Help your child feel safe. And don’t undermine the power of your words. When your child does confront a fear and hears your comforting, “It will be okay,” (or gets the same message from daddy holding her hand) she will feel more secure that she can deploy in other trying times. Your words of support will become a model your child can use himself. Our kids copy how we cope with our fears. So be the example of how to handle your own worries that you want your child to copy. Also, keep yourself strong. Fears are caught by children or passed down. Keep your worries or pessimism in check especially during a tragedy or after a trauma.
Teach your child to face the fear by helping her learn to say a positive phrase. It’s best to help your child choose only one phrase and help her practice saying the same one several times a day until she can say to herself when feeling anxious. A few fear-reducers include: “I can do this.” “I can handle this.” “I will be OK.” “It’s not a big deal.” Say that statement out loud when you are experiencing a challenge so that you model to your child how to cope.
Remember to stay away from catastrophic statements. Pay attention to what you say to your kids and around them. Instead of saying “It’s really important for you to learn how to swim because it’d be devastating to me if you drowned.” State it in a positive format “It’s really important for you to learn how to swim,”.
Help your child label their worries and fears as the “Worry Monster” who is a bully who is responsible for making them (and all of us) think worrisome and scary thoughts.
The Worry Monster’s job is to keep us from enjoying life. He gets joy from picking on children (and adults) and making them worried and scared. The more you talk about the Worry Monster and gang up on him with your allies, the weaker he will get and the sooner he will go away.
Parenting a child with anxiety can be overwhelming at times. Watching your child suffer from anxiety can be painful, frustrating, and confusing. There is not one parent that hasn’t wondered at one time or another if they are the cause of their child’s anxiety. However, research shows that anxiety is often the result of multiple factors (i.e., genes, brain physiology, temperament, environmental factors, past traumatic events, etc.). Please keep in mind, you did not cause your child’s anxiety, but you can help them overcome it.
Toward the goal of a healthier life for the whole family, practice self-compassion and get support. Remember, you’re not alone, and you’re not to blame. Getting support from a professional who specializes in Anxiety Disordersm, who is there to guide and assist you, can help with making you feel less alone. www.sdpsychservices.com
A number of childhood conditions can look very similar to ADHD, so a very thorough diagnosis is needed to make sure you are dealing with the right condition. Reach out to a professional who has experience with diagnosis and treatment of children with ADHD.
We list this first because it is so easy to be pulled down emotionally by hyperactive behavior. When parents are stressed, it makes it much harder to take the steps required for parenting adhd children.
It is important to find a support group with other parents who are struggling with these same issues in their home. Just being with other parents going through the same issues as you are will greatly reduce the stress.
These other parents of ADHD children will be able to provide emotional support as well as ideas of things that have helped them work through the difficulties that this disorder presents.
Connectedness is the first and most important step. Feeling rooted gives children a foundation of security. Children need unconditional love from one or both parents and benefit when they have close ties to their family. Let your child know that you love them and show them that you love them with praise and affection. Spend time with your child doing the things that they love. Get to know your child’s personality, likes, and interests. Show them that you are connected with them!
Make sure there are always very clear instructions and the child knows exactly what is expected of them. It is much easier for both the child and parent if there are clear and definitive rules and expectations. If your child misbehaves, give them a quick sentence on what it was that the child did wrong and why it’s wrong, and give them advice on what they should do instead. If they continue to misbehave, give them one warning of what the consequences will be if they don’t stop. Most ADHD kids don’t understand boundaries; if you give too many warnings and not enough punishment, they will get worse. They need to be punished promptly and appropriately. Use time out as a consequence. It is very effective for ADHD kids and even teens. Magic 123 by Thomas Phelan outlines a structure for setting up household rules and consequences that is simple to follow. Create a household rules and consequences chart.
ADHD kids thrive on praise and will be more successful when they get it. ADD/ADHD is as much a marker of talent as it is a potential problem. The problems can be taken care of. Many ADHD kids think outside the box, are intuitive, persistent, and creative. They have huge hearts and a desire to march to the beat of their own drums. All these positives are what make people with ADHD so interesting and potentially successful. Let them know that you love their talents!
Once they get a handle on what’s going on, people with ADHD tend to contribute to the world in a very positive way. Having ADHD is like having a race car engine for a brain with weak brakes. Once you strengthen your brakes, you’re ready to win races!
