For Parents Who Have Children with ADHD: Taking Care of Yourself
It is stressful to raise a child with ADHD. It places a lot of demand on you- your mind, body and spirit. These children require a lot of attention and supervision. They can be demanding, defiant, and aggressive. It is important however that you, as a parent, to take care of yourself. You need to replenish emotionally and feel that you have control over your life.
There are some tips and suggestions for preventing stressful situations that you can implement into your daily routine.
- Identify the source of your stress. Sit down and write your reaction to a stressful event during the past week-irritability, anger, anxiety, depression. Then list the stressors-the events that preceded each stress reaction. Then think about what you could have done to avoid this situation. Write down your coping methods so that if you are confronted again with this situation you can implement your coping technique. If a problem arises you can also leave the room, wait until you are calm and think about the situation and the possibilities. Post small notes around the room to remind yourself of your plan and positive coping mechanisms. Take a few minutes each day to practice visualizing your use of this new action plan. This will help fortify your confidence that you can head off the source of stress when it arises again. Once your confidence has been build up and you actually tried the new plan, move to another stressor or two. Work on only one or two stressors at a time until you have mastered them; then move to another stressor.
- Find a hobby and socialize with others. Raising a child with ADHD places huge demands on the mind, body, and heart. It is important to have recreational time and not to sacrifice all personal pleasures for the sake of spending time with your child. You owe it to yourself to find personal gratification and fulfillment on a regular basis. Become active in a group, seek comfort from loved ones, exercise, meditate, or go to yoga classes. The point is that as long as you enjoy it, it can give you a sense of renewal.
- Become Aware of the Moment. This method is called mindfulness meditation. This involves stopping what you are doing, closing your eyes, using a focal point for your attention, and then letting your thoughts go out of your mind as you concentrate on your focal point. If any thought crosses your mind, note it and then let them pass. This practice can greatly diminish the sense of stress and time that parents of children with ADHD feel daily.
- Replace your negative thinking to more positive thoughts.You might have felt humiliated by your child who has temper tantrums in a store and you probably have noticed telling yourself “how could he do this to me in public? I am so embarrassed!” You probably might feel distressed and angry, especially since everyone in the store is looking at you. You also might have noticed some parents who handle similar temper tantrums without alarm or distress. Dr. Albert Ellis developed a theory that we determine how we feel by what we are thinking about those events or people. Have a notebook and write down all the negative thoughts you have and substitute them with more positive and constructive ones. When we think negative, distressing and self-critical thoughts, we flame our negative emotions. If we learn to identify these negative thought patterns and change them to more constructive positive ones, we can diminish the negative emotional reaction.
- Exercise Regularly. Exercise lessen stress and refuels our energy for self control and helps us to meet the demands of life. If you don’t think you can spare the time, ask a friend to join you or to motivate you to join them for walks or ride your bikes. You can benefit from as little as 20-30 minutes of light exercise three times a week.
- Practice Shared Parenting. You can talk to your spouse, partner, family member about redistributing some of the load of parenting your child with ADHD. You can benefit from agreeing that each of you will take full responsibility for the child every other day. This will help you to pursue personal interests.
What are some things you do to take care of yourself when you have a child with ADHD?
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Nieves, H. (2015). For Parents Who Have Children with ADHD: Taking Care of Yourself. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 5, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mental-health-awareness/2014/03/for-parents-who-have-children-with-adhd-taking-care-of-yourself/