Posted on January 1, 2009 by Debra Burdick
If you suspect or know your child has Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), counseling and/or coaching can be extremely helpful for you and your child. Please notice I said you and your child. YOU MUST be involved in this process. How you treat your child, how you react to them, the tone of voice you use, the words you say, how you nurture and support them is the most important thing you do for your child. Your child cannot change in your family system if you keep doing everything the way you have always done it.
You will need support in ways to best help your child succeed. A therapist who specializes in ADHD can help you understand what your child is going through and help you identify what your child needs from you. They will teach you behavior management skills and explore options for dealing with your child’s forgetfulness, impulsivity, lack of task completion, lack of motivation, poor concentration, hyperactivity, etc.
A therapist can teach your child organizational skills, social skills, and study skills. They will help your child improve their self esteem. They can help your child understand how ADHD impacts their lives, options for dealing with it, and how to feel better about themselves. They will help you help your child with all of these issues and help you create and maintain a healthy parent/child relationship.
One common style of therapy, Cognitive/Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an especially good option for helping kids succeed with their ADHD. CBT looks at options for making thoughts, feelings, and behavior contribute to success. It contains a focus on skill building including managing emotions, interpersonal skills, behavior, and whatever that particular child may need.
Another common style of therapy for children is Play Therapy. Play Therapy recognizes that young children are not usually capable of ‘talking about their feelings” as such. Play Therapy provides a way for the therapist to interact with a young child within the child’s fantasy metaphor. Often, the child will display their feelings through their play with a doll house or through their drawings or other creative play media. A skilled Play Therapist can help the child via the vehicle of play without ever having to leave the child’s theme of symbolic play. Some parents are dismayed when their child tells them they just ‘played’. Ask the therapist about the process. Research has proven the positive results gained from Play Therapy.
Your child may benefit from a support group or a group that helps to build social skills. These are often found at mental health clinics or agencies such as a Child and Family Agency or the Social Services department in your town. Schools often offer groups for kids right at the school. These are convenient, the school personnel already know your child, and your child gets to practice socializing with kids he will encounter daily. A downside to this is that some kids are embarrassed to be in a group like this and to have their classmates know they attend. You know your child best. Think about this concern and talk to your child and his teacher before you decide.
You also may benefit from a parent support group that can provide you with emotional support as well as essential resources and referrals. Contact your local social service agencies or schools to locate one nearby. One national organization called Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) provides this in some areas. Find your local CHADD online at www.chadd.org.
I would love to hear your personal experiences with this topic.