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Parenting a child with ADHD sometimes feels like parenting a whirlwind. Your child may not be able to sit still more than ten seconds at a time, and he always has to be doing something. What’s worse, he can’t—or won’t—pay attention to anything you want him to pay attention to! At the same time he may be perfectly good at going into his own world and focusing on things that matter to him—like that 100-story Lego castle he has going. It’s a recipe for parental frustration.
There’s one thing you should know: although ADHD may not be ‘curable’, your bad days don’t have to be your everydays. There is a lot you can do to help your child cope with his ADHD and make your home life much more pleasant for everyone. Here are my four big tips to parenting a child with ADHD.
ADHD kids typically have a hard time with constantly changing schedules and constantly changing expectations. Create a schedule and stick to it. Set up routines and rituals around your child’s everyday tasks, and enable him to do the same things the same way every day. And be consistent with your rules, too. Your ADHD child can’t follow the train of thought that leads to your ever-changing demands; if you want an obedient child, make it possible for him to be obedient.
Lots of Exercise
Exercise is the magic pill for ADHD: it can calm and focus your child in a way that nothing else can. Make sure your child has plenty of time for exercise—preferably very active, outdoor exercise—throughout the day. If he’s having a particularly hard time at some point, have him take a break to run around the house or jump 50 on the trampoline.
Sleep is not Optional
It may be hard to get your child calmed down and ready for lights off, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Sleep is another big key for coping with ADHD, and you’ll discover your child’s whole personality is different when he’s had the rest he needs. Prioritize sleep, and do everything you can to help your child rest in a distraction-free environment. Implementing buffer times, below, can make sleep easier too.
Buffer Times Work Wonders
Don’t expect your child to be able to change gears quickly from wild play or stimulating activity to something quiet and more focused. Instead, institute buffer times. For instance, you might want to do an hour of coloring or looking at picture books before bedtime, or play the ‘quiet game’ and have your child practice walking with cat footsteps on the way to church.
Parenting a child with ADHD is a challenge, but it’s a challenge you are up to. These four tips can help make your parenting journey more fun, more peaceful, and help you and your ADHD child have more fun together.
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