Do you often feel frustrated when it comes to your child’s ADHD behavior? Are you concerned about what your feelings of frustration are doing to your relationship with your child? To help understand the challenges that many parents face when it comes to their child’s ADHD behavior, what type of impact it has on the parent child relationship and what a parent can do to cope with their child’s ADHD, I have interviewed licensed psychologist Dr. Larry Lynn II.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I earned my BA in Psychology from Ithaca College and my MA in Clinical Psychology from East Carolina University. I later earned my Doctor of Psychology degree as part of the first graduating doctorate class from Loyola College in Baltimore. I specialize in educational, psychological and forensic assessments. Assessments focus on a wide range of areas from learning disabilities, processing disorders, ADHD, depression and anxiety disorders. My clients consist of adults, teens, children and families in individual and group settings. Most of my work with families involve parent training and coping strategies for children and teens with ADHD, behavioral difficulties and anxiety disorders.”
What are some challenges that parent’s face with their child’s ADHD?
“Parents face many challenges with the child’s or children’s ADHD. At school, there are usually a number of challenges and these continue or increase once a child comes home from school. Most ADHD children do their best to “hold it together” in school and then come home frustrated and tired. Then they are expected to “settle down” and get their work done! This can be an exasperating situation for children and their parents. Homework is often the biggest battle.”
“ADHD children often have concomitant or comorbid learning disabilities. These learning disabilities often occur in reading, writing and/or mathematics and make it more difficult for a child to learn and then reproduce school-based material. It also makes homework very frustrating. Children often need assistance in school and those who qualify may be eligible for a 504 plan or an Individualized Education Plan. The best thing to do is to go to the school and inquire about this type of assistance.”
“Parents tell me all the time that their children just can’t focus or attend. They wonder why they can sit in front of a video game for hours but can’t focus on a conversation or pay attention to instructions given by parents and teachers. ADHD children can focus on novel and fast-paced things like video games but have a much harder time following conversations and school based material that requires extended attention and concentration often on material that they would describe as “boring.” This is more than just a kid who does not want to pay attention or not do school work. They actually have a part of their brain that works slower and needs a “kick start” in order to help them pay better attention.”
“Daily tasks such as homework, cleaning their room, remembering to bring their books home are often the most frustrating issues for parents. Parents tell me they have to constantly remind their child and prompt them to perform even the simple tasks.”
What type of impact do those challenges have on the parent child relationship?
“The parent-child relationship can be negatively affected due to these high levels of frustration. Arguing, yelling and fighting can result if these interactions are not carefully monitored. Most of the time nonverbal methods such as leaving notes or making daily charts can be substituted for the verbal interactions. Patience is often a very difficult but necessary quality that needs to be developed. Parents also need to be educated on the symptoms of ADHD. Once they are, they tend to “understand” or “get” their kids more and sometimes patience and compassion develops out of this understanding.”
How can a parent cope with their child’s ADHD?
“Understanding their child and the diagnosis of ADHD often make it easier to cope with their child. Having a professional who understands their child and the families’ needs is also important. This person can offer suggestions and advice when situations become strained or difficult.”
“Parents also need to take time for themselves and model this for their children. Parents need to take time to go out with friends, join a club or exercise. Children who see parents take care of themselves are more likely to be independent and do it down the road.”
What type of professional help is available for a parent who has a child with ADHD?
“There is a great deal of professional help out there. Pediatricians or primary care doctors can often give family members good referrals for psychologists in their area. They may also want the child to see a child psychiatrist for medication. Parents need to make sure that the person that they see is trained in working with children and adolescents with ADHD and other childhood disorders. This should be a good part of their practice and the individual should be able to talk knowledgeably about ADHD and cases that he/she has dealt with over the years. The most important part in engaging a psychologist or other therapist is a goodness of fit. Parents and the individual child need to feel comfortable with the person whom they are working. If the parents don’t feel it is a good fit, they should check for other psychologists in the area. Often time professional organizations such as APA and the state psychological associations such as the Maryland Psychological Association, of which I am a member, offer specialized referral services that can help parents. Other organizations such as CHADD also have meetings for parents and provide referral lists for professionals.”
“There are several readily available books on ADHD in bookstores. Two popular books by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey called Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction is useful for individuals with ADHD and their families. The books detail specific learning approaches and day-to-day management skills that can be useful for people with ADHD. The books are appropriate for adolescents and adults. Included, are several tailor made chapters for addressing academically related issues and accommodations in the school system.”
“Russell Barkley’s books are good references for parents with ADHD children. A listing of his books can be found at russellbarkley.org. One of the titles commonly recommended is Taking Charge of ADHD.”
“A magazine primarily devoted to ADHD in children, teens and adults is ADDitude and can be viewed online at www.additudemag.com. Families and individuals have found many practical suggestions related to coping strategies, behavior plans and school and home related issues in the magazine.”
Thank you Dr. Lynn for doing the interview on how a parent can cope with their child’s ADHD. For more information on Dr. Lynn or his work you can check out his website on www.crossroadspsychology.net.
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