The special case of ADHD parents of a child with ADHD
As we mentioned before, because of the genetic component of this disorder, it is frequent to find ADHD parents of ADHD children. These cases bring forth special and ambivalent situations, compared to other parents, since on one side, they can understand their children better, but at the same time they may feel their capacities diminished by the disorder. The indications for them will be the same as for everybody else, the difference is that some of them will be easier to put into practice and some others will be harder, especially because of impulsivity, low tolerance to frustration and, possibly low self esteem.
Taking awareness of their own disorder will allow them better comprehension of the fact that their child is not “bad”, nor misbehaves just because he wants to do so. He or she, better than anyone, know that disturbing behavior is unavoidable, that criticizing will undermine their spirits and generate bad feelings, even though sometimes it may not seem so, and that praising has much better effect that criticism. In the same way, they will have a better comprehension of the need of implementing structure to their tasks of giving a temporal reference, establishing clear rules, search for eye contact, etc (see the parent recommendation section)
It is also true that, precisely because they suffer this disorder, they will identify difficulties that other parents won`t. This is especially true if the parents are not aware of the suffering due to ADHD. In adults, the typical symptoms will also be lack of attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity (in that order). These symptoms mean more trouble to organize family life, which doesn`t benefit hyperactive children. It`s also possible that being more careless than others, the symptoms of their children that could help identify the disorder, may remain unnoticed. Due to their high impulsivity, tolerance to frustration may be lower, which means less patience towards their children. Parents` restlessness can be “contagious” towards their children, which will provoque a higher level of activity than in a friends’ houses. It is also possible that the relationship between two impulsive people might be difficult , because they may say offensive things, carry out offensive actions o forget things important for the other person.
For all this, it`s important that a parent suspicious of suffering ADHD, consult to a specialist in order to acquire more awareness regarding the individual actions he can carry out in order to contribute to their children’s health and benefit their relationship. In these cases, psychoeducation and “coaching” are very important.
Some useful advice to cope with this special situation may be:
- Count to ten before reacting in response to your children`s behavior.
- Delegate the organization of family life to your partner (routines, sequence) and allow your partner to intercede in the relationship with the children.
- Share playing activities that everyone can enjoy, such as sports and trips, since there will be common sensations and likings.
- Make a effort to work with your child as a team in order to address the hard moments he already knows by experience.
- Try to reinforce your child`s self esteem
- Leave at the stage in situations in which you believe you may lose control.
- Ask for help before taking any kind of action you may regret in the future.
- Try to take emotional distance from situations that produce special distress, because they remind you of other situations in the past.
- Talk to your child from self experience.
- Reinforce the fact that even though there are some difficulties, you have been capable of forming the family you all make.