Kids with ADHD are just wonderful! Aren’t they? I would know. 😉
It would be useful if these great kids came with an instruction manual, though. I mean, it would be great if all kids came with such a book, but often, ADHD kids are especially challenging. I wish I had manual like this to hand to you, but I can let you learn from my mistakes. Here are 10 ways NOT to treat your ADHD kid.
10 Ways NOT to Treat Your ADHD Kid
1) Don’t Yell
A worthy #1, don’t you think? Being calm in the face of ADHD can change your child’s behavior dramatically. This can change the way he feels about himself as well as his relationship with you. It probably seems like his undesirable behaviors are willful defiance. He’s just trying to tick you off, right? So of course, you yell and punish, but in reality, he probably just can’t control his impulses.
Try. Make a conscious effort not to yell, even only for a week. Instead, sit down and detach yourself from the situation to try to understand why he’s doing the things he does. You could also try to redirect the situation (let’s go outside and jog around the yard a couple of times) or excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and hang out in there for a minute or two.
2) Don’t Take it Personally
This will help you to stay calm and follow #1 better. Your child could be screaming that he hates you, that you don’t love him, that he’s had it with this family – but if he’s in the middle of a meltdown, he’s really not himself. In fact, he’s pretty much out of his head. These kids often have fits because they don’t realize that their way isn’t the only way. So don’t take it to heart, wait for him to calm down and if he’s anything like mine, he will be extremely remorseful afterwards.
3) Don’t Insist on Having the Last Word
Power struggles are truly fruitless. If you’ve got two people who both need to have the last word, no one wins. If you find yourself commanding your ADHD child often, try giving limited and age appropriate choices instead. It’s not a terrible thing to give your child small amounts of power, to let him know that he has a place in this world. Also, learning to say “no” respectfully is a great life skill to acquire.
4) Don’t Use Tense Body Language
ADHD kids are often as keen as eagles. Clenching your fists or making an uptight face isn’t going to get past him and will probably rile him up. If (when) you feel yourself tensing up, close your eyes and take five to ten deep breathes, in and out through your nostrils, until you feel your blood pressure doing down a bit.
5) Don’t Be Insulting or Embarrassing
ADHD is a recognized medical disorder. Your child has a problem with cognitive function and this isn’t his fault. It can be difficult because it’s a disorder that can’t be seen, but it’s there. Don’t ridicule, embarrass or be sarcastic with your child because you’re simply harming him and tearing his self-esteem to shreds. Instead, try to relax and take the long view of things, knowing what a go-getter he’ll be in 20 years.
6) Don’t Bribe
My children get a meager allowance and this is made it very easy for me to threaten to take portions of it away if they don’t behave the way I want them to. This is a bad idea for several reasons: it teaches them that they can pretty much buy their way out of trouble, that he’s being paid for good behavior, and also, he eventually might not even care about the money anyway. Take the emotion out of tangible things, such as gifts or allowance.
7) Don’t Attack Who He Is
“Why can’t you just…!” “Why do you have to..?!” “Could you PLEASE??” are often questions asked over and over to the ADHD child. These questions are basically attacking his character by calling him lazy, unmotivated, or a whole slew of other unpolite adjectives. He is who he is, and you know you love him, so show it.
8) Don’t Mimic
Mimicking pretty much anyone is insulting and it’s a surefire way to pretty rile up your ADHDer. This goes back to #4 in a way, because they are usually such keen observers. Even saying something under your breath or looking away and imitating the face he gave to you is a bad idea. So is saying something like, “You just did this to me!” and trying to replay it. Sorry, but you’re probably not really going to get it right and even if you do, it’s not going to help the situation.
9) Don’t Compare
Don’t compare your child to siblings, cousins, classmates or anyone else. You child is who your child is, and every child is unique. And none of them are perfect!
10) Don’t Hold a Grudge
These types of incidents often pass by the ADHD child like waves in the ocean, in and out, in and out. Holding on to something that happened just yesterday might seem like years ago to your child and bringing it up again may just shame and embarrass him. Punish if appropriate, but then, let it go!
What TO Do
There are so many ways to teach your ADHDer life skills! Here are a just a few:
- Play acting
- Thinking through different options together
- Playing strategy games together
- Teaching him to breathe and meditate
- Most importantly – remember that you’re the parent – the adult – and you ultimately have the control.
Also, read this book, The Explosive Child by Ross Greene and his other books. His books are amazing.
What special tricks do you have to deal with your ADHD child? How do you handle punishments in your home? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!