It all starts in childhood, with the relationship between parent and child. The average onset of AD/HD is age three, and this is also the time when parents begin seriously working on expectations and discipline. But due to the impulsivity, inattentiveness and over-activity of the child, behavior problems and conflicts often ensue, and the parent-child relationship may suffer.
Once your child is diagnosed, CHADD recommends that you always work closely with a treatment professional. The best in research shows that the most effective treatment includes:
· Parent training
· Behavioral intervention strategies
· An appropriate educational program
· Education regarding AD/HD
· Medication, when necessary
Parents may try a variety of strategies to help engender and maintain a healthy parent-child connection, including the following:
· Give unconditional love
· Be clear about expectations
· Establish a proactive discipline system
· Identify and build upon strengths
· Seek help as needed
Interacting with childhood peers
Children with AD/HD may appear shy and withdrawn or overly aggressive, depending upon their behaviors, which may lead their peers to stay away. Additionally, AD/HD children may not have picked up social skills that are usually acquired through incidental learning. In these and other ways, AD/HD often has a negative impact on childhood relationships with peers, which are important to a child’s happiness and long-term development. Research indicates that children with peer problems may also be at higher risk for anxiety, behavioral and mood disorders, substance abuse, and delinquency as teenagers.
The teen years – difficult for any child
Almost no child comes through adolescence unscathed, and these years can be particularly painful for children with ADHD as they become more self-aware and the acceptance of their peers becomes paramount. While continuing the strategies started in childhood, keeping a close lookout for depression, anxiety and other mental health strategies can help your teen through these difficult years.
Parents need to keep adequate structure and supervision for their adolescent, while encouraging appropriate independence-seeking. Enforce key rules consistently, but be open to negotiation on issues that may be flexible. The idea is to help your teen move toward responsibility for him or herself while providing a supportive, encouraging, positive environment.
Additionally, check into peer advising programs that may be offered at your school or in your community, which can be particularly helpful for teenagers.