Every parent knows the ‘wonder years’: the glorious years between three and five years old when your child is bursting with creativity, imagination, and a growing view of the world. But if your preschooler has ADHD, the wonder years may seem like the terrible twos all over again. Tantrums, disruptive behavior, and difficulty paying attention are exacerbated in children with ADHD, and can make it feel like a never-ending cycle of reprimanding and misbehaving. We’ve put together some parenting tips to help you through the ADHD preschool age.
1. Focus on the Positives
ADHD may have negative symptoms for your child, but it can have plenty of positive effects, too. You’ll find that their rambunctious energy and creativity outshines that of their peers, and you’ll spend days with them enraptured in fun projects and activities. When your child goes through periods of hyperfocus, you’ll be amazed at all they can accomplish and imagine.
As children with ADHD go through their formative years, they will experience more difficulty in performing well in school and keeping up with coursework. Remember to acknowledge and appreciate the effort your child puts into their schoolwork, no matter their grade. As they continue to adjust to their academic life, it’s important to provide a supportive foundation in order for them to continue to improve and build their confidence.
2. Build a Schedule
Routines for a preschooler are important, especially for the children with ADHD. Make sure to set a schedule with your child to ensure that they are aware of – and following – rules both within your household and within their school. Setting up specific and consistent times for things such as waking up, eating, doing homework, sleeping, and other daily activities will allow them to slowly adapt to a more organized and structured lifestyle. Starting their schedule in preschool will make it even easier for them to stick to such structure later on in their lives.
In addition to a day-to-day schedule, prepare a homework routine with your child to create an environment most conducive to their learning. Pick a set time and location to go over homework with them each day, free from distractions such as other people or video games. Allow them breaks so that they don’t get too antsy, but make sure they understand the importance of the routine – their teachers will thank you for it!
3. Communicate Clearly and Openly
It may seem hopeless trying to communicate with a preschooler, but they are often much more attentive and receptive than we give them credit for – even if they have ADHD. In order to best discipline your ADHD child, it’s crucial that you can reprimand and praise them effectively. Rather than scolding your child, explain to them what they did and why it was wrong so that they may use it as a learning experience. And when your child is performing well, provide strong encouragement to build their self-esteem and stimulate development.
In addition to verbal communication, remember to show your love for your child in other ways: hug them, play with them, laugh with them! Like all preschoolers, young children with ADHD need physical contact for healthy development and relationships. Something as simple as a pat on the back can help calm and reassure your child when they’re feeling the stress and anxiety that can come with ADHD symptoms.
Throughout your child’s life, the most important thing is showing them unconditional love and support as they continue to learn and grow. Careful guidance during their preschool years will only benefit their academic and social behavior for the years to come.