PLAQUEMINE – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common behavioral disorders among children. ADHD is a mental illness characterized by attention difficulty, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. Behaviors seen in children with ADHD can disrupt family life and make parenting a challenge. For ADHD Awareness Month, The Village Life Center offers parents tips on how to successfully manage ADHD with a combination of behavior modification, counseling, and medication.

The Struggles of Parenting a Child With ADHD

Children with ADHD have difficulty thinking and planning ahead, controlling impulses, organizing, and completing tasks. These behaviors can be disruptive to family life. Because they have poor listening skills and trouble following directions, children with ADHD have a hard time obeying parental instructions. Seemingly simple tasks, such as brushing their teeth or doing homework, can turn into daily battles. Children with ADHD are disorganized and easily distracted, so they often keep other family members waiting. In addition, because they lack self-control, these children have a tendency to act or speak before they think.

Parenting a child with ADHD can be physically and psychologically exhausting. Parents must offer constant guidance and supervision to help their child focus and improve. The behaviors and demands of the child can make parents anxious, stressed, and frustrated. Feelings of frustration can lead to anger and guilt.

Tips on Managing ADHD Successfully

It's important for parents to remember that the behaviors seen in a child with ADHD are not intentional. The child is not willfully disobeying or acting out. These behaviors are related to a mental illness and can be successfully managed with a combination of behavior modification, counseling, and medication.

Behavior modification is an organized system of immediate rewards and consequences to help children improve their behavior. Good behaviors are rewarded and praised, while unwanted or impulsive behaviors are met with appropriate consequences. The keys to a successful behavior modification plan include:

• Simple, clearly defined rules and expectations

• Immediate rewards and consequences

• Frequent feedback

• Consistency

• Daily routines

• Organization strategies, such as clocks, timers, and checklists to help stay focused

• Reward systems

It's important for parents to be patient and respond in positive, supportive ways. Staying calm and focused will allow them to better connect with their child. They may have to experiment with different strategies to find what works best for their family. Also, parents should be aware of their own physical and mental health to avoid becoming overburdened and frustrated. ADHD parent networks can offer advice and emotional support.

In addition to a behavior modification plan, counseling plays an important role in successfully managing ADHD. Therapy helps the child acquire social skills, learn problem-solving techniques, decrease antisocial behaviors like bossiness and aggression, and increase self-control. Parents can learn strategies to encourage positive behaviors and strengthen their relationship with their child.

Medication is also a crucial part of a successful treatment plan. Medication can help a child with ADHD by decreasing symptoms such as impulsivity and hyperactivity, while increasing the ability to stay focused and follow instructions. Parents must consult with their physician regularly, and they may need to experiment with different medications or combinations of treatment to find what works best for their child.

When to Seek Help

All children display hyperactivity, lack of attention, and impulsive behaviors from time to time, so parents may be unsure when to seek professional help. In a child with ADHD, these behaviors are excessive and cause significant problems in multiple settings such as at home, at school, and in social situations. If parents are concerned about their child's behavior, they should contact their child's doctor or psychologist.

For parents of children with ADHD in the Iberville Parish community, the Village Life Center is a local and accessible resource. "We offer individual and group counseling for children as well as family counseling. The Village Life Center's team of caring and committed mental health professionals works in the home, in the community, and at school," said Ayanna Carr-Brown, CEO of the Village Life Center.

The Village Life Center, LLC is a behavioral health service provider located in Plaquemine, Louisiana and serves the Iberville Parish community. The center offers a full range of outpatient therapeutic psychiatric services, including individual counseling, psychiatric treatment plans and crisis intervention. The Village Life Center mental health programs promote and encourage hope, wellness, and recovery to all individuals and families in the community as they embark on their journey to mental wellness. Visit The Village Life Center's website at www.villagelifecenter.com to learn more about the center.