Just ask any parent if raising children today is challenging. Most of us know the answer, but that challenge can be exacerbated if you are raising a child with ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder involves common symptoms like distraction, forgetfulness, disorganization, and impulsive actions. Parents are constantly tasked with finding ways to manage these behaviors, and these 5 C’s can help do just that!
What Is ADHD, and What It Is Not
According to the Center For Disease Control, “People with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behavior (may act out without thinking about what the results may be). Although ADHD can’t be cured, it can be successfully managed and some symptoms may improve as the child ages.”
ADHD is a brain based biological disorder meaning there is a physiological difference in the brains of people with ADHD than those without. It does not come from playing too many video games, poor parenting, nor feeding children too much sugar. It is completely random and unavoidable, which is why parents should never beat themselves up with wondering how they could have prevented this condition from affecting their child.
The best way to reduce stress in your child, yourself, and the rest of your family is to provide needed skills to succeed now and in the future. The five Cs may help you manage the symptoms of a child with ADHD.
The first C may be the most important management tip of all. Not only do parents need to provide a consistent schedule, consistent rules and behaviors, and consistent consequences to poor behaviors, they also need to be consistent themselves. Both parents need to be “on the same page” when it comes to what is acceptable and what will not be tolerated.
All kids need to have the safety of rules and acceptable behavior, but it is particularly crucial for a child with ADHD.
#2 (Self) Control
Mastering self control is as important for you, the parent, as it is for your child. Easy to say, but unless you can maintain your own self control, you can’t help your child with ADHD. They need that model when things get stressful or dicey, and these situation may occur almost daily.
This requires someone else to be calm when the child gets out of control. It may be quite difficult to manage your own emotions in these situations, but find a way to not overreact. Leave the room, take a breath, look for ways to diffuse the situation, and not make it worse. In turn, a child with ADHD will learn ways to gain control themselves by following your example.
Most children with ADHD feel like they can’t do anything right and the world is against them. Unfortunately, that’s because they usually get more criticism than positive reinforcement.
It can be hard to accept your child the way they are, but you might be surprised how far a little compassionate acceptance of them will go. Once they know you are on their side, it could encourage them accept themselves in a more positive way.
If parents can model both compassion and self control, it will become increasingly easier to find ways to collaborate and help your child with ADHD. Concentrate on solving problems together. If they know you aren’t going to criticize their input, they will be more willing to participate in finding a solution with you.
Pick a problem area, or let them choose, and brainstorm how to improve the issue. If they constantly leave their clothes on the floor in their room, show them how to tackle the issue immediately by addressing one item at a time. Create a special hook system to place certain clothes when they take them off. Suggest they take dirty clothes right to the washing machine or put them in the hamper instead of dropping them on the floor.
This one should be easier. Look for ways to celebrate when you catch them doing the right thing, like staying calm in an otherwise frustrating situation. Everyone, including adults, will respond positively to kind words or a pat on the back.
Post your house rules on a board to include standards about homework, TV time, bedtime, etc. and find a way to celebrate when your child with ADHD doesn’t have to be reminded to adhere to the behaviors. They will appreciate the positive affirmations instead of the nagging.
The ultimate goal of the 5 Cs is to provide your child with ADHD the opportunity to learn and practice the skills they need to be productive adults.