As an adult with ADHD, you might already be feeling like you have so much on your plate. Everything is hard to organise; you feel so restless, feel the need to be on time and remember all the things you need to do for the rest of the day. Mind the pressure of the society that demands and has set standards that will qualify you as a good parent and then add “My child has ADHD,” to the equation. Parenting a child with ADHD is definitely not for the faint-hearted, and it becomes more dreadful when you have ADHD yourself.
Millions of mothers are facing this challenge every day. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has high heritability and is more likely to be passed on to your kids than other disorders like schizophrenia. Most often than not, parents and children who share the same disorder is a recipe for disaster. Parenting lies mainly in the executive functions of the brain which are affected by ADHD: critical thinking, organising, remembering tasks, patience and keeping calm. When parents struggling with these challenges have children who are in the same situation, they are bound to be more forgetful and experience sudden bursts of emotions.
One of the most common dilemma that ADHD coaches are being asked about is: “How can I parent my ADHD child when I struggle with organising things myself?” Here are some tips from ADHD coaches to help you handle your own ADHD brain and parent an ADHD child.
Mend your issues.
The first step in helping your child with ADHD/ADD, it is crucial that you first take action about your ADHD issues. Seek treatment and professional help for your challenges. Recognise how your symptoms have been affecting your own life – the tasks you find hard to finish and to concentrate on or the things that make you get easily tired. Identify your challenges and make plans that will work for you. For instance, when you arrive home from work, you are already drained and might not have the mental energy to help with your child’s homework. Choose ways that will work out for you and your son like having him complete his homework at school or hiring someone to assist him with these tasks.
When you are a parent finding it hard to get a hold of everything going on in your life, it is important to prioritise. Choose your battles, pick out the one’s worth fighting and the ones to just let go of. Maintain a sound mind by setting petty things aside. Not all problems are created equal and not all failures are worth moping about.
Develop a positive relationship with your child.
Find quality time to spend with your child and remember that not all moments have to become a skill or a task to be learned. Find something you can do together other than therapy. Leisure time can give you and your child something positive to talk about and memories you can remember through the bad times. It will strengthen your relationship and mind you, strong parent-children relationships can go farther than you can imagine. Go camping, play baseball, take baking lessons- find a hobby you can share and hang out with your child. Create great memories.
Partners in crime.
Well, of course not literally. With both of you sharing the same demands every day, your child makes a perfect partner. Talk with your child and ask about ways that will help work for both you and your child. This will give a chance to get a perspective of how your child wants to handle his ADHD and at the same time be creative about it. And then make necessary adjustments.
Understand your child.
When you are a parent with ADHD, chances are, you have already been in your child’s shoe. Remember all the things you have been through and use these to understand your child’s condition. Understanding how your child’s behaviour, is in fact, something he sometimes can’t control will go a long way as an element of your patience. This will help you teach yourself to be more compassionate and empathetic with your child.
Parenting is already a tough job itself but parenting an ADHD child will make it tougher. You will need all the help you can get. Attend parenting classes specially designed for parents with ADHD and parenting ADHD children, find resources and read books about it.
Stick to a schedule
Now that you have devised ways to organise your child’s activities and your own, stick to your plans. Consistency is the key not to let ADHD get in the way. When you both already know what to do and you are already used to doing it, it will be of less burden to remember and certainly becomes a habit. Following activities that have already become a habit can help you and your child in getting stuff done quickly.
One way of helping your child stick to a schedule is to think out loud. “Baseball game starts at 10:30. It takes 20 minutes to drive from here to the baseball field. So, we have to leave by 9:45 in case of traffic.” By telling your child how to effectively follow schedules will help him learn to stick to his’. This is a skill that will help him in his adulthood.
Look at the brighter side.
Focus on the good. Recognise and acknowledge your child’s strength, as well as yours. Take time to praise your child for good behaviour and remember the moments that you feel you have succeeded as a mom/dad.
Understand that ADHD is not an impossible obstacle to get through. Don’t let ADHD become an excuse for you and your child. You are not defined by your ADHD. And most especially, you are not your ADHD. Set a good example for your child to follow and to look up to. Step back and never let pressure break you. If your child sees that you are able to overcome ADHD, they will have hope that they can, too.