Unleashing the Superpowers: Parenting a child with ADHD

Now Shenzhen   |   May 17, 2024

Parenting a child with ADHD can be so challenging at times. As a parent, you really want to help your kid succeed and feel good about themselves. When they start struggling, it’s hard not to feel like you’re failing them somehow. That’s why education is so important. The more you learn about ADHD, the better equipped you’ll feel to understand your child. 

Explaining the diagnosis to your child in a gentle, compassionate way is important too. Kids just want to know that their parents accept them for who they are. Sitting down together with an easy-to-understand book shows them you’re a team. It probably won’t make the challenges disappear, but it can help them feel heard and cared for during the difficult times. Here are some great and kid-friendly books that can be found and bought online:

  • Kraus, J. (2004). Cory Stories: A Kid’s Book About Living With ADHD.
  • Herman, S. (2021). A Dragon with ADHD: A Children’s Story About ADHD. A Cute Book to Help Kids Get Organized, Focus, and Succeed.
  • Moore, A. (2020). ADHD Is My Super Power and It Comes with Great Super Strength.

When explaining ADHD to your child, emphasize that their brain works uniquely and specially. Use simple language and relatable examples. For example, say, “Some people’s brains work like super-fast race cars. Well, your brain is like that too! It makes you super creative and full of energy, but it can sometimes make it harder to stay focused or sit still.” Reassure your child that having ADHD doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. Accepting and supporting children with ADHD is crucial for their self-esteem and future success. Recognize their strengths, like energy, creativity, and interpersonal skills, to foster confidence. Embrace these gifts by helping them to find their hobby and thrive.

Collaborate with Professionals

Getting outside help from doctors, teachers, and therapists makes such a difference too. When you join forces with professionals, you feel more confident giving your child what they need. Having teachers on your side at school gives such relief too. And accommodations through Special Educational Needs (SEN) Policy, that most international schools offer, open doors for kids to thrive academically.

Supporting Emotional and Social Development

  • Encourage social skills. Some children with ADHD may face challenges in finding and maintaining friendships. However, having at least one close friend is a great starting point. Teach your child effective communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills to navigate social interactions. Assist them in finding a group of children with shared interests.
  • Managing big emotions: To help your child express their emotions with words instead of actions, create a 5-point scale. Teach coping strategies like taking a break or using self-soothing techniques. Assist your child in making a “hard-times board” with triggers, behavior rules, and coping strategies. Read books on emotional control together, such as: Herman, S. (2018). Train Your Angry Dragon: A Cute Children Story To Teach Kids About Emotions and Anger Management.

Creating Structured Routines

To provide predictability and stability for your child, establish structured routines. Mornings can be challenging for parents of children with ADHD. Here are some tips for starting the day positively:

  • Create a morning routine using a chart or pictures to outline activities. Encourage daily reference.
  • Plan ahead by setting an early bedtime for enough sleep. Decide on clothes, breakfast, and lunch the night before. Pack the backpack and place it near the door. Establish a household Quiet Zone one hour before bedtime – no TV, no games – to improve sleep. Use wake-up strategies such as a loud alarm clock or placing it out of reach. Gently awaken your child with a cool, damp washcloth and a morning greeting. Bring in natural light or use a dimmer switch.
  • For breakfast options, if sitting down is difficult, allow your child to eat in their room while getting dressed or provide portable breakfast options. Research shows that breakfast is crucial for academic success and managing ADHD symptoms. Regular breakfast consumption improves academic performance, reduces anxiety and hyperactivity, enhances attention spans, and decreases behavior problems. A high-protein breakfast is particularly beneficial for children with ADHD as it stabilizes blood sugar levels and supports neurotransmitter function. A balanced breakfast with protein and carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provides sustained mental and physical energy. Examples of protein-rich breakfast options include scrambled eggs with whole-grain toast, natural peanut butter on whole-grain bread, or yogurt with fruit. Avoid sugary cereals.
  • Implement a reward system by allowing your child to add a sticker to a chart or a token to a jar for a smooth morning routine. These strategies can help make mornings less stressful and more organized for both you and your child with ADHD.

Sports can benefit children with ADHD in several ways. They provide an outlet for their energy and promote focus. Regular exercise helps children with ADHD control their anger and aggression. Recommended sports for children with ADHD include tennis, fencing, gymnastics, and martial arts like karate, or judo. These sports can improve self-control and concentration. Swimming is excellent for focus, coordination, and self-regulation. Track and field sports like running, long jump help burn energy and offer personal achievement. Consider your child’s interests and abilities, and consult professionals for guidance.

To teach them efficient time management, utilize tools like timers and visual schedules. Place crucial information physically at the work location. Tailor reminders and rules to address the child’s specific challenges during performance. For example, place a card on the table with important rules and reminders such as “Stay on task, don’t space out, and ask for help if needed” or “Read directions carefully, complete all the work, and double-check answers for completeness and accuracy.”

Self-care is crucial. Prioritize it and seek support through self-reflection, stress management techniques, and asking for help when necessary. Connect with support networks like support groups, online communities, and counseling. Share experiences, gain support, and learn from others facing similar challenges.

Marina Kalashnikova

Marina Kalashnikova, a certified clinical psychologist and Psy.M, provides professional counseling services implementing evidence-based approaches to a diverse clientele, including children, teenagers, and adults. 

Her expertise extends to counseling in English, Spanish, and Russian languages.

She can be contacted at Vista-SK International Center for further inquiries and appointments. 

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