Archive for May, 2011

Parenting is not easy. Parenting a child with ADHD is that much harder.  It is hard on each individual parent, hard on their marriage, and hard for other family relationships, such as the parent’s relationship with the sibling(s) of the child with ADHD.  It is important to seek the professional help of a licensed therapist and/or psychiatrist if your child is diagnosed with ADHD.  They will be able to help you, your child, and your family best cope with it all.  Having said that, the following are some basic tips for parenting a child with ADHD:

1.  Parent Together

If you are lucky enough to have a spouse to help you parent your child with ADHD, take full advantage and parent together as a united front.  Most importantly, make all decisions together ahead of time and stay consistent.  The child with ADHD will respond best if he/she gets the exact same response out of each parent with whatever action he/she takes, good or bad.

2.  Maintain a Positive Outlook

A child with ADHD can be very trying and difficult.  It is crucial for you as the parent to maintain perspective, a sense of humor, keep calm, keep focus, stay hopeful and take it all in stride.  Above all, believe in your child.  Trust that they can and will learn, change, mature and ultimately succeed.

3.  Stay Healthy

It is near impossible to adhere to the second tip without adhering to this third tip.  Parenting requires a ton of energy.  Parenting a child with ADHD requires a ton more.  It is absolutely imperative that you take care of yourself.  Exercise regularly.  Eat nutritious foods.  Take a multi-vitamin.  Sleep 8 – 10 hours a night, preferably at the same time every night.  Schedule R & R time and stick to that schedule, no matter what.  Seek and accept support.

4.  Establish Structure

Children with ADHD respond best when they have structure.  Create that structure and stick to it.

5.  Clear Rules -  Rewards and Consequences

Children with ADHD need consistent rules that are clear and spelled out for them.  They respond well to an organized and upfront system of rewards and consequences.  But remember, rewards and consequences lose their value unless you follow through with them.

6.  Praise Your Child

Children with ADHD are often scolded.  Take extra care to notice and praise good behavior to help counteract that imbalance.

7.  Exercise, Nutrition and Sleep

We’ve already discussed the supreme importance of these three things for you, as the parent.  But they are equally important for your child with ADHD.   Children with ADHD often have excess energy.  Exercise, in any form, will help focus and release this energy.  Beyond the energy release, exercise has been proven to improve concentration, decrease depression and anxiety, and promote brain growth.  It will also help your child with ADHD sleep better at night, which will in turn reduce the symptoms of ADHD.  Scheduling an hour of quiet, “down-time” before bedtime will also lead to better sleep.

A child with ADHD will be helped enormously by proper, steady nutrition.  Feed your child healthy, nutrient dense foods every three hours or so.  This will keep blood sugar stable, as well as help brain function and mood.  If your child suffers from the sugar rushes and crashes that are associated with a poor diet, it will be much harder to concentrate and behave appropriately.  That is true for all children, but especially those with ADHD.

Resources:, ADHD Parent Coping Skills, ADD/ADHD Parenting Tips, ADD: How It Affects Families, How ADD Affects a Family

Teen Suicide & Prevention

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for teens today.  That is a scary statistic.  The National Institute of Health believes that there are as many as 25 teen suicide attempts for each one that is completed.  That makes the first statistic even scarier.  Teen suicide rates have risen 200% since 1960, yet another scary statistic.  Fact of the matter is, teen suicide is a serious issue and a serious problem that needs to be continuously addressed.

Studies show that clear warning signs precede 4 out of 5 teen suicide attempts.  It is important to note here that many teen suicide warning signs are also indications of depression.  To be clear, you may not see all the warning signs display themselves in the teen.  Instead, watch for a combination of two or three signs as an indication of depression and possible suicidal thoughts.  Here are some of the warning signs:

  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Disinterest in favorite activities
  • Withdrawing or isolating oneself
  • Substance abuse, illegal and legal
  • Complains more frequently of boredom
  • Changes in eating/sleeping habits
  • Reckless “death wish” behaviors
  • Self-injury
  • Neglects hygiene and appearance
  • Increase in physical complaints (aches, fatigues, migraines) possibly due to emotional distress
  • Feelings of being trapped, no way out
  • Perceived burdensomeness, others “better off” without them

The following are warning signs/indications of a suicide plan:

  • Verbal cues and hints, such as:
    • “ All of my problems will end soon ”
    • “ No one can do anything to help me now ”
    • “ I wish I were dead ”
    • “ Everyone will be better off without me ”
    • “ Nothing is going to change or get better ”
    • I just want to go to sleep and not wake up ”
  • Teen begins giving away favorite belongings
  • Throw away important possessions
  • Appear extremely cheerful or calm following a period of depression
  • Creates suicide notes

The three most important aspects of teen suicide prevention are:

1.)  Support / Being Involved

2.)  Awareness / Education

3.)  Professional help

These 3 aspects are like three legs of a stool.  Missing one, the stool will fall over.

The first aspect, support / being involved, is imperative because unless you are actively involved in your teenager’s life, you will never be able to catch any warning signs or changes in behavior.  If your teenager does not feel your support, he/she may feel more alone and hopeless and helpless.  The second aspect, education / awareness is imperative because if you don’t know the warning signs, you might miss them no matter how involved or supportive a parent you are.  Finally, the third aspect, professional help, is imperative for if/when you discover your teenager is depressed or suicidal.  Suicide is not something a family or teen can “handle” themselves.  It requires the licensed professional help of counselors, psychologists, and/or psychiatrists.

There is a non-profit organization right here in New Jersey whose mission it is to educate parents, teachers, and teens about teen suicide.  It was started in 2005 by the parents of Jimmy Ganley, who committed suicide in 2004, and it is called The Ganley Foundation.  Below is a link to their mission page that features a video excerpt from an ESPN special that tells their story.  It is heartbreaking and hard to watch, but it hammers home in a very real way how crucial it is to bring awareness to teen suicide and prevention.

If you, or anyone you know, is contemplating suicide, below are some hotlines you can call for immediate assistance:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Veterans, press 1 to be routed to the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline


Kristen Brooks Hope Center – National Hopeline Network

1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

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