In this Eleos Clinic blog, we visit the importance of becoming the greatest cheerleaders or advocates for our children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other types of neurodivergence.
Our aim as a team is to help parents and carers support children with ADHD to bring their best selves to home and school life.
Children with ADHD are often told that they are too lazy, not good enough, can not keep up and are different from others. Children with ADHD are more likely to make mistakes and may say things without using their filter, or struggle to organise themselves compared to their peer group.
Feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy can set in. This can become internalised and part of thinking patterns which can then impact on mood and anxiety.
If this lands with you as a parent or supporter of your child with ADHD, then please continue to read and remember that we can help our children feel more positive experiences and enriched lives.
Life can be more challenging for children who have invisible differences compared to neurotypical peers. By naming and addressing this postively and pro actively, we can help our children to build the important coping skills for adult life.
Here are some of our tips and strategies for helping your child with ADHD.
Accept your child's situation, be open about emotions and then help your children learn to problem solve. You can help your child to feel accepted and learn to make their way in the world. The modern world is not designed for neurodivergent children and families, and therefore accomodations and strategies help to make life more manageable. Learning what works for your child and your family is key.
Remember strategies can take time but can make a huge difference to your child. It will take time, and consistency and persistence. By role modelling that yes life can be messy and difficult, but there are coping tools which can be really effective, then mean that your child is more likely to learn these too. Repetition is important here, demonstrating a strategy or tool once or twice is not enought. Repeat and repeat again as needed. By repeating positive behaviours and actions leads to an increased likelihood that this will become part of the culture of the child's life and also within the family.
Resist fixing. Being able to coach or mentor your child and navigate challenging situations, without fixing or automatically repairing as a parent, is key as we can help our children to own their situations and problem solve more effectively.
Believe in yourself and believe in your child! Therefore, it is really important that we let our children know that we believe them and remind ourselves as parents or carers that we need to believe that we have the ability to advocate and help our children be the best they can be.
Children with ADHD benefit from structure, consistency and having their cheerleaders who truly believe in them and can see their potential.
Celebrate those magical glimmers! When I say, this I mean really celebrate the little wins - notice what your child is doing well and amplify it. When people notice us doing our best and completing every day tasks, we want to do more of it. It can be like magic! It can be as simple as your child helps with tidying up or offers a brilliant suggestion. Make an effort to notice the positives over a couple of days rather than focussing on what is not going well - this can be really hard and tricky for parents and carers and understandably so. It is often more likely that we will comment on what our children are not doing or what they are struggling with.
However, by noticing glimmers and what is going well, the seedlings of hope and connection grow. Start with, "I noticed that you were thinking really creatively around that task" or "I really like how you helped your Aunty/Uncle". It just takes a pause and noticing the behaviour to get your started.
Start with tasks which your child can achieve and build on! As adults, we can teach our children to learn how to manage tasks which can seem overwhelming by breaking this up into smaller chunks and offer encouragement. It is okay to not get it right all the time and it is absolutely okay to keep trying to improve, and learn each time. Start with a task which is achievable and then you can gradually increase the challenge, this can work wonder for the child who will set high aims only to feel that they cannot manage to complete them, leading to critical thoughts of failure and lowered self esteem. We want to break this cycle as much as possible.
Encourage healthy sleep Children with ADHD can experience sleep difficulties. However sleep can also impact on the ability to concentrate and complete tasks. Try small changes like using sensory soothing strategies - think about how smell, sound and light can help or hinder sleep, some children like to use pressure or weighted blankets, stop screen time two hours before bedtime and encourage your child to write down any thoughts which might keep them awake at night.
We hope that these tips and strategies around the management of ADHD are helpful. We look forward to sharing more in future blogs.
Do share with us what else you would like to know and understand when it comes to children, young people and families.