Whilst the vast majority of this podcast audience are university psychology students and psychology professionals, I still enjoy doing and researching parenting-related content. Since as psychology people we know that giving someone a diagnosis and the label associated with it can be difficult and it can take some time to get used to. Therefore, it’s important for us to understand the impact that mental health conditions have on not only our clients, but their families as well. That’s why in today’s psychology podcast episode, we’re focusing on how parents can deal with ADHD? So we can understand more about the parent’s experience of having a child with this condition. If you enjoy learning about ADHD, mental health and clinical psychology then you’ll love today’s episode.
Today’s episode has been sponsored by Developmental Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
What Is ADHD?
In case anyone is unfamiliar with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it is a mental health condition that normally begins in childhood, and as I’ve spoken before on the podcast. There is evidence that it shouldn’t be thought of as a mental disorder with there being something “wrong” with a person. It is an evolutionary adaption that the human species evolved to help our survival and it is for that reason people with ADHD can live successful and fulfilled lives. Similar to Bill Gates, Simone Biles and Justin Timberlake to name but a few successful people with ADHD.
However, clinically speaking, ADHD is a condition with symptoms including people finding it hard to pay attention, being hyperactive and impulsive. As well as people with ADHD might struggle to sit still, control their impulses, focus on tasks and sometimes they are more accident-prone than others.
Yet again, I want to stress that just because someone has ADHD doesn’t mean they’re messed up, have a problem or anything else negative that society has attached to an ADHD label.
How can ADHD Affect A Child’s Life?
As psychology students and, current or future, therapists, we need to know how a particular condition will impact our client’s life before we give them a diagnosis. And when it comes to ADHD then the condition does have a massive impact on every single aspect of a child’s life. For example, a child with ADHD finds it difficult to focus in class, keep up with their classmates and follow instructions (be it by a teacher or family member). Therefore, sadly children with ADHD do tend to have lower grades, and in the USA, they are more likely than students without ADHD to be held back a grade.
When it comes to social and home functioning then children with ADHD are disadvantaged as well. Since ADHD does lead to behavioural and social difficulties because children with the condition might struggle to make friends and they are at a higher risk of bullying. Personally, that isn’t right at all and no one kid should be bullied, especially children with a mental health condition, but as everyone knows children can be mean at times.
Yet at least not everyone is bullied.
Also, when it comes to home life, ADHD can cause problems as parents struggle to manage their child’s behaviour, they don’t feel supported and their siblings can even feel neglected and resentful.
That’s another reason why I wanted to be today’s episode because it isn’t right that parents don’t feel supported with the right information, tricks and tips. Therefore, whilst nothing on the podcast is even any sort of official advice, I want to do something to help the amazing parents that have a great kid with ADHD but they aren’t necessarily sure how to deal with a diagnosis.
Because let’s face it, even as psychology students and professionals we would struggle and be surprised or at least need an adjustment period, if our current or future child as a diagnosis. And we’re the people that know this information like the back of our hands (depending on our interests and jobs of course).
Overall, we need to acknowledge that ADHD is challenging for everyone, including the child and parents and everyone else who comes into contact with the child. Yet this is far from a bad thing because there are ways to manage the condition and with the right support, there is no reason why a child with ADHD cannot reach their full potential.
How Can Parents Deal With ADHD?
As I’m sure everyone listening to the podcast knows full well, but parenting a child with any condition, like ADHD or autism, can be challenging. Even more so when the parent doesn’t have access to good information so whilst this is not the ultimate parenting guide for parents with ADHD kids, I hope this helps some.
Therefore, one of the first tips is definitely don’t handle everything themselves, because that only leads to burnout, stress and their mental health will decrease. That’s why it’s important to get support and find other people that are going through the same things as you.
Secondly, parents can create routines as well as structure at home. The benefit of this is it helps to keep a child with ADHD on track.
Thirdly, parents can make sure that their doctors and teachers are involved in developing a plan to deal with the child’s ADHD. Personally, I think this is worded quite harshly but the real point behind it is to make sure there is a plan in place to allow the child to thrive and manage the symptoms of ADHD so they can live a full and productive life as I mentioned earlier.
And the most important one I think, parents have to be patient and they need to encourage positive behaviours.
Thankfully, all of these tips aren’t hard for us as psychologists to explain to parents and these tips are really about hope I think. Whenever a parent gets a diagnosis then it can feel like the carpet has been taken out from under them because in their eyes, at times, it can feel like their child’s future has changed forever and they have no idea what to do about it. I’m sure the psychologists listening to the podcast can back me up here when I say that these feelings are just temporary whilst the parents experience a learning curve about what the diagnosis means, and what the next steps are.
