Raising children isn't easy, and it's normal to have bad days. For kids with suspected or diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), however, there can be additional challenges and learning curves to overcome. Even the best of parents may feel like they don't have answers or as though they have hit a roadblock, and that can be both frustrating and stressful. That said, there are things you can do.
In this article, I'll go over why you might feel the way you do and what you can do as a parent to help your child with ADHD get to a calmer place - even if that feels impossible right now. Then, we will talk about how the Joon app can help.
"My ADHD child is ruining my life"
If you have had this thought when you felt overwhelmed with your ADHD child, you aren’t alone. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, nor is it reflective of bad parenting.
There are many reasons why a parent might feel this way. ADHD symptoms can disrupt a person's life in serious ways, especially if they’re severe. As the parent of a child with ADHD, you might feel constant vigilance surrounding issues like impulsivity, recklessness, and school avoidance. You may worry, too, about what a child's behavioral issues will lead to both in and outside of the home. If you have other kids, you might fear that you spend more time on your child with ADHD as opposed to their siblings, or you may notice that one child’s behavior negatively impacts their siblings. This can place stress on a family.
So, as a parent, what can you do? There are ways to reduce your stress and gain confidence in parenting a child with ADHD.
How do you survive parenting a child with ADHD?
First and foremost, while it might go without saying, do not blame your child with ADHD. No matter what the case is, your child shouldn’t hear, "You are ruining my life because of these calls from the school," "You are destroying the family because you won't take your medication," or "Why can't you just play quietly/make friends like your sibling?"
Many kids with ADHD and ODD alike act like they do not care about how they affect others, and it's convincing, but the key word here is "act." It is very much a coping mechanism for many kids with these conditions to act as though they don't care that they don't have friends, that they're labeled as "bad" in the classroom or at home, that they make mistakes or misstep in ways that others don’t understand, and so on.
Calming ADHD kids can take special care, and it may take trial and error, but there are ways to do it. Below, find out what you can do to calm your child and how to help when the stress associated with these concerns affects your household or mental health.
And though being a parent to a child with ADHD is challenging and stressful sometimes, being positive goes a long way. Many focus on the negative effects of ADHD, but there are actually some notable benefits of ADHD as well. And knowing these benefits may help parents focus on utilizing the strengths instead of the challenges brought about by the disorder.
Note: If your child is throwing tantrums or being hyperactive/out of control, try Joon app. Joon is a game specifically designed for ADHD children and their parents. Kids would receive points and complete missions by completing tasks set by the parents. Many parents have seen their ADHD child be more autonomous, motivated and build better habits. Try a 7-day free trial here.
What calms an ADHD child?
Stress, overwhelm, and over or under-stimulation could be part of what causes some of the issues you encounter as a parent. Learning what calms a child with ADHD after angry outbursts or tantrums is key.
As far as treatment goes, you are likely familiar with ADHD medications. These are typically recommended as part of the first line of treatment for ADHD. Most often, ADHD medication in the form of central nervous system (CNS) stimulants is effective for kids with ADHD. If CNS stimulants aren't right for your child, other medication options like Strattera might be used. Especially if your child's ADHD symptoms aren't managed, it might be time to discuss the addition of medication or a change in medication with their prescribing doctor. Changes in medication might include not just the specific medication they take, but also the dose.
Even alongside medication treatment, it is recommended that a combination of treatments are used, and some parents either choose to go medication-free or find out that medication isn’t appropriate for their child through experience. So, what else can you do?
What naturally helps kids with ADHD?
Certain things that work for neurotypical children might not be effective for kids with ADHD. This isn't inherently negative. Instead, it means that different approaches are more apt to be useful. Furthermore, ADHD can range in severity and presentation, and even kids with the same condition may benefit from varying approaches or forms of support. There are some things that can help children with ADHD naturally or without medication.
