How do you protect the relationship with a child who has ADHD?

ADHD can put a strains on the relationship between parent and child.

But you have the ability to nurture that relationship to a strong and healthy one. Dulce Torres, LPC-S, BCC, ACC, shares with parents what they can do to protect their relationship with their children.

Transcription follows this 6:28 minute video

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Lightly Edited Transcript

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So I want to talk to you a little bit about what else can we do when we are raising a child to middle school and an adolescent that is diagnosed with ADHD. For me, the most valuable piece of information first is I need to make sure always I’m doing what I can to save the relationship between parent and child.

For me, relationship is everything. It comes before having good grades in school. It comes before you wanted to be really good at a certain sport. That relationship between a parent child is key. And the way I build in that relationship from a very young age is to know, to put attention to what they need and how I am educating myself about how ADHD is affecting them.

So start with building the relationship and start in second then go to educate yourself. How is this diagnosis of ADHD is affecting my child because it’s going to be different. Listen to what your child needs. I will always tell parents: put aside the comments of other people – family members, friends – when they come with what I did for my child is this and it worked. Say thank you – that’s great because it worked for your child. I will take it into consideration. I can listen, but that does not mean that strategy tactic that they use is going to work for my child.

It’s important that we understand developmentally where is my kid? And as we know that everyone diagnosed with ADHD on maturity level and emotional level, they are going to be three to five years behind their peers.

So because I have an eight year old, that does not mean that every strategy that you use for eight year old might work for mine because they’re still behaving at a five or six year level. I still have to use strategies at that level; I still have to create a behavioral plan for him that is going to look different  – they might need more hand holding at that age and that’s okay.

But then when they become 12 and their maturity level is at 10, things have changed so you have to be very aware about developmentally where your child is and revisit whatever strategies you’re using, whatever behavior plans you have implemented.

You need to constantly be adapting that/changing it because they’re growing up and things are changing, but also because our ADHD people tend to lose interest very quick and our children will do that. They will lose interest in something no matter that is working. You have to constantly be changing it for them. So being aware that the strategy that you use for your eight year old might be different for your 12 year old or it might be the same. It depends again on the child.

And when they’re growing, I always invite parents to think about middle school is when I start creating a little bit more of that independence – just a tiny bit. I still, as a parent, have to keep their control, have to help them to set up their structures and be consistent, but I start giving them a little bit more leeway in how they manage themselves. So when they go to high school that process is not as dramatic as sometimes it happens when the parent lets go in high school. So it’s very important to put attention to that.

Okay, so they’re in high school, I do need to build those executive skills with them and help them. And another way of helping them to do this is by talking out loud, and discussing what you’re doing and how come you’re using those skills and you’re talking a lot about, you know, when you use your planner, either electronic or paper, when you set up a schedule to know when you’re doing your homework. Whatever it is that you’re working, it’s good to talk out loud to process that information with them.

And to again from a young age, we can ask them what works for them because they will tell us. There’s nothing that I consider so honest about a child is that they’re so truthful – they tell it like it is.

So listen to them – sometimes we don’t like it, but listen and take into consideration their ideas because at the end of the day they’re the ones who have to carry out their plan. It’s not just us, as parent, it’s them. So I will advise you to build a relationship, get educated, and then continue to set up those conversations that, you know, what skills works for them. Revise the plans periodically, and know that at every stage of their lives and at every age, there’s going to be a difference and you just have to keep building it and be patient with them.

About the Speaker

Dulce Torres, LPC-S, BCC, ACC, and Founder of Avant-Garde Center

Dulce Torres is a licensed professional counselor-supervisor and a board certified coach and associate certified coach specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and depression. She believes everyone has a right to live a life beyond limitation.

Ms. Torres has been a featured columnist for Spanish-language newspapers and contributed to several English-language books on ADD/ADHD.