Survival Tips for Parents
If your infant or preschooler is exhibiting symptoms that you think may signal ADHD, don't panic or jump to conclusions. Your child may be acting normally for his age.
If your child demonstrates extreme behavior that is much different from other children his age, or if he has difficulty making friends, you may want to take him to a pediatrician or child psychologist for a comprehensive medical and developmental history that includes feedback from teachers and health professionals who have worked with your child.
Neuropsychological testing may also be required to rule out conditions that mimic or overlap with ADHD, including anxiety disorder, language-processing disorders, oppositional-defiant disorder, and sensory integration problems.
Behavior Treatment for Preschool Children
Behavior treatment for preschool children with ADHD involves adjusting their environment to help them with social interactions. As a parent, you can help your child overcome challenges by creating more structure, encouraging routines, clearly stating expectations, limiting choices to avoid overstimulation, being consistent when it comes to disciplining your child, setting rewards and consequences, and creating routines that help your child get and stay organized. For more on behavior modification, see Chapter 15.
An excellent way to bolster the confidence and self-esteem of your child with ADHD is to help him discover his special gifts and talents, then provide him with the instruction, resources, teachers, mentors, and materials he needs to excel in that gift or talent. Many children with ADHD are extremely creative and intuitive, so look for ways to help your child shine.
Because children with ADHD don't come with an owner's manual and require special care and discipline, you may also benefit from parent training, which can teach you helpful strategies for disciplining your child and tips for getting and keeping him organized.
You may also want to join a support group of parents of children with ADHD to gain insight on the disorder and how to handle it, as well as information on local resources, such as the best physicians and ADHD practitioners.
The Bottom Line
Remember that children with ADHD have problems controlling their behavior without treatment or medication and may be as baffled by their symptoms as you are. Don't mistake ADHD symptoms for intentional misbehaving.
In preparing your child for preschool or day-care, work with teachers and personnel to create an effective learning environment for your child that has lots of built-in structure and routine that substitutes for the chronic disorganization that typically accompanies childhood ADHD.
Be honest about your child's limitations as well as his special gifts so teachers can make modifications that can help your child with ADHD thrive. And understand that even with the best of treatment, your child may still be more hyperactive and impulsive than normal children and require special classes and accommodations.