It's safe to say that most children enjoy digital games. While some apps and games can be a source of distraction, others can be beneficial and may even help your child with ADHD focus or follow through with necessary tasks. In 2020, the FDA authorized the first game-based digital therapeutic for ADHD. Joon is an app designed specifically for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
How Joon Works
When you use Joon, you assign real-life tasks to your child as quests. By completing these quests, your child gets the coins they need in the game to take care of their virtual pet, which is called a Doter. For the child, it feels like a game, but parents find relief in the support that the game provides with motivation and tasks.
You can either create your own quests or select the tasks that the game recommends. Examples of tasks that Joon can help your child complete include but aren't limited to making their bed, brushing their teeth and other personal hygiene-related tasks, completing homework, and so much more. The options are limitless!
Joon has a 7-day free trial, so your child can try it first to see if it’s fit for their needs before you pay to use it long-term. Try Joon for 7 days free here.
Benefits of Joon
Joon is a safe and engaging app for kids. Better yet, it’s backed by child psychologists, teachers, and occupational therapists. Benefits of Joon include:
- Completion of daily tasks and chores that may be difficult or stressful for your family otherwise (e.g., eating breakfast, making the bed, oral hygiene).
- Help with executive function and other ADHD-related challenges.
- Increased self-sufficiency and confidence in abilities.
Joon is a great tool to add to your family's toolkit. Getting symptoms under control can improve your relationship with your child and the overall sense of harmony in your family.
We talked about behavioral therapy for ADHD briefly, but what does it entail? Let's discuss both individual therapy for your child and parent training in behavior management.
Parent training in behavior management is recommended for parents of a child aged 12 or younger. In parent training in behavior management, parents work with a therapist to learn techniques such as how to use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior, ways to talk with their child when they're in distress or are experiencing symptoms, how to curb ADHD tantrums, and more. Pursuing this form of care can reduce your stress, help you help your child diagnosed with ADHD, make you feel more confident in your parenting style, and make family life less difficult in time. Therapists, psychologists, counselors, and social workers who work with parents can also help you troubleshoot and look for new solutions when you feel like you are at a loss.
Individual therapy means that your child will work with a therapist. What therapy looks like will vary somewhat based on your child's age and the specific goals they're working toward, similar to parent training. Individual therapy for kids and teens with ADHD can support behavior change, social skills, emotional regulation, and so much more. Play therapy is a common type of therapy for kids in their early years.
If your child does have another condition, such as anxiety, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, or something else, therapy can likely help with this as well. Licensed therapists can also provide referrals to providers who can evaluate your child for these conditions and provide advice, diagnosis, or treatment in most cases. When a child or adult has multiple concerns to address in therapy, the most urgent issues are typically the focus first. Once they get to a better place with more urgent concerns, other issues, which could affect behavior as well, can be worked on.
Read this to discover where to find a child ADHD therapist near you.
Most likely, you're aware of what hunger can do. The slang term "hangry" has gained popularity for a reason, after all.
A balanced diet is crucial for those with ADHD, and this is the case for multiple reasons. First, you want to avoid both blood sugar spikes and crashes. Regular, balanced meals and snacks can help with this. Ideally, the goal is that meals include every macronutrient (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) as well as fruits and vegetables and dairy or dairy alternatives. Snacks should typically include 2-3 items that are of different food groups. For example, an apple or banana with milk, soy milk, cheese, nuts, or peanut butter packed or plated alongside crackers or pretzels.
The first and most critical goal in proper nutrition is to eat enough, which some kids have a tough time with. Sensory issues, picky eating, eating disorders, including ARFID, and lack of appetite can all disrupt a child's nutritional needs, and these things should be considered. Your child's food does not need to be “perfect,” and forcing them to clean their plate at every meal, forcing foods that they do not like, or eliminating fun foods entirely is not generally recommended.
If nutrition is an ongoing concern for your child or family, look for a dietician in your area or ask your child's pediatrician for a referral to a registered dietician who specializes in the concern that you are facing.
Proper nutrition can also help curb ADHD symptoms and common challenges that come with ADHD, like insomnia. What are the best foods for kids with ADHD? Learn more about the best diet for ADHD KIDS here.
