Dr. Sharon Saline, author of What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew, is a psychotherapist who works with children diagnosed with ADHD and their families. She argues that an informed empathy for ADHD children — for what they experience on a daily basis — can inspire parents and teachers to work with these children in ways that will help them grow into responsible and happy adults.
She advocates the Five C’s method — self-Control, Compassion, Collaboration, Consistency and Celebration — as a roadmap for reducing family stress and equipping children with the skills they need to thrive.
Self-control, for example, isn’t just a skill for children, says Saline. Raising a child with ADHD can test parents’ patience, so she advocates “learning to manage your own feelings first so you can teach your child to do the same.”
Saline says that it’s distressing for kids when parents absorb and reflect their distress. Children in her practice want their parents to know, “If I’m upset and then you get upset, there’s nobody to help me reign it in and get back to center. If you lose it in response to my losing it, it’s kindling on the fire.” Kids with ADHD need adults to model how to manage emotions in the face distress. Remember that self-regulation is a skill — something that children and adults can strengthen with strategic practices such as mindfulness training.
If your child has just been diagnosed with ADHD or if you are struggling to help your child manage their life, Saline offers these words of support.
First, development is in your child’s favor. “The brain is developing and will continue to develop. Where your child is now is not where they will be in a year. Focus on the now, not on your worries about the five years from now.”
Second, your efforts matter. “What kids tell me over and over again is that they wouldn’t get through without their parents. You matter more than you think you do.”
Finally, she has seen countless children with ADHD develop into flourishing adults. “When kids are treated properly and given opportunities to learn the skills they need, their life with ADHD can be wonderful.”
Excerpted from “Five Ways to Help Children with ADHD Develop Their Strengths” In KQED’s MindShift. Read the full article.