Advice to parents with children suffering from ADHD
Dr. Alicia Cohen, Dr. Alexandre Hubert, Dr. Eric Acquaviva, Pr. Richard Delorme
The current situation of lockdown is challenging for all of us. You may wonder how to take care of your child who is suffering from ADHD and how to keep him busy, especially if you live in a flat. Here are some ground rules that you can follow until the schools open again.
1. Keep giving your child his medication, as prescribed by his doctor (except if you are told not to by the doctor). Besides methylphenidate, out-of-date prescriptions can be renewed by your pharmacist. Concerning methylphenidate, your child’s doctor can provide an online consultation and send you a new prescription by mail.
2. Organize his day as if it were a school day, with work time and break time. Use the educational material the school provides. A written timetable can make it easier for your child to understand what his day is going to be like. Pictograms can also be very helpful if your child doesn’t read. You can also use a ringtone or a timer to discriminate work time from break time. Of course, unlike school, you can let your child work on the floor or standing up depending on his preferences. Same way, if he prefers to work orally, no problem!
3. Keep in touch with people outside your home on a daily basis: family, friends from school… by phone or Skype/Facetime. If your child is old enough, you can let him have private chats with his friends every day. You can discuss with him at what time in the family timetable this would be the most appropriate. Respect his privacy during this time. For children who have their own mobile phones, they didn’t wait for you, and are probably already in touch with their friends!
4. Do sports! Ideally, you can organize two sessions of 30 minutes every day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Here are some examples of sport routines: race in the corridor, crawling following a track, jumps. It can be noisy for the neighbors, so you might need to warn them in advance, but without seeing them physically. Here is a useful website providing indoor sports exercise: https://activeforlife/com.
5. Organize creative activities such as painting, drawing, listening to or playing music… as if it were at school: these are not recreational activities. At the end of this sheet you’ll find some ideas for creative activities that require few material.
6. Dedicate a family time in the evening where all the people living at home can share quality time together. You can play board games, dance, do karate …. As long as everyone enjoys it! It must be a time dedicated to fun and laughter.
7. Talk with your child about the current situation, quietly and in an appropriate manner. You don’t have to provide him with useless details. Be reassuring about his health as well as his relatives’. You can ask him what specifically scares or worries him. It is very important to teach him how to wash his hands, how to use tissue paper, how to avoid physical contacts so he can be protected from the virus. Repeat this discussion as many times as needed. Also, it is very important to limit your child’s exposure to TV news and social media. Children worry but do not express their anxiety like adults.
8. Take care of yourself as a parent. When you are anxious, so is your child. It is very important that you take care of yourself: stay informed, but do not listen to TV news all day long because such behavior tends to increase anxiety. You can do controlled-breath exercises or relaxation, with or without your child
9. Contact your doctor by email: he is available and ready to answer your questions.
Translated by Dr. Cassandre Landel (psychiatry resident) and W. Lapworth