Studies show that diet, exercise, therapy, supplements, medication and non-medication based treatments are effective in managing symptoms. Research various treatments and pick the ones that you feel work best with your child’s needs and personality. Remember that there are alternatives to medication for treatment for ADHD symptoms. For non-medication based treatment of ADHD symptoms, neurofeedback has been shown to be a great resource. Neurofeedback training can help children learn to make their brains more active when they need it to be. This is especially important for school and work environments. www.sandiego-neurofeedback.com
If you suspect a child is a victim of abuse or neglect, report your concerns to Child Protection at the Department of Social Development as soon as possible. You do not need proof. It is not your role to look for evidence or interview the child. In an emergency call the police – 911. The abuse of a child is a serious problem. Everyone has a duty to report a suspicion of child abuse.
The Child Welfare Services assesses all reports of abuse and neglect. If social workers suspect that the security and development of the child could be in danger, they will investigate. Where the matter involves criminal offences, the police will join in the investigation. Criminal offences include sexual abuse, serious physical abuse or physical neglect.
The investigation could involve separate interviews with the person who reported the abuse, the child, the suspected abuser and other family members if necessary.
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline can provide advice and local referrals. Call (800) 4-A-CHILD or (800) 422-4453.
Some children may decide to talk about abuse with an adult they trust. For example, they may tell a parent, coach, counselor, teacher, or youth group leader. If this happens, it is important to:
Probably the biggest advantage of support groups is helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have the same problems. This is often a revelation and a huge relief to the person.
You control, and are ultimately responsible for, what, how much, and when you tell the group about yourself. The more you become involved, the more you are likely to benefit. Most people find that when they feel safe enough to share personal issues, therapy groups can be very growthful and affirming. Many people are helped by listening to others and thinking about how what others are saying might apply to themselves.
Group therapy is often more enriching for some than individual therapy. You can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little but listen carefully to others. Most people find that they have important things in common with other group members, and as others work on concerns, you can learn much about yourself. In the group environment, others serve as “mirrors” that reflect aspects of yourself that you can recognize and explicitly choose if you want to modify or change. Group members may bring up issues that strike a chord with you, which you might not have been aware or of known now to bring up yourself. A natural process or enhanced acceptance of self and others occurs as one learns to relate more honestly and directly with others in the group. The group provides an opportunity for personal experimentation – it is a safe place to risk enough to learn more about yourself.
Being in a support group can also help you develop new skills to relate to others. In addition, the members of the group who have the same problems can support each other and may suggest new ways of dealing with a particular problem.
In group counseling, both counselors and group members are responsible for confidentiality. Your group counselors abide by professional standards and should not release any information to outside sources without your written permission. The only exceptions are in cases of imminent danger to self or others, child/dependent abuse, court order, or where otherwise required by law. As a group member, you share the responsibility to keep confidential the identity of each group member as well as the information shared during the sessions.
Parents generally know their children well enough to recognize when an indication is outside the child’s normal behavior. There are some common reactions that children will display. After a stressful event, watch for withdrawal, fearfulness, irritability, excessive shyness, clinging, emotional outbursts, aggression toward other children, hurting animals or other forms of acting out. Other indications include nightmares, bedwetting, thrashing in bed or difficulty falling asleep. Becoming too easily startled or regressive behaviors such as thumb sucking may also be observed.
Physical symptoms are also common, and these include tummy and headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Over time, the child may even develop avoidance behaviors. These include specific phobias, such as the fear of dogs if the child has been bitten, or general phobias, such as a phobia about going to school.
Children are extraordinarily sensitive to the body language of adults, but as parents we are usually feeling a mix of emotions ourselves after our child has been injured or we have been exposed to a traumatic event. Our instincts are screaming out to us that we should have been protecting the child from harm. Unfortunately, if you are exhibiting signs of anxiety or panic, you’re going to be sending out all the wrong signals to your child.
If you are able to stay relatively calm, however, your child will also calm down. So it is important that you move through your own shock, fear or anxiety first, since your goal is to support your child rather than “infect” him or her with your emotions. Allowing time for your own bodily responses to settle rather than scolding or running anxiously towards your child is your first response as a parent.
A parent suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder can also be a trigger for a child to develop a traumatized response; in fact, a child may even react more strongly to trauma because adults around them have done so, especially parents because they’re so attuned to them
Giving comfort to one’s child comes naturally to a parent, but patience is critical. We have to allow children to work through the “bad feelings.” And if that means letting them cry, so be it. Children need lots of reassurance. It is important to be there for them and to tell them that everything is going to be okay. Let them know that the powerful emotions they are experiencing, such as anger, rage, sadness or fear, are perfectly normal under the circumstances.
