The ABCs of rearing an ADHD child

“ADD is part of me; don’t be mad or angry. It's not my fault it's just my brain. Please love me just the same.” This song, sung to the tune of the "ABCs," along with these tips can help you lovingly rear your ADHD child.

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  • “ADD is part of me; don’t be mad or angry. It's not my fault it's just my brain. Please love me just the same. ADD is part of me; please be patient; don't be mean.”

  • This song, sung to the tune of the "ABCs," was made up to help my daughter cope with her ADD diagnosis. Living with a child who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD) can make you feel mad, angry and at times even mean. These tips can help you lovingly rear your ADHD child.

  • A-djust

  • Lifestyle changes may need to occur to assist your ADHD family member, such as allowing her extra time getting ready in the morning or providing her with a quiet space all their own to study. People with ADHD often benefit from structure thus setting time-limits, giving reminders and making lists may prove helpful. Making concessions for your family member doesn’t mean you’re letting AD|HD become a crutch. Rather you’re enabling her to be her best self by removing barriers.

  • As you make adjustments at home, be sure to explain the diagnosis and discuss home environment changes with any siblings so they don’t feel the ADHD child gets special treatment. CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyper-activity Disorder) suggests helping others realize ADHD is not an excuse — it's an explanation.

  • B-elieve

  • Debbie Phelps is a great example of a parent noticing ADHD signs, getting medical help, working as a family team and perhaps most importantly believing that her child could accomplish great things. That confidence was a powerful factor in her son, U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, winning an unprecedented 22 Olympic medals. If you believe your ADHD child can be successful he’ll believe it too.

  • C-hampion

  • Become your loved one’s champion and advocate at school. One mother had concerns about her son’s behavior but was wary to share them with her child’s teacher for fear of labeling. I felt those fears as well but letting school administrators know about my daughter’s ADD diagnosis has yielded wonderful results as teachers and others have helped her manage the disorder while at school.

  • Notice D-epression

  • Depression is a common secondary problem of ADHD. Deborah, the mother of an ADHD seven-year-old son, who has the disorder herself, explains that what is natural to a person with AD|HD is often deemed wrong to others. Criticism may cause a child to believe "I'm not normal. I'm not good." To combat depression in an ADHD child, try to think how he thinks, viewing situations from his point of view. Then respond with empathy instead of criticism. CHADD suggests enlisting the help of a mental health professional to help you and your child as you put together a multi-modal treatment plan including behavioral, educational, psychological, and parental elements.

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  • Change E-xpectations

  • Although ADHD can be managed, the disorder won't ever go away. Therefore, change your expectations for a quick fix. If a person with ADHD doesn’t act on impulses or lose focus as often it doesn’t mean his ADHD is cured. He's still the same person with the same neurological pathway problem. It means he's managing it successfully.

  • Love out F-rustrations

  • One mother confides, “I have feelings of anger, embarrassment, or sadness when my ADHD child acts out.”

  • Deborah sheds light on how an ADHD individual feels. "As frustrating as it is deal with an AD|HD individual, they are as frustrated with themselves because they don't know any other way."

  • Try to see the good in your ADHD loved one: her talents, her drive, her unconquerable spirit. Celebrating her gifts while working with her in their weaker areas will help make home-life more enjoyable and parenting an ADHD child easier.

  • Famed ADHD doctor and author, Dr. Edward M. Hallowell describes it this way. “Every child is born with gifts. Children with ADHD possess extraordinary gifts, but these gifts are unusual in that they can be hidden…Look for the person your child is trying to become…and if you keep on loving them, your child’s gifts will appear one day” ("Super-parenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child").

  • G-olden Rule

  • The good ole Golden Rule is still golden. Treat your child the way you'd like to be treated and teach them to do the same. This includes helping them understand the power of words and that they can choose to withstand the impulse to say unkind or inappropriate things. Emi, mother to an 8-year-old with ADD, encourages her child to change the tenor of a difficult situation by getting moving with some jumping jacks, a creative movement or by taking a deep breath and walking away. Don’t try to protect yourself or your child by removing him from social situations because socialization problems could be prolonged.

  • H-elp

  • Each plan to help a child manage their ADHD will be as different as a child's needs. One mom recommends having ADHD children get plenty of exercise during the day and plenty of sleep at night. Emi finds success when she communicates with her ADHD child matter-of-factly about rules and behavior. Deborah says Love + Structure = Success with ADHD. Doctors suggest individual or group counseling, medication like Ritalin, or vitamin supplements like Phosphatidylserine with dhme.

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  • "The understanding and acceptance of AD|HD could be the single most important factor in determining your child's ultimate success or failure in life." (CHADD) With so many options, you’ll be able to tailor a successful parenting approach to rearing your ADHD child. Remember, "ADD is part of me; please be patient and love me.”

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Jen Savage is the COO of her household. She loves life in Arizona.

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