Cultivating Resilience with ADHD

“Some people can pick themselves up from problems, dust themselves off and move on. But my daughter Julie just doesn’t know how to do that. How can I help her?”
The quality this mother is wanting to help Julie develop is resilience. Resilience benefits everyone, and can be especially helpful for individuals with ADHD because they often run into more glitches in life than others.
Dr. Lance Clawson suggests that resilient individuals have a number of skills and feelings in common. They:
  • have a “resilient mindset” 
  • view the world in an optimistic & hopeful way
  • feel special & appreciated in the eyes of significant others
  • have learned to set realistic goals and expectations for themselves
  • believe they have the ability to solve problems & make decisions

He recommends thoughtful and appropriate treatment of ADHD as one key step in promoting resilience in children with ADD.

Parents can cultivate resilience in a number of other ways as well. The following seven suggestions are excerpted from an article in Additude Magazine entitled “Teaching Resilience to ADHD Children: Advice for Parents.” (For more detail, see the article as a whole.) While focused on children, the tips are useful for parenting teens and young adults as well.

1. Focus on Your Child’s Strengths

Resilient kids are aware of their weaknesses, but they look past them and focus on their strengths. It’s their strengths that buoy them during the tough times, when they are teased or when they fail a test.

2. Give Your Child Credit for Success

Even after children find things they’re good at, they may be reluctant to acknowledge their own successes. Always look for opportunities to place credit where credit is due—squarely on your child’s shoulders.

3. Help Develop Problem-solving Skills

Turn a mistake into an opportunity to teach problem-solving. Knowing how to find solutions is a key component of the resilient mindset.

4. Share Your Own Struggles

Let your children know about your struggles, so they don’t feel alone in theirs. You don’t have to share intimate details of marital squabbles, financial worries, or the promotion you didn’t get at work. But you can find age-appropriate ways to let your children know that you make mistakes and, sometimes, fail.

5. Teach Your Child to Stick with It

You set the best example for your child by not giving up when confronting hurdles of your own—whether they be problems at work or advocating for your child at school.

6. Help Your Child Help Others

Children with ADHD need people they can depend on, and they also need people who depend on them…. Beyond informal “helping out” at home or at school, community service makes kids feel needed and competent.

7. Be There for Your Child

Let your child know you love her, believe in her, and want to help her. It sounds obvious, but reinforcing these feelings each day might be the single most important thing you can do to develop a resilient child.

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