Treatment for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) may include the possibility of medication, however, more likely it includes arming the parent/s with some very specific strategies.
So how does ADHD differ from ‘normal’ childhood behaviours? Aren’t all children easily distracted? Don’t they all act without thinking, and run around endlessly? Don’t all children fiddle and paly and chatter at the meal table instead of actually eating?!
While this may be true, the child with ADHD is much more likely to exhibit the common symptoms and behaviours in all situations: at home, at school, at play; anywhere and anytime, much to the exasperation and sometimes to the embarrassment of the parent/s. The child is just unable to settle and ‘behave’, even if they may want to.
Children without ADHD on the other hand, are more capable of managing their own behaviour, with ‘symptoms’ tending to appear only in certain situations – particularly at home. Many is the time a teacher hears from parents that the child they think of as a ‘pleasure to teach’ is anything but, at home!
The Symptoms of ADHD
Children with ADHD have deficits in executive functioning and symptoms usually appear before the age of seven.
They interrupt conversations, demand attention endlessly, tend not to listen or follow instructions, race around and can easily damage furniture. Jumping on the lounge seems to be a popular pastime! They tend to do silly or dangerous things where they can hurt themselves or their siblings.
It’s important to note that although we usually associate ADHD with hyperactivity, occasionally a child will have all the usual symptoms such as forgetfulness, but may appear to be a day dreamer, and look spaced out, unable to focus on a task, or what a parent is saying.
Not surprisingly, parenting a child with ADHD can be overwhelming at times and parents can become frustrated and exhausted.
Support for Parents & Children with ADHD
Parents find that learning specific strategies around managing ADHD does not just help with improving their child’s behaviour, but also helps them to cope,
Children with ADHD respond well to structure, where tasks occur in a predictable way, time and place. To reduce anxiety, the child must understand clearly what to expect and what exactly is required of them. Tasks need to be explained simply and calmly. It is particularly important that parents follow through with rewards or consequence every time for good behaviour or misbehaviour.
If your child has ADHD, understand that they will function better on routine and consistency and busy-ness. Keep them busy and occupied as much as possible. Sports and physical activity are good!
Parents, you are the role model, and the strength of the family, especially when you work together as a team and adhere to the routine and remain consistent.
Yes, it can be difficult, but parents need to remain calm, and, particularly, look after themselves – getting enough rest and exercise, and eating a healthy diet – and getting support from professionals, as necessary. Support is at hand and parents do not have to do it alone. The best thing parents can do for their child is to make sure they themselves are in good health, calm, and patient, in order to provide their child with the structured parenting required.
Sometimes, what looks like ADHD is not ADHD.
As Dr Richard Saul in his book “ADHD Does Not Exist” explains, just because a child has the symptoms of ADHD, it does not necessarily mean that the child has ADHD. Typical ADHD behaviours can be caused by:
- major life events and upheaval such as divorce or a death in the family;
- learning disabilities;
- medical conditions;
- or behavioural or psychological disorders such as conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder or bipolar disorder.
While medication may be an appropriate treatment in some cases, it should only be given after thorough testing to ensure it meets the particular needs of the child.
If your child has ADHD – or if they are acting out and exhibiting behaviours which resemble ADHD – please make an appointment to see me, I would love to help you and your family.
Author: Dr Jan Philamon, PhD, BA (Hons) Psychology, C Teach, JP (Qual) Qld, MAPS.
As a registered teacher and psychologist, Dr Jan Philamon has a wealth of experience with children, however she enjoys helping individuals and couples at any stage of life. Jan aims to help people to be the best they can be and find success: improved wellbeing, gaining a sense of empowerment that allows them to actively problem solve and manage obstacles constructively, as well as positively plan and achieve their personal and career goals.
To make an appointment with psychologist and hypnotherapist Dr Jan Philamon, try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129, or Vision Psychology (Mt Gravatt) on (07) 3088 5422.