Where Do I Begin After An ADHD Diagnosis?
Your child is newly diagnosed with ADHD. What now?
Start small. Begin by identifying your expectations. Learn about your child’s strengths. This gives you the advantage. You’re ready to help your child and set them up for success.
As parents, we have expectations for our children.
These expectations come from our own experiences, values, and beliefs. Let’s start with basic recommendations found in an article by Dr. Beth Seidel titled “Parent Expectations: 2 Steps to Success”. The first step; allow yourself to mourn.
When our children are given an ADHD diagnosis we can be in shock and we want answers.
- How come?
- What is this?
- Who has this?
- What do I need to do?
- Who can help me?
Mourning is about giving yourself permission to grieve, be sad or weep if needed.
When Is The Time To Act?
Once you have given yourself the opportunity to absorb the news of the diagnosis, find out as much as you can about ADHD.
How does ADHD affect your child?
What are the treatment options for your family?
Talk to family members and answer their questions too.
Clarify your expectations and move to Dr. Seidel’s second step.
Take time to “redefine or reframe” your expectations based on what you learned about ADHD. You don’t need to raise or lower your standards or expectations.
It means you will teach, expect and support your child at their level. Dr. Seidel helps us by giving us three recommendations:
- Clarify your expectations based on the child’s developmental stages, as you would with any child
- Ask yourself where your child’s development is based on the stages of growth. Take into consideration an ADHD child is 33% or 3-5 years behind their peers. How would you respond to a meltdown or tantrum from your 10-year-old compared to your 13-year-old?
2. Define your expectations based on your child’s neurological abilities
- ADHD is a neurobiological disorder. It affects our children’s neurological abilities. Gain an understanding how the neurological abilities and executive functions, such as emotion, self-control, memory, and learning, affect your child.
3. Establish your expectations based on what’s important to you for your child’s success
- What’s most important for your child to be successful? What do you need to let go of? Are you comparing your child to a sibling, relative or another child? Are you listening to what others say about their child and how good they are doing in school and you know this isn’t the case for your child? Is it because your child needs help transitioning from one activity to the next? This means you’ll need to monitor the transition process and support your child. Is your expectation they’ll do their homework with minimal disruption and less support from you?
Areas Where You Can Redefine Your Expectations
- Your emotional response to their behaviors
- Planning a vacation
- Your child social interactions with peers
You have lots to consider as a parent of a newly diagnosed child with ADHD.
Let’s go back to those strengths. Take a look at the character strengths from VIA.
Take time to think of your child and write down all you know they are good at and do. Use the list to help you in the process.
Knowing their strengths is to your advantage. You can provide feedback. Create strategies to work for them. You have the power to inspire your child.
The small seed you have planted will grow slowly and helps them be the best person they are set to be.
How do all of the pieces work together
I have been trained to stop behaviors using rewards and consequences. It took a long time for me to understand that parenting from a misbehavior perspective is not getting anyone to change their behavior. Let’s take a look to see if the source of the challenge is their Executive Functions.
When Their Behavior Is Not Working
When a person isn’t changing or adjusting to the situation, this is described as having a maladaptive behavior. When parenting a child with Executive Functions challenges, shifting our thinking to a maladaptive view will give us a better understanding of their challenges. From there, set realistic goals and get true outcomes.
Let me clarify from the get go that using rewards and consequences do work with some people. If it works for you – don’t change it (“if is not broken why fix it”).
Children and adolescents with behavioral challenges know what we want from them. They know we want them to act in a manner where they are accepted by others. As a parent, I want them to not get in trouble. However, they lack important “thinking skills”.
What Are Executive Functions
Dr. Ross Greene of Lives in the Balance tells us that “Thinking Skills” are:
- regulating one’s emotions
- considering the outcomes of one’s actions before one acts
- understanding how one’s behaviors affect others
- communicating to others what’s the matter
- being flexible
When your techniques are working with your kids, no need to change. However, when what you or the school is doing is not working, it is time to do something different. Children and adolescents need the “thinking skills” to handle life challenges. To learn how to problem-solve.
Individuals with ADHD have challenges with Executive Functions.
Executive Functions is the name given to a set of “thinking skills” that facilitate critical thinking and self-regulation. Executive Functions are controlled by an area of the brain called the frontal lobe.
Executive Functions Challenges
Children and adolescents with “thinking skills” challenges include:
- Organizing themselves
- Maintaining attention and shift attention when needed
- Sustaining and regulating their effort
- Processing Speed
- Modulating their emotions (frustration, excitement, anger)
- Recalling information – memory challenges
- Monitoring and self-regulating their actions
What do we do? We learn how to identify the (lagging skills). Use this tool when you are calm, have time and energy. Use this tool with your professional provider however; as a parent you can start noticing the challenging areas and have a discussion with your provider.