Physical activity is vital for well-being, and it can be incredibly advantageous for those with ADHD. Physical activity during the day can provide an outlet for hyperactivity symptoms, support focus and concentration following the activity, boost self-esteem, and depending on the activity, support social connectedness.
Some kids and families have a harder time adding physical activity to their day than others. There’s a range of activities suitable for those with ADHD, ranging from sports to other forms of movement and active games that are free or close to free and easily accessible at home. Adults may engage in active hobbies with their children if it is helpful and possible.
An occupational therapist (OT) differs from a mental health therapist. An occupational therapist helps people with real-life tasks and can work on goals such as improving motor skills, behavior, attention, self-esteem, and anxiety. They’ll work with your child in creating positive routines, using mindfulness to manage behavior and emotions, and following through with tasks. Many families find that working with an occupational therapist for their ADHD child is a game-changer. While they can work in other settings, an occupational therapist would likely see your child in their office or make home visits in this scenario. Since occupational therapy can be tough to access at times, parents may consider using occupational therapy techniques at home.
Communicate openly with your child's teachers and school staff. Tell them about your child's condition and what you're doing at home to help. Ask what might be available to you through the school if you haven't already. If your child with ADHD doesn't have an IEP or 504 plan yet, this is definitely something to consider. It’s free, and it’s your child’s right. IEPs and 504 plans allow kids with ADHD and other documented disabilities access accommodations such as seating arrangements, extra breaks, additional time on tests, and special tools.
Alternative schooling options may be a better fit for some kids who need additional support or who face challenges like extreme hyperactivity, defiance, falling behind, social issues or difficulty making friends, and trouble fitting in.
ADHD is highly correlated with difficulty sleeping as well as sleep disorders like insomnia. Losing out on sleep is associated with heightened ADHD symptoms, irritability, depression, anxiety, and other health and/or behavioral problems. Getting your child on a strong sleep schedule is important.
What can help? Making sure that your child gets up and goes to bed at roughly the same time each day, removing electronics from the bedroom and reducing blue light at night, making sure that a child's bedroom is cool, comfortable, and dark, reducing or eliminating caffeine, if applicable, and finding a soothing bedtime routine for your ADHD child that includes activities like reading or an appropriate bedtime snack, can all be of value. Sometimes, medication is necessary, and this can be discussed with a healthcare provider such as a psychiatrist or pediatrician.
If your child tends to get up in the middle of the night, as many kids with ADHD do, make sure to remove items that could be problematic (e.g., crayons and markers, any potentially dangerous or breakable objects) from their bedroom.
Caring for yourself
Caring for yourself helps you be the best parent you can be. Continue to show your child unconditional love, and make sure that you have support of your own. Therapy, a support group for parents of ADHD children, and help from your friends, extended family, and others in your circle can all be beneficial.
If you are stressed beyond your limit, you're more apt to snap, face health problems yourself, or experience a dip in patience. You aren't the only parent in this situation. Your child has a medical condition, and even when it feels like it's "them," you are in this together. It's okay to pause and ensure that your cup is full. To the extent that you can, make yourself a priority, too.
Support groups and therapy are two examples of safe spaces where adults can talk about what’s on their mind. This can include the unique challenges you notice in your child with ADHD, parenting, personal stress surrounding your child’s ADHD symptoms, and virtually anything else. If you have a partner, it is worthwhile to say that there are times when you might feel as though parenting impacts your relationship negatively. If this is part of what’s going on, couples therapy is a viable option that many couples benefit from.
When your child's behavior and symptoms are disrupting your own life and well-being, it can be a difficult thing to reconcile. You may feel guilty or fearful and wonder what to try next. If this is true for you, it doesn’t make you a bad parent, and you aren’t alone. It is possible to cope and help your child with ADHD get to a better place. Behavior therapy, medication, physical activity, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep are examples of what might help a family care for their child in this situation. Many parents also benefit from support groups or therapy for themselves, whether that is individual or couple's therapy.