Parenting children with ADHD can present extra challenges, but remember it’s a behavioural learning difference, not a disability, says Mike Pickets, who was diagnosed with the condition aged 26…
As a child, I took nothing seriously at school, I was fearless with a lot of things but this lead to all kinds of calamities. I found authority extremely difficult to deal with, I could never sit still, was usually in trouble and often found myself in with the wrong crowd. In the 1990s, there was little help or understanding at school for my condition, so it went unnoticed.
Parenting a child with ADHD can be difficult because it is often linked with ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) meaning that it’s common for children with ADHD to struggle with authority. I found I excelled most when I felt like people understood me and accepted I had my own way of doing things. I was always more engaged when I was given the autonomy to make my own choices. So, my advice to parents of kids with ADHD is this: help them make the right choices themselves, rather than trying to tell them what to do. Accept that they’re individual and not the same as others.
Diet and lifestyle factors play an important part in managing the condition. The biggest changes for me have come through lifestyle changes. I’ve become good friends with Dr Rachel Gow, a leading doctor in Nutritional Neuroscience, specialising in the effects of brain development of children and adults with ADHD. She has carried out clinical trials to showing that Omega 3 fatty acids can have an enormously positive effect on children and adults with ADHD. I gave up fast food, fizzy drinks, alcohol and cigarettes and instead took up running. I can honestly say that for me personally, this has proven more successful than medication. It’s a big jump to make all these changes and took time, over the course of a year, I dropped about one bad habit a month until I was living clean. I have really noticed the difference and have never looked back.
Try not to see the condition as negative – I believe it has lots of positives! It’s widely recognised that people with ADHD are creative and passionate people. ADHD can commonly come with an addictive personality which is, of course, something to be aware of and the risks attached to such a trait, however, if this is harnessed into something positive, like a sport, a business, a hobby or a passion then the sky is the limit. There’s no shortage of successful people with ADHD, take for example Richard Branson, Jim Carey, and Will Smith. Help your kids find something they love and that they can channel their energy into!