Living with someone who has ADHD can be rewarding and challenging all at once. They can be active and full of energy, and infuse the home with intensity and activity. Taking that energy and turning it into something productive, or maybe just toning down the intensity, are the keys to achieving success in this particular area of your life. Here are some tips to help you and your family create a warm, loving, structured home environment:
1. Stay calm. If I could put that in capital letters while shouting it from the rooftops I would. But really, that the number one most important thing you need to remember when working with high intensity/high energy people. The calmer you are, the calmer they will be. When, not if, you feel yourself sliding into the not-so-calm zone, give yourself a break. Remove yourself from the room if you must. Take a few deep breaths. Count backwards from 100 by 7’s. Whatever it takes. If you can do all of this in front of your child, even better, but if not, no worries. Having someone show them how to calm down will ultimately help them later in life.
2. Be consistent. When you say 30 minutes, don’t fall for the “5 minutes more, PLEEEEEEAAAASSSSE!” They need to know that you say what you mean (and you are willing to back it up), but also that there are boundaries. These aren’t kids for whom you can let the rules slide. Not yet, anyway. They need to know that the rules are the rules and there isn’t much wiggle room, no matter how hard they plead, cry, or throw things. If you get overwhelmed, see Tip 1.
3. Be concrete. When you ask for your kids to do something, make the request short and succinct. It needs to be something they understand and can do. Be clear with them; tell them to, “Pick up that toy,” instead of saying, “clean up the room.” The more concrete you are, the easier it will be for them to understand your instructions and follow them.
4. Make sure you can back up what you say. This goes along with Tip 3. When you say, “eat your dinner”, how are you going to enforce that? Are you willing to send them to bed hungry if they refuse to eat supper? You need to ask yourself, are you willing to stick to you guns, especially if it helps your child in the long run? Back up what you say but don’t engage in the battle. Ultimately, your child will learn more by being hungry a few times than by you forcing them to eat. And you’ll be much calmer too. (See Tip 1)
5. Remember to smile. Even in the most structured environment, if you look and sound like a drill sergeant, that’s what your child will remember. So smile. Remember, this too shall pass. Try to enjoy the small moments, because in the end, that’s what it’s all about.