ADHD or not, some useful parenting rules

ADHD child bucket

The battle still continues within me about whether ADHD actually exists and whether my son indeed has been blessed with its tendencies. Other days I wonder if perhaps motherhood has simply drained all patience, rationality and soundness of mind from me and in turn I have become super sensitive to someone who constantly has a problem with every possible thing in his little life. Either way, there are definitely a few parenting rules I have learnt along the way and which I try to apply most days:

1. A strict and structured routine for your child

They seem to thrive on the monotony (so do I) and become accustomed to what to expect next. (no surprises)

2. Always give warnings

“We’re leaving in 10 minutes, you need to be ready” That way there is enough time to find your shoes, jump on the bed while putting them on, find the piece of fluff to put in your brothers ear and get to the car to fight for the front seat.

3. Do not make promises you can’t keep

Ever. Because he will remember it days and months later as it seems only the negative sticks in his mind. “Mum, remember last year when you promised to make me pancakes but then you said you were too tired?” “Me: Remember that time I went through labour without painkillers with you for 6 hours?”

4. Try not to stress him out unnecessarily

So if he doesn’t want to go across the highest shaky bridge in SA (Oribi Gorge), then pretend that you’re scared and he is staying behind to “look” after you (really, I wasn’t scared). Don’t ever force the issue unless it’s a matter of life and death, which it rarely is.

5. Explain in detail where you are going and what is to be expected

So if you’re going on holiday show him some photos of the place you’ll be staying at so he has a picture of what to expect in his mind. Also add in details of whether there is wifi, TV, ice-cream…

6. Give him some time to unwind every day

With the routines in place he also needs time out to just relax and do nothing. I guess I could do with that as well.

7. Don’t feed the frenzy

Tricky one but try not to indulge the behaviour when he becomes uncontrollable because he is losing the game of Uno. It’s not fair. Don’t allow it.

8. Give one instruction at a time

“Go make your bed, put your shoes away and hang the towel up” Nope, this doesn’t work. One at a time.

9. Always, always be emotionally uplifting

These kids seem to have an innate negative energy absorber that will conveniently negate all attempts at encouragement. “But no-one passes me the ball in soccer.” “Me in my head: Yes but you were looking at the birds all through the game, maybe that’s why” “Me to him: Of course they did, remember that time it hit you on your leg?” But seriously, do remain positive and reinforcing.

10. Let him have plenty of outdoor activity.

It’s difficult these days because there is so much going on in our lives but they need it. The sun. The grass. The air. Maybe kick a ball around to improve those soccer skills.

11. Don’t lose your cool

At least not too often. They are testing, as I know my other 2 kids are too but you need to just breath, let go and take it easy.

12. Spend one-on-one time with him

Dad should too. Just so that he feels the love and attention by himself and so that he can connect with you.

13. Now that it is Ramadaan and we’ve been fasting, I’ve seen him have a completely passive temperament which I can only attribute to the consistent blood sugar levels he has. I feel it too, less anxious and calmer. So that means there is great merit to a good healthy, low sugar and natural diet for everyone.

Looking at it now perhaps these self-imposed parenting rules ought to apply to any parent of any kind of kid.  And so the learning continues…

This article was originally written for Jozikids by Fatima Kazee in 2016.

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Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee, mum to a teenager, a pre-teen and ‎a little princess.  Part-time wife to a fanatical fisherman. She’s addicted to sneakers, anything chocolatey & is an invaluable member of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

19 Responses

  1. Unfortunately this could be a debate that goes on and on as everyone has their own opinion. However, Fatima, I believe what you are doing is in the best interest of your child, so kudos to you.

  2. There is no doubt that behavioral modification , diet and intelligent parenting helps ADHD children . Period !
    However it is psychology 101 that behavioral reinforcement can change short term behaviors with most intelligent living beings . Unfortunately , we must not dismiss that one’s short sightedness driven by subjective bias and ignorance of the long term sequele of the well established biochemical basis of ADHD, it’s lack of recognition , acknowledgement or treatment will irreversibly damage the evolving psyche of a child . This cannot be justified at any cost . Just because a child , being helpless , cannot verbalize the corrosive damage to his self image and the stunting of his evolving emotional IQ by being deprived of proper ADHD medical treatment . How can a parent be boasting anything at all , until and unless they are really celebrating their subjective ability to assert ‘control’ and their own denials of ADHD biology by denying their child cutting edge treatment . It’s akin to a Parent bestowing glory to self for how Thor implemented lifestyle and diet changes appear to have helped their child with Insulin Diabetes whilst being ignorant of how lack of insulin to control sugars will certify blindness, brain damage and possibly early death for the child .

    1. Thank you! I have seen such a change in Matthew since I took the decision to remove my own ego from the mix and put him on Ritalin. His self confidence, EQ, IQ and social skills and soared! I am so sick of the horror stories about the medications available, and the lack of good news stories! Yes, there may be some parents that use the medication because they want to “control” their kids, but most of us who make this difficult decision do so in order to HELP our kids! It is our own ego that gets in the way, because our social circles will once again regale us with the horrors! Put your pride away and think about your child, not your social standing.

