If you have a child with ADHD, you may find that they need a different approach when trying to get them to behave or listen. Some may see their child’s ADHD symptoms as bad behaviour, but it’s another way of dealing with things.
Just because your child may seem disobedient, scattered, demanding, lazy or aggressive at times, it’s not ‘bad behaviour’, and it’s also not ‘bad parenting’. Childhood ADHD symptoms include having trouble sitting still, completing tasks, following directions and many other challenges.
In fact, criticising your child or punishing them for their behaviour can make their ADHD symptoms WORSE!
Ruth Fellowes is one of our wellness experts. She is a clinical nutritionist and educator who helps parents of children with behavioural concerns, ADHD, mood health and sleep.
“ADHD is a developmental disorder, commonly diagnosed in childhood by a specialist paediatrician or child psychiatrist,” she says.
“Be patient with your child. Often, children know they are struggling, and it’s demoralising for them. Put the focus on gaining optimal health so their brain can be at its very best, instead of ‘fixing’ bad behaviours.”
Dealing with childhood ADHD symptoms
There are 3 types of ADHD based on the most prevalent types of ADHD symptoms:
- ADHD inattentive – which is when they’re easily distracted or inattentive
- ADHD hyperactive-impulsive – which is when they’re being hyperactive and impulsive
- ADHD combined – which is a mixture of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention ADHD
Multiple studies show that how a parent interacts with a child with ADHD significantly impacts them and, in some cases, helps improve their childhood ADHD symptoms.
You are the biggest expert on your child and their ADHD symptoms
Doctors, teachers, friends and paediatricians have some great tips to guide you in dealing with the childhood ADHD symptoms that may appear. But ultimately, you are the biggest expert on your child and their individual, unique character traits.
Remember, most children with ADHD symptoms wish they didn’t behave the way they did. They can’t help it. Most kids want their parents to understand them better and not get so upset with them for doing what they do, which are their childhood ADHD symptoms.
You are NOT a bad parent; they are not a BAD child.
Ruth suggests parents whose kids have childhood ADHD symptoms get them into exercise to help them burn off their excessive energy.
“Exercise increases specific neurotransmitters in the brain that help to regulate attention, and feeling more motivated to work on mental tasks and feel less confused,” she says.
“And spending either structured or unstructured time in outdoor activities reduces ADHD symptoms, especially if spending time outdoors in the sunshine.”
“Imagine your child is a Ferrari who needs high-quality fuel to perform. A diet that limits artificial colours and preservatives is low GI and high in proteins, vegetables, and whole grains is ideal. In short, eating the way Grandma did!”
Strategies to help your child deal with their childhood ADHD symptoms
1. Reward positive behaviour
Kids with ADHD symptoms often receive a lot of punishment for their behaviour. However, they respond much better to rewards and positive feedback.
Make rewards part of your everyday life for them, like rewarding them when they finish homework or tidy their room.
2. Listen to your child
Too many kids with childhood ADHD symptoms feel they aren’t understood or heard. Some of them just want your attention. Listen to your child and be there for them if they are struggling.
They might want to get things off their chest and explain their feelings, but their ADHD symptoms mean they struggle to express themselves. They might even want to talk to you for no reason and act out to get your attention.
Whatever the reason, give them your time and reassure them if they find it hard.
3. Let it go
Being a parent of a child with ADHD symptoms is very frustrating. Still, by taking a few minutes to put your own irritations aside and listen to your child, it could make a huge improvement in their behaviour and their childhood ADHD symptoms.
Also, let go of anything that’s getting to you. Your kids aren’t deliberately trying to irritate you. Let go of mild misbehaviour. Giving your child attention, even telling them off, encourages them as they are getting attention.
Pick your battles wisely. You don’t want your child to feel incompetent, either.
4. Give clear instructions
It’s not easy when your child has a short attention span as one of their childhood ADHD symptoms but break it down and be very clear. Turn off the TV so you have your child’s full attention.
Give your child eye contact and calmly give them direction and one instruction at a time.
You could also ask your child to repeat your instructions back to you to ensure they fully understand.
5. Use time outs
Time out doesn’t have to be a punishment. It can be a technique your child uses to help them calm their brains if they feel overstimulated.
One of the common childhood ADHD symptoms is being easily distracted. A time-out can give your child the space to centre their mind and focus.
6. Give them one-on-one time
It’s exhausting having a busy kid, and their energy and desire to talk non-stop can make even the most patient person feel knackered.
Setting time aside for playtime with them reduces the typical attention-seeking behaviour common in ADHD symptoms. Make sure you have at least 15 minutes together to play every day.
7. Seek professional help
Whether it’s a teacher, paediatrician or medical professional, get some help. This will give you extra support and increase the chance of your child excelling at school or in social situations.
Dealing with childhood ADHD symptoms can become overwhelming if you don’t have the right support system in place. There are professionals that deal with these ADHD symptoms regularly, so they can assist you in finding the right tools to deal with them.
Read our expert tips to help your children with ADHD get to sleep.
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