This is a 3 part series please click here to begin from the beginning…..Raising ADHD Pt I.. the beginning
Beyond getting a diagnosis for your child, I feel one of the most important things is to assist them in maintaining their ADHD. I’ve compiled some tips and principles below that I feel have helped our family tremendously.
The most important step in grasping your child’s ADHD is to be open about it. This is not a secret. Now I am not saying scream it from the raptures, BUT it needs to be know that to the teachers and those whom interact frequently with your child that they are ADHD. *I find this most important in the elementary/middle school years. It’s also important to understand that ADHD changes as your child grows. Symptoms of yesteryear may not be what you encounter in the future. Talk to your child. Help them understand that there is an open communication line between the family. When my son was first diagnosed I made it a point to seek out others that were ADHD, particularly those that are famous. Having him read up on how these ADHDers dealt with their diagnosis and strived from it is extremely encouraging.
When your child is diagnosed with ADHD, it’s most helpful for you to educate yourself on every aspect of it. There are many books and blogs from fellow moms where you can find tips and techniques to assist you, your family as well as your child. Make it a point to pass on any helpful techniques that you find work with your ADHD to other caretakers of your child. Also be an advocate. When you register your child for school each year, make sure you note on the paper work that your child is ADHD. Additionally note as well if they are on medication, even if no doses will be administered at school. Why? Obvious. It’s imperative that if your child is on any medication that it is noted, what if something happens and your child needs to go to the hospital? Medical personal must know if your child has any medication in there system. Noting that your child is ADHD as well is super helpful for the teachers. Some children with ADHD need additional assistance with their studies, additionally placing them towards to front of the class assists them in focusing.
There. I said it. Be that helicopter mom. You have MY permission. Keep an eye on those grades, ESPECIALLY when it comes to the middle school years. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve told my son to use the PROVIDED agenda to note down assignments, due dates, etc… he refuses. Not in a sense of defiance of course, more in the sense of I got this MOM.. I’ll use my own reminding techniques. Therefore I helicopter on the website that shows assignments due and grades. If your school does not have this I suggest you create an open line of communication with the teacher, perhaps request a copy of the syllabus. Now, no one is perfect, and occasionally an assignment will get missed. My suggestion is as follows: In 6th grade, he gets one mulligan per class. My sons first missed assignment he did not have the courage to notify the teacher himself, therefore I did. Example of the email I sent is below:
Dear Mr. Doe,
David missed completing the chapter 4 study guide. Unfortunately with his ADHD, he sometimes misses things. If possible, will you allow him to turn this in late for a reduced grade? I appreciate your assistance.
THIS by all means is NOT a cop out, nor should this ever be abused. As noted this was David’s FIRST miss in 6th grade. I want you to understand that teachers appreciate you being open about this. Far to many children go untreated for this and struggle tremendously. The fact is you treat your child, therefore advocating/helicoptering is part of the process. Any FUTURE misses, and there will be because that is life, allow your child to address. Coach them. My son occasionally misses things, and he is now comfortable in his own self to reach out to the teacher to rectify.
Let me start by saying.. and I will shout. FEED YOUR CHILD WHAT HE WILL EAT. None of this “he eats what we eat, or he goes to bed hungry.” FULL STOP. Right now.
Part of ADHD is medication. Most ADHD children are treated with stimulant medication. One of the side affects of stimulant medication is lack of appetite. As an ADHD mom you must learn to work around this. How do I do it? Every morning I make it a point to give myself enough time to cook my son a LARGE and WELL balanced breakfast. Foods high in protein and vitamins have been shown to help ADHD children. Keeping away from foods high in sugar and that are processed are key. Every morning I scramble David 2 eggs with a diced meat and chiffon spinach. NEWSFLASH.. raw spinach carries NO taste when scrambled with eggs. Trust me. Somehow, someway, please get your child to try it…. Added to the egg “scramble”, I give David a fruit (either strawberries, banana, or grapes) or yogurt with blueberries (he’s particular in how he eats his fruit. GO WITH IT MOM. He’s eating, and make what he likes). On a good day a carb is added, such as a croissant or toast.
With lunch, save yourself, pack light. It is what it is. Your child is socializing and likely not to eat all that you back. Spare your self the peeled carrots, raisins etc…. Find out your child’s FAVORITE lunch meat. David fluctuates between Boars Head Tavern Ham and their Maple Turkey Breast, add to that Muenster Cheese. Bread, experiment. Whole grain is best, if white is all they will eat, so be it. Add a bag of chips, I recommend the presaged. Why do I recommend pre-bagged? I know its more costly than a ziplock. However your child is likely not to eat it and you need to teach him to bring home what is not eaten so that you can monitor food intake. When you use prepackaged over self bagged, you are likely to shove it back in the cabinet vs. in the trash. Let’s be real.
For dinner we do want David to try new things and that is a rule in our house, you have to try it before you refuse to eat it. Period. I know.. easier said than done, however trust me, your child will get there. My son has a big issue with texture. He does not like mashed potatoes. Though now at the age of almost 13 he will entertain a bite or 2 over gagging.. They are not his shtick. So we “curtail” side of pasta it is. However whatever protein we are having must be eaten. That’s our house rule. I must bring to your attention that at this point of the day, the end of the day, your child should be well off their medication. Likely their mind may be racing… coax them to eat. It’s important, and be patient.
If your child is into organized or even solo sports, fantastic. Please push them to their full extent. Many athletes are outspoken ADHDers and the are known to master their sport. If your child, like mine is not into sports you need to make sure that they are being mobile aside from your every day PE elective. Encourage any sort of outdoor activity or even any simple indoor activity. Our son loves to ride his bike, additionally we are avid hikers. His father also encourages him to do pushups, sit ups and pull ups (he’s close to doing one on his own!). Whatever works for your kid. Just get them moving.
When your child is on medication, let me rephrase, a medication on the alert “list”; obtaining your refill is daunting. There is no getting a script for 90 days. Only 30. There is no calling in the script, the script must be a physical script. This means I must visit my sons pediatrician once a month. This means as the script giver you must pay attention and when you only have a few left get going on phoning the doctor notifying them you will be by. The worst thing you can do is wait until the last minute and then run out. Additionally it is not uncommon for the pharmacy to be out. Especially when you are in the beginning. I literally got tired of being sent from pharmacy to pharmacy due to it not being kept in stock. It took me speaking to the pharmacy manager for them to keep it stocked in my local pharmacy.
SPACE IS GOOD.
As with parenting in general, the ultimate goal is to get our kids to be self sufficient. I honestly find the more chores/tasks I teach my son the more independent and responsible he becomes. At 12 my son can sort his own clothes, make his bed daily, make his bed from scratch, cook himself breakfast, make himself lunch, chop vegetables, it goes on. Anything you can do your child should be able to do. With support of course. Loosen up and give them room to grow, learn, and fail.