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Sometimes all children have difficulty sitting still, paying attention, completing work and controlling impulsive behavior. For some children though, these behaviors occur so often that they limit the child’s ability to really excel.
At first, parents may just think a child is misbehaving, which can leave parents feeling stressed, frustrated or disrespected. They may not realize these behaviors are part of ADHD.
“Hyperactive kids are usually easy to spot as more active than other kids their age, fidgeting and moving as if ‘driven by a motor.’ It is more common in boys, whereas inattention is more common among girls,” said Julie Brack, MD, Primary Care Physician, AdventHealth Prairie Star.
For the parents of a child with ADHD, life can be challenging and even overwhelming at times. But with compassion and consistency, they can help create home and school environments that greatly improve their child’s chances for success.
“Setting up organizational systems can smooth the path, such as laying out clothes the night before, and preparing backpacks and lunches for the next school day. At home, having a set structure, schedule and known house rules will also help,” said Dr. Brack.
It’s also important for parents to know they’re not dealing with this struggle alone. Talking with other parents facing similar challenges is not only a way to share their struggles, but to receive solutions and different ideas about particular issues. Joining an organization like CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) can also be a great source of support and information.
If you’re the parent of a child with ADHD, it’s probably no surprise to you that there can be a lot of overlap between ADHD and anxiety. In fact, nearly three in 10 children diagnosed with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder.
So while a child’s ADHD symptoms can really take a toll on parents and on teachers, they can also increase stress levels for the children themselves. For example, if a child is frequently corrected or criticized for talking or interrupting others in class, he or she is very likely to experience higher stress and lower self-esteem.
Here are some clues a parent can look for that suggest anxiety:
- Heightened social sensitivity (e.g. they recognize and worry about how they look to others)
- A consistent need for reassurance and preparation for activities
- Physical symptoms like abdominal pains, nausea, dizziness, racing heart, etc.
- Less problem behavior when they are calm and feel safe.
Fortunately, there are things parents can do to help.
“Reward good behavior and focus on effort, not grades. And to make for a less frustrating experience at home as well as school, give instructions one step at a time and make sure they are understood,” said Dr. Brack.
If your child is struggling either socially, academically or — later in life — occupationally, please talk with your physician about the situation. Sometimes medication is needed for either a short time or can be successfully used for many years. But working together for the best outcomes with the lowest dose to accomplish the goal is best.
To find a primary care physician at one of AdventHealth Medical Group's 12 primary care offices, visit AdventHealthKC.com/PrimaryCare.