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Stress Reduction Tips for Families of Children with ADHD

Reducing stress in families with ADHD children helps everyone get along.

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.