Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder — typically known as ADHD — is one of the most common developmental disorders found in children. Children with ADHD almost always grow up to have happy, fulfilling lives, and some even stop exhibiting symptoms of the condition in adulthood. However, parenting a child with ADHD can require a bit of a different approach than parenting a child without ADHD, as these children often need special help developing task management skills and healthy habits.
One of the first important steps in raising a child with ADHD is understanding how their condition works. Although scientists are still largely uncertain about the cause of ADHD, they have been able to identify some of the disorder’s most common symptoms. Typically, children with ADHD tend to daydream, fidget, and forget things. Additionally, they may struggle to remain on task and resist temptations, and they might take lots of risks.
Differentiating Between ADHD and Trauma
Although the symptoms of ADHD and PTSD sometimes overlap, the two conditions are very different and require different parental responses. To determine if your child’s behavior is caused by ADHD, PTSD, or both, look for the symptoms that are unique to each condition. If the child is fearful and tends to avoid certain situations, then they likely have experienced trauma. In contrast, if they talk excessively and struggle with organization, then they likely have ADHD. Additionally, you should consider having your child meet with an experienced clinician, as they will be able to provide a more comprehensive diagnosis. \
Parenting a Child with ADHD
When it comes to raising a child with ADHD, it’s important to help your child establish and stick to a routine. Make sure that their routine is simple and has clear boundaries between “free time” and “work time.” Additionally, ensure that your child has a specific quiet place where they can go to do work. Following these steps will help your child know which activities to do when, thus encouraging better organization.
In addition to providing your child with a set schedule, you should help them find outlets for their restless energy. Sports are fantastic for this--and can help your child to establish healthy social relationships--but other options include gardening and yoga. Furthermore, you should ensure that your child gets plenty of sleep at night, as this will improve their focus. To increase the likelihood of your child getting a full night’s sleep, have them do a low-energy activity during the hour before bed, as this will help them to wind down. Additionally, consider putting relaxing scents or sounds in your child’s bedroom, as this will further help them calm down enough to achieve sleep.
Even though supporting and caring for your child with ADHD is important, you should not forget to care for yourself and the rest of your family too. Often, siblings of children with ADHD feel as though they don’t receive enough attention, which can cause them frustration and resentment. Therefore, if you have more than one child, you should make sure that all of your children receive equivalent amounts of attention. Furthermore, you should take steps to ensure you stay healthy and positive. Practice patience with yourself and your family, be willing to make compromises when necessary, and above all, believe that you and your family will turn out ok--because it’s true!