Parenting attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) children can be extremely challenging, but there are definitely some things parents can do to make life easier. For example, making use of the natural strengths of these children is essential. These strengths include a tendency to be very routine oriented and visual, a desire for positive adult approval, and the desire to make good choices.
Keeping a schedule or consistent routine is perhaps the most important factor in parenting ADHD children and creating a peaceful, constructive home life. Success is much more likely when the children know what to do when they finish one task or what is next on the daily schedule. An example of an evening routine may be that at 6:00 p.m. dinner is served, and at 7:00 p.m. the child showers, brushes teeth, lays out his or her clothes for the next morning, and gets the backpack ready for school. Depending on the age of the child, important routines can be written down on a checklist using pictures, text, or a combination thereof. Some children with ADHD find it motivating to physically cross off or make a check mark next to a completed task on the list.
Parents may feel as if they are constantly nagging at their children. This can change by giving the children as much responsibility as is safe and practical for their ages. With responsibility comes another key to parenting ADHD children: Allowing them to experience real, natural consequences of their actions. These are kids who learn by doing, by experiencing life's successes as well as its failures. Nagging will rarely make a permanent impact, but experiencing real-life consequences teach lessons that are not soon forgotten.
Sometimes allowing children the freedom to fail is very hard, but learning through safe, non-life-threatening, ordinary situations is necessary for them to ultimately grow into responsible adults. An example of a natural consequence of refusing to go to bed at the agreed-upon bedtime is that the child is very tired the next day. A natural consequence of losing his gloves would mean cold hands. Of course, children must be protected from dangerous circumstances. Nobody should be allowed to get hit by a car in order to learn the importance of looking both ways before crossing the street.
Another tip for parenting ADHD children is to provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Such tools may include an alarm clock to help a child get up on time, a timer set for a 20-minute homework period followed by a five-minute break, a color-coded schedule, or a written list of house rules that the child has helped design. An assigned and labeled place for shoes, clothes, coat, and backpack may help the child keep track of these items.
Ensuring plenty of physical activity is very helpful when parenting ADHD children. Not only will activity burn off some of their extra energy, it also promotes brain function. Physical activity may include structured karate lessons, swimming, yoga for kids, or something entirely different. If parents join in, physical activity can be a positive way for both to spend time together.
Parenting ADHD children tends to be a much more intense experience than parenting a child without the condition. It requires more planning and organization, as well as an inordinate amount of patience, on the part of the adult. Trying some of these tips for parenting ADHD children may help make life much less stressful.