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Artikel Gambar 2011 -2012 English) » ADHD

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ADHD: Tips for Parenting a Child With ADHD

What Is ADHD?

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a behavioral condition characterized by inattention, impulsiveness, and/or hyperactivity. It has been estimated that approximately 5% of U.S. children have ADHD, according to established diagnostic criteria.

 

What Are the Symptoms of ADHD?

The three key symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. These symptoms typically interfere with the child's functioning in social and academic settings, such as paying attention to tasks at home or school, making careless errors, being easily distracted, not following through with tasks or completing instructions, being easily bored, losing things, being forgetful, having difficulty organizing tasks, being fidgety, having difficulty remaining seated, and talking excessively, to name a few.

Many children with ADHD will have symptoms that persist into adulthood. Effective treatments for ADHD include both medications and behavioral therapies. Not surprisingly, parenting a child with ADHD can pose special challenges.

 

How Do I Know if My Child Has ADHD?

Many of the symptoms of ADHD are also symptoms seen during normal childhood and development, and exhibiting one or more of the symptoms does not mean that a child has ADHD. It is also important to note that for a health-care professional to make a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms must have been present for at least six months in more than one setting (for example, home, school, and in the community), usually beginning before 7 years of age, and the symptoms must be inconsistent with the developmental level of the child and severe enough to interfere with the child's social or academic functioning.

 

What Should I Do if I Am Concerned That My Child Might Have ADHD?

If you are concerned about your child's behavior, it is appropriate to communicate this to your child's primary health-care provider. He or she can help you determine whether further evaluation may be necessary and whether your child's behavioral symptoms are suggestive of ADHD. If a formal evaluation is indicated, this evaluation will involve professionals from various disciplines to provide a comprehensive medical, developmental, educational, and psychosocial evaluation.

 

Think Positively

While ADHD can certainly present unique and sometimes what can seem to be daunting challenges, being able to sincerely know and have confidence in your child's strengths can go a long way toward helping him or her be the very best person he or she can be. Many famous, accomplished, and indeed brilliant people of the past and present have ADHD. An outstanding example of learning to have a positive outlook about ADHD is demonstrated in the children's book and movie called, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

Another benefit to thinking positively about your child with ADHD is its infectious nature. It is much easier for the child's teacher, coaches, peers, and in fact, the child him- or herself to accept and harness strengths when the parent communicates and emphasizes those strengths. The challenge for parenting a child with ADHD is to be able to use the child's unique gifts and address his or her challenges to work toward achieving the child's fullest potential.

 

Define Schedules and Routines

Clearly defined schedules and routines are essential for children (as well as for teens and adults) with ADHD. Having an established, while not inflexible, pattern for getting ready in the mornings, preparing for bedtime, and managing after-school homework and activities provides a sense of consistency and allows the child to know what to expect. It can be helpful for older children to have plenty of conspicuous clocks to use as cues for time management. Some parents find that the use of timers (for homework time, time to finish up play, etc.) helps for younger children.

To make the process more enjoyable or easier to remember, charts and checklists can be used that list the steps or tasks required for each time of day. For example, the "morning checklist" can include items like making the bed, brushing their teeth, and helping to prepare school lunch. Hang the checklists in a conspicuous place and allow your child to check off completed items as they are done, if he/she wishes.

 

Set Clear Rules and Expectations

As with clearly defined schedules, attainable, clearly defined rules and expectations are also essential for kids with ADHD. In both school and at home, children with ADHD need a consistent and clearly defined set of rules. It can be helpful to create a list of rules for the home and post them in a place where the child can easily see them. It's very important to stick to the rules and provide fair and consistent rewards and consequences when the household rules are not followed.

 

Give Clear Instructions

Avoid vague or open-ended instructions such as "clean up your mess" or "play nicely" that do not accurately convey the specific tasks that you want to be done. Instead, use clear language and specific instructions such as "please put all the dirty clothes in the hamper," "please put all the toys back on the shelves," or "let's allow your friend to have a turn playing with the toy." Speak in a calm and clear voice, and be sure to establish kind eye contact with your child when you give instructions so it is more likely he or she is focused on what you are saying. It can be helpful to have your child repeat the instructions back to you. Breaking down instructions for larger tasks into simple steps can also be helpful.

 

Discipline, Rewards, and Consequences

Children with ADHD respond very well to a defined and predictable system of rewards and consequences to manage behavior and discipline. Reward positive behaviors with praise or with small rewards that cost little or no money, such as special time with a parent or participating in an outing or favorite activity. Focus on praise or privileges as rewards rather than offering foods or toys as prizes.

It's always best to give more rewards and positive praise than negative comments or consequences. For example, smile and say, "I like the way you're working on your homework" or "you're doing a great job clearing the table." Ask your child to say what he or she did well during an activity and help him or her to come up with something if he or she cannot.

 

Discipline, Rewards, and Consequences (continued)

Likewise, consequences for negative behaviors should be fair, appropriate, consistent, predictable, and swiftly implemented and completed. Major events like holidays or the child's birthday should never be completely withdrawn or uncelebrated because of something the child did. Consequences ideally should be explained in advance and should occur immediately following the negative behavior. Delayed consequences (such as not participating in an event or outing in the following week) are not as effective as immediate consequences. Consequences can include time-outs, removal from the situation or setting, or restriction of privileges. It is very important that the consequence occur after every instance of negative behavior.

 

Use Time-Out Effectively

Particularly for younger children, time-outs can be an effective consequence for negative behaviors that serve the additional purpose of removing the child from an overstimulating or stressful environment. A time-out is also an immediate consequence that is likely to be more effective than a delayed consequence. Many experts recommend that time-outs not last longer in minutes than the child's age in years (for example, a five-minute time out for a 5-year-old). Longer than that may be too difficult for the child to complete, leading him or her to be more likely to defy doing the time-out at all.


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