Patience and pacing gives your child permission to be authentic, no matter what they are experiencing. This acceptance and respect sets the conditions for the child to rebound to a healthy sense of well-being in his or her own time.
Focus on their safety: Once you understand their perception of the traumatic event, be clear that you will keep them safe and let them know adults (school, police, etc.) are working hard to make sure they will stay safe. Make sure that you take all steps to prevent future incidents. Keep them away from harmful people and harmful events.
Seek help as soon as possible. The responses, reactions and abilities of those immediately responsible for a child influence the child’s ability to cope with a traumatic occurrence. While you can and should talk to your child about their feelings and make it clear that you’re available to talk at any time, it can be much more helpful to have professional help assist you. Don’t try to cope alone. While it is only natural for you to want to try and be the support for your child, going it alone will make it harder on you, especially if you have also experienced the traumatic event. By allowing others to help your child, you are not falling short on your responsibility for caring for your child; rather, you are broadening the opportunities for your child to recover through help from various people, including yourself and your other family members and community members.
Raising kids is one of the toughest and most fulfilling jobs in the world. Our goal is to provide all parents regardless of financial ability the means to learn the skills to being a compassionate, connected, loving parent.
STEP 1 Give your child love and affection.
Sometimes the best thing you can give your child is love and affection. A warm touch or a caring hug can let your child know how much you really care about him or her. Don’t ever overlook how important a physical connection is when it comes to your child. Here are some ways to show love and affection:
Tip: Try and remember the tokens of love that you did or did not get from your parents. Try to remember how it felt to be a child receiving or not receiving those tokens of love. Write a list of 10 things that you could do on a regular basis to show your child how much you love them. Remember “fake it till you make it”. If you did not receive tokens of love and affection from your parents it might feel awkward to give it back to your child. Even though it might feel awkward and foreign, try to start small with showing affection with ways that feel comfortable for you and then gradually move out of your comfort zone into bigger displays of love and affection.
STEP 2 Set up household rules and boundaries.
As adults, it’s up to us to exercise our authority by setting boundaries with our kids. This includes not letting them bulldoze us into changing our minds when they don’t like an answer, as well as allowing them to be kids instead of confidants. Boundaries are necessary to teach your child the structure of the real world. The real world is full of boundaries that they must be able to live within (think speed limits, tax payments, showing up to work on time). If your child has not practiced living within boundaries during their childhood, they will struggle with them as an adult. Teaching children to live within boundaries is a necessary part of being a parent.
Tip: Set up a household rules board. Ask your children what rules should go on the board. You might be surprised at their answers. Children usually know right from wrong at a very young age.
STEP 3 Consequences are a necessity.
Consequences are an absolute necessity for the world we live in, not just for our kids, but for grown ups as well. As adults, we all have to face consequences for our actions on a daily basis, in a multitude of environments. For instance, a positive consequence for doing your job well is that you may get a good review and a raise. If you don’t show up and do your job, however, the consequence may be getting fired. The point is, there’s no avoiding consequences, so it makes sense as a parent to begin teaching this important concept to your children starting now, when they’re young. Another benefit is that in doing so, your kids will grow up feeling safe and secure. When kids act out, they’re often saying to their parents that they’re out of control and want to be reigned in. When you provide a consequence for your child’s actions, you’re essentially telling them, “I love you enough to say ‘no’ to you right now. I want you to be safe and to protect yourself.” Nothing feels safer to a child than having a parent who cares enough to set limits.
Tip: Invest in parenting resources. Magic 123 by Thomas Phelan has a great discipline structure that shows how to enforce rules and consequences at home. Purchase the book or dvd. It is well worth the investment. The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary is a great book that discusses providing natural consequences for our children’s actions.
STEP 4 Control your temper.
It’s important to try to be as calm and reasonable as you can when you explain your rules or carry them out. You want your children to take you seriously, not fear you or think of you as unstable. Obviously, this can be quite a challenge, especially when your children are acting out or just driving you up the wall, but if you feel yourself getting ready to raise your voice, take a break and excuse yourself before you finish talking to your children.We all lose our tempers and feel out of control, sometimes. If you do or say something you regret, you should apologize to your children, letting them know that you’ve made a mistake. If you act like the behavior is normal, then they will try to mimic it.
Tip: Remember to disengage from the interaction when you feel yourself getting frustrated or overwhelmed. Remember that you can “step back emotionally” from the discussion and to separate yourself from the anger so it doesn’t overwhelm you or interfere with your parenting. Think of robots…they are able to handle situations from a rational standpoint. If you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, act as if you are a robot and separate yourself from your anger.
