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10 New Approaches for ADHD Parenting
Parenting a child with ADHD can take an emotional toll on you every day. Here are strategies you can use right now to recharge your batteries and refresh your outlook.
By Jean Rothman
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
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As the parent of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, your parenting skills are challenged every day. You may often find yourself feeling tense, never knowing when your child is going to behave disruptively. Your child’s ADHD symptoms, such as being inattentive, impulsive, stubborn, and unable to sit still, can leave you frustrated and, though it’s hard to admit, angry and even resentful.
ADHD Parenting: Easing Your Emotions
Not only might you feel isolated from other parents whose children do not have ADHD, but you may even feel envious of them. The good news is that there are strategies to help you feel less alone and overwhelmed.
Parenting a child with ADHD doesn’t have to be so emotionally exhausting, says Edward M. Hallowell, MD, director of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, Mass. “One of my biggest recommendations for a parent is to try and catch on to the spirit and essence of your child. It is tragic how many children with ADHD lose their spirit,” adds Dr. Hallowell, who has ADHD himself and is the co-author, with Peter S. Jensen, MD, ofSuperparenting for ADD.
ADHD Parenting: 10 Ways to Recharge
Here are 10 important tips Hallowell recommends for parents who feel frustrated, alone, and angry.
1. Change your perspective.Instead of seeing ADHD as a “disability,” try to change your perspective and see how special your child with ADHD is. Children with ADHD are often very imaginative and creative — don't hesitate to nurture your child's gifts.
2. Look for the good.Reframing your child’s symptoms can be a great way to start changing your point of view on ADHD. For every negative trait associated with ADHD, there is a way to frame it as a more positive trait. You can view disorganization as being spontaneous, for example, or stubbornness as tenacity. This outlook not only boosts your child's self-esteem, but also helps offset your frustration.
3. Make a plan.If you have a plan to deal with problems that arise, you automatically feel more in control and less worried. And it doesn’t matter if one plan fails; simply come up with a new plan until you find one that works.
4. Get the facts.Worrying usually comes from a lack of information, so talk to your pediatrician and ask for resources to learn more about ADHD.
5. Don’t worry alone.Talk to a friend, your spouse, your child's pediatrician, or your own doctor. Sharing your feelings helps you release steam and feel less resentful.
6. Lose yourself in laughter.Surround yourself with people who can laugh. It is important to be able to regain a perspective that allows you to see the humor in parenting.
7. Look for support.Start a support group of your own or join the local chapter of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD).
8. Reach out to your child’s teacher.No one wins when parents and teachers of children with ADHD don't communicate. View your child's teacher as an ally, someone you can work with to develop strategies that encourage your child's best performance at school.
9. Support your child's interests.Rather than always fussing over disappointing grades and other shortcomings, put your energy into supporting your ADHD child’s strength, whether it's drawing, playing soccer, or coming up with creative inventions.
10. Love your child.Love is the single most powerful tool you can use to draw out your child’s strengths. With your love, trust and patience, the strengths of your child with ADHD will continue to grow and evolve.
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