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Saturday, November 14, 2015

What NOT to do if your child has ADHD

What Not to Do If Your Child Has ADHD

When kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) become frustrated, struggle with school, fail to complete tasks, or meltdown, their parents become stressed and feel defeated as well. It can be difficult to know which direction to turn, and what to do to better manage your child’s ADHD symptoms. Sometimes, the best answer is to not do certain things. I hope the list below of actions to avoid will help you and your family have better days and nights.

Don’t Avoid the Term “ADHD”

Your child has a condition that affects her every day, just as a learning disability or physical disability would. By putting a name to the disorder and using the term “ADHD,” parents help their children Avoiding the term makes the child feel more like she has something wrong with her, which adds to the stigma associated with ADHD. Dr. Robert Olivardia, a psychologist who treats ADHD and is a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, cautions parents that “if you do not explain to them what ADHD is, someone else will.” Don’t ignore the ADHD or avoid talking about it; educate your child and help her to understand what ADHD is and how you will help her to manage living with it. Using the term gives your child some power over it. Recognize that their challenges and frustration are rooted in their disorder and are not their fault.

Don’t Focus on the Negative

A child with ADHD will hear enough “no,” “don’t,” and “can’t” for a lifetime. Don’t add to the negativity by making a lengthy list of don’ts for your home. Instead, work with your child to set goals for positive behavior. Then, track their progress in a place that’s easy for them to see—such as a chart that’s kept on the refrigerator. By giving them this positive focus, you can reinforce the good behaviors that will help them be successful at school and at home. 

And please replace "Don' Allow Certain Items in Your Child's Bedroom" with the following:

Don’t Allow Tech in Your Child’s Bedroom

Most kids these days are regularly glued to some form of technology—be it a smartphone, tablet, computer, or gaming system. Unfortunately, all that digital exposure can take its toll. The reality is today’s kids are overexposed to all those devices and glowing screens, and that overexposure can contribute to attention deficit issues. My advice is to keep them out of the bedroom. That’s a new rule we’ve implemented with my son, who was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and we’ve seen great results. He’s able to get calm and go into “bedtime” mode much more quickly at night and his overall quality of sleep has actually improved.

Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Implementing Diets That Eliminate Lots of Foods

Some parents of kids with ADHD may attempt to treat it with a special diet. Research does not support these radical diets, which completely cut out processed foods, food additives, fruits, and vegetables. There also is no research supporting the idea that diets eliminating aspartame, an artificial sweetener, or yeasts are effective in helping treat ADHD. Experts contend the best diet for a child with ADHD is the same as one for a child without ADHD: a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and avoids saturated fats and trans fats. It’s also important to limit carbohydrates that are digested quickly, such as those in processed and fast foods. And of course, all children need exercise and should maintain a healthy weight.

Don’t Make a Meltdown Worse By Responding When You are Angry

Handling an ADHD child’s meltdown is one of the toughest challenges a parent faces. Do not exacerbate a situation by responding to a meltdown or handing out unrealistic, inappropriate consequences for misbehavior when you are angry yourself. Parents should employ a time-out for their child to calm down and take time to calm down themselves before reacting inappropriately. It is better to collect yourself, get composed, and think clearly before responding, so that you are sure to react in a more accurate and appropriate way.

Don’t Try to Handle Everything On Your Own

One of the biggest mistakes parents of kids with make is trying to do it all. There are groups and professionals who can help you get more information and support so that you are better equipped for life with a child with ADHD. You especially should seek professional help if you are feeling depressed, frustrated, or exhausted. It also is important for all parents and caregivers, including grandparents, relatives, and babysitters, to work together to support the child. When everyone agrees on a behavior plan, routine, rewards, etc., it is much easier to handle your child’s behaviors and symptoms.

Of course, you’ll need to do what works best for your family situation and your child. But, by avoiding certain actions, you are taking the first step toward helping your child, your family, and yourself cope with ADHD in a more positive, healthy manner.


Vee Cecil keeps busy by being a wellness coach, personal trainer and bootcamp instructor in Kentucky. She also recently launched a blog where she shares her passion for health by writing about her favorite tips, activities and recipes.

**PHOTO CREDIT: Image via Flickr by chefranden**

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