Tips for Parents and Caregivers of Children Diagnosed with ADHD – Strategies for Parents to Maintaining Health and Wellbeing
The diagnosis of ADHD for a child can leave parents and caregivers feeling confused, angry, and with a lot of questions. Taking time to process through these emotions and accept the diagnosis is the first step in a larger transition to gain knowledge and as many tools as possible to help your child. As parents and caregivers of children diagnosed with ADHD become focused on helping their children, it is easy to put their individual needs and wellbeing on the back burner.
Each day a diagnosis of ADHD can present a new set of challenges. Whether it is leaving notes in his book bag, to turn in his homework, or reminding her to be home by 4pm to get ready for her sister’s recital, you want your child to be engaged and supported always. You understand that your role as a parent is to prepare your child by helping them learn and use strategies to effectively manage their ADHD symptoms.
However, by the end of the day, you are exhausted and realize that you are facing 1 – 2 hours of homework for tomorrow and a big presentation at work the next day. Parenting is a full-time job, however being the parent of a child diagnosed with ADHD requires more time and attention to all facets of your child’s day. As strategies and innovative treatments such as art offer help to parents, care and attention to the needs of parents and caregivers cannot be taken for granted.
Below are some strategies that you can use to support your wellbeing:
- Schedule time for you.You probably use a shared family calendar which is posted on a bulletin board or the refrigerator. This calendar outlines all your child’s activities from waking to going to bed. As a reminder for you, put time on the calendar for you to take time out to relax and refocus. Engage family members to help and provide extra support and resources during your downtime. You can also reach out to extended family such as grandparents to support your need for personal time. Also doing something as simple as lighting an aromatherapy candle 15 minutes before going to bed will help you relax. It is important for you to take time away to recharge. In the long run, it will help with your ability to better manage and focus on the day-to-day.
- Get support. Reach out to support groups for parents or start one of your own. It is important to build a network of support beyond family and friends. Be open and comfortable sharing your feelings and frustrations. This is necessary for you and for your child. Talking with other parents of children diagnosed with ADHD can be empowering by reminding you that you are not alone. In addition, it is a time to discuss challenges, share strategies and solutions, and offer you a time to exhale. Most importantly, you all have the same goals, face the same challenges, and want only the best for your children. This can be a deep and enduring bond with others. You may find that this support group may be one of your strongest allies.
- Understand the resources available to you. Many school districts offer children diagnosed with ADHD special accommodations inside and outside of the classroom. Speak with your child’s teacher to learn about resources and special offerings such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Accommodations Plan. Also, seek out other parents to learn from them regarding educational resources that they are using for their children. Partnering with your child’s teacher early can best help set your child up for success.
- Be patient and manage your expectations. Once your child has been properly diagnosed with ADHD, it is the first step in a journey towards betterment that will require a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, or even a minute-by-minute approach. Understanding that the key to ADHD is effective management through strategies, solutions and support will guide your decisions and resources. Work with a therapist to help you learn as much as possible about your child’s diagnosis and needs to establish daily routines and knowledge of your child’s behavior. Your therapist also can share the latest in innovative strategies, such as art as treatment for ADHD. This will help prepare you and help you avoid awkward situations or be caught off guard. Remember knowledge is a form of empowerment and with it you can work with your child to help them chart their best possible future.
Remember, a diagnosis of ADHD does not have to be looked upon as a challenge that will change the tide of your life or family. But instead, through education and resources you can empower yourself, your child, and your family. There are always hidden talents within a child diagnosed with ADHD. Using resources and strategies consistently can help parents and children discover these hidden talents. Following the strategies above, will help you to more effectively care for and manage your health, emotions and resourcefulness, which will enable you and your child to chart the best possible path forward for the both of you.