Are your child's endless tantrums, door-slamming and wild behaviour just plain old naughtiness? Or could it be ADHD? Here's how to find a difficult child's inner angel. "I knew something was awry with Daniel from the day he could crawl," says ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) educator Kerry Cooney, whose son Daniel was diagnosed with the disorder at age 11. "He was rough at play and loved pulling heads and arms off his sister's dolls. He was always on the go, slept poorly and ripped his sheets. "His quest for food, drink and activity could never be satisfied. At school, he was constantly losing everything. "He found reading and writing beyond him, and after seven years left primary school not knowing the 100 most used words in the vocabulary." Kerry is now using her experience as an ADHD mum, educator and author to help other families stem the rising tide of ADHD in Australia. "Many parents are left pulling out their hair. But ADHD is a genetic biochemical condition like depression. It is a real illness, that needs real treatment and strategies," says Kerry, author of Every Day With ADHD. Here Kerry answers your most asked questions…
- Remember the ratios of positive to negative comments that the average person requires for healthy self esteem is three to one. Make this the goal for your child.
- Comment on the good stuff. When they walk through a doorway, say "Thank you for not slamming the door."
- Set limits ahead of time. For instance: "The rule is no Playstation on school nights. That is Monday to Thursday." Get them to agree before hand and the battle's over before it started.
- Use disciplinary actions sparingly. "Rewarding good behaviour straight away will have a stronger effect," says Kerry. "If discipline is required for say, hitting a sibling, then state the rule firmly and simply, go straight into a time out situation (in their room) with no discussion."
- Use whiteboards, fridge lists, planners and routine to help your child.
- Keep meal times and bedtimes consistent and encourage exercise.
- Break up big tasks. Don't say: "Clean your room". Say: "Put the towels in the basket and then make your bed".
- Offer only two choices and be comfortable with either being chosen.
- ADHD kids are grazers. Leave a plate of food with bite sized pieces they can access.