In a recent New York Times article, “Helping Kids with ADHD, and Their Families, Thrive,” Dr. Mark Bertin, a developmental pediatrician, noted that when a child has ADHD, the whole family can feel challenged. Dr. Berkin stated that research shows that parents of children with ADHD are more anxious, more stressed, and feel less confident.
For parents of children with ADHD, this might not be ground-breaking news. Children and teens with ADHD often have struggles from waking up in the morning to facing the challenges of the school day, from dealing with the anxiety of homework to an inability to wind down at bedtime. It is painful for parents to observe their child struggle so mightily and not always see the results that would make it all worthwhile.
To add to their stress, parents may feel that the people in their lives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings, might not understand and mistakenly view the child with ADHD as just being lazy or disrespectful.
Parents understand that they can assist their child by providing structure, setting goals and giving positive feedback. But, as Dr. Bertin points out, when parents are already feeling overwhelmed by work or other obligations, it is really hard to do all the things that professionals suggest that they do for their child with ADHD.
So, what to do? Dr. Bertin suggests that parents practice their own self-care so that they have the strength and positive outlook to assist their child. In addition, parents can look for the areas where their child is successful and help their child build on those foundations. Parents should also make sure their child is receiving appropriate interventions at school and seek resources to help with homework issues.
Dr. Bertin also suggests that parents view ADHD as a delay in self-management skills and remind themselves that their child will learn these skills with support and time to develop. When viewed as a developmental delay, assistance and support can be offered in a practical, problem solving manner.
Parents may feel less anxious by remembering that, with interventions and accommodations, their child will catch up and learn the skills necessary for independence. But, in the meantime, parents may need to practice their own deep breathing as they remind themselves that their child is doing the best that he or she can.
If you are feeling challenged by your child’s ADHD and would like to learn how to decrease your stress, let’s talk about it! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-849-6751