Approximately 16 million kids in the United States aged 2-17 years have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Boys are more than twice as likely as girls to get an ADHD diagnosis. Many children with ADHD also have other conditions, including:
Our team of expert pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Academy Park Pediatrics, PC in Lakewood and Highlands Ranch, Colorado are highly trained in diagnosing and treating behavioral problems in children, including ADHD. If your child has ADHD or other behavioral problems, here’s what you need to know about parenting them.
These days, terms like ADHD are thrown around indiscriminately by medical professionals and lay people who base their assumptions on a few key behaviors or issues. In general, children (and adults) with ADHD exhibit recognizable symptoms, such as:
However, ADHD isn’t the only cause of ADHD-like symptoms. The most important part of your journey with your child is to obtain an accurate diagnosis that evaluates of their status in various areas, including:
Your child’s behavioral problem may, in fact, be caused by an underlying medical condition that needs treatment and management. They may also have other conditions that need to be addressed as well.
The more you know about ADHD, the easier it becomes to manage your child’s condition and the frustrations that may arise during your day-to-day interactions. An organization that specializes in ADHD, such as CHADD, offers good, vetted information and also access to support groups where you can interact with other parents who are raising kids with ADHD.
Be conscious that there’s a lot of misinformation about ADHD on the internet, including claims for cures. As of now, no effective cures for ADHD exist, though many new therapies are being developed that may be of value.
One intervention that works well for children with ADHD is behavioral therapy. The earlier your child gets therapy, the easier it is for them to thrive, do well in school, and have a happy social life.
You can also learn behavioral techniques yourself to help you set limits, design goals, and provide appropriate consequences for unhelpful behaviors. Of course, many ADHD behaviors come with their own negative and unwanted consequences.
When you help your child see the connection between something they did and an outcome they didn’t want (such as a friend being angry with them), they learn to avoid such mistakes in the future.
Remember, too, that your child’s ADHD may not be the same as your own, or their friends’, or the ADHD you read about online or in support groups. We help you understand your child’s unique presentations and challenges and then design a treatment protocol that’s customized to their needs.
Even though you may have other children and a busy schedule that barely allows you time to breathe, try to set aside some special time for just you and your child each week. Make sure you tell them frequently that you love them unconditionally, even when they’re engaging in behaviors you don’t like.
Notice and comment on their successes. For instance, if they get through a dinner without interrupting their siblings, that’s a victory. A good grade on a test, turning their homework in on time, and other small triumphs give you a reason to celebrate progress with your child.
Just as you’d never allow your child to blame themselves for their condition, you shouldn’t accept the blame, either. Researchers don’t know for sure what causes ADHD. Even though genetics does seem to be involved (a family history of ADHD increases your chances of having it, too), ADHD is not your fault.
Be sure that you get the support you need, including counseling, if necessary, so that you can cope with the extra challenges of parenting a child with ADHD. Think about yourself as the team captain in your child’s ADHD treatment, instead of the sole member.
You deserve the support of medical professionals, your child’s teachers, and family and friends, too. Don’t try to do it all yourself. In addition, be aware that either you or your partner may also have ADHD. If so, be sure to take your condition as seriously as you take your child’s and get the help you need to stay focused, present, and organized.