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How to Calm Your Child with ADHD

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often easily distracted, fidgety and impulsive. These symptoms can make it difficult for them to complete tasks and interact with others. If you're the parent of a child with ADHD, you will know that this can lead to frustration, anxiety and stress for both you and your child
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How to Calm Your Child with ADHD

27/02/2023
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Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often easily distracted, fidgety and impulsive. These symptoms can make it difficult for them to complete tasks and interact with others. If you’re the parent of a child with ADHD, you will know that this can lead to frustration, anxiety and stress for both you and your child; however, there are ways to help your child manage their symptoms and calm down when they become overwhelmed.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the ways you can help your child with ADHD calm down when their symptoms are triggered, as well as ways you can cope as a parent.

Ways to help calm a child with ADHD

All children get overwhelmed and emotional at times, and every child will need calming down at some point, but for ADHD children, this can occur more frequently. This is because ADHD symptoms mean your child might have issues with regulating their emotions, resulting in more intense emotions being felt more regularly. In addition, not being able to concentrate and finding it hard to socialise due to impulsivity symptoms can make your child feel frustrated, and this can result in them getting worked up and not knowing how to express themselves.

In these instances, you’ll need to work to calm your child down, but this isn’t always easy. That being said, there are a few ways you can work to reduce triggering ADHD symptoms and manage issues if they do arise.

Be Consistent With Your Parenting

One of the most important things you can do as the parent of a child with ADHD is to be consistent with your parenting. Children with ADHD often have difficulty following instructions, and inconsistent parenting can make their symptoms worse. When you set clear and consistent rules for behaviour and consequences for breaking those rules, your child will feel more secure and less overwhelmed.

Make sure you follow through with consequences when necessary, but also be sure to praise your child when they display positive behaviour. Also make sure to remember that ADHD children don’t misbehave on purpose any more than any other child, but consistent parenting can help to provide structure to reduce their symptoms being triggered or worsened.

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Break Up Homework With Activities

Homework can be a major source of stress for children with ADHD. Sitting still and focusing on schoolwork can be especially challenging for these children. To help reduce their stress, consider breaking up homework into shorter, more manageable segments. You could also encourage them to take breaks in between tasks to move around, stretch, or do something physical.

For example, they might spend 15 minutes doing homework, then take a five-minute break to play with a toy, read a book, or do some jumping jacks. This will help your child stay focused and motivated.

Allow Them to Fidget

Fidgeting is a common symptom of ADHD, and it can be especially challenging for children who are required to sit still in school or at the dinner table. Instead of trying to stop your child from fidgeting, try to redirect their energy in a positive way. For example, you could give them a fidget toy, such as a stress ball, to help them release their pent-up energy.

Many children with ADHD find it easier to concentrate and listen if they have something to fidget with at the same time, so this could be something you recommend for them at school or at times when they need to sit still and be quiet, like at family functions.

Let Your Child Play Before Taking On Big Tasks

Play is an important way for children with ADHD to release their energy and relieve stress. Allowing your child to play before taking on big tasks, such as doing their homework or completing their assigned household chores, can help them feel more relaxed and focused. Play can also help your child develop their social skills, as well as their ability to problem-solve and think creatively. Encourage your child to play with other children and do activities that interest them, such as sports, dance or art.

Help Them Practise Relaxation

Relaxation techniques can be especially helpful for children with ADHD. They can help your child calm down, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve their ability to focus. Some relaxation techniques that you might find useful include taking deep breaths, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness. Encourage your child to practise these techniques when they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. You can also use these techniques with your child to help them feel more comfortable and confident, as well as helping to reduce your own stress levels.

Ways to Cope as Parents of Children with ADHD

ADHD parenting can present a number of challenges that can make everyday life more difficult and stressful, but there are a few things you can do to try and make things easier for both you and your child.

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Plan the Day

One of the most effective ways to manage ADHD symptoms is to create a structured routine. Planning your day can help you and your child stay organised, reduce stress, and increase productivity. Start each day by making a to-do list and prioritise tasks based on importance and urgency. Set realistic goals and break tasks down into smaller, more manageable parts. This will help you and your child stay focused and on track throughout the day, and reduce the chance of both of you feeling overwhelmed. If you know what needs to be done, you can manage your time better and make sure you have time for yourself. It’s important to always try to leave time for you to be alone and recharge – your wellbeing matters too, and the better rested you are, the better parent you can be.

