The following is an excerpt from 8 Keys To Parenting Children With ADHD by Cindy Goldrich
Parenting Children With ADHD
They don’t mean to frustrate you. They don’t want to make life so challenging and difficult, for you or for themselves.
Just as some children have trouble learning how to read, kids with ADHD often have trouble learning how to manage their attention, time, and materials. Many also have trouble tolerating frustration, being flexible, and solving their problems effectively. Just as decoding words is a learned skill, your child may need extra support learning and developing these other skills as well. Rewards and punishments can’t teach skills—but you can. It may take incredible patience, learning, understanding, investigation, and perseverance on your part, but it’s worth it!
Whether we are conscious of it or not, we each have a belief about how we are supposed to parent our children—that is, of course, until our instinct or logic does not produce the results we anticipated or desired. Often, by the time parents reach out to me, they have tried many different parenting approaches and heard the advice (welcome or otherwise) of several different people. One issue we all grapple with as parents is knowing when to push our kids and when to pull back. When should we provide support, and when should we let our children manage for themselves at the risk of failing or being disappointed?
Some kids, as long as we provide a safe, nurturing environment, will generally perform as we would expect, given our guidance and a variety of appropriate opportunities along the way. However, for some kids, all the love and logic we can muster doesn’t seem to be enough to help them cooperate and succeed. Why? Is it that we aren’t doing it “right”? Before we begin pointing fingers and instilling guilt, I ask you to consider the nature of the child you are parenting.
Every person is born with a unique chemistry, physique, and temperament—and no operator’s manual! Often, we begin to realize that we may have an especially challenging child only when we are already struggling. If you have a child who struggles because of an inability to regulate his or her attention, impulsivity, or level of activity, chances are you have become familiar with the world of ADHD.
Our journey together will begin with an overview of what ADHD is beyond the characteristics most often mentioned— impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness. So much of what we now understand about ADHD, we have learned during the past decade or so. In fact, by the time you finish reading the first chapter, you will realize that the term attention deficit hyperactivity disorder really does not come close to explaining what parents and professionals truly experience with their children.
As you become more educated in and aware of how ADHD truly impacts all aspects of your child’s life, you will notice a shift in the way you view and interact with your child. That will allow you to help build his or her confidence, resilience, and life skills. You will become more conscious of how you must adjust your parenting style to match the needs of your child. You may need to reframe how you think about your child and his or her actions. You may make changes in how you speak and respond to your child, and you may need to adjust how you plan and organize aspects of your home and your life.
This parenting style is what I call “Parent the child you have,” and it informs all the work I do as a parent coach. Family members, friends, and even well-meaning teachers and other professionals may offer advice and strategies with the intention of helping you “fix” or “teach” your child. You must learn to trust your inner voice and tailor your parenting to meet the needs of your unique child. For some, this may mean providing tighter control; for others, it may mean offering more guidance and support; and for still others, it may mean reducing certain obligations or short-term expectations. These are some of the issues I will help you explore and resolve.