After you identify the lagging skills, then you can define the problem to be solved.
An example of questions to help identify “difficulty managing emotional response to frustration”:
What am I trying to solve? The time my kid goes to bed.
When does this problem happens? When my child is playing video games.
Where is this a problem? At home, every single night.
Who is involved? My child, myself, my partner
How would you like the situation resolve? I want my child to be in bed by 9:00pm.
Consider Collaborative Parenting Skills
You have an incredible opportunity to improve your child or teenager’s ability to manage their own ADHD, behavioral challenges and learn how to parent differently.
Have a Successful School Year
Every year our children have the chance to start the new school year with a fresh start. Parents have the same opportunity – a fresh start. How will this school year be different? What tips and strategies will you use this school year?
For most families, schedules go out the door during the summer. There are late night bedtimes and countless hours playing video games, watching TV, vacations and summer camps with lots of activities. By now parents are ready for the kids to return to school and regain normalcy and structure at home.
What’s Your School Year Goal?
When your child has Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder Hyperactivity or behavioral challenges, school time can cause you to worry. And your children may also be scared or anxious. Possibly last school year was not a positive experience. Everyone is concerned about what is to come 2015-2016 school year.
Having a successful school year is everyone’s goal.
Parenting an ADD / ADHD child requires time, consistency, structure, routines and strategies. As a parent, you already have lots of love. You’re going to need to hold on to that when you’re at your wits end (which is perfectly okay to feel).
Tips For Having a Successful School Year
How can you delay or even avoid getting to your wits end?
- Create calm and order in your home
- Establish appropriate rules and expectations
- Minimize power struggles, meltdowns and angry outbursts over daily events
- Help your child learn to manage frustration
- Reduce homework stress for you and your child
- Help your child capitalize on their strengths and increase their self-esteem
- Gain from other parent’s experiences and support
This School Year Can Be Different
It may be time to look at new ways, the latest tools, strategies and techniques. Click Here to participate with other parents who are also looking for new ways to have a successful school year.
Improve Your Family Relationships
Do you find yourself dealing with sibling arguments and fights? Or deciding whose turn it is to do the dishes? Trying to get the children to bed and figuring out how much allowance your kids should get?
- Have a Family Meeting!
The purpose of a family meeting is to establish a democratic, dependable way to open communication and create equality among the family members. Family meetings are a regularly scheduled time for family members to sit together and discuss their concerns, their plans and to share information between each other. For example, you can plan fun activities, divide family chores, and create a schedule for the family to follow, solve problems, develop responsibilities and promote self-discipline.
Family Meeting Structure
As the parent, you set the date and time that is convenient for the family. The parent is the leader and model for the children to learn how to run a meeting. This meeting has a time limit of 15-30 minutes depending on your children ages. There is an agenda in which everyone is encouraged to provide input before the meeting.
Make sure there are no interruptions.
This is the most precious time among family members.
We hear others describe our kids as stubborn, lazy, not motivated, lack interest, talks too much or spacey. We then go home and find ourselves dealing with homework, siblings, dinner, and bedtime and by the end of the day we see ourselves “losing it”. We scream, yell, cry, and shut down. We are desperate. We want our kids to do well, we love them and we know how funny, creative and determined they are. We want others to experience this in our child.
As a parent we need the strategies to help us collaborate with our kids. How is collaborating with our ADHD children different from how you’re doing it today? Collaborating with your child by learning how to gather information and gain an understanding of the kid’s concerns, define the problem and together brainstorm solutions.
When we collaborate vs control, you will bring Joy and Connection back between you and your child.
The Love of Family
Use collaboration to:
• Reduce chaos and challenging behaviors
• Set realistic and effective rules and boundaries
• Help our kids capitalize on their strengths and increase self-esteem
• Teach our kids to manage frustration
We go to school at an early age to learn things we don’t know. This education could be high school, trade school and for others an undergraduate or post-graduate degree. Regardless, after 12 – 13 years (at a minimum), we learned something about writing, reading, math, science and history. Others are lucky and were a good athlete, musician or artist.
But with all this schooling, at any given time no one says to us Hold on now, it is time for you to take one more class on Parenting Skills
You might be luck if your high school health class gave you a “pretend baby” with so you learned how to care for another person and how much responsibility it takes. The underlining message beneath that experience was/is to derail you from getting pregnant (boys or girls).
But once again, nothing about Parenting ….