I am delighted that ADHD is now being discussed more widely in the public forum. The more we can educate the masses about this neurological condition the better.
We need more people to be aware that this condition is not about bad parenting, watching cartoons or eating too many sweets. It cannot be cured and it will not go away.
It is now estimated by Royal College of Psychiatrists, that up to 5% could have ADHD, but many more go undiagnosed, particularly girls.
ADHD is real.
Brains of people with ADHD are just wired differently. Neurons are not consistently sending messages to the parts of the brain that control processing information.
They are not naughty. And they are certainly not deliberately trying to wind up parents, siblings, friends or teachers. ADHD is a neurological condition that affects a person’s ability to make decisions, choices and will cause erratic behaviour.
Typically, people with ADHD are disorganized, forgetful, distractable.
They have a poor sense of time and will often be late.
They start a task and then leave it unfinished. Or will just procrastinate and not start it at all.
Will blurt out something that seems hurtful or insensitive. Or continue to interrupt quite forcefully.
Due to years of being yelled at, nagged at, being told off and socially isolated, our children have a very poor feeling of self-worth. This is serious as we do not want them to have poor emotional health as young adults and then suffer with mental health difficulties.
So what can you do today to help your child?
1. Help with organization
Use lists. Write on post-it notes and draw pictures. Stick anything visual around the room or house to remind your child what is needed.
Make timetables and charts with clock faces.
Set alarms with a clock app. Make lists with apps such as Evernote and Trello. Use Calendar app and set reminders to notify.
Get ready the night before exactly what is needed. Have routines and checklists in place.
Be a great role model and be organised, always leave enough time to get anywhere and make plans.
2. Opportunities for Success
Our children have had years of things not going right for them. Our school system is not geared for our gorgeous children who are required to sit still for long periods of time and take in information in heavy chunks.
So your child may feel useless, stupid and a failure. This then becomes anger, avoidance and hugely negative behaviour. And so the spiral continues. They hit out. They get punished. And then feels more crap.
We want our little people to grow up into self-assured, confident young people – so something needs to change.
I urge you to find the positive things in your child’s little world and notice them and attempt to stop this negative cycle of destruction.
It may be an act of kindness or generosity. It may be sharing or being thoughtful.
Or a natural talent or skill such as joke telling or being a great mimic.
Can he juggle or make incredible lego models.
Grab any opportunity in the day for noticing something your child is doing right. It will make him feel amazing.
Then along comes praise. The power of praise cannot be underestimated. Noticing something he is doing right and then a smile of encouragement, a hug and a simple ‘I noticed that…’ is massively powerful.
Imagine right now if someone you love notices just a small thing you did today. And instead of it being ignored, you were told ‘That was so lovely when you let that person in the queue ahead of you’. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Someone noticed.
But all too often it is the obvious loud, negative things that are noticed in our children’s lives. Forgetting their PE kit, shouting out, being late, being outspoken, being forgetful. As stated, these things are part of your child’s chemical make-up. So instead of shouting and getting cross, let’s help your child overcome these difficulties. And notice the positive.
4. Make Time
Our lives are super busy. But stop and make time with your child. Whatever has gone on earlier in the day, put that aside and spend some time just playing, laughing and having fun.
Build up the relationships and keep lines of communication open. When things are going bad for your child, you want them to be able to tell you and communicate their frustrations. Give him the space and the time.
5. Calm down
Our children can experience emotional disregulation and so are unable to control their emotions. They can experience extreme overwhelm.
You need to teach your child to recognise the physical symptons, such sweaty palms, quickened heart beat, flushed face, headache.
Work out together what to do about it.
Find ways to calm down. It could be a quiet place, no distractions like under a bed, in a cool room or behind the sofa. Listen to calm music on headphones, watch a lava lamp or twinkly lights. Touch sensory objects such as soft, velvet cushion, sequined material, fiddle or squeezy toy.
Your child will also need to run it out. It is widely recognised that any forms of exercise will increase the chemical dopamine which is the chemical our children are lacking.
6. Give Instructions in Small steps
Our children with ADHD cannot take on too much information at once. So don’t overload. The signals are just not getting through. Your child is not deliberately ignoring you – he just been unable to process all that information.
So give up to 3 instructions at a time. Go upstairs, get your book bag, come down.
Any more and the information will be lost, he wont remember and will abandon the task.
Make everything achievable so there is success and praise.
7. Clear boundaries
Our children do not want to be feral. They want boundaries but they need to be fair. Decide together and stick to them. Don’t have too many as this can be overwhelming. You may want to write them down so your child can refer to them.
Children with ADHD are natural risk takers so it’s vital to agree rules.
Our children have great ideas. So listen to them. You are their parent but we do not live in the Victorian Age where children were ‘seen and not heard’. Children today have strong ideas and opinions and we should listen.
Compromise and find an agreement. Your child will be more likely to stick to something if they have invested their own opinion and feel heard.
9. Leave school at school
Schools are getting better at understanding ADHD. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go. I actually offer training to schools but am saddened by how few are reaching out to educate the inexperienced teachers.
So it’s quite likely that your child will come out at the end of the day feeling angry, fed up, isolated and emotionally battered.
My advice would be, unless you’re called in, do not bring it into the home. Do not question or make judgements. Try not to create a ‘them and us’ atmosphere or criticise the school. Your child has to feel comfortable going in every day. But please do not talk about
Instead, make their time at home a safe place where they are achieving and successful. They feel liked and that they’re a valued member.
If you are called in, try not to get into the ‘tell me what happened’ scenario. Your child may not know what happened. He has ADHD! He is impulsive and acted before he could think. Instead, ask the teacher what THEY could have done differently to prevent your child being in trouble.
So ADHD does not have to be a negative force in your child’s life. There are many positives. We must get rid of the stigma and promote the positives that people with ADHD possess:
Creativity, passion and excitement 💛
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