Empowering ADHD children simply means helping them learn how to cope with everyday life in a calm but confident manner. By instilling confidence, we can teach our ADHD children how to take control of their own lives and make good decisions on their own. Teaching ADHD children how to reason, solve problems and control their emotions can help them become strong, confident adults.
How Parents Can Empower their ADHD Children
By empowering ADHD children, we are giving them the tools needed to succeed in life and reach their goals. With all the changes kids go through and all the challenges they face, it can sometimes be difficult for parents to empower their kids at all, and it is even more difficult if the child has ADHD. You can make a difference though, and as dedicated parents, we have the opportunity to help our ADHD children find their paths to success.
Learn all you can about ADHD.
It would be difficult at the very least to raise a child with this disorder if you don’t understand what it is and how it affects his life. You need to know what your child is going through and the challenges he faces daily before you can take steps to empower him. There are some great books, online resources, and of course, other parents of ADHD children out there to help you educate yourself and give you the support you will need.
Now that you understand what ADHD is, explain it to your child.
It will be important for you to help your ADHD child understand his condition and why things seem harder for him than they do for other kids his age. Help him understand that he is as smart as his peers; he just sees things differently and needs to work a little harder. Some ADHD children are very self-aware because they have been criticized so much, maybe even bullied. While the negative attention is not what we’re looking for, take advantage of these moments to teach your child what of his behaviors may be related to ADHD and then talk to your child about what you will do together to help him improve in that area.
Don’t constantly judge or criticize your child.
Judging your ADHD child and constantly pointing out his faults is likely to create more negative feelings than not, making it easier for him to want to give up on behavior improvement. Instead of using negative wording, try positive reinforcement to help build up his strong areas and praise him for a job well done, while you work on the things he needs to change.
Look for ways to help your child improve focus and concentration.
There are various mental exercises and other tools designed to help kids learn how to focus and control their emotions better. It’s easier to concentrate when you’re in control of your own thoughts. Eventually, your child will become a teen who will want to learn how to drive and get his first job. It will be vitally important that these areas have seen much growth and improvement before your child takes on such responsibility.
Help your child maintain a regular routine where he knows what to expect and when to expect it.
Schedules and routines help kids with ADHD stay on track so they can maintain order in their life. So, help your ADHD child make a schedule, establish a routine, and follow them. Having a specific time to eat meals, watch TV, homeschool, go to bed, and so forth is helpful, as is building routines for daily functions, such as personal hygiene and bedtime.
Make instructions simple and easy to follow.
You may have noticed that your ADHD child has a difficult time following multi-step instructions. For example: if you tell him to go to his room, make his bed, put away his toys, and bring out his dirty laundry, 30 minutes later you may find him in his room, playing with his toys, bed still unmade, and dirty clothes still on the floor. On a good day, perhaps he brought out his dirty clothes (ADHD kids typically only remember and respond to the last instruction you give). This isn’t necessarily a sign of disobedience. It may be a sign of overwhelm. It’s an indication you need to simplify things.
If the instructions are simple, there will be less room for failure to follow. As often as possible, use one-step instructions, gradually increasing to two-step and then three-step instructions as your child matures and proves himself more capable. Keeping things simple will help your ADHD child know exactly what you expect of him and what is considered acceptable behavior, and that makes it easier for him to comply.
Be consistent with the rules and keep them simple, too.
Changing the rules often will only confuse your child and make it more difficult for him to keep up. Be consistent and have one set of rules for everyone in the home. This shows your ADHD child that you expect him to live up to the same expectations as everyone else and it will give his confidence a boost knowing that you believe he can do it. Posting a simple list of family rules where they can be seen can be helpful as well, and gives you a quick reference when reminding your ADHD child which rule he may have broken so he can work on needed improvement
Teach your child that his actions do have consequences.
This is a lesson he will need to learn in order to make it in the world when he is older. So, set the rules and follow through with consequences if your child repeatedly breaks them. But allow natural consequences whenever possible. Parents are often tempted to make excuses for their ADHD child. You may also be tempted to hover over him and protect him from natural (and other) consequences. This is a huge mistake and will not serve your child well as he becomes a teen and adult. Please protect your child from potential harm and bullying, but do not protect him from learning lessons related to his poor behavior.
Don’t set your expectations too high. But don’t set them too low either.
ADHD children do not normally mature as quickly as children who do not have this disorder. This means that in some areas he will be emotionally and mentally behind for his age. Keep this in mind when making house rules. If you expect too much from him, you’re setting him up for failure. On the other hand, don’t lower the bar too much. If you set your expectations too low, it will be easy for him to make excuses or not try as hard as he should to succeed.
You may not always know what is to much and what is too little, so flexibility is key. Be willing to make concessions and either loosen or tighten the rules as needed to help your child be as successful as possible, while working hard toward goals. Give yourself (and your ADHD child) lots of grace. You’re both going to make a lot of mistakes, but you’re both going to have many milestones to celebrate as well.
The skills your ADHD child learns now will be with him for the rest of his life. Teach him the skills he needs to empower his life instead of holding him back through negativity, lack of knowledge, or fear. What you do throughout his childhood and the teen years will make a difference in what type of adult your ADHD child becomes. It’s an incredible responsibility, but the rewards are great.