Q: We just found out that our 10-year-old daughter has ADHD. She has started to take medication after being evaluated by her doctor. I have noticed she is more focused on her work and doing better in school, but her attitude is more negative and she isn’t as happy as before. How can we help her have a more positive attitude and be happier?
A: It’s possible that her mood swings are the result of medication. If the behaviour continues, you should consult with your doctor and ask whether your daughter’s prescription might be the issue and what the best course of action would be.
There are also some practical steps you can take to help your daughter deal with the emotional challenges of her ADHD. Here are a few, adapted from Dr. Domeena Renshaw’s book “The Hyperactive Child:”
- Be consistent in rules and discipline.
- Keep your own voice quiet and slow. Anger is normal. Anger can be controlled. Anger does not mean you do not love your child.
- Try to keep your emotions cool by bracing for expected turmoil. Recognize and respond to any positive behaviour, however small.
- Avoid a ceaselessly negative approach: “Stop.” “Don’t.” “No.”
- Do one thing at a time. Multiple stimuli will prevent her from focusing on her primary task.
- If angry outbursts are a problem, learn to read her pre-explosive warning signals. Quietly intervene to avoid explosions by distracting her or discussing the conflict calmly.
- Share your successful tips with her teacher. Strategies for helping your hyperactive child are as important to her as diet and insulin are to a diabetic child.
As you have undoubtedly discovered, successful management of ADHD involves a range of options. The first and foremost, after diagnosis, is education. The person living with ADHD is usually greatly relieved to learn that he or she has an identifiable, treatable condition. They are gratified (as are their parents) to learn that they’ve done nothing wrong. This condition is not caused, but you are born with it. It’s part of your design and make-up.
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