Five Things you can do This Year to Help Your ADHD Child
If you are a parent of a child having an ADHD diagnosis or multiple diagnoses, you may feel some anxiety about the New Year. We would like to think that parenting gets easier every year but this is seldom the case. As our children grow and develop, there are new challenges to face, new issues related to the child’s age, as well as new fears and anxieties for both parents and children. You may be wondering what you can do this year to help your child cope with his or her ADHD. We are here to help.
Here are five ways that you can increase the odds for your child to have his or her best year ever despite their ADHD or other special challenges.
1. Find the best people to work with your child.
I originally wrote the word “professionals” in place of “people” for my number one. But the truth is there are many individuals who have helped my child who were not considered professionals such as volunteers, college students, and even child tutors. I have found over the years that just because a person calls themselves an expert or has a fancy title beside their name doesn’t mean they will form a good relationship with you or your child or provide effective treatment. You need to be selective about the people you choose to help your child. Interview them like you would for anyone who is seeking a job. Ask about their experience, motivation to help your child, and for references if necessary.
Here is a small list of potential members for your child’s team: A pediatric neurologist, child psychologist, or psychiatrist, an ADHD coach, a behavioral specialist, an occupational therapist, an educational consultant or advocate, special education teachers, aides, tutors, and volunteers.
2. Schedule an annual physical for your child.
It is really important that your child sees their pediatrician at least once a year if not more frequently and particularly if your child has special needs. There is always that possibility that the symptoms you are seeing in your child may be caused by some underlying medical issue. For example, in a previous post we talked about how thyroid problems can sometimes result in ADHD-like symptoms. Other medical conditions which may produce symptoms similar to ADHD may include hearing impairment, anemia, seizure disorders, and food allergies or sensitivities.
If your child is taking any sort of medication to treat their ADHD, a pediatrician can help assess the side effects and what can be done to diminish any adverse effects. For example, a common effect of taking certain ADHD medications is the loss of appetite. Your child’s pediatrician may have ideas of how to improve your child’s nutrition so that weight loss is not an issue.
3. Schedule regular times to have fun with your child.
It may seem silly to tell you to schedule time with your child but I know how it can be to go through a whirlwind week of appointments, therapies and day to day chores and forget to have fun. Find out what your child likes to do and share an activity with them. The choices are limitless. You can jump on a trampoline together, play cards, make popcorn and watch a movie, or go for a bike ride. Most children like it when parents can give some undivided attention that doesn’t involve homework, therapy, or any goal related endeavor. This is your chance to talk to your child and get to know them as a person. I guarantee that these will be times your child will remember and cherish as they grow older. What your child needs most is not more medication or therapy. What your child needs most is you. There is nothing that can replace the special relationship you have with your child.
4. Research treatment options including alternative therapies.
It is well known that a combination of medication and behavior management techniques is an effective treatment option for many children and teens diagnosed with ADHD. Yet there are additional methods which may compliment more traditional therapies. Always check with your child’s doctors and therapists before initiating an alternative therapy. Do your homework and research the safety and effectiveness of any treatment regardless if it traditional or not.
Here are just a few of the drug free ways of treating your child’s ADHD symptoms:
• Sensory Integration
5. Gain support for yourself.
It is a well known analogy. The message on airplanes about the use of oxygen masks instructs parents to use their mask first in case of emergency and not their children. This is to ensure that the parent will be able to help their child. After all, who can help your child if you are knocked out? It is very hard to be a parent and it is that much more difficult a job when you have a child who has special needs or challenges. You are not a super hero and so you must take breaks, take care of your own needs, and do things to preserve your mental and physical health. If you are a parent with a child having special needs I would strongly encourage you to find a babysitter or respite now and then so that you can have time to rest, regroup, or just get out of the house.
If you are experiencing stress and/or depression related to your parenting responsibilities, you need to talk to someone. Talk to a friend, a family member or even a therapist. You don’t have to do this alone. There is support and help. It goes without saying but you can always find support here for whatever you may be going through, on ADHD Central.
On behalf of everyone here on ADHD Central, I wish you and your family a very happy holiday and a joyous New Year. Thank you to all our members who are part of this community. We couldn’t do it without you!