Supporting kids with ADHD

How to bring the best practise to parenting when you have an ADHD child

Yasmin

3/9/20244 min read

I recently completed a course all about ADHD as part of my professional development as a counsellor and wanted to share the best tips from this course!

ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder, can show up in different ways. In general, it is a problem with either hyper-focus or inability to focus.

My kids are so active - have they got ADHD?

People can confuse active kids with those with ADHD. Kids, and especially boys, can be full of energy which can be tiring, but they don't necessarily have ADHD.

Signs of ADHD can include the following:

  • Inability to concentrate for any length of time, even watching an age-appropriate film.

  • Sometimes gets hyper-focused on certain interests

  • Small things can trigger very angry outbursts

  • Very hard to settle at night - can get more active at night

  • Excessive talking

  • Inner restlessness

  • Fidgeting with hands and feet

  • Cannot organise tasks and is very messy

  • Climbs and runs at inappropriate times - more than normal for age

  • Goes from one toy to another

  • Can't wait their turn

  • Often interrupts and cannot wait their turn to speak

If these are ringing some bells for you, it's necessary to get a formal diagnosis done, either through your G.P. or privately.

There is also masked ADHD, which can feel like an internal sense of confusion and inability to concentrate which is more common in girls. Signs can include angry outbursts, especially after school, when they have been trying very hard to behave like others all day.

If you already know your child has ADHD, what are the most effective, proven strategies?

It can be extremely challenging parenting a child with ADHD. There have been many studies to find out what works and positive modelling and in-the-moment reward systems is the best and only disciplining guidance that has been proven to work.

PLEASE DO NOT USE ANGER AND PUNISHMENTS. This does not work and as a child counsellor, I have seen the negative effects this can have for a young person with ADHD.

Remember that they cannot help how they are in many cases and find it 10x harder than children with neuro-typical brains to sit still and behave appropriately.

Kids with ADHD easily can get the label of 'naughty', 'bad' and a 'trouble maker'. This impacts their sense of self and unfortunately, they will only continue to act out these internal messages. At school, there is also a risk of this, so it's even more important for them to feel loved and accepted for who they are at home.

Do the parents have ADHD?

Usually, children with ADHD also have parents who have some form of neuro-diversity so the right support for the whole family can be really helpful.

Parenting a child with ADHD can be very difficult and I would encourage reaching out for any support you can get. Managing your own wellbeing is essential, finding time for yourself to relax and unwind. The calmer you can be, the more this will help your ADHD child.

Medication?

For children whose ADHD is quite unmanageable, then medication can be the answer. It has been proven to be safe but has a few side effects. These side effects are present only when the drug is being taken and they have found no signs of any long-term side effects.

Side effects of medication (this will depend of which medication):

  • Drowsiness

  • Dry mouth

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

  • Low blood pressure

Medication can make the difference for some children, making them more manageable at home if parents cannot cope and significantly increases a successful outcome for them as adults. They are more likely to finish their exams, get a better-paid job and have more successful friendships and relationships.

Non-medical ways that can help

Alternative remedies or supplements (besides possibly Omega 3 and Vitamin D) have not been proven to help as it is a neurological disorder BUT patient and strategic parenting can make a huge difference. An example of this is:

You are planning to go and see your friend who's child your child plays with. Before leaving:

  • Remind your child of some of the rules for playing with friends. Keep the instructions short and sweet.

  • Remind your child that if they do not follow these rules (such as turn-taking, getting angry, snatching etc.) then you will ask them to have a time out a short chat with you.

At the friend's house, your child grabs a toy from their friend and starts to get angry.

You immediately get up and use the STOP method:

S.T.O.P.

Stop what you are doing

Take a deep breath

Observe what’s around you

Proceed

(You might add in: Apologise as well.)

If they continue to misbehave, take them away from the scene and remind them of the rules by stating them again, in a kind and patient way. (Remember they find it hard to remember rules for very long) Say they can have one more chance and see if they have understood. If they have already become too angry to listen, take them away from the friend, perhaps a room on your own with him and wait until your child calms down and offer rewards and strategies for calming down or holding them and reassuring them.

When ready, the child can try again. If fails, then leave.

This will also reassure the other parent that you have things in control and your child will be more likely to be invited again to play.

Over time, by repeating this procedure in various situations, your child will learn the right social rules and enjoy good friendships.

Other things that help

  • Mindfulness significantly improves ADHD symptoms - 78% reported symptom reduction and 30% reported significant improvement

  • Body scans and the tense and release method are very effective.

  • Massages can really help as having ADHD can make you tense! Massage for 20 mins twice per week for one month - Significant improvement in mood and behaviour

  • Limit screen time and have clear boundaries

  • Avoid food with additives and artificial colouring as this can worsen symptoms.

  • Help the child understand their ADHD

Child counselling can also help by helping the child develop a positive sense of self that will see them through the challenges they face.

If you would like to find out more about parenting strategies or counselling for your child, please contact us.

Further reading and Resources

Have a look at some links for some further help.

https://www.123magic.com

https://buddhify.com

https://chadd.org

https://www.understood.org

Tim Wilens - Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medications for Kids.