The ADHD “Oxygen Mask”

You get on an airplane headed on a journey. Before you settle in for the ride, you are instructed, among other survival tips, that in case of any problems with the flight, parents should put on their
oxygen masks before putting oxygen masks onto their children. Hopefully the plane ride won’t get so wild that you will need the oxygen masks, but it is useful and important guidance just in case.

A recent research study at the University of Maryland found that “parents first” is a useful rule on the sometimes wild ride of parenting children with ADHD as well. Parenting a child with ADHD has its particular challenges and stressors. “You have to take care of yourself, or you’re not going to be able to take care of your child,” said Psychology Professor and researcher Andrea Chronis-Tuscano.

The study examined interventions for parents having children 6-12 years old with ADHD. The interventions consisted of either learning specific behavior management techniques or learning these behavior management techniques integrated with cognitive-behavioral techniques for depression management, including strategies for parents to use to relax when a child’s behavior creates stress.

If you are the parent of a child with ADHD, do you have your oxygen mask in place? In particular:

  • What strategies have you learned for managing your child’s challenging behaviors?
  • What approaches do you use to handle the inevitable stresses of parenting a child with ADHD, for both in-the-moment stresses and the challenges of managing over time?
  • What support(s) do you have in your parenting journey?

If you are finding gaps, or feeling that you need some help, don’t wait until the situation gets worse: seek help for yourself so that you have the strength and the strategies that support parenting your child with special needs. Consider parent-training classes related to ADHD (CHADD offers them; ImpactADHD is another very useful resource) or the individual support of an ADHD coach or therapist.

Here’s hoping that you find the “oxygen mask(s)” you need so that you and your child not only survive, but actually thrive, during your parenting journey – and enjoy the ride!

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