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Notice your child has been coming home with notes like "Amy was doodling in her notebook throughout her Maths class today" or "Eric has forgotten his homework for the tenth time this month"? You may also have spotted your young one pushing food around their plate or just refusing to eat food served up. Instead of reaching for the rottan or sending them for time-out, stop and think whether this could be part of a larger issue.
News of a child having a developmental disorder can send even the most stoic parent into a tizzy. Disbelief, blame, withdrawal as well as questions like “What to do?”, “Why this family?”, “How to cope?” would seem to take over daily life. And, ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is one disorder that will turn a family’s life topsy-turvy. Structure and routine will have to revolve around the little person looking over with trusting eyes. So what are other things you can do to help your child become a successful individual?
Surprisingly, how you are – emotionally and mentally – plays a big part in deciding how your kid will turn out. Take time out by enlisting the help of close relatives that your child identifies with and enjoys the company of. This way you get time out to do activities you like or exercise. Pay attention to your diet but, if you do fall sick, fall back on your support system.
Kids with ADHD thrive on routine and repetition, even for the most simple of activities like brushing their teeth. Set an activity or activities leading up to mealtimes so the more they do it, the more it sets in. Changes, even the smallest ones, can disrupt progress so make sure you don’t break the habit.
Make your child’s daily life as uncomplicated as possible. Though a child with ADHD shouldn’t be kept idle, don’t overwhelm them with activities that they are not familiar with and can’t make head or tail of. Sign your child up, to begin with, for one extra-curricular activity like sport, art or music.
At home, come up with simple games that engage your kid, whether it’s bringing out the utensils for you to use when cooking, sitting down to play Monopoly etc but don’t use screen related activities (like TV shows or video games). As things to occupy them with, like these, may worsen the condition.
Something else to declutter is the living space. Organise everything and make sure that everything is labelled in big letters if your child will be around the place. If you make neatness and organisation your priority, then your child will pick up on those traits and keep them in practice the rest of their life.
The main difference between a normal child and a kid with ADHD is consistency. And this is true even in the case of punishment or rewards. If you say that this is what they will get for being good or being naughty, make sure to deliver on those words. Write it down and put it up in a place that’s easy for your child to read. It’s a bit like their daily routine, the more the system’s repeated, the better it is for your child.
Instead of three major meals, break it down to smaller meals throughout the day so your child doesn’t crave for junk food and items rich in sugar. These small meals, ideally three hours apart, should be filled with fresh food like fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks. Junk food items should stay on the supermarket shelf and not in your home. If eating out, popular items like Coca-Cola or banana split should be off-limits.
Social norms are not something that flies well in the mind of a kid with ADHD. Parents should pretend to be a person that they want to be friends with and teach them how to react in situations that may present themselves. Get things rolling by having one or two similar-aged kids (selected carefully) over and watch how things play out. Go over notes with them later, if necessary.
Stay focused, keep self in check and always be consistent with your child. In the long run, they will be the better for it. Just ask parents of Lab School of Washington graduates.
For over 35 years, graduates from this co-ed school for kids with learning disabilities have become very successful as graphic artists, film makers, fashion designers, jewelry designers, actors, architects, photographers, musicians, dancers, and computer graphic specialists. A number of the graduates have also become highly successful entrepreneurs and business executives.
Hi I'm Sandra, a proud mummy of two beautiful kids and contributor to theAsianparent Singapore!
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