Parenting Children with ADHD
Parenting a child (or children) with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can be an overwhelming experience! For many foster and adoptive parents, managing behavior of these children can be frustrating and exhausting. Even though you may have raised other children without problems, these children require a lot of attention and need much more consistent discipline. For some pointers, please see The National Deficit Disorder Association for tips on living with ADHD.
Parenting a child or children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is hard work. The best way you can learn to do this is to learn all that you can about ADHD and how it impacts your child. The best advice for parents of children with ADHD is from Dr. Russell Barkley. I have often used his guidelines for parenting children with ADHD in workshops for teachers as well.
If there were ever children that needed good, consistent parenting and educated family support, these children are it! Dr. Robert Brooks did a research study where his research assistants shadowed children with ADHD through a typical day. The results of this study showed that 80 percent of the interactions these children had with other people in their environments (parents, siblings, bus drivers, teachers, community people, and peers) were negative interactions. When the study was repeated with children that did not have ADHD, 80 percent of a child's interactions with others were positive. Please think about this simple, yet profound study for a moment. How would you feel if four out of five people you had contact with during the day were negative contacts? Is it any wonder that children with ADHD have poor self esteem and often give up? Our most important job as a parent is to help keep this child's self esteem intact; to build upon their strengths, and to build resiliency within the child.
Parenting foster or adoptive teenagers with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can cause extra confusion for parents. It is sometimes difficult to determine what behaviors are characteristic of adolescence, or attention deficit disorder, or struggles with the issues of adoption or separation from biological parents. Parents may need additional support from counselors, teachers, and caseworkers during particularly turbulent times.
This is also the time in the child's life that they must learn how to advocate for themselves when they need accommodations from teachers in junior and senior high school. Teens need to learn about ADHD and how it impacts them. Parents of children with ADHD will find occasional people (other parents, relatives, or professionals) who are very quick to reject the idea that ADHD exists at all. Some well meaning people have gotten misinformation from irresponsible media or commercial publications and will be quick to criticize parents of children with ADHD.
Unfortunately, when families need extended families the most, sometimes grandparents, aunts, uncles and others can be overly critical of a child's behavior and the parents' attempts at managing difficult children. Many families of children with disabilities report being isolated and that family holidays are especially difficult. Some tips on managing holidays.