Saturday, January 4, 2014
A New Year Brings Helpful ADHD Strategies for Parents
The New Year 2014 is but a few days old, and everywhere one can see ads and commercials for the latest diet supplements, the most effective weight loss programs and assistance from the most famous exercise gurus. It's natural and predictable that each new year brings with it many ways for self-improvement. Hopefully, if you have decided to improve your quality of life in one or more ways, you will also resolve to stay the course and reach your goal(s)in 2014. We especially hope that if ADHD is in some way apart of your life or someone you care about, you are making plans to help facilitate improvement and better management of the ADHD symptoms.
Last week, we began this series of three articles to offer teachers some practical strategies to help their students challenged with the issues often associated with ADHD. We thought it best to present these resources during the holiday break so that teachers might have a better opportunity to read and make plans to implement some of the strategies in the article (With a New Year, New ADHD Strategies for Teachers http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2013/12/with-new-year-new-adhd-strategies-for.html). If you are an educator, we hope you will find the strategies presented in the article to be helpful in your classroom.
This week, however, the article here is written with parents in mind. Parents want to help their children enjoy more success in the classroom, in relationships with friends and at home with the family. Even though these parents want to help, they may not always know the best ways to do so. We wanted to provide a few, practical strategies that might give them a good place to start, especially as we begin the New Year. We hope that improvement in your child will soon be evident when these ideas and tips are implemented.
Please remember that it will be important to be consistent, compassionate and observant as you work with your child who is challenged with attention and focus issues. Have frequent "talks" with your child and ask for his or her input regarding the new strategies. These discussions will be even more helpful and productive with older children in the middle and high school years. You might even discover that more benefits than expected will result from using some of the strategies presented here. It just could enrich your parent-child relationship at the same time. What a WIN-WIN that would be for the New Year, right?
Happy New Year AND Happy Reading, parents!
ADHD Strategies for Parents
1. Be informed about ADHD and how it affects your child: Read and learn as much as you can about ADHD (which affects between 1.6 and 2 million adults and children in the U.S.) so that you can be an effective advocate for your child. There are many good books on the subject, including Answers to Distraction by Edward Hallowell, M.D. and John Ratey, M.D. Also, a quarterly publication to consider with excellent and some of the most current information about ADHD is ADDitude Magazine, published by New Hope Media.
2. Be upfront about your child's ADHD: It will be helpful to your child if you can accept the fact that he or she has these attention and focus issues. How well you accept and handle this will impact your child's self-esteem and ability to manage the ADHD symptoms in order to experience success in the classroom and elsewhere. Talk to your child's teachers, coaches, camp counselors, babysitters, etc. about the fact that your child has ADHD. This will help them to better understand your child and work more effectively with him or her---and you.
3. Don't overestimate the "power" of medications: At the same time, be aware of any medications prescribed by your child's medical professional, staying abreast of changes in medications should they become necessary. Understand that medication is a partial solution for ADHD. Behavioral modification with the right blend of strategies for your child will be a key component in effectively helping your daughter or son with the challenges and symptoms of ADHD.
4. Learn methods of effective discipline: One of the best behavioral modification systems is 1-2-3 Magic. The concept was developed by Thomas Phelan, Ph.D., who wrote: 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12. This precise and effective tool also works for kids who don't have ADHD. Again, being consistent yet compassionate will aid in the effectiveness of your approach and use of the appropriate strategies.
5. Work with your child's teacher(s): Establish a good, working and respectful relationship with your child's teacher(s). If your child is misbehaving at school, work with his teacher(s) to develop an effective discipline system like 1-2-3 Magic (many teachers already use this system). If your child is having trouble staying focused on his studies, work with the teacher(s) to develop a reward system that can bring about the needed results.
6. Help provide structure at home for your child: Work together to provide a set time for study and homework to be completed each day at home. Arrange for a dedicated space in your home for that study---away from the TV or other stimulating distractions. At the same time, soft, instrumental background music may help some children or teens experience more focus when studying. Frequent study breaks and short periods of exercise or movement may also contribute to more successful reading and study. You may need to experiment with a little trial and error to see what will work best for your child.
7. Create an effective rewards system at home: Develop a list of specific tasks that your child will need to complete each day (homework, gathering the recyclables, etc.) Then decide upon the appropriate reward. If your child is very young, consider filling a jar with small prizes such as colored pencils, stickers or the like. Allow your child to select one prize each day if he accomplishes all of the tasks on his list. If he accomplishes only three of the four tasks, for example, tell him he did a good job but that he must complete all four tasks to get the reward. If your child is older, consider other rewards (a trip to the zoo or to a movie on Saturday). Behavior modification charts may be very helpful to use for each day or throughout each week. To access a variety of FREE, printable charts of this type for various age levels, visit http://www.freeprintablebehaviorcharts.com/unlocking_the_secrets_to_good_behavior.htm.
8. Seek out good, professional help: Consider working with a child psychologist to learn parenting skills that can be particularly helpful for children with ADHD. If your child is developing negative ways of interacting with family members, consider family counseling to try and turn things around. Everyone's self-esteem will certainly benefit.
9. Do connect with other parents: Many communities have created organizations to help support parents of children with ADHD (known as CHADD [Chapter of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder]). These groups can be enormously helpful. Not only will you feel supported, but you will be able to pick up effective tips and strategies that have worked for other parents. Ask your child's medical professional if there's a CHADD chapter in your community.
10. Remember to take good care of yourself: The challenges of ADHD can be taxing amnd at tome even a bit overwhelming. Look for positive outlets to keep your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual life in balance. Regular exercise is one great outlet.
11. Think positively: With proper information, education, structure, coaching (and medication in some situations), the prognosis for kids with ADHD is good. It's also important to realize that kids with ADHD often exhibit these prominent, positive traits: creativity, warm-heartedness, a trusting and/or forgiving attitude, the ability to take risks (a double-edged sword, to be sure), flexibility, tenacity and determination. Help your child channel these gifts in the best possible directions. And don't forget to "catch" your child doing something good and offer genuine praise at the same time. You'll both enjoy the experience.
12 Strategies to Help Parents of Kids with ADHD by Donna Engelgau---from Discovery Fit & Health
12 Parenting Strategies That Work for ADD Kids by Deborah Carpenter---from ADDitude Magazine
For information on customizable reading tools for ADHD & other reading challenges:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers
Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com