Can be overwhelming. Parents frequently experience flashes of anger, exhaustion, grief, frustration, and fatigue. Many spend an inordinate amount of time blaming themselves for their child’s problems. It is a waste of time and energy. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a hereditary disease and has very little to do with a poor parenting style or environment. Although it may not look it from first glance, many children with ADHD go on to lead productive and successful lives. As a parent, you can help create an environment that will improve your child’s chances of success. The sooner you begin, the higher the likelihood of success.
#1 Be your child’s advocate.
You may have to spend time advocating for your child in school situations. These can take many forms: from academic to behavioral issues, meeting with school counselors, initiating an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 plan, and knowing your child’s rights in the event of a suspension from school due to behavioral issues. Educate yourself on your child’s rights under two education laws – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
#2 Parent training.
No one expects you to know everything about parenting a child with AD/HD. Because it can be overwhelming, resources are available for parents to get some additional training and help. Effective parent training can teach you strategies to address your child’s behaviors and build a good relationship with your child. Effective training will help parents establish a behavioral modification plan to change problematic behaviors, assist your child with social relationships (i.e. building friendships and learning to work cooperatively with others), identify your child’s strengths, and provide an effective discipline system based on earning and loss of privileges.
#3 Do your research.
There is a great deal of information available for treatment and management of AD/HD. It is up to the parents to be knowledgeable consumers and explore available and effective treatment options. Part of the research task is also educating other adults (i.e. teachers, coaches, relatives) about AD/HD. Part of the education is letting others know that AD/HD is not a disease of “will power” but a neurobiological disorder where your child’s brain processes information a bit differently. Others can also understand that they can be in a position to help your child meet expectations and be successful in any setting.
#4 Seek a thorough assessment and evaluation.
A thorough evaluation can go along way to help you and everyone else on your child’s team (psychiatrist, psychologist, educations, coaches) to develop a targeted plan for the management of AD/HD. Ask questions during an evaluation. Does AD/HD co-occur with other conditions? What does an effective treatment approach look like? What are the evaluation tools used for the purposes of assessment? What is the effect of AD/HD on your child’s development?
If you are so frustrated, strung out and fatigued from taking care of your AD/HD child, you will not be in a position to provide effective guidance and care. Fortunately, you are not alone and parents can share information with one another by attending local chapter CHADD (Children with Attention Deficit Disorder) meetings. Since AD/HD is a hereditary condition, many parents of children with AD/HD need support and evaluation themselves. The high demand parenting that is required can take a toll on even the toughest of parents. Seek support and counseling if necessary and take time for self-care out of your schedule.