Parenting a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD or struggling with it yourself is invariably challenging.
ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity and difficulty with tasks requiring sustained attention.
Of course, children without ADHD can be inattentive and hyper at times, which is completely normal. Children lack the executive function of adults - they're brains aren't fully developed until around age 26. But those that are significantly more inattentive and hyperactive can struggle with things like school work, staying on task, and following directions.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, chances are you are interested in learning how you can manage symptoms. After all, there’s a feeling of empowerment when it comes to tackling a diagnosis by becoming informed and taking the best course of action for you.
Here are some great coping tips for you to consider and implement:
Create A Routine
Whether you realize it or not, most people crave routine, so establishing a daily routine will certainly help when it comes to coping with ADHD.
Mental health experts assert that those with ADHD just do better on a set schedule, as you know what to expect throughout the day and evening. A great way to create a routine is to sit down and decide what should occur on a day-to-day basis in your household. You can make exceptions, but for the most part, you can decide on when to do things like get up, eat meals, do chores, homework, hobbies, and bedtime. Consider printing your schedule out so that you can see it daily and know what is coming up next.
Since I tend to forget obligations and tasks, I like to enter my schedule into Google Calender and then create alerts for things I'm most likely forget.
Whether we're talking about you or your child, redirection will come in handy when trying to cope with ADHD.
All children may become defiant from time to time and hyperactive children are no different. It's frustrating when your child is not listening to you or is flying around the house a mile a minute when it is supposed to be bed time.
Just as with any child, redirection can work quite well when your child is doing something he shouldn’t be or if he is about to engage in bad behavior. At that moment, shift his attention by redirecting him elsewhere. This oftentimes gets his mind off of the negative behavior and onto the new activity. In the case that redirection does not work, discipline can come into play. Be sure to make the discipline fit the behavior and do your best to discipline out of unconditional love. You can also use redirection for yourself as changing or shifting the momentum can oftentimes help to break patterns or help you to stop hyper-focusing on once certain thing.
In my own life, I've used this tactic to redirect excess energy toward productive tasks. Exercise can also be help if you're feeling energetic but can't stay on task. Whenever I'm debating whether or not to go for a run, I always ask myself: have I ever regretted exercise? There's no reason you can't use ADHD to fuel healthy behaviors.
There are certain types of medication that help with ADHD symptoms, so talk to your physician about what may work for you. Medications such as Vyvanse and Adderall are common in treating various symptoms associated with ADHD, with Vyvanse quite popular for its delayed release action that helps it last twice as long as instant release Adderall.
Other medications you might consider include:
*Ritalin (methylphenidate) *Strattera (atomoxetine) *Intuniv (guanfacine) *Kapvay (clonidine) *Provigil (modafinil) *Desipramine *Wellbutrin (bupropion)
Read my recent post on choosing an ADHD medication, the ADHD Medication Manifesto.
Use Chrome Extensions
If you’re on the computer a lot and you tend to get distracted with websites like Facebook, there are Chrome extensions that will block them for you.
Simply add the extension and you won’t be able to visit such websites. This will help you or your child from getting distracted and losing large amounts of time on social networks.
This chrome app let's you block distracting websites. From the app developers:
StayFocusd increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites.
You sit down at the computer, and you swear you'll be productive. Next thing you know, it's twelve hours later. You've checked your email, updated your Facebook status, browsed the trending topics on Twitter, read your RSS feeds, looked up your favorite band on Wikipedia, vanity googled yourself, cyber-stalked your ex, looked at all your high-school crushes' Facebook photos, and lost a week's pay playing online poker.
What you haven't done is WORK.
StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.
It boasts the following features:
- Block websites (you can even import a text file containing a list of domains)
- Indestructibility (you can't uninstall or pause tracking before your block is over)
- Frozen turkey - lock yourself out of your computer for defined periods during the day
- Block applications
- Scheduled blocks
- Computer-wide control (desktop and internet)
Keep in mind that there's a paid and freemium version of Cold Turkey; some of these features are only available to paid subscribers.
This is my absolute favorite productivity tool.
RescueTime runs in the background on any device (desktop, phone, tablet, etc) and records how much time you spend on websites and applications.
What you get is a breakdown of your behavior on different websites and application. Here's mine:
This informtion is fairly actionable because it's easy to see where you should cut back. For example, I spend way too much time in Gmail (I don't get enough emails to justify 2.5 hours).
Homework Time or Focused Tasks
ADHD children tend to have a difficult time paying long periods of attention in classes and during homework time. It is best to set up an area for homework at home where there are little to no distractions so your child has the best chance to keep his focus on his homework tasks. Also, allow your child to have periodic breaks during homework time so he can take a breather and then bring his attention back to his work. Sometimes doing homework in small chunks works quite well. This can also go for you if you have to focus on a project for work.
A Support Network
If you or a loved one is contending with ADHD, do your best to get a support network in place, as this will help you to feel supported. Having someone to process information with and be there for you when needed is super helpful and can even help decrease ADHD symptoms. In addition to a physician, consider making connections with an ADHD support group or others in the community dealing with ADHD. The comradery and fellowship will certainly help you in many ways.
Whether you are a loved one is diagnosed with ADHD, consider learning more about the diagnosis and keeping a positive attitude about it. Many people can manage ADHD symptoms quite well and numerous are able to overcome the diagnosis over time. Praise your child and/or yourself often for good behaviors and progress made and remember, it’s progress you’re after; not perfection.