Actually this is more about telling it like it is and what I have learnt over the years. With experience of adoption, fostering, ADHD and mental health it’s been a major learning curve.
All children are different and often there are no magic answers. However, so often we beat ourselves up for all the mistakes, without recognising the good we do.
The tips below are what I found helpful with ADHD. However, if the ideas work for a child with ADHD, they should help any child.
What kids want the most is to know they belong and are loved. It’s about connections and attachments to key people in their lives. Sounds obvious doesn’t it but when we reflect for a moment, all too often work, partners, money and various stresses get in the way of positive relationships with our children.
What can we do?
Be their parent, not their friend and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ on the important stuff. Have a few clear boundaries and then be flexible about the rest.
Know your children love you passionately – it may not feel like it sometimes but you are their true super hero.
If reading lots of parenting books is doing your head in and confusing the issue…STOP!
What your child needs to flourish is a home, warmth, encouragement, activity, play, healthy foods, safe environments and a sense of belonging. As most parents love their children, they are providing these things already so don’t worry just because you made a mistake or got mad one day. Children need to see how the people they love manage anger/upset and not be overwhelmed by it.
Give our children ‘time’. Don’t jam pack every moment of their days with planned activities. It’s okay for kids to be bored sometimes (it gives them a chance to use their imagination). Let your child choose an activity and do it together where possible. When we give children time and listen, the need to act out dissipates. Motivation is the key!
Go outside; plant in the garden, go to the park, create an obstacle course in the garden. My son used to love digging, just digging! Physical activity is so important as it releases endorphins – the feel good factor. In my view we don’t do these sort of activities enough and they don’t cost a lot of money.
Recognise that some children are more affected by online games. My son’s behaviour changed when he played certain games. Don’t be afraid to limit the time but it’s worth giving clear reminders e.g. agree beforehand how long your child is going to spend playing and then give a fifteen minute and a five minute warning it’s time to stop.
It’s also worth remembering how often do we as adults spend on technology? Social skills and interaction are keys to a successful outcome and if we are too busy on our phones etc. we lose the opportunity to show our children how to communicate and debate using eye contact or non-verbal skills.
Build confidence by letting your child have a go and manage risk; cooking with you, walking to the local shop, climbing a tree etc.
My ADHD Story
As a parent of a child with ADHD, I felt constantly guilty. Add to that adoption and the associated attachment/identity issues, well let’s say it was very challenging at times. My son is now a loving 21year old who has learnt to manage his difficulties and I wish I could have told my younger self, not to worry so much. I want to pass on to younger parents, trust in yourselves. Every family is unique so just enjoy your own journey of being a parent. For example if you have a lively/hyper child and find it’s just too stressful going to numerous mum and toddler groups, then only go when you feel strong. What many forget, is children with ADHD or autism do not cope with lots of noise and people; it increases their anxiety and this in turn escalates behaviour. You may get well meaning advice from friends who say you should bring him/her more often to improve social skills but if by attending three/four times a week causes stress for both of you, what is the point. In my view, it’s far better to go once or twice a week and give full attention to helping your child manage and go away feeling positive. The rest of the time can be quieter activities or going to the park etc. and enjoying each other.
The website below gives advice from experts and parents. There is lots of useful info and what is on the website backs up my own experience.