Do you remember the day you entered through those double swinging doors filled with so many different feelings... happiness, apprehension (maybe even downright fear), joy, confusion, etc.? It was the day your sweet "Bundle of Joy" entered into your life. This was the beginning of something BIG: Parenthood!
Many parents are not fully prepared for parenthood, and there are no exceptions for parents with ADHD. Frequently they find that their children are impacted by ADHD as well. As you can imagine, this stage of life, Parenthood, can be both wonderful and chaotic.
To decrease the chaos many proven systems and strategies are available for both parents and children. Most of these systems require structure, a much needed element for both the ADHD parent and child. The problem is that many parents have difficulty setting up and maintaining the very systems that can help them.Often the creativity experienced by many with ADHD can be both helpful and sometimes not so helpful. In fact, creativity may interfere with one of the main ingredients to successful implementation of parent/child systems and that is "consistency." Systems come and go as the parent finds new systems that may seem better in some way. In reality this usually causes more difficulty than sticking with a system that is "average" in its effectiveness. So, how can you use that creativity, during this stage of life, to your advantage and still maintain the consistency? Here are some ideas to get you moving toward "consistency + creativity" with your parenting:
- Start very early with children in developing responsible healthy habits:
- Children as young as 3-4 years of age are very capable of learning simple responsibilities of getting themselves dressed, brushing teeth, combing hair, putting toys away, etc.
- Be Creative: When developing a system use pictures or other visuals to identify what the child is to do each morning/evening.
- Be Consistent: Stick with the same set of responsibilities until the child has developed an actual habit (at least 6 weeks)
- Be Consistent: Offer immediate rewards for their success
- Be Creative: offer stickers on their chart or maybe have a treasure box with small items they can pick from like a hair ribbon, or a penny, or...
- Be supportive, yet firm with continued learning/responsibilities:
- Be Consistent: As your child grows, increase their level of responsibility by reviewing their progress every three months.
- Be Creative: Find new ways of rewarding as the child grows by moving to a mixture of immediate and delayed rewards, then transition them to only delayed rewards.
- Be willing to allow your child to fail. This can be a very difficult challenge for parents and especially so for AD/HD parents who may have experienced varying degrees of failure in their lives:
- Be Consistent: Let the child learn and don't rush in to "fix it" for them. It's better that they learn now, with your support, than later when it may have significant impact on their young adulthood.
- Be Creative: Find ways to support your child while fostering independence during these difficult learning times.
- Recognize that you too, just like your child, will not "do it perfectly" during this stage of life and that is okay. Be willing to ask for help when you need it. Find a parenting support group, get counseling or hire an ADHD coach:
- Be Consistent: Keep practicing and learning..... it will pay off in the end.
- Be Creative: Find ways to support yourself when things are difficult and know that your experience will continue to unfold in many good ways.
Parenthood can be a very rewarding stage of life. Using both consistency and creativity with structured systems will lessen the chaos of the ADHD household and offer your child the opportunity to establish life skills and habits that will be essential as they mature into healthy and responsible adults. Starting as early as possible is important to the process, yet it is never too late to implement effective systems for your child's growth and development.
ADDA Focus Newsletter
Authored by Twila Gates, RN, IMC, Senior Certified AD/HD Coach.
An article for parenting children with ADD/ADHD.