Home is the place where everyone should feel most comfortable and be able to relax, but ADHD symptoms don't disappear once your child comes home from school. There are a few things you can do to try to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible around the house.
Parenting in general is a challenging task, but parenting children with ADHD may require even more patience, practice, and skill. Here are some suggestions that might help you to manage his or her behaviour:
Use incentives before punishment to reinforce desired behaviour. For example, rather than focusing on a negative behaviour, like leaving a bicycle outside, focus your efforts on reinforcing the desired behaviour of putting the bicycle away each evening, with some meaningful incentive, such as playing computer games for 30 minutes.
Set up a family system of rules and desirable behaviours that you can consistently enforce. Use simple rules, such as "No hitting or hurting others" or "Ask for permission before using something that belongs to someone else." Document and discuss the rules in family meetings to ensure clear understanding by all. Use frequent, immediate, and meaningful consequences, such as a time-out from the group or restricting privileges.
Educate and openly enlist the support of siblings in dealing with ADHD and its impact on the family. The more a sibling understands that the ADHD behaviour of his or her brother or sister is not done to be purposefully annoying, the more accepting and supportive the sibling can be.
Often, a sibling will feel left out, perceiving that the child with ADHD commands all of the attention. Use family meetings to constructively air grievances and solve problems. Spend time individually with each child to foster bonds and feelings of acceptance.
Managing stress is key to helping the whole family cope with ADHD. Identifying key stressors for yourself and your child with ADHD would be a good first step. You should also find ways to create an ADHD-friendly environment to minimise these problems. For example:
Try buying prepared meals and obtaining help with grocery shopping, laundry, bill paying, and house cleaning tasks. Use a tutor or older child to help out with homework.
Too many activities can stress and exhaust a child with ADHD, which worsens behaviour.
Build in some breaks from parenting during the week. Babysitters, summer camps, grandparents, and other resources allow parents and the rest of the family some time away from home.
The full-time job of getting children with ADHD to focus on directions, and do what they are supposed to do, can be an exhausting and frustrating process. Parents and children can both use the following strategies to overcome frustration and focus on being calm and patient: