by Jennifer Shakeel
Family is important for all children, and even more so for the child with ADD/ADHD. What happens at home and how they are treated and interacted with will carry over into other aspects of their life at school, later on with work and it will help them build relationships. I know first hand that parenting a child with ADD/ADHD can be overwhelming and at times take its toll on the family. Frustration and chaos do not have to be a way of life for you, your child or your family. Here are things that you can do to make sure that the entire family is involved and the needs of everyone are being met.
There is no other place on this planet that a child should feel more accepted, loved and understood then at home. It really does take the family to raise a child with ADD/ADHD.
The education of the family in how to deal with ADD/ADHD is important and that educational responsibility falls to you the parent. Making sure that you understand what your child is going through and then helping your immediate family understand so that home life is good for everyone is important.
Remember that you child with ADD/ADHD is not ignoring you, embarrassing you or annoying you willfully. Your child does want to be able to sit quietly, they want to be able to keep their rooms clean and organized, they want to be able to pay attention in school and make friends and they really do want to do what you tell them to do. Honestly, they really do… they just don’t know how to make it so that those things happen.
Encourage the family to not focus on the “problems” your child has, focus on all of their good, positive, valuable and unique qualities. Encourage siblings and other family members to see those things in your child as well. I know it isn’t always easy, but getting the family to focus on the positive traits can help make home life a little easier and help your child with ADD/ADHD recognize the positive reaction he or she gets from that behavior. Let them know that they are loved for who they are, and that love will never change or go away.
As a family you need to keep things in perspective. Remember that they behavior of your child with ADD/ADHD is related to the disorder and is not done on purpose and is not controllable. While they may do something embarrassing today keep in mind that in a few days that can be a really funny story to share with family and friends.
Compromise in the family is essential and that compromise needs to be universal not favored just for the child with ADD/ADHD that can then lead to resentment amongst siblings. I am not saying to not have high expectations of your children and want them to succeed, but expect them to do the best that each of them is capable of. I know that we struggle with that one in our home. One child is a straight A student and if their grades slip it means trouble, and our child with ADD is an A/B student sometimes Cs and if there is a grade below a C then that means trouble.
Speaking of siblings, it is important that the siblings are not forgotten. Not only in understanding the other sibling with ADD/ADHD but in being recognized and praised for who and what they are as well. Being just as involved in their life will help promote harmony between the siblings and decrease the chance of resentment. Let them be children do not expect or ask them to step up and act as a parent when it comes to their sibling with ADD/ADHD, it is not their fault or responsibility to keep their sibling in line.
Family is important to any child, but especially so to a child with ADD/ADHD. They need to have one place where they are not judged and they are understood. We all need a place where we feel we can be ourselves and people will still love us. Make that your home and your family for your child.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse. As a mother of two incredible children, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting. One of my children has ADD, our journey of learning to come to terms with the diagnosis and figuring out what works best for us has been a challenge and a joy. Our son was diagnosed about two and half years ago, and we have had our ups and downs, joys and sorrows. If I can just offer you one day of hope or one idea that may work to help you and your family then I know that my purpose has been fulfilled.
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