Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Parenting Pitfalls with ADHD kids

Parenting a child with ADHD is an exhausting and difficult task. The job is even more taxing when parents worry if they are to blame for a child’s problems. Having to cope with worry and guilt cuts down on the energy available to care for the child. In the next few weeks I will be discussing the relationship problems that arise between parents and children with ADHD.

The problem with ADHD is not so much the ADHD itself but the complications of the disorder. Complications include school failure, substance abuse, and disruptive behavior disorders (ODD and CD). Researchers have identified three patterns of parent child relationship problems associated with complications of ADHD.

Pitfall 1: Accidental training of undesired behavior

Most parents are concerned and want the best for their kids. However, everyone is so stretched these days. Full time employment is in itself tiring and leaves little energy left to cope with a child that has problems. Parental fatigue and depression often set the state for the first pitfall, accidental training of bad behavior. Children with ADHD have a great deal of energy, this energy makes them want. They want possessions and they want to do what ever impulsive thing comes to mind at any given moment. They lack the brain structure required to cope with this feeling of constant wanting. All they know is want means do!

Parents have the enormous job of teaching a child with a lot of desires that want does not mean do. To teach this lesson parents must train consistently. Accidental training of nagging, temper tantrums and other impulsive behavior occurs when parents give in to the want that set off this behavior. Unfortunately, giving in periodically trains negative behavior as well if not better than giving in all the time! Beat this pitfall with consistency. Maintain consistency by taking care of yourself.

Pitfall 2: Harsh parenting

Parents of kids with ADHD know that their kids have a lack of impulse control and other skills required for ae appropriate behavior. The struggle is to see this lack of skills as associated with a disability rather than stemming from something the child is doing on purpose. The behaviors of some kids with ADHD try the patience of the best of parents. Parents usually repress the anger and frustration they feel about a child’s behavior. But repression isn’t perfect and the parent who struggles with anger and frustration can fall into the trap of harsh parenting. Harsh parenting and punitive discipline make ADHD related behavior problems worse. Parents prone to hash parent can do better by taking tie away from the child, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and practicing stress management techniques.

Pitfall 3: Proactive parenting becomes a luxury not a way of life

Researchers have observed a correlation between a lack of proactive parenting and complications of ADHD. What is proactive parenting? Proactive parenting means knowing what kinds of situations get your particular child in trouble and avoiding these situations. It means redirecting your child toward constructive activities. Proactive parenting is a lot of work and again may be difficult to do when exhausted.

A common theme

All three of these pitfalls have a common theme. That theme is parents who are tired, stressed and or depressed. A parent with a difficult child should think of himself/herself like a star athelete. You have to take charge of keeping yourself in tiptop shape in order to win! Practice self care including a healthy diet, exercise, stress management and fun time. The good news is that all of these positive health habits will also help your ADHD child.


Shane said...

I have a nine year old son with ADHD. I enjoyed this post and have linked to it on my ADHD blog.

Shane said...

I have a nine year old son who has ADHD & LD. I enjoyed reading your post. I have placed a link to it on my ADHD blog...

Bekah said...

I also have an ADHD son. Mine is 7. I can identify with what you write. It's nice to not feel so alone! I am blogrolling this blog on my site. I look forward to many more posts!!
Thank you!