Being a mum and a Paediatric Occupational Therapist at the same time is an interesting journey. I daily work with parents who come to me looking for help with their children, many of whom have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). I am raising a child with ADHD myself. Many of my close friends also have at least one child in their family who is diagnosed with ADHD.
Thankfully, being a mum with a child with ADHD myself, I know how hard it can be to put into practice the advice and strategies that teachers and health professionals may give you. So, in this blog, I’m not going to talk about strategies for parenting a child with ADHD. I want to instead share with you what I have learnt, and what I would do differently, now that I know what I know.
You know your child
Parents know their children best. If you are worried about your child, it’s a good idea to speak with someone and investigate early. We always knew that my daughter was different. For many years we thought that she was just messy, stubborn and incredibly defiant. From a very young age, we had many fights, and I didn’t understand until she was diagnosed at the age of 10 why she behaved the way she did. Having a diagnosis changed everything for me, as it helped me understand that I needed to change my approach to better support her.
Abilities and Challenges
All children have strengths and weaknesses. When the days are long and hard, try to focus on your child’s strengths and be there to help them with their weaknesses. Children are constantly learning and growing and it’s beautiful to watch. Your children (all of them, regardless of whether they have a diagnosis or not) will surprise you as they grow. After struggling through primary school, I was deeply worried about how my daughter would cope in high school. However, we are 6 months into year 7 and she is thriving socially, passing her core subjects, and organizing her school life far better than I imagined.
Home is a safe space
Children will always behave differently at home with you then they will in other environments. I see this at work, and I experience this at home daily. Home is a safe space, we are their safe people; unfortunately for many of us, this means children will let their guard down and show their worst side at home. I’m coming to realise this is a part of life for all of us, and something that we need to accept. Work out what you need to do to encourage peace and acceptance within your home, and allow everyone space to relax and rest where possible.
ADHD medications can be incredibly effective for some children, and not work for others. I work with a number of children where medication has changed their lives. For us, we trialled two medications with my daughter and both times we didn’t see any benefit. If you do trial medication, be reassured that getting to the right dose can be a process. It’s important to surround yourself with support, and extend extra grace to both you and your child during that trial.
Finally, I want to encourage all mums, and especially mums of children with ADHD. You are not alone. Parenting is rewarding, but also hard. And each age and stage will bring with it new challenges. But God has chosen each of us, to be the mums to each of our children. And I know that He will always give us the patience, strength and wisdom to parent the children placed in our care. And I for one, am incredibly grateful that we don’t have to do it alone.