When my child was 11 years old I noticed their anxiety taking hold of them in a way I hadn’t seen before. I knew something wasn’t right.
During the pandemic, the first week of online schooling was harder than I could have imagined. My oldest was panicked. I wasn’t sure what to do, so we pulled them from school and decided to homeschool.
Months later, my husband and I sat down with a psychiatrist and told him about our concerns. It turned out our child had ADHD! We didn’t know anything about raising a child with ADHD; it has been a learning process ever since!
As parents, we want to do everything we can to make sure our children turn out happy and healthy. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done.
As a parent with ADHD, it can be hard to know how best to guide my child through the complicated world of parenting while having ADHD myself. I wish God herself would come down and explain to me the hows and the whys of my child’s and my experience with ADHD. But one thing I have done is seek help from the experts who know what they’re talking about when it comes to raising children with ADHD, as well as reparenting myself.
It’s a genetic condition that is not a choice–it’s just part of who I am as an individual. I’ve been able to learn how to manage aspects of my ADHD with the right support and understanding.
Therapy has been a game-changer! I often assume others are in therapy too, until they say something like “I should find a therapist too.” Therapy is a necessity for me, like my hands, legs, and feet. I can’t imagine not going!
ADHD is such a misunderstood disorder that even some healthcare professionals don’t know how to approach it or treat it effectively. This can make life difficult for people who have ADHD because they often feel misunderstood by those around them who don’t understand what living with this condition is like on a daily basis.
Raising a child with ADHD means things aren’t always going to be easy, but can be beautiful.
I’m not going to lie and say raising a child with ADHD is easy. It’s not.
Having ADHD myself, I know how hard it can be to maintain my own patience and keep focused on the positives when my catastrophizing brain tells me differently.
Feelings aren’t facts (I say to myself again and again).
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- I have to focus on the good stuff if I want things to get better. I can get trapped when dwelling on mishaps or mistakes when they happen. If I shame myself for them; that’ll make matters worse (and make life miserable for everyone else around me). Instead, I try looking at my life circumstances from another perspective–maybe there was something good about what happened today? Or maybe there will be tomorrow? There might even be something great about this situation later today/tomorrow/etc., once we’ve had some time away from it all. It’s a sort of missing the forest for the trees scenario. Often a good night’s sleep and a reflective morning does wonders!
- I try to be patient with myself and others around me who may not understand why some things are more challenging for those of us with ADHD. Those of us with ADHD tend to be extra vulnerable to rejection sensitivity! Knowing this truth, we can feel our feelings while not reacting in spite of them. Neurotypical folks haven’t experienced the struggles of ADHD. Which might mean they don’t know how best to support those who are struggling through them right now.
I have to constantly remind myself that my tween isn’t out to get me — they may be acting out because of frustration or anxiety about being misunderstood, or because their brain simply works differently than mine does! We aren’t the same, even if we both have ADHD! My job as a parent is to teach my children how to navigate life’s challenges so they don’t feel overwhelmed by them later.
- It’s important for me to encourage my child to make their own decisions. Helping them learn how to make decisions will help them feel more in control of their lives and increase their self-esteem. Autonomy is a beautiful thing!
Parenting with ADHD: Tips for Success
Many parents have learned how to successfully raise their children while also managing their own ADHD symptoms. Here are some tips that have helped me (when I practice them of course) :
- Sleep is one of the most important things for our brain and body (duh), especially if you have ADHD. This means when I don’t get enough sleep I have a harder time focusing. Without focus, it’s hard to teach my child tools on how to manage their own ADHD symptoms.
- When I make sure to eat my veggies, fruits, and proteins my energy levels are wonderful! Pairing healthy eating with exercise is an au natural medication. When I move my body and get my heart rate up my endorphin’s go wild! Exercise and food make me feel happier and more motivated when dealing with challenging situations in parenting and life in general.
- I try and find ways to manage my stress effectively so mental chaos doesn’t affect my parenting ability or cause conflict within my family unit. This means breathing techniques, taking walks, taking a moment in my quiet bedroom, asking for help, or spending time with friends.
Raising a tween with ADHD is a challenging but rewarding experience.
The best way to approach raising a tween with ADHD is by being patient, understanding and open-minded.
You can help your child by providing them with support and guidance so they can feel comfortable discussing their feelings with you. The more we take care of ourselves, the better we’ll take care of our children!