ was happy and doing very well.
Since this was no longer the case, I had him tested. He tested so high that even though there was not room in the 3rd G/T classroom, he could be placed in a 4th/5th combo class. From what I’ve seen, many gifted children also have ADHD. Gifted does not always look like an overachieving child, so keep this in mind! Gifted education comes with a whole new set of challenges, which I’d be happy to write about as well, if our readers are interested.
Read and/or Attend Parenting Classes
There are many parenting books and resources for parenting more difficult children. I hardly ever agree with a whole book or philosophy, but I always take away at least one new thing that can help us. Take advantage of what is available to you. Don’t forget audiobooks while you drive! This is one way I make sure to get reading in my busy schedule. (I’ll be posting a list of some of my favorite parenting books soon)
Take Care of Yourself
Very honestly, NiñoZ takes more patience than I often have. This means I need to stay on top of what makes me a better person. For me that looks like getting enough sleep, exercise, sunshine, prayer and a bit of alone time. Whatever your mental health requires, stay on top of it. If you lose your cool, apologize to your child, forgive yourself and begin again.
Some days my trust in God is the only thing that gets me through. It is also important for me to teach my son to rely on Him.
A Whole Village
Support from family and friends has brought us a long way. Both my husband and NiñoZ’s father have supported and helped me all along through this journey. Leslie, my parents and many friends. Don’t be afraid to call for backup when you need it.
What parenting tricks have helped you with your child?
Categories: Life As It Happens