When a child is diagnosed, parents often are given little more than some reading material, general advice, and perhaps medication for their child. Yet the family’s most pressing need, particularly for the parents, is to become as knowledgeable as possible about this complex and often misunderstood condition. Wonderful resources are available, but for many parents, nothing replaces contact with other individuals who can help them understand their challenges and support them through a process of growth and change. Enter the world of parent training and parent coaching.
Parent the child you have
Every person is born with a unique chemistry, physique, and temperament. As parents become more educated and aware of how the traits of ADHD impact their child’s life, they become more conscious of how they must adjust their parenting to match the needs of their child. This is what I call “parent the child you have.”
Children with ADHD, just like all children, are blessed with a range of strengths and talents. It is vital that we recognize and nurture their interests and passions even when it may seem to take time and energy away from some of their academic pursuits. One of the greatest challenges children (and adults) with ADHD face is that many of them have a slower processing speed and a less accurate sense of the passage of time. As a result of this and other challenges (distraction, organization, etc.), they often need more time to accomplish what their peers do. I refer to this as having a “disability perspective.”
No one wants to think of their child as having a disability; however, if we do not recognize the disabling aspects of our personal weaknesses, we do not make appropriate adjustments in our expectations. With limited hours after school and on weekends, it is important to balance the academic pressure and expectations with the activities that bring the child personal growth and satisfaction. Parents must coordinate and support this complex balancing act so that the child is not in a constant state of frustration and stress due to the range of demands and expectations placed on them at school.
Always keep in mind that ADHD looks different in each child. With “parent the child you have” as your guiding principle, you will be able to help your child thrive. The more you and your child can learn about how ADHD affects your child specifically, the more equipped you both will be to face the challenges ahead.
Parent training: CHADD's Parent to Parent
by Katherine McGavern
In 2006, CHADD created Parent to Parent, a comprehensive course taught by parents of children with ADHD who have been trained and certified by CHADD to teach the program. The seven-session course covers a wide range of information, starting with the science of ADHD and proper assessment. Then it outlines multimodal treatment options, including a comprehensive look at ADHD medications. The course introduces parenting strategies and positive behavioral interventions for ADHD management at home and school, a complete description of school accommodations (educational rights) and how to get them, guidelines for building an education team, advice about how to talk to the child about his or her very special brain, and a view of ADHD across the lifespan.
Each of the weekly two-hour sessions covers an area of information absolutely essential to the successful management of ADHD. And best of all, the training is from a parent's perspective, brought to you by experts who have faced the same struggles, questions, and challenges you face. In addition to the classes you will receive a Parent to Parent workbook full of helpful articles, tips and worksheets to use in your own family.”
Limited to twenty-five parents per session, Parent to Parent encourages interaction among its "students," who experience the relief and comfort of being in a training filled with other parents who are struggling with the frustration, exasperation, confusion, and helplessness that usually accompany an ADHD diagnosis.
Find out when the next Parent to Parent class is being offered and follow the links to enroll.
by Cindy Goldrich, EdM, ACAC
Parents often find they need support in addition to understanding the essential science and laws regarding ADHD. Some seek out therapy to help them understand and cope with their feelings; for many, however, support comes in the form of ADHD parent coaching.
Family members, friends, and even well-meaning teachers and other professionals may offer advice and strategies with the intention of helping you “fix” or “teach” your child. You must learn to trust your inner voice and tailor your parenting to meet the needs of your unique child. For some, this will mean providing tighter control, for some it may mean offering more guidance and support, and for others, it may mean reducing certain obligations or expectations in the present time. These are some of the issues a parent coach can help you explore and resolve.
A trained professional who combines the knowledge of coaching, parenting, and ADHD, an ADHD parent coach provides parents with appropriate tips, tools, strategies, and ongoing support to manage the complexities of raising a child with ADHD. Once a parent is educated about the impact that ADHD, executive function deficits, stress, anxiety, and pressure have on learning and behavior, the parent coach can help the parent set reasonable goals. Through ongoing encouragement, recommendations, feedback, and support, the coach can help the parent develop the tools, strategies, and confidence necessary to remain accountable to the changes he or she wishes to make.
Change and growth take time, patience, and sometimes a little extra help and support from someone outside your family who can add insight and perspective. A trained parent coach will provide you with the support, strategies, and structure needed to make the real and sustainable changes in your family. With proper strategies and a proactive approach, the road may still be difficult, but success and satisfaction will be well within your reach.
An earlier version appears in the June 2014 issue of Attention magazine. Join CHADD and receive every issue!
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Cindy Goldrich, EdM, ACAC, a mental health counselor and a certified ADHD coach, specializes in coaching parents of children who have ADHD. She is the cofounder of the Long Island Professional ADHD Consortium.
Katherine McGavern coaches adults with ADHD and is a certified Parent to Parent teacher. She is a member of the editorial advisory board of Attention and a co-founding member of CHADD Mercer County.