We’ve all heard of ADHD, but just what is it? What are the symptoms? And what can you do as a parent if you suspect your child has ADHD?
Spotting the Signs
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurobiological disorder that is frequently diagnosed during childhood, but can continue well into adulthood. Symptoms generally appear before the age of seven and can be noticeable in children as young as two.
Those who suffer from ADHD can be predominately inattentive, predominately hyperactive-impulsive or a combination of the two. A child with ADHD may:
- Daydream frequently
- Have difficulty paying attention
- Not listen
- Become easily distracted
- Forget things
- Be unable to stay seated
- Talk too much or without thinking
- Behave inappropriately
- Have trouble taking turns and interrupt others
Keep in mind that all children have difficulty focusing from time to time. If your child is distracted the week before summer vacation, that’s very normal. If your child experiences several of these symptoms for more than six months and the symptoms affect your child’s ability to perform at school or interact with family and friends, it may be time to get a professional opinion. Schedule a visit with your pediatrician or family doctor for a full medical evaluation. Your doctor may then refer you to a specialist.
The Parent’s Role
As a parent, you may be tempted to blame yourself for your child’s ADHD, but the truth is the disorder seems to be linked to heredity rather than parenting choices. And while there isn’t a cure for ADHD, treatment can be highly effective in dealing with symptoms.
In addition to any medication or behavioral therapy your doctor may recommend, there are a few things you can do at home to help your child deal with symptoms and lead a happier life.
- Make sure your child is well rested. Fatigue can aggravate symptoms.
- Develop a schedule for your child’s day. Allow your child to get into a routine with meals, bedtime, and activities. Sudden changes may be difficult for your child to accept, and organization is a great way to prevent this disturbance.
- Practice patience. Understand that your child’s symptoms won’t get better on good intention alone. It’s going to take time and effort, and you need to prepare for many bumps along the way.
- Spend quality time together. Show your child love and appreciation for his positive qualities, rather than always focusing on his ADHD.
- Use timeouts for bad behavior. This has been a proven tool for many parents because it gives your child a chance to regain control when he’s overstimulated.
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