Being a parent can be trying even under normal circumstances. Raising a son or daughter affected by a mental health condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will certainly present additional challenges. But having a plan, and knowing how tough situations will be handled in advance, can help alleviate frustrations for both you and your child. A set plan also helps prevent the potential for reacting out of a place of negative emotion and should include ways to mentally recharge to minimize the possibility of a stress build-up.
- Be aware of your triggers. Yes, your triggers. Maybe you have a stress reaction when your child demonstrates a lack of focus or attention. Or maybe you don’t know how to handle it when he becomes hostile or belligerent. We’re all familiar with the concept of a time-out as applied to children, but it’s perfectly ok for parents to recognize they may need a cooling off period as well. Something as simple as leaving the room and taking a quick break, shifting gears, or practicing deep breathing can keep a frustrating circumstance from spiraling out of control.
- Build a strong support network. Stay in regular contact with doctors and mental health professionals. Reach out to other parents of ADHD children. Talk to the school counselor, and enlist the support of other family members and friends. It helps to know that you have someone to talk to if you need to get things off your chest and recognize that you are not alone.
- Exercise often and participate in extracurricular activities. Exercise itself is a huge stress reliever and can provide the mental clarity needed to embrace overwhelming, everyday life events. Also, taking time for yourself and enjoying life outside of being a parent are important, but often overlooked keys to helping you be the best parent you can be.
Parental guilt would have us believe it’s best to be a martyr, but taking care of yourself puts you in a better position to care for your family. If you or someone you know would like more information about raising a child with ADHD, contact Family Guidance Center.