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Helping Your Child Cope with an ADHD Diagnosis

ADHD — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — causes children to get distracted easily, act impulsively, and have a lot of extra energy. The disorder can make simple situations feel like chaos for both parent and child, which is why it’s critical for parents to have coping techniques up their sleeves. 

How is ADHD diagnosed? 

ADHD is a psychological condition that involves short attention spans, difficulty concentrating, lack of attention to details, and impulsivity. 

It can’t be diagnosed with any sort of physical exams, such as blood tests or electrocardiograms, so doctors must diagnose ADHD based on the criteria set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the official diagnostic guide for psychological conditions in the United States. 

According to the DSM, to be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must: 

  • Have symptoms that appeared before age 12
  • Show symptoms in multiple settings, such as school and home
  • Have symptoms that interfere with normal functioning, such as learning
  • Have symptoms that aren’t better explained by another condition

After your child’s doctor determines the presence of ADHD, they then determine the type and severity of your child’s ADHD. 

There are two types of ADHD: inattentive type and hyperactive/impulsive type. Some children may show symptoms of both types of ADHD. There are three levels of severity: mild, moderate, and severe.

How will my child feel after being diagnosed with ADHD? 

Every child feels differently about an ADHD diagnosis. Some children struggle to understand, while others seem to not even notice. You may wonder if getting a diagnosis is even worth it, especially if you think a diagnosis might hurt more than help. However, you should consider getting your child evaluated so that in case they really do have ADHD, you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Plus, if your doctor can diagnose, your doctor can help.

What can I do as a parent?

No matter how your little one feels about the diagnosis, it’s important that you take steps to help your child understand and work with their disorder. The experts at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic share their top five tips for helping your child cope with ADHD

Explain, don’t command

Your child may feel overwhelmed by commands, even simple ones. This can cause them to act out or get upset. Instead of simply telling your child what to do, break down tasks for them. For instance, instead of just saying, “Take out the trash,” offer up the steps: “Tie the trash bag, take the bag out of the can, and bring the bag to the big trash can outside.” 

Minimize distractions

This tip might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget in places you’re comfortable in, such as your home or vehicle. Create environments that facilitate focus by removing toys that aren’t being used, picking up stray books and magazines, and turning off electronics when not in use. Even something as simple as picking up empty cups around the kitchen can be helpful for a child with ADHD.

Encourage physical activity

If your child is particularly hyperactive, burning off extra energy via intentional physical activity can help them stay calm throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be structured exercise; rather, this presents a great opportunity for your child to do what feels best. Playing catch, going for a bike ride, and jumping on a trampoline are all great examples of fun physical activities.  

Teach them to think out loud

Teaching your child to think out loud can reduce and eventually eliminate inappropriate comments. This tactic forces your child to think about what they say, and in time, start to understand when it’s appropriate to say what. Thinking out loud can also help you as a parent, as you get to hear your child’s thought patterns.

Create structure

Children with ADHD often do better with routine. Adding structure to your child’s day doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as simple as making sure your child eats their meals around the same time each day, showers around the same time, and goes to bed at the same time each night. 

If you think your child may have ADHD, or your child has already been diagnosed and you need help, contact Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic right away. Call our New Albany, Mississippi, office at 662-219-3557 or request an appointment online

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