A lot of people who have Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder go on to do great things. They often become leaders, inventors, and public personalities. The challenge is how to raise this child to have the character necessary to be the person God intended. There are many things that you can do, and now is the time to begin.
Josh Turansky is the son of Dr. Scott Turansky and he is a pastor and a national radio host. Josh struggled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as a child. You might want to listen to the podcast of Josh interviewing his father on the subject of ADD, recorded as Josh looks back on his life growing up.
ADD and ADHD fall under the umbrella of Neurobehavioral Disorders. In short, the brain’s chemical transmissions aren’t functioning efficiently enough to allow for clear concentration to take place. This child then is easily distracted by internal and external stimuli while trying to accomplish simple tasks like listening to a teacher, cleaning up a mess, or going on an errand.
Children who have ADD or ADHD are magnets for correction because they are often doing the wrong thing. They commonly live with a lot of frustration and often have explosive anger. Some children with ADD or ADHD also struggle with social cues, not picking up on the fact that they are annoying or irritating others.
Children Need Hope
One of the greatest ways that you can help a child who has ADD or ADHD is to provide hope. God has a prescription for hope in Romans 5:4-5, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Notice that hope comes from character, which comes from perseverance, which comes from suffering. Children need a plan for dealing with the suffering they experience. In fact, suffering can be the key to hope, if the child responds well. Your job is to help your child develop a plan for his or her suffering. Once children begin to respond to suffering with perseverance, then they will see character developing. That character will be encouraging and hope is the natural by product.
The suffering may be working harder to complete a homework assignment. Or it may be standing still in line at the bank. It may be controlling one’s hands at the store; or staying on task to clean up the toys without playing. Suffering happens everyday in the life of a child with ADD or ADHD. Being coached to respond to the suffering with perseverance can make all the difference.
The key is to have a good plan. In fact, once you have a plan for your child then you can help him or her develop the tools to deal with the struggles. Furthermore, once you have a plan, you can increase the pressure so that your child has opportunity to practice the plan, further strengthening the character.
The basis to developing a plan is to focus on character development. In short, you want to raise the character threshold in your child. A threshold is the level at which a child is able to handle a particular challenge such as an irritation, temptation, or distraction. When the threshold is low, the child falls victim to even small challenges, but as the threshold is raised the child has a greater ability to cope.
The Coffee Illustration
If you’re a coffee drinker you understand this concept of a threshold. You like to get that coffee pot going early in the morning so that you can have your first cup before life starts coming at you. Why? Because the caffeine raises your threshold level so that you can think more clearly and respond better to the challenges you face.
A number of medications are available to raise the threshold for the child who has ADD or ADHD. We are not medical doctors. We don’t prescribe medications nor do we evaluate them. However, we do know this. The long-term solution is to raise the character threshold and as you work to develop it in your child you will see significant growth for the long run.
Time is Your Enemy or Your Ally
The plan for character development is crucial. Each child is different, needing specific tools and strategies included in the plan. Some people say, “I’m hoping he’ll just grow out of it,” but most children don’t grow out of bad patterns. They grow into them, resulting in demandingness, manipulation, and poor anger control. If you don’t have a plan, then time is your enemy. It’s like a child who breaks a bone. Time is your enemy until you get to the doctor and the bone is set and put in a cast. Once the bone is in the cast, then time is your friend. It takes time for healing to take place. The same is true for character development. It takes time but you first must be working your plan in order for time to be your ally.
We Can Help You Develop a Plan
Creating a character development plan is so important. We have several resources to help you do just that. You’re in this for the long term. Your child needs your help. We have developed several parenting tools that break things down into small pieces. We know that a child who has ADD or ADHD needs instructions in small steps. Here are the resources we use in our counseling practice to help these kids and you can use them at home as well.
We’ve designed a Strategic Reading Plan to guide you through these six books in ten weeks. You can download it here.
You may want to attend a live parenting seminar in your area. You also may want some help developing a specific action plan for your child by scheduling a phone coaching session with Dr. Scott Turansky. And don’t forget to sign up for free email parenting tips if you haven’t done so already.
We know that it’s not just kids who lose hope, but parents also feel hopeless at times. We want to be there for you. Please take advantage of these resources and look for additional tools by stopping by here often. We’d love to be a continual source of encouragement for you as you do the difficult work of parenting.