Families with children diagnosed with ADHD face big time stress. If you have a child with ADHD, it is important that you have a wide range of coping skills to keep (or restore) the calm and to solve problems. Below is a list of coping strategies that I have found helpful to families of ADHD children:
• Keep self-care a priority.
• Take time to breathe and relax—Breath2Relax and Pranayama are two meditation/breathing APPs that may be helpful. YouTube offers helpful resources, as well.
• Keep a gratitude journal.
• Find a knowledgeable advocate.
• While this can be challenging, accept that your child is different.
• Remind yourself that you are not to blame for your child’s difficulties
• Stay calm, firm, and nonreactive in the face of meltdowns.
• Tape yourself to the ceiling (figuratively) and look down to watch the interactions between you and your children.
• When you feel stuck as a parent, shift your mindset to being an emotion coach.
• Stay task oriented and “in the doing” and focus on what you can do to help.
• Accept your child’s limitations while also keeping an encouraging eye on his or her strengths.
• Keep a journal of your child’s gains (even modest ones) and triumphs and review it to stay empowered.
• Advocate for an educational assessment and the right services for your child.
• Remind yourself that even though your child may have a specific diagnosis, this is only one facet of your child’s being. Always stay mindful that your child has unique gifts to offer.
• No matter what diagnostic label your child has, getting the right supports in place is the key.
• Make planning the Individualized Education Plan or 504 a conversation, not just a paperwork process.
• Encourage your school personnel to know your child, and not just the diagnostic label.
• If your child is taking medications, stay tuned into which medications to help.
• Be mindful of the different feelings from other family members, such as siblings, the other parent/stepparent, and extended family members.
• Try to focus on the present versus being overly worried about the future.
• Even when your child is doing well, stay mindful that he or she may still need some support.
• Try to avoid making global negative predictions.
For more information see:
10 Days to a Less Defiant Child, Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D., New York, Avalon Books, 2006.
10 Days to a Less Distracted Child, Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D., New York, Avalon Books, 2007.
Liking the Child You Love, Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D. , New York, Perseus Books, 2009.