STEP 5 Criticize your child’s behavior, not your child. It’s important to criticize your children’s actions, instead of your actual child. You want your child to learn that he or she can accomplish whatever he or she wants through his or her behavior, instead of being stuck being one kind of person. Let him or her feel like he has the agency to improve his behavior. When your child acts out in a harmful and spiteful manner, tell him or her that such behavior is unacceptable and suggest alternatives. Avoid statements such as: “You’re bad.” Instead, say something like, “It was very wrong to be mean to your little sister.” Explain why the behavior was bad. Be assertive yet kind when pointing out what they have done wrong. Be stern and serious, but not cross or mean, when you tell them what you expect.
Avoid public humiliation. If they misbehave in public, take them aside, and scold them privately.
Tip: Make a pact with yourself that from this day forward you will no longer criticize your child that you will practice speaking to the behavior instead of them. Remember that criticizing your child can have a very negative impact on their self esteem and belief in themselves.
STEP 6 Establish everyday routines. Household routines are procedures that make our lives easier. For example, there are certain things you do every morning as part of getting ready for the day, and things you do each evening as you prepare to sleep. Similarly, there are things your kids need to do each morning and evening. Remember that having your child accustomed to routines as a child will give him practice to being able to create and follow his own routines as an adult.
Tip: Create a daily routine chart. Discuss with your children what the “plan of the day” will be. Ask them if they have any special ideas for weekend routines. Remember that life is not always consistent. Plan for flexibility around the consistency.
STEP 7 Set a positive example. Your kids are learning endurance and determination by what they see in you, right now! Remember that children do not learn how to be adults with what you tell them but they are learning by how you live your life. Are you living the life that you would want them to live? Are you making the choices in your life that you would want them to make? Remember to hold yourself accountable for the type of life you are living. Not only to live the life you deserve to live but to show your children that they can create and live the life that they deserve to live.
Tip: Instead of creating New Year’s resolutions, create New Years Goals!!! Every New Years day create a list of financial, personal, family goals and encourage your children to create their own list. Review previous annual goals to see how well you have done with sticking with them.
STEP 8 Listen to your children. It’s important that your communication with your children goes both ways. You shouldn’t just be there to enforce rules, but to listen to your children when they are having a problem. You have to be able to express interest in your children and involve yourself in their life. You should create an atmosphere in which your children can come to you with a problem, however large or small. You can even set aside a time to talk to your children every day. This can be before bedtime, at breakfast, or during a walk after school. Treat this time as sacred and avoid checking your phone or getting distracted. If your child says he has to tell you something, make sure you take this seriously and drop everything you’re doing, or set up a time to talk when you can really listen.
Tip: Use car time to start a conversation with your child. Strive to have at least 3 family meals together each week to reconnect. Put away all electronics after a certain time in order to re-invest in family time. Try to do one family activity each week in an outdoor setting (park, hike, movie).
STEP 9 Make time for your children. Be careful not to stifle or smother them, however. There’s a big difference between protecting someone and imprisoning them within your too unyielding demands. You want them to feel like your time together is sacred and special without making them feel like they are forced to spend time with you.
Spend time with each child individually. Try to divide your time equally if you have more than one child. Listen and respect your child and respect what they want to do with their life. Remember though, you are the parent. Children need boundaries. A child who has been allowed to behave as they please and had their every whim indulged will struggle in adult life when they have to obey the rules of society. You are NOT a bad parent if you don’t allow your children to have everything they want. You can say no but you should provide a reason for saying no or offer an alternative. “Because I said so” is not a valid reason!
Tip: Set aside a day to go to a park, theme parks, museum or library depending on their interests. Attend school functions. Do homework with them. Visit their teacher at open house to get a sense of how they are doing in school.
Step 10 Know that a parent’s work is never done. Though you may think you have already molded and raised your child into the person he or she will become by the time your child dons his or her graduation cap, this is far from true. Your parenting will have a life-long effect on your child and you should always give your child the love and affection he needs, even if you’re hundreds of miles away. While you won’t always be a constant daily presence in your child’s life, you should always let your children know that you care about them and that you’ll be there for them, no matter what.
Tip: It takes a village to raise a child is a good adage to remember. Enlist help from others to become a better parent. Connect with a therapist to get support. Join a mommy and me group. Read a book about parenting. Go to parenting support groups or take a parenting class.