My 5-year-old is a spunky, energetic, happy little boy! We realized he had some speech and other delays when he was around 18 months old and got him into First Steps, Indiana’s program that helps children ages 0-3 years with developmental delays. As he approached his third birthday, he tested into a school-based developmental preschool program and is doing great. He goes five days per week and has a special ed teacher, and he sees speech and occupational therapists a couple of times a week. In addition, about a year ago, Max was diagnosed with ADHD and we are learning how to best support and help him so he can continue to be successful raising ADHD kids.
As a parent, it is hard to know exactly what to do with raising ADHD kids who don’t ever stop going — in a way that’s far beyond “boys being boys.” His impulsive behavior has made home life … tough. I have compiled some tips that I hope can help other parents out there who are raising young children with ADHD.
5 Tips on Raising ADHD Kids
Do not consider ADHD-related issues a personality problem.
Children who have ADHD might not perform with the consistency of their peers who do not struggle with focus. Children who receive grades often perform inconsistently, and it makes it easy for parents to question their child about their performance.
Remember that children with ADHD aren’t always in the dark – they are often bright and they usually do understand tasks. The problem is that they do not know how and where to begin and often quit the task before completion. People may misjudge them based on those actions – I know I used to worry when my son seemed lost when it came to tasks I thought he had mastered. Now I know that once I get him going, he is good about following directions and does grasp the concepts for the most part. Sometimes he is just uninterested, and if that is the case, there is no convincing him to participate.
Implement rules and enforce consequences.
When your child has a meltdown, acknowledge that he’s anxious and reiterate that you understand what he is going through. Stay calm. To encourage your child’s best performance, make expectations crystal clear and express them both verbally and in written form (depending on your child’s age). It is helpful to hang a chart with the listed rules and household responsibilities expected of your child.
Rewarding your child for good behavior is fine, and rewards should be given immediately. Children with ADHD tend to struggle making plans far in advance, so planning to reward your child with a large present for 9 weeks of good feedback from school may not be the best plan.
Every day when Max comes home from school, we pull a paper out of his backpack and check so see if the happy, okay, or sad face was selected for his day. At that exact moment, I take the time to praise and reward him for his good behavior and choices.
Help him realize his strengths.
Kids with ADHD often are compared adversely to others, and some go on to develop poor self-esteem. This can happen in children as young as 8 years of age. So make sure while raising ADHD kids, your children know what they are good at and recognize and further develop their strengths. Max has taken swim lessons for almost one year. He is really proud of himself and loves taking lessons and swimming. It makes him happy and proud, and it helps burn off energy and is good for his muscles, too. In the moments when your child is struggling with a task or is feeling down himself, you can remind him that he has a lot of strengths and that we all have weaknesses – and that’s okay.
Don’t let ADHD become a convenient excuse.
I work hard not to make excuses – for myself or for anyone else. In fact, excuses kind of make me crazy! So while ADHD makes tasks more difficult, no doubt, children need learn to take responsibility for their actions. Do not let them always use ADHD as an excuse. They hear what you say and will echo it. Many children learn how to say that they don’t need to complete their homework or another task because of their ADHD. Don’t enable your child to do that. Remind him that the reality is that ADHD may make it more difficult and take longer to complete.
Don’t be overprotective.
My son is just five years old — but we are on the countdown until kindergarten. With this realization, I am making it a point to encourage more and more independence. I do not consider myself to be a helicopter mom, but due to his impulsivity and hyperactivity, I always want to keep an eye on him and be there to help him. I realize he needs to learn some things on his own and figure out how to navigate situations. I do not want him to feel as though I will always solve everything for him or feel like I smother him and have my eye on his every move.
Always remember as a parent of a child with ADHD, raising kids with ADHD often cannot regulate their behavior. It truly is just the way their brains are wired. Always try to keep your cool in every situation and know that meltdowns reflect the nature of ADHD. Don’t doubt your parenting ability, and realize that your child’s behavior is not a result of your parenting. These are all things I have to remind myself of every single day!
How do you help your children who have ADHD? Feel free to share any parenting tips you have on raising ADHD kids, we would love to hear them.