My kids have ADHD. Here’s how I changed my parenting to help them.

  • I am a mother of two children aged 10 and 12, both have been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • It wasn’t until the pandemic that I noticed how different they were from their classmates.
  • I learned that my upbringing had to change to match their needs.

Before learning that my kids ages 10 and 12 have ADHD, I struggled to get them to behave at home and in public, which was a constant source of embarrassment.

I found myself yelling, bribing and begging to sit still, be quiet and behave, which never seemed to work. After COVID-19 hit, I learned that I have to adapt my approach to penetrate their otherwise wired brains.

When the pandemic forced us to a remote school and I was able to compare them with other students on the screen, I realized that my children’s behavior was not the same as the other children’s behavior.

My daughter struggled to pay attention for more than a few minutes while her classmates seemed engaged and focused. My son could concentrate longer, but he often interrupted him because he couldn’t control his impulse to speak.

I spoke to their teachers and learned that both were often distracted and impulsive, more so than other students.

After an extensive evaluation that included family and school questionnaires, clinician interviews, and psychological tests for the children, I learned that they both have varying degrees of ADHD.

My parenting had to change

The National Survey of Children’s Health suggests that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, affects about 10% of school-age children in the US. This disorder can cause short attention span, hyperactive behavior, impulsivity, disorganization, mood swings, and inability to control anger, among other symptoms.

More than acting crazy or restless, my kids struggle to control their emotions, especially my daughter. If she got into a fight with her brother, she would hit or, worse, bite hard enough to draw blood. I thought she would get better as she got older, but not much had changed when she was 10 years old.

I’ve learned that behavioral problems, anger, irritability, and emotional dysregulation are hallmarks of ADHD.

But there are strategies that parents and caregivers can use to help children learn coping skills and avoid disruption. As I continued to learn about raising neurodivergent children, I learned that I had to adapt my approach to get through to them.

Our family has decided that when my daughter cries and lashes out at her brother or us, she will immediately be given time out in her room — or in a corner when we’re not home — with no technology.

If my son behaves, he immediately loses his phone privileges, however long we decide it is appropriate. It’s hard to embarrass them in front of friends or in public, but it has made a world of difference.

I’ve also learned that it’s helpful to reward them for positive behavior. When we reach the end of the week without any tantrums, whining, or major attacks, I’ll have them choose a small monetary reward like robux – virtual money in their favorite game, “Roblox” – or eat an ice cream cone together.

I have more confidence with the help of experts

Medication can help kids with ADHD, just like mine. My son’s outbursts in class have stopped and my daughter can concentrate all day at school. We are working on the emotion part with a counselor.

Behavioral issues take a toll on us as parents, but experts skilled in coaching children, families, and adults with ADHD and support groups have helped us feel less alone.

I can’t promise my kids won’t go crazy at inappropriate times, and being their mom is still challenging, but I feel much more confident knowing these strategies.

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