ADHD

Attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) makes it hard for a person to be still or pay attention. ADHD usually begins before age 7. Boys are three times more likely than girls to have it. It is one of the most common of all children's disorders.

Tips for parents:

Learn about ADHD. The more you know, the more you can help yourself and your child.

Acknowledge and encourage your child's strengths and talents.

Be specific, consistent and positive. Set clear rules for your child. Tell him or her what he or she should do, not just what he or she shouldn't do. Be clear about what will happen if your child does not follow the rules. Have a rewards program for good behavior. Praise your child when he or she shows the behaviors you like.

Learn methods that will help your child manage his or her behavior. These include techniques such as charting, having a rewards program, ignoring certain behaviors, and using logical consequences and time-outs. These strategies can lead to more positive behaviors and cut down on problem behaviors. Your mental health professional or a parent support group will have resources that can teach you about behavior management.

Talk with your doctor about whether medicine will help your child. Your doctor is the best source of reliable information about medicine. Unfortunately, many people rely on other sources, such as the media, for information. Recently, there has been a lot of publicity about children who are being over treated with medicine. This publicity has scared many parents away from a treatment that works. Being on medicine does not mean that you or your children are failures. ADHD is a medical disorder that can be helped by medicine.

Pay attention to your child's mental health – and your own. Be open to counseling. It can help you deal with the challenges of raising a child with ADHD, and it can help your child deal with frustration, feel better about him or herself, and learn new social skills.

Talk to other parents whose children have ADHD. Parents can share practical advice and emotional support. Call your community mental health center to find out about parent groups near you. CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) is a national group that has chapters throughout the country.

Meet with your child's school to work out an educational plan that will help him or her succeed in school. Both you and your child's teachers should get a written copy of this plan. Keep in touch with your child's teachers. Tell the teachers how your child is doing at home. Ask how your child is doing in school. Offer support.