Set Clear Boundaries

Children with ADHD often have difficulty following rules and adhering to boundaries, largely due to impulsivity leading to poor self control. Setting clear and consistent boundaries can help your child feel more secure and less overwhelmed. Make sure your child understands what is expected of them and the consequences for breaking the rules. Be firm but fair, taking a few deep breaths if needed, and try to stay calm and patient when enforcing consequences. This will help your child feel more in control and less frustrated because they know what to expect. This will also ensure your personal boundaries are respected, too.

Be Positive

As a parent of a child with ADHD, it can be easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. However, maintaining a positive outlook can help you and your child manage stress and build resilience. Try to focus on your child’s strengths and accomplishments and emphasise them, and praise them when they display positive behaviour.

Oftentimes, children with ADHD have low self-esteem, especially if they’re mostly having negative interactions. This can worsen their symptoms or behaviour, making it important for you to try and be positive. In addition, looking at the positives is a good way for you to brighten your own outlook and mood, too.

Implement an Incentive Scheme

An incentive scheme can be an effective way to motivate your child with ADHD. When your child completes a task or shows positive behaviour, reward them with something they enjoy, such as extra screen time, a special treat or a fun activity. This will help your child feel encouraged and motivated to behave in a specific way.

Intervene Early

Early intervention can make all the difference for children with ADHD. If you think your child has ADHD, look to get a professional ADHD assessment as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help your child manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of future problems. If your child has already been diagnosed with ADHD, make sure they are receiving appropriate ADHD treatment, including medication and therapy if necessary.

Socialise Regularly

Socialising is an important aspect of life for everyone. Make sure you carve out time to socialise with your friends and do things for you. At the same time, encourage your child to socialise and help them develop positive social skills, such as taking turns, sharing, and making eye contact.

Regular social interaction can help your child build confidence, reduce stress, and improve their ability to socialise with others. One way you could socialise and have your child socialise at the same time is to join a support group for children with ADHD. Your child can be around other children with ADHD, and you can talk to other parents who may be encountering similar difficulties as yourself.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a powerful tool for reducing stress for everyone. Whether you go for a 30-minute walk, do an hour at the gym, or ride an exercise bike whilst watching TV in the evening, physical movement can greatly improve your outlook and wellbeing, both mentally and physically. In addition, exercise can also help your child develop healthy habits, improve their sleep patterns, and boost their mood. It’s also a great tool to monitor their physical activity and ensure that any excess energy is tackled, specifically if your child’s ADHD is specific to hyperactivity.

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Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is essential for children with ADHD. Research has shown that a diet high in sugar, processed foods, and artificial additives can exacerbate ADHD symptoms. Encourage your child to eat a diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. A healthy diet can help your child manage their symptoms, reduce stress, and maintain a healthy weight, all of which can have an impact on their behaviour overall.

Introduce a Bedtime Routine

Establishing a bedtime routine can help both you and your child get the rest you need. A bedtime routine can help you to wind down, reduce stress, and improve the quality of your sleep. This can have a direct impact on your mental and physical health and is therefore something that should be prioritised.

Get Appropriate Accommodations In Place at School

As a parent of a child with ADHD, it is important to be involved in your child’s education. Make sure your child’s school is aware of their diagnosis and has accommodations in place to support their needs. This may include extra time on tests, preferential seating, and individualised support from a teacher or teaching assistant. By working closely with your child’s school, you can help your child succeed academically, and this can have a knock-on effect on their self-esteem and subsequent behaviour.

Child ADHD Support at The ADHD Centre

At The ADHD Centre, we provide a comprehensive private diagnosis and treatment service for children with ADHD. Our leading team comprises ADHD specialists who are committed to working with you and your child to develop a bespoke, effective and cohesive treatment plan, as well as additional support for you as a parent. Please call us on 0800 061 4276 or email us at enquiries@adhdcentre.co.uk to learn more about how we can help you.

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