I think it is safe to say that all parents want the best for their children. They do their best to provide an environment and create an atmosphere that enables the child to reach his or her full potential. So when a child is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), parents feel a sense of helplessness. Such a diagnosis will certainly be a challenge in the child's life, but there is actually a lot parents can do to help control and minimize the symptoms of ADHD.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, my advice for helping your child succeed can be summed up in one word: SPACE.
SPACE stands for Structure, Personal Health, Activity, Communication, and Encouragement. These five areas of focus summarize what you as a parent can do to improve your child's emotional and physical health.
Since children with ADHD generally have trouble organizing, planning ahead, and managing their time, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of the parents. By setting a predictable daily routine, you can help your child become more comfortable performing tasks that otherwise might be a challenge to complete. It is important to keep your child occupied with wholesome activities, but be careful not to overload his or her schedule to the point that is stresses out the child even more. You can coordinate with teachers, coaches, and other adults to ensure that your child's day is well-structured.
Before you can help your child be healthy, you must make sure that you are taking good care of yourself. First, educate yourself about ADHD. Understand that you have a wonderful child who struggles with certain behaviors. By understanding that your child will not behave perfectly all the time (what child does?), you can let the little things go and try to focus on all the positive attributes your child possesses.
There are steps to take in your own life to better prepare yourself to care for your child. Recognize that you are not alone in your desires to help your child. There are professionals who dedicate their careers to helping children with ADHD. You can join a support group for parents of children with ADHD. Make sure to set aside time for you to take an occasional break from the demands of caring for your child by getting a babysitter. You will be most effective as a parent if you have prepared yourself emotionally and physically.
As I suggested earlier, plan activities for your child to participate in regularly. Children with ADHD typically have plenty of energy, and sports or other physical activities are an excellent way to burn energy while at the same time focusing on a certain task.
Consider choosing activities that don't have a lot of idle time involved. For example, a child with ADHD is probably better suited for the soccer team than for the chess club. An added benefit to physical activity is that it is conducive to better sleep, which can in turn improve symptoms of ADHD.
No matter what kind of structure you set up for your child, it is important that you set clear rules and guidelines for your child that he or she understands. Children with ADHD respond well to a system of rewards and consequences, so if you choose this method, be sure to clearly explain the rules and what happens when they are followed and broken. Be consistent with your methods; always follow through with rewards and punishment. The system is ineffective if you don't stick to it.
While you might tend to focus solely on the struggles and problematic tendencies of your child, one of the greatest things you can do as a parent is praise your child's good behavior. Understand that the child wants to behave well just as much as you want him or her to. So find any reason you can to give your child positive reinforcement. This can lead to improved attention, impulse control, and concentration.
Raising a child with ADHD is anything but easy. By using SPACE, you and your children will experience the joy of seeing your child overcome challenges and reaching an unprecedented level of success.
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