The following is the first of two articles providing helpful ADHD parenting tips and information. See Part 2 for the last three tips.
I was recently interviewed by Attention Talk Video with Jeff Copper about my stance on Parent Advocacy and the importance of owning your role as the parent of an ADHD student. ADHD parents are called to do more because our culture makes it easy to dismiss ADHD kids as lazy or disrespectful because they behave differently than their peers. As a result, I have found that most ADHD parents want as much information on ADHD as possible. In fact, most parents I work with have read nearly everything they can get their hands on and worry about their child’s school performance, hoping their child is able to “pull it together.” Additionally, they worry about medication decisions, and trying to negotiate educational needs with administrators. It’s easy to get frustrated, but DON’T PANIC! The following information can help you put it into perspective as you help as you raise your child to enjoy a life they are capable of live with the right support for their ADHD.
My clients (young teens, recent college graduates and adults in transition) often recognize and articulate their “smarts” but are confused about the level of difficulty they have at “pulling it all together.” The rule “stay longer, plus work harder equals success” often fails kids with ADHD because although they work hard, the lack of efficiency and production make them look unprepared or lazy in school.
Left untreated or unsupported, other’s judgment and societal pressures can take a toll on the psyche of an ADHD child and his parents at a great cost.– their loss of self-confidence, hindering their ability to move forward with their lives. They are virtually blind to the real talents and gifts they bring to the world, making it harder to find their own way to happiness and self-fulfillment.
#1 It’s Your Mission … And You Need To Accept It
Let’s face it, parenting an ADHD child is more demanding than on parents whose children do not have ADHD. You are going to have the most vested in your child’s success, a long term overview of your child’s interests and strengths over time, as well as, his or her ally and advocate for life. You are calling the shots and a real coach for this child. You need to accept that your parenting role will be “upped” a level than most children. You will be forced to create motivation and have clear expectations articulated. You will pay attention to the environment your child is most successful in and then find ways recreate it in other contexts. You will communicate regularly and more often with doctors, teachers and family members about your child’s needs than most. You will have to realistically look at your child’s decision-making abilities and may not hand them the keys to the car because they not quite ready for driving. Your parenting decisions will NOT look like some of the other parents.
#2 Tailor the latest ADHD Knowledge to Your Child’s Brain Function
You will have to develop an understanding of ADHD generally, and apply that understanding by personalizing it to your child’s home and learning environment. As they grow older, you will have to make sure your child can develop and understanding of their needs and strategies as well, and not use ADHD as an excuse. You will have to master the art of motivation for your child and help them develop it for themselves by experimenting to find out what “works” and change it as often as needed. Becoming a “helicopter” parent who makes sure their child succeeds by doing it for them is counter-productive. However, helping them create and design strategies that support their executive function allowing for success IS the very essence of what your parenting should look like. Become able to look at your child objectively so they can look at their weakness objectively, allows for an environment that says, “You can grow and change,” rather than a character flaw or moral deficit on their character.
Part 2 of this article will soon follow! Be sure to check out the next three parenting tips for the balcony view.