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Beating ADHD Behaviour

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I have seen parents at their wit’s end trying to deal with energetic children and their behaviour. I know exactly how they feel, because I have been one of those parents myself.

One example, Tina, came to see me looking exhausted and trailing her three boys behind her. She said all the boys were a handful but Callum was the worst. “School says he has ADHD, but I don’t know how to help him. What can I do? Will he ever be normal? Will he get a job after school?”

Tina is not alone and this is a story I hear a lot. Parenting the child who is always on the go, or displaying ADHD-type behaviour, takes special techniques.

As the parent of a son with ADHD, I know there are several vital skills parents need to acquire to enable them to survive the rollercoaster that accompanies their son’s or daughter’s journey from a child at school who can’t sit still and has “problems”, to a popular person with a healthy self esteem, who is able to reach their full potential and enter his or her chosen career.

Above all, the most important skill is the ability to laugh at the situation. He or she (more often boys) appear to be turbo charged, and on the go the entire time. Even when they are asleep they move around the bed, often falling out of it! I remember thinking that if my son was battery operated at least I could remove the batteries for an hour so I could rest and he would remain where I left him, not getting up to mischief!

You must grow at set of eyes in the back of your head. These children can be up the top of a tree in the seconds it takes to turn your head. They don’t seem to think before they act. When you ask why they did that, they say, “I don’t know”. They really don’t know – it’s not just an excuse!

Parents also need very good hearing, as these children can be so accident prone that one gives up running every time they cry out. The difference will be listening for the crash, then waiting for the cry. If there is no cry you learn to run at 100km per hour to see if they are still breathing!

Remember that this is your child, and you never stop loving him – you just don’t like this behaviour. Children who are shouted at because of your frustration can mistakenly think you don’t love them. It takes from birth to 25 years of age to “grow’’ the type of brain we have as an adult. This is the brain that can reason and think about situations on many different levels, the brain that knows when to stop!

The ADHD child doesn’t have that ability and, frankly, neither do most eight-year-old boys with or without ADHD problems! There is no evidence that true ADHD is a direct result of poor parenting.

The media and friends don’t always help and can make you feel even more useless in dealing with the behaviour. I remember being told that he was “just a boy” and he would grow out of it – I was just a paranoid mum! At the time my son was attempting to climb out of the surgery window!

However, the doctor was right about something – my son didn’t have anything “wrong” with him, he was just wired differently to my other children and needed special handling.

So what can you do to help maintain your sanity and make family life less stressful?

ADHD children can do so many things you need to reprimand them for, that you end up feeling you have told them off all day. You feel the house is negative, so try listening to yourself and counting how many times you tell him off, or say “no” in a day. It is bound to surprise you – and not necessarily a good surprise!

It is hard to feel you are ‘on their case’ all day, but when they are asleep they look as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth. Try to change that balance by giving him some one-to-one time on a daily basis. Let him enjoy your positive attention – he will love it. I know it’s hard to find time, but think how long you spend arguing with him to get him to do what you want; it’s a small time in comparison.

This sounds good, but when every day is a battle, you have other children to deal with, getting out the door to school needs the organisational skills of a major military operation, it’s hard to keep the above positive thoughts in mind!

Try telling him what you would like him to do, rather than waiting until the bad behaviour and then telling him off. For example, shouting, “don’t run off’’ as he races away isn’t going to work, so try saying, “Please walk slowly next to Mummy” and when he does, praise him. He will respond and you are more likely to get that behaviour again.

Using specific strategies outlined above can make a big difference to your relationship with your ADHD child. Be positive and remember that it does get better – I know. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if today it looks like a distant glimmer.

All your hard work will pay off one day. My son has just gone off to university, something his school said he would never do, so for today I am the proudest Mum ever.

For more information about STAMP OUT, or to read other articles by Laura Kiln, visit www.stampout.com.au

About the author – Laura Kiln, STAMP OUT Creator

 

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