ADHD Lifestyle Guide
Children with ADHD, like anybody else, will want to be successful and happy as they experience the childhood years. As a result, it is important to consider the 3 key areas of their life where problems can occur but solutions can be found.
These 3 areas are: home & family, play, free time & peers and school.
Home and Family
On average any school age child will spend about 16% of their year at school which means that most their time will be spent in the confines of family life.
The key term in managing children with ADHD at home is ‘structure’ which incorporates developing specific rituals for issues including; meal times, getting up and going to bed, brushing teeth, TV/Computer time trips to the supermarket etc… Though this may be difficult to introduce at first, consistency is the key between both parents/carers and the child. To support the success of these rituals a behaviour management programme such as 1, 2, 3 Magic by Thomas Phelan may be useful to consider. This programme may also be used when dealing with issues of sibling rivalry.
The two additional issues of diet and sleep are also important and specific advice should be sought from medical professionals if difficulties occur in these areas.
Play, free time and peers
Though issues may occur at school, it is often said that children with ADHD experience more difficulty during those unstructured periods associated with free time. As a result, once again the key word is creating more structure than may be necessary during evenings, weekends and holidays.
Not all children will want to, or in some cases simply do not have the skills, to join the local football or skate boarding club. In these cases the key is to find out what they are good at and if no group currently exists, start one of your own. ADHD Parent support groups are extremely proactive in providing a range of activities specifically geared to children and young people with ADHD. If your child has been excluded from the local swimming club or is not invited to the parties of children at their school, forge links with other families who may be experiencing the same issues.
Friendship groups and interacting with peers can be difficult for children with ADHD to sustain, especially with children of the same group. It is often found that children with ADHD often get on better with older and younger children and therefore make use if this in the clubs and activities that they join.
As mentioned before, school is part of the day where parents place their child in the care of others to provide support and structure for their child. The most important issue is to create strong links and a partnership between home and school. Great communication is the key. Ensure both parties are being realistic about all expectations and outcomes.
Having ADHD should not be thought of as all doom and gloom. Individuals can, like all of us, struggle in life but they can also be very successful. Having the ability to think quickly and instinctively and being highly creative and yet relentless can provide an advantage.
Many successful adults now claim they achieved their success not so much despite their ADHD but because of it. The American swimmer and multi Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps has ADHD. The reason why he is so successful is not simply down to talent but the fact that he was somewhat obsessive in his determination to succeed. In addition, the well known children’s author Dave Pike who wrote the Captain Underpants series of books created all his characters when he was bored at school. He was often told off for doodling when in fact he was writing and creating his characters.
These and many other examples show that having ADHD is not so much a disability, but can be regarded as having a very different learning style. Understanding more about the condition and reacting proactively to the strengths and weaknesses of each individual concerned will be the keys to a happy and fulfilling life.
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