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The Key To Understanding Your ADHD Kid

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Needless to say, being the parent of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be challenging.

Whether it be their seemingly insatiable appetite for something stimulating to do, or their difficulty with maintaining focus, or even the conflicts that they can get caught in, it can sometimes seem that children with ADHD are void of logic and beyond help.

Obviously this is far from the truth!

In this article I will explain to you how a child with ADHD works and give you some advice as to what you can do limit the negative aspects of the diagnosis.

 

 

But why should you trust my advice? 

Before I begin let me tell you a little bit about myself…

I am a psychotherapist and the founder of a website called Wherapy where I mainly work with people suffering from anxiety and depression. Alongside my work with Wherapy, I’ve also worked since 2021 at a children’s psychiatric clinic where I have met and helped many children with ADHD. 

It is based on my experience at this clinic and the knowledge that I have gained from my coworkers, that I have written this article.

So back to the matter at hand. 

A good starting place (according to me at least) when it comes to understanding children with ADHD is to see their heightened energy levels and their inability to focus as being intertwined. Their other symptoms as well as their mood and self-esteem are affected by the framework that we or our children’s schools use to maintain our child’s heightened energy levels and lack of focus.

The illustration below demonstrates our child’s intertwined energy levels and lack of focus.

 

 

In This Article…

  1. Your ADHD Kid In School
  2. Your ADHD Kid During The Weekend Or On Vacation
  3. Finding The Right Framework For Your ADHD Kid

 

Your ADHD Kid In School

Schools tend to offer a sense of structure and predictability that lends itself well to children with ADHD. 

However, their structure is, more often than not, too rigid, not only controlling what the child does but how the child does it.

If you think about it schools are designed to mass produce knowledge. Even though it is in their remit to do so, rarely do schools tailor to the needs of the individual. And since most of their pupils aren’t neurodivergent, their teaching methods aren’t suited to someone with ADHD. 

So not only does the pupil with ADHD have to do a certain subject for a certain amount of time, they have to do it in a certain place, in a certain way and with certain people.

This is an example of a framework that is too restrictive.

As you can see in the illustration below, the framework is too small and the child’s heightened energy levels and lack of focus pushes on the framework causing friction between the child and their surroundings. 

This in turn causes the child to become agitated. It also causes them to distract others which can lead to repercussions that affect the child’s self-esteem in the long run.

 

 


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Your ADHD Kid During The Weekend Or On Vacation

Whereas schools end up providing a framework that is too restrictive, the home environment (especially on weekends and holidays) can be unstructured to the extent that it brings forth similar symptoms in the child.

The framework, either being too loose or lacking all together, does not provide the predictability that the child needs. Instead the child’s heightened energy levels and lack of focus is left to sprawl aimlessly.

This causes the child to exhibit symptoms similar to situations where the framework is too restrictive. They become agitated and act out.

In other words, the symptoms are the same but the causation is different.

In this case the symptoms (agitation and acting out) are caused by an anxiety. The child does not know what to do with one’s heightened energy levels and therefore acts out.

The illustration below demonstrates the home environment. Notice the gap between the framework and the child’s inability to focus / heightened energy levels.  This is where the child’s anxiety has room to grow.

 

 

 

Finding The Right Framework For Your ADHD Kid

I know I am stating the obvious when I say that finding the right framework takes time. After all, it’s a matter of trial-and-error. 

Eventually you will get the framework just right, and your child’s heightened energy levels and lack of focus will exist within the framework without crashing into it or sprawling aimlessly. 

In short, the home environment has to become a little bit more structured and the school environment has to become a little bit more flexible.

The important thing to remember is that a framework should not be seen as something that is restrictive. It is there to guide the child… to make life easier for them.

It is within the framework, that the child should be free to do as they please and to show off their creativity.

A good starting place when it comes to frameworks is to use time or place.

E.G. Between 10am and noon on Sundays we’re outdoors. What you (the child) do when you’re outdoors is completely up to you (within reason of course).But during that time we’re not going indoors.

Tip! – You can draw up a schedule for the weekends. Your child will find comfort in the predictability of it. And don’t worry! The schedule does not have to be so detailed. 


E.G. We play in the play room and eat in the dining room. How you play in the play room and how much you eat when in the dining room is up to you.

Tip! – Have the rules written down somewhere everyone can see them and make sure the rules apply to everyone, even you the parents.


Once you and your child have gotten used to these frameworks, you can start applying the framework to yourself. 


E.G. Between 6:30 pm and 7 pm mom / dad is cleaning the kitchen. You (the child) can play in the play room and I will come to you at 7 pm. You can come get me if there’s an emergency but otherwise I won’t be able to talk to you because I am busy.

Tip! – Introduce new rules ahead of time. There is no use introducing them after the event. If you do so, you will seem unreliable. 

Tip! – Use a timer. Your children will find it easier to have something visual to relate to. 


E.G. Mom / dad’s bedtime is at 10 pm. At 10 pm, I will be going to bed regardless of whether or not you’re still awake. I don’t want to do so, but the rules say that I need to be in bed at 10 pm so I will be going to bed then.

Tip! – It is important to have a calm tone and to remain objective when speaking. Let the child know that you are on their side emotionally but that you are also obliged to follow the rules no matter what.

In this article, I have explained how a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder functions and what you as a parent can do to limit the negative aspects of the diagnosis. Good Luck!

 

 

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