Helping Your Child With ADHD
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a common neurodevelopment disorder. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood, and more often than not, it lasts into adulthood. There are three types of ADHD, depending on the symptoms: predominantly inattentive presentation, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, and combined presentation. ADHD was formerly known as ADD.
How does ADHD manifest in children?
Below are some common ways through which ADHD manifests in kids;
Inattention- the inability to focus or hold concentration for an extended period. An average attention span is usually between three to five minutes for each year of age. For instance, a ten-year-old should be able to concentrate for 30 to 50 minutes. Children with ADHD cannot do this.
Hyperactivity- the inability to stay still for an extended time. It can show up as a consistent restless feeling or fidgeting. Hyperactive kids have difficulty sitting still, are often fidgeting, unnecessarily loud, and unusually talkative.
Impulsiveness- where kids act without thinking. Impulsiveness may interfere with social skills, cause kids to respond to questions impulsively, interrupt others, and have difficulty waiting in time.
Treatment for ADHD
ADHD is best treated with a combination of behavioral therapy and medication, depending on the type, symptoms, and child’s age. For instance, behavioral therapy is a standard treatment for preschool-aged children before medication is tried. The best treatment plans include close monitoring, follow-ups, and making necessary changes along the way.
How parents can help children with ADHD
Living with a child with ADHD can be frustrating and overwhelming. However, you have a duty to help your child overcome the daily challenges of living with ADHD. Below are tips for helping your child;
Understand that your child’s behaviors are not willful
While some of the behaviors displayed by ADHD kids can be annoying, exhausting, and embarrassing, as a parent, you must understand that their conduct is not willful. Therefore, the first step to helping a child with ADHD is understanding why they act the way they do. For instance, a child may want to do what other kids do, but they do not know how. Understanding this will help you develop the best response and teach your child how to get things done. You also have to realize that learning may take a lot of time. It would also be wise to understand that ADHD is just as frustrating for your child or even more than it is for you.
Take over executive skills
Children with ADHD have deficits in executive functions. For instance, they cannot think or plan ahead, control their impulses, and complete basic tasks. As a parent, you can help your child by taking over executive functions and gradually acquiring their executive skills.
Help your child identify their feelings
You could also help your child identify their feelings using your words and talking to them. But, again, patience is key throughout the process.
Provide a structured and stable home environment
A structured and stable home environment is essential for all kids, especially kids with ADHD. Structure helps them learn routines and take responsibility for following them.
Involve your child and reward efforts
A child with ADHD does not need to be left out of activities. Allowing your child to participate like other kids will help them develop social skills. Rewarding and praising efforts and not just successful outcomes can help ADHD kids. They learn to keep trying even if the efforts do not produce the desired results.
Set realistic goals
As a parent, you must understand that progress takes time. You cannot set the same goals for an ADHD child as other kids. The trick is to keep the goals small and realistic and not overdo them.
ADHD can develop from genetics, brain injury, drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy, low birth weight, or premature delivery. While ADHD does not go away with age, you can teach your child to cope. Medication can also help. The trick is to visit a medical health practitioner for advice on how to help your child and treatment suggestions.