Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects a person’s ability to pay attention, manage daily tasks, and control their emotions and impulses. This can affect school performance and family relationships.
Although ADHD can be stressful for children, it can also increase parenting stress. Knowing how to look after a child with ADHD may ease this stress while also reducing the risk of negative outcomes for the child.
Keep reading to learn more about how to care for a child with ADHD, including information on certain challenges that parents and caregivers may face and tips for looking after both children and teenagers. d3sign/Getty Images Many studies suggest that parents and caregivers of children with ADHD may experience increased parenting stress . The stress tends to increase with certain ADHD symptoms, especially those that disrupt family life or cause behavioral problems.
For example, a 2017 study that included 126 mothers of children with ADHD found that mothers were more likely to report parenting stress when the ADHD negatively affected their child’s behavior or caused social problems.
Parenting stress can affect the parent or caregiver’s ability to manage their child’s condition effectively. For example, a 2016 study involving parents of children with ADHD found that those who reported parenting stress were more likely to resort to less effective authoritarian and permissive parenting styles. That study also found a link between these parenting styles and worse executive functioning and behavior in children.
A 2011 study found that mothers of children with ADHD who experience higher parenting stress may adopt more arbitrary parenting styles. This means that the child’s environment can become less predictable, and there may be little reason for the specific discipline tactics that a parent or caregiver uses.
This suggests that the stress of parenting a child with ADHD may create a feedback loop in which parents or caregivers rely on less effective parenting. This can cause more behavioral and other challenges in the child, thereby intensifying parenting stress.
Some examples of the stressors that a parent or caregiver of a child with ADHD may encounter include: advocating for their child at school
- advocating for their child at school
- dealing with negative comments and unsolicited advice from outsiders
- finding, paying for, and accessing the right treatment
- managing behavioral issues
- worrying about their child’s future
- dealing with family conflict about their child’s diagnosis, including conflict between siblings
ADHD is a medical diagnosis, not a behavioral problem or a product of bad parenting. For this reason, looking after a child with ADHD begins with helping them get the right treatment and support.
A number of treatments — including therapy, parent training, behavior modification techniques, and support at school — can help.
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