How many times have you heard people say that ADHD is not a real disease, it is just bad parenting? At the other end of the spectrum in dealing with ADHD kids, we have the medication brigade who think Ritalin and other drugs will do the job. Obviously, there is a happy medium. It is interesting to note that most experts recommend parenting classes and support or behavioral therapy before rushing into medication. The CDC in the USA says that there has been a 4% increase in ADHD diagnosis in the four year period from 2003 to 2011.
But many doctors are prescribing ADHD drugs without even bothering to go down the parenting route option. If you are concerned and worried about those drugs’ effects on your child’s health and well being, you can check out a completely natural solution here:
Watch the video below on living with ADHD where two families are filmed during the critical stages when their children were diagnosed. If you have ADHD kids, you will recognize many of the scenes. Identical!
Dealing with ADHD at home
We have to keep in mind that the ADHD child’s brain is not working like ours unless we happen to have ADHD ourselves. Basically, the child will not be able to envisage any consequences for any impulsive action he or she takes. It is just not within their capability. Planning ahead like organizing things for school or the consequences of dashing across the road is not on their radar. We have to parent accordingly. The parent can plan ahead but the kid with ADHD is incapable of that.
Think of the two-year difference. The behavior of a child of 10 who has ADHD will be like that of an eight-year-old because the experts tell us there is a 2-year gap. This means breaking down a task and getting them to repeat to us what they have to do. This goes for following rules of behavior as well as other tasks or chores. We can make things easier in establishing a routine and sticking to it as much as possible
Another thing to remember is that a 6-year-old child with ADHD can only plan ahead for about 12 hours. An older child who does not have to struggle with ADHD can program ahead. Again, bearing in mind the two-year gap, we should remember this.
When it comes to setting and implementing a few basic behavior rules, we have to expect the behavior of a five-year-old from a normal eight-year-old and so on. The latter can easily connect his behavior with the consequences. But when the child has ADHD, that is just not possible.
Reacting immediately when behavior problems arise.
Imagine that you want to reward a child for good behavior. We should try and do this immediately as the child will be much more likely to connect the prize with the good behavior as it is very recent. The same goes for trying to impose consequences when there has been a problem with behavior. Imagine trying to take away a privilege some time afterward and the child will just fail to make the connection. You are determined to impose it but the child is just not getting it.
Dealing with ADHD kids and anger issues
You know the scene. The ADHD child is lashing out and creating mayhem with toys, siblings and household objects. Ideally, we could talk to the child when he or she is calmer but we have to learn how to help them channel their anger into more acceptable behavior. This is partly due to impulsivity where the child is incapable of thinking of any consequences as we mentioned above.
The best solution is to get the child involved in exercise or physical activity as soon as you can. This can have two benefits. The first is that the child forgets the ‘anger issue’ which is driving him bonkers. The second is that once s/he starts exercising, the neurotransmitters in the brain will start to kick in and improve mood. Swimming is a great sport but find out what appeals to your child. We all cannot all become Olympic champions like Michael Phelps or great actors like Will Smith but we can at least create opportunities for physical exercise.
Helping a child to verbalize and manage his anger is also a great method to use. This will help him to identify the origin of his anger. Talking about emotions and how we use words to express our feelings is also useful. We also have to use our brains and language abilities rather than hitting a sibling. The child is forced to slow down and start to think things through. This all requires thought and is an essential life skill. You can read your kids a story about an animal character who has similar problems and who learns to manage these difficult moments.
Parents can also set an example that when they are angry while driving or on the phone, they know how to use language to express their anger in a reasonable manner. There are no banging of fists, cursing, kicking things or slamming doors!
Dealing with ADHD without medication.
We know that medication may have to be an option and we should keep an open mind about this. There are arguments for and against and many parents have found that natural alternative treatments can work really well with their kids. You may have to experiment and see. But in the meanwhile, we should be everything in our power to get the situation with dealing with ADHD at home under control. For some more tips check out this book at Amazon.com: Facts About ADHD Children – Tips For ADHD Parenting
Expectations and how we deal with them.
Dr. Russell Barkely applies the 30% rule in that this is the amount we should reduce our expectations of the child with ADHD. This applies across the board from their academic achievement (not forgetting that ADHD can excel in many areas and can use hyperfocus to their advantage) to behavior, social skills, and other areas. Dr. Barkely gives as an example the case of when to allow a teen with ADHD to learn to drive. He advises against allowing a sixteen-year-old teen with ADHD to drive because he or she has the same emotional maturity and self-control as an eleven-year-old. It will be better to wait at least a few years.
Keeping the 30% rule in mind will help us to see things in perspective and adjust our expectations as regards academic achievement to behavior, life skills and social behavior too. There are many ways that we can put this into practice:
- stick to routines – yes you will need lots of patience but the regularity really does help.
- use similar routines when homework has to be done.
- don’t forget that toys and games for children with ADHD can be a great help.
- start by letting them choose school outfits the evening before, also with getting school bags ready and so on.
- build in a good pre-bedtime routine so that all media and devices are switched off an hour beforehand. Statistics show that kids can get off to sleep more quickly without all that blue light from screens.
- start to use planners and charts which are more visual and save enormous time and energy by not having to repeat reminders verbally ad nauseam!
Dealing with ADHD kids is no picnic as you have seen from the video above. The impulsivity and hyperactivity are barriers that we have to overcome but by implementing a few rules and routines we can learn, with patience, to make life easier for everybody.