      1. In my previous writings about my experience with ADHD, I admitted to battling with the idea of putting my son on mind altering drugs and spoke of my decision to try alternative methods of “helping” him until or unless it becomes apparent to me that he needs medication. In my humble opinion what we have implemented in terms of supplements and changes in diet, exercise and approach towards him, has made a huge difference in his behaviour. (perhaps there are differing levels of the condition) And when it comes to behaviour, I would still not easily entertain the idea of medicating him as I strongly believe that with positive reinforcement from us as his parents especially, he will manage to grow up into a well-rounded, confident individual.

        In terms of attention, if he requires medication to assist him, we will reassess at the time. (he is only in grade 3 at the moment and has excellent results in school) My qualification for anything I say, Mr A Khan, is based on my personal experience of being a mother and in no way have I claimed a basis for “championing a child’s ADHD management”. Like I said, these are rules I have for myself but which I shared based on my experience of them actually making a positive difference in my family’s lives.

  3. Hi Fatima
    I agree with you on all of your points! It is so nice to know that I am not the only one out there who struggles. I too have set a routine, and have had to learn the art of one instruction at a time. We are practicing with introducing 2 at a time, and he gets it sometimes, but some days are more challenging than others. Kids are cruel, and his classmates are quick to learn and label him “the naughty boy.” and he is always the scapegoat! Thankfully we have a fantastic teacher who understands his challenges and doesn’t just take their word. I also LOVE the fact that you see it as a blessing and not a fault. Jacqui

    1. Jacqui it’s amazing what a difference a good, understanding teacher makes! This year has been a complete turnaround for him and he is so happy, tells stories about school and what he learns and is enthusiastic. His teacher has him sitting on a hot water bottle which I think is a great idea and I’m glad she took the initiative. It took me a while to see it as a blessing but I relate so much to how he feels and I’ve come to terms with it now. 🙂

  4. Thank you Fatima, I love what you have written – it takes us away from the stigma attached to ADHD. No child deserves to be labelled, instead they need to be understood with tolerance and patience. It is up to us to accept them in their “as is” state. I highly recommend Dr Shefali’s book – The Conscious Parent.

    1. Thank you Karen, I will definitely get a copy of that book soon. We haven’t told him about the ADHD and he is not on any meds at the moment. That’s why trying to implement these rules are my way of dealing with him where he doesn’t feel any different to his siblings. Thanks for your input 🙂

  5. Wow thank you for this. I have a 4 year old and 2 year old. I dont even want to think they have ADHD but rather that they are active children 🙂 But your points above will help a great deal when I have 2 little ones trying to both show their independance and resort to bullying each other. Thank you for your guidance

    1. Hi Robyn, this ‘guidance’ is always a note to self first! With 3 very different kids who like to assert themselves it’s chaotic most days and trying to be fair to all of them when you know who the culprit is, can be challenging. These tips help me keep some of the sanity i have left!

  6. Thank you for sharing this article. I opened it at exactly the time I needed to just know that I am not alone. I find exam times the worst with my ADD son. It is so hard to get him to buckle down and focus. It is almost like he has absolutely no bother with what the outcome of the exams is going to be. I find it hard to stay positive. It is almost over and hopefully it went better than what I expect it is going to be 🙂

    1. My son once said to me that if he doesn’t finish his homework, the punishment is missing out on break time so it’s no big deal… seems like he has no ambition sometimes to be the best at what he does. Do it for the sake of getting it out the way. Slowly we will change this mindset hopefully 🙂 Good luck!

  7. I loved this article! It is a mirror-image of my son and our daily challenges, and how I feel about him having such a tough life with constant criticism. I am also of the belief that there is something other than ADHD and that we are too quick to label these kids. I loved your tips and have also discovered that some of them really do assist with children who have these tendencies.

    1. Sharon, it’s comforting knowing others experience the same. It’s a roller coaster of on the one hand wanting him to “get over himself” but also being softer on him because he has these battles himself. I just want to build him up to have confidence in all that he does. thank you for you compliment.

    2. Hi my son was diagnosed with adhd,but I think there something seriously wrong. He has no compassion, he never listens, he steals, tells lies,doesnt care who says, what about, sometimes I think he has no heart

      1. Hi Latiefa

        I’m so sorry to hear about your son and his behaviour. I think the best would be to get him assessed professionally before making any decisions on what you think his problem is. Click on this link to find a company that can assess him. Perhaps some therapy will help him as he may have some other underlying issues that you aren’t aware of. Clearly this is not behaviour he is emulating from you so it could be something else. Click here to find a wonderful life coach that can help you too.

        Good luck!

  8. Fantastic advice Fatima!! I can relate completely. My son displays the same behaviors and its amazing how the change in MY behavior towards him makes all the difference.

    1. I used to be very impatient with him. Once I changed my mindset and approach so many things became easier. Thank you for the compliment.

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