Finally, parents need to look after themselves. No one in psychology will ever say that having a child with a mental health condition isn’t stressful and challenging. That’s why parents need to look after themselves, make sure they have a support system in place and they are able to cope with everything that is going on.
How Can Parents Create A Positive Relationship With Their Child With ADHD?
Time and time again research shows that our relationships, our connections and our social support systems are the most important factor in our mental health, our success and many more different areas of functioning. Therefore, I’m sure that a lot of parents will be asking us, as current or future, psychologists how do they build a positive parental relationship with their child with ADHD.
Thankfully, it is far from impossible and there are tips.
Firstly, it is absolutely critical that a parent is patient and when a child is “acting out” then this can be very hard to do, and I think it is perfectly reasonable that a parent does sometimes feels the need to shout. Ideally, there would be no shouting and that is why being patient is so important. Especially, since parents need to remember that their child is not acting out intentionally.
Secondly, and I know that most parents don’t do this but it has to be said anyway, parents shouldn’t compare their children to neurotypical children. As well as they certainly shouldn’t use negative words like “stupid” or “lazy” that I think is heart-breaking, but it could also reflect on how stressful this is on them too. Yet using negative words will not help the parental relationship at all and over time it will really damage their child’s mental health.
In addition, and this is my favourite one, parents (regardless if the child has ADHD or not) should spend quality time with their kid every day. Even if it is as simple as reading a book together, playing together or walking around the block together. You are still spending time with your child and they will love that time with you.
Finally, praise a child with ADHD when they show positive behaviour. As much as I have no interest whatsoever in behaviourism, when it comes to child psychology, there are some very useful concepts that work. Therefore, parents should encourage and praise good behaviour so this helps the child feel good about themselves as well as it encourages them to continue the behaviour way into the future so they can get rewarded again and again.
Overall, we have one more section to look at and I want to stress here that I hope you’re starting to see that ADHD isn’t a terrible, terrible condition that ruins lives. If you’re a parent reading this then so far I hope that this has helped you to realise that there are strategies and tips and ways to help yourself and your child manage this brand-new diagnosis. As well as there are plenty more online for you to explore. If you’re a psychology student or professional, then I hope you’re realising that there are a lot of management tips that we can and should give parents when they first get the diagnosis. Due to how overwhelming this entire situation can do.
How To Help A Child With ADHD Succeed In School?
Moving onto our final section of the podcast episode, I mentioned earlier that children with ADHD can struggle academically and they’re often behind compared to their peers. However, there are thankfully some tips and strategies that can help a child with ADHD thrive at school.
For example, a surprising tip is that helping a child at school might start from home. Due to if a parent provides structure as well as routine at home then this has the benefit of helping the child to stay on track and avoid any distractions. As well as at home, a parent can help their child develop organisational skills. Such as teaching them how to use a calendar or planner to help them keep track of their assignments, homework and classes (not exactly applicable to young children but you get the point).
Moreover, in terms of the school itself, parents working with teachers and the school to develop an individualised education plan is important, and I will admit I am not exactly sure how this works in schools. Yet I do remember a few people in my year at school has something like this so I imagine it is something as easy as talking to the school and getting the process started. Since the plan focuses on the child’s strengths and weaknesses of their learning and it includes accommodations for their ADHD. As well as if there is a change in a child’s ADHD medication then the school should be told about that too.
Clinical Psychology and ADHD Conclusion
Overall, I want to finish this clinical psychology episode by reminding us, psychology students and psychology professionals, that whenever we give a child or adult a diagnosis of ADHD or something else, we have just changed their lives forever. That isn’t a bad thing. With a diagnosis (as much as the diagnosis system is awful as we all know) that amazing person can get the support and treatment they need to go on and live a great life.
And to parents of children with ADHD and my fellow psychology students and professionals, I want to remind you that everyone has the love, support and drive to help a child with ADHD. Parents are brilliant and if they work with doctors and schools, keep having a positive relationship with their child and if they have the right social support network around themselves, not only the child. Then the child will thrive and they could do amazing things.
Having ADHD isn’t a death sentence, a child with ADHD can do amazing things and live a happy, successful life given the right support, treatment and most importantly, love.
I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode.
If you want to learn more, please check out:
Developmental Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
Have a great day.
Clinical Psychology References:
Clinical Psychology by Carr (2012)
Clinical Psychology Third Edition by Davey et al. (2015)
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