Ten Tips for Parents of an ADD Child
By Ben Glenn
When your child is
diagnosed and labeled with any kind of disorder, this can be just as
hard on the parent as it is on the child. There are few things as
frustrating, scary and unwelcome as the news that something is wrong
with your kid.
It is hard for
parents to remain cool, calm and collected in a situation where they
have no clue how to make things better for their child. The feeling
of helplessness is overwhelming and in no small part because most
parents are only experts on childhood diseases such as ear
infections, antibiotics, and hives.
All parents wish they could be better informed. If your child has
ADD today, fortunately, resources are plentiful and accessible, so
you MUST get actively involved in your child’s quest to manage their
ADD. Here are ten ways that you can do that:
1) Read everything you can get your hands on about ADD. Educate
yourself first and foremost. Know what options, rights and
opportunities your child has open to her. Also, get out and meet and
network with parents of other ADD children. It can be a wonderful
and uplifting experience to be around people who know what you’re
going through and other parents can be a great source of ideas and
information to help you, help your child.
2) Make yourself available to share with your child what you know
about ADD. (You need to be sensitive in your approach based on your
child’s age and personality. For example, a younger child may need
for you to take the initiative to sit down and have “a talk”,
whereas a teenager may need more “space” and you should wait for
them to come to you to have the conversation.) Don’t sugar coat or
omit important information, but also, don’t scare them or
over-dramatize. The idea is to give your child a sense of control by
providing relevant information that will help demystify their
diagnosis and prevent their over-active imaginations from going
3) Examine your own attitude towards ADD and how you now view your
child. Are you disappointed? Scared? Angry? Take the time to be
aware of any negative feelings and to figure out why you feel the
way you do. This may sound all touchy feely, but the truth is unless
you understand what’s going through your own mind, you won’t be able
to offer your child the level of support and encouragement that he
needs in order to successfully bring his ADD under control. Set
aside any expectations and ambitions you may have had for your son
or daughter and encourage them to pursue those interests where they
show the greatest aptitude and giftedness...even if they are
non-traditional or unorthodox.
4) Pay particular attention to your child’s self-esteem and work
hard to boost it at every turn. Praise her when she succeeds at even
the smallest thing. Remember that ADDers love praise and thrive on
recognition. It may be very hard to find praise-worthy things about
her, but you must try. This is crucial!
5) Involve your
child in any decision-making you can. Anything from what brand
cookies to buy at the supermarket to the best place in the house for
him to do homework. (Kids usually feel like they have no say in
anything anyway, as they struggle for their independence.) So a
diagnosis of any perceived disability will only convince him further
that his life is completely out of his control. This may lead to an
attitude of apathy, causing your offspring to use the word
“whatever”, far more frequently than you can handle. Offering
opportunities to make decisions (and then live with the consequences
of those decisions), should help him begin to gain a sense of
ownership and control over his life.
6) If the
“techniques” and “strategies” you have been using to help your child
are not working, don’t be afraid to try something different! It’s
easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because your child is
the one with the challenge that she should be the one to make
changes in her behavior, but this is counterproductive thinking.
It’s up to the adults to be creative and think outside the box.
Sometimes only after we make changes in our attitudes and behaviors
that we open the door for our child to respond in a positive way.
7) Create a fun
reward system. Along with generous praise, kids with ADD are
motivated and respond very well to tangible displays of
8) The parent with
the best organizational abilities should partner up with their child
to help them set realistic goals in any and all areas of their life.
Break down big tasks into small chunks and celebrate the completion
of every stage of the project. Consistency in doing this will give
your child an opportunity to experience and savor the feeling of
“success” and accomplishment. That is a reward in itself and will
serve to motivate him to continue setting goals.
9) Watch what you
say to your child and how you say it. Become aware of your tone and
facial expressions when speaking with her. ADDers are notoriously
sensitive and perceptive - they will pick up on the smallest nuances
of negativity or sarcasm and spend hours obsessing about the
conversation. Never put down or tease your child - they will be hurt
deeply and it will take one hundred kind words to undo one negative
one. Build ‘em up, don’t break ‘em down!
10) It is entirely
possible that you yourself have ADD - it runs in families. If so,
take it easy on yourself. Take the time out to reward yourself for
being the best parent you can be. Take a break from your parental
responsibilities, even if just for the afternoon, and treat yourself
to some “me” time. Parents need to be praised and rewarded as well
for all our hard work!
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