6 Ways to Overcome the Daily Challenges of Parenting an ADHD Child
***Guest post by Tanji Dewberry
In part I of my series for Lifetime Moms, I wrote about tips I found to be helpful upon learning your child has a disorder such as ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s or other special needs. In part II, I will focus on strategies and resources to help you and your child manage the day-to-day realities of living with a special need.
Once my son was diagnosed with ADHD, I thought “ok, now what?” I was overwhelmed by the calls from the school about my son’s behavior, the tantrums and fits, and trying to work and maintain my household. However, I was reminded that I was my son’s best advocate. Not the teachers. Not the doctors. With that knowledge in hand, I committed to a plan that I designed, with the help of my support network and professionals, to make sure he had what he needed to be successful. Admittedly, I have stumbled along the way, stopped to reevaluate my game plan, and then passed out at the end of the day from exhaustion. However, what keeps me, and I am sure you, motivated is that I have an amazing kid. I refuse to allow ADHD overshadow all of his wonderful qualities and his potential.
I am no expert on ADHD, Austism, Asperger’s or other special needs. I am merely a parent who deeply wants the best for her child. Below are a few things that have worked for me with my son.
1) Develop a Treatment Plan – Consult with your doctors to develop a plan that will work for your child and you. This can involve therapy, medications, should you choose, a different classroom structure, behavioral chart or anything else that will position your child for success.
2) Bring an Apple for the Teacher – In my last post, I talked about building a dream team to support your child. In the starting line-up should be his/her teacher. Having a strong relationship with them will help secure the appropriate resources in the classroom for your child.
3) Diary o Diary – One of the ways I stay abreast of what is happening in the classroom with my son is to keep a journal with his teacher. The journal keeps the lines of communication open and allows me to troubleshoot issues when necessary. I also found the journals to be helpful to monitor my son’s progress over the years.
4) GIGO or Garbage In..Garbage Out – This phrase was something I learned in seventh grade, and I have applied it to my son’s diet. I strictly monitor all food and avoid those pesky sugary things that will have a negative impact on his behavior. Instead, I focus on proteins, fruits, veggies, healthy snacks, and anything that will support our overall treatment plan. I reserve things like candy and desserts as rewards for his progress.
5) Structure, Structure, Structure – Maintaining structure for a child with an invisible disease is hugely important. Set the stage by sitting down with your child to discuss morning and evening routines.
6) Ride the Wave: Surfing the internet for information, support groups, doctors and other resources to help your child and family is a valuable resource. A click of the button helped me find the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat last year. The retreat is a weekend away for moms of children with special needs, created by moms of children with special needs. It was an amazing opportunity to connect with moms like me who understood my challenges. I am going again this year!!
Tanji Dewberry is a mom and author of “Oh Fiddlesticks!” a children’s book focused on helping kids learn to cope with their anger and other emotions.