You never want to think anything is wrong with your child. He’s perfect, you think. It couldn’t be anything serious. So what do you as a parent when you realize that this isn’t the case? Our son was recently diagnosed with ADHD, something that had never been on our radar.He’s always been different and we love that about him. However the jarring difference between him and his peers was becoming more and more clear as he entered 3rd grade. We knew that at 9 years old we couldn’t ignore his behaviors and impulses, thinking that it was something he would grow out of. His social skills and ability to cope with any amount of correction were non existent. So what do you do?
First step is knowing that it is okay you are not enough and you need to get more help. This is key because I always want to feel like Super Mom who can fix anything my kids need and asking for help with parenting my child would never come easy, but that is what we did. We created a community of support for our son including his Pediatrician, a childhood Psychologist, the school counselor, his teacher and the principal, we want our son to know that we are in communication with each other and all on the same page to support him and make his transitions easier.
The next thing is knowing his limitations, that at times he is not going to be the “perfect child” or good listener that you want him to be. Sometimes he can’t control his impulses and that’s okay, not every day will be a good and easy day. Tasks that require extra focus or extra work will always come as a challenge to him no matter how gifted he is academically; he just does not have the attention span for it without an extra push.
The third thing is deciding if medication is right for your child and your family. I am not claiming to be a medical professional or telling you what to do if this is your child, but for our son this helped. We spoke with his psychologist and pediatrician and discussed options for treatment, he takes a pill in the morning and not only can we notice the difference but the biggest win is him telling us he feels “like himself”. He says it helps him control his impulses and listen better to his teachers in school. I can tell you one thing they do not always tell you about medication, other than the weekends, you as parents are not going to see the benefits of it. By the time the school day is done an ADHD kid is not only exhausted from having to listen and curb their behaviors for that long but they are also coming down from the medication which can cause some other frustrations. For my son in particular his is much crabbier at night now and it’s hard to get him to focus because he has had to do this all day in school. Know their limits! You need to be mindful as parents not to overload them (and as I type this I remind myself as well friends) sometimes you forget these things with your own daily frustrations.
And lastly be your child’s advocate. He or she will need additional support and, with our son, sometimes additional love. He is extremely sensitive and at times requires a more delicate touch than most children and that’s okay – that’s just him. Children with ADHD may need more than just medication, they may need someone to talk to in order to help build up their skills. We have partnered with an excellent child psychologist (“talking doctor”) who is helping our son build the tools he needs to be successful in the future and to learn to help himself cope with his impulsiveness. All any parent wants from their child, regardless of a diagnosis or not, is for them to become a happy, successful adult and this is just what we are building him up to do. There may be bumps in the road of life at times, sometimes your child will be the one on stage at his chorus concert making up dance moves when no one else is, but those quirks make him who he is and we love him for it!