Parenting is a stressful job on its own, but trying to raise a family while managing your own attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be even more hectic, worrisome, and demanding. But don’t despair. It is possible to provide for your kids while still taking care of yourself. Below, Russell A. Barkley, PhD, author of Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, offers some tips for successful parenting with ADHD.
1. Get your ADHD evaluated and treated.
You can’t raise your children as well as you would wish to if your own attention deficit disorder is making it hard to control your behavior.
2. ADHD can make parents pay less attention to their kids and reward them less.
Try to set aside certain times to devote to your child. Use external cues to remind you of these “appointments” and of the rewards you want to give your child for the achievements and behavior all parents want to encourage.
3. If it is after school, a weekend, summer vacation, or any other time when your children are home or in the yard and you’re responsible for supervising, set an external timer to frequent intervals, such as every 15 to 30 minutes, to remind you to stop what you’re doing and monitor your children’s activities and whereabouts.
4. Inconsistency is the bugaboo of parents with ADHD.
You might be a harsh taskmaker one day and your child’s fairy godmother the next. Or you might just react impulsively to every (mis)behavior with off-the-cuff comments, directives, commands, or reprimands. This is confusing to kids.
Talk through the family rules with your child’s other parent, write them down, and keep them posted where you’ll be reminded of them constantly while at home. Buy yourself time whenever you find yourself confronted by aggravating behavior from your child so you can use the responses you’ve mutually decided on.
5. Take a behavioral parenting training class at a nearby mental health clinic, medical school, hospital, or university. Most large metropolitan areas have such resources.
6. Put yourself in a time out (a quiet room) if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed by your
7. Build in weekly respites from your kids.
Find a hobby, club, or recreational activity that you love, that renews you emotionally, that de-stresses you or in other ways gives you time to recharge your parental batteries. Every parent needs some time away each week to regroup, but especially parents with attention deficit disorder.