Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterised by three key behaviours – a short attention span, hyperactivity and impulsivity – and tends to be common in children with learning disabilities.
Symptoms of ADHD are recognisable from a young age and diagnosis is most likely to take place in children aged between six and 12.
For parents who find out their child has ADHD it can be a huge relief, as they can finally make sense of their child’s behaviour.
However, receiving a diagnosis does not mean the challenge is over. Living with a child with ADHD brings with it all kinds of issues that can take make normal, everyday activities very stressful.
There are however ways to cope.
Keep things structured and disciplined
It tends to be easier to manage the behaviours of a child with ADHD when they are in a structured environment, with clear communication, consistency and an uncluttered, calm atmosphere in the home. Make sure you and other carers for your child react similarly to positive and negative behaviour and keep to set routines and plans.
It can also help to ensure your child gets a good nights sleep as symptoms can be worse when they are tired, and try to avoid situations where their behaviour may be more difficult to handle.
Help to build your child’s self-esteem
Many children with ADHD will experience problems in school and may find it difficult to make and keep friends. As a result their self-esteem is typically low. To help your child, remind them of their positive habits and behaviours and focus on developing their strengths. If they have a problem, help them to work through it using a calm voice and agree on a solution together.
Give simple instructions
It is important to be concise and to the point when asking your child to do things. Rather than saying something like, “Can you tidy your room?” make sure you give a clear command such as “Please tidy your room”. This also provides opportunity for praise and to boost your child’s self-esteem if they complete the task.
Provide immediate feedback
Frequent feedback and responding quickly to a child with ADHD is very important, as they tend to succeed most if praise is given as soon as they complete a task. Likewise, if your child doesn’t complete a task, make sure you give them immediate consequences (such as a time out) to encourage them to finish it. Delayed responses tend to be ineffective.