4 Mindfulness Strategies for Supporting Your Child with ADHD

As a parent, it can be very challenging to know how to best support your child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD can present a range of symptoms, including hyperactivity, impulsivity, forgetfulness, and difficulty with concentration and staying on task. Additionally, research shows that children with ADHD are much more likely to experience higher levels of emotional and behavioral difficulties. Managing these behaviors can take a toll on the child, but also on the parents’ mental and emotional well-being. However, with the right mindfulness strategies, parents can learn how to navigate their child’s ADHD symptoms, as well as to improve their connection and emotional well-being. This blog will discuss 4 mindfulness strategies that parents can implement immediately.

Practice Active Listening

One of the most essential things you can do as a parent of a child with ADHD is to practice active listening. It involves paying close attention to what your child is saying and demonstrating that you understand and care about their thoughts and feelings. This can help your child feel seen and heard, which can be particularly important for children with ADHD who may feel as though they are constantly being misunderstood or overlooked.

When practicing active listening, it’s essential to be fully present and engaged in the conversation. Try to maintain eye contact with your child, nodding and using verbal cues to show that you are listening. Avoid interrupting or jumping in with advice or solutions. The goal is to not problem solve. Instead, try to reflect on what your child is saying and feeling to ensure you understand them correctly. Examples of active listening include: that sounds really difficult; I can understand why you reacted that way; Is there anything I can do to help?

Encourage Deep Breathing

Breathing exercises can be incredibly beneficial for children with ADHD. When a child with ADHD becomes overwhelmed or overstimulated, their body can go into a state of flight or fight. This can lead to increased heart rate, shallow breathing, and a feeling of panic. By teaching children to take deep breaths, they can activate their parasympathetic nervous system and calm down. Deep breathing can also increase oxygen flow to the brain, which can improve focus and concentration. In moments of intense emotion, or high energy, encourage children to take a breathing break. Show children to how to take a slow inhale from deep in their diaphragms, as if they were blowing up a balloon. Practice inhaling for a count of 4, holding the breath for a count of 4, and then exhaling for a count of 4. Repeat 3 times.

 

Visualize a Stop Sign

When children are feeling emotional or need to slow down, it can be helpful to envision a stop sign. This will encourage children to stop what they are doing, and to take a pause that allows them to adjust their emotions and behaviors. Have children draw and color a stop sign. Then, in highly emotional moments, children can be prompted to visualize their stop sign.  Encourage children to STOP:  Stop what they are doing; Take a few deep breaths; Observe what is happening in their body, physically and emotionally, imagining releasing the intense emotions with each exhale. Finally, proceed with whatever behavior they chose.

 

Encouraging Affirmations and Positive Self-Talk

Children with ADHD often struggle with low self-esteem and low self-confidence, particularly if they feel as though they are constantly being criticized or reprimanded for their behavior.

Encouraging positive self-talk can help them develop a more positive self-image and feel more empowered. Positive self-talk involves using positive and supportive language when talking to yourself. You may have to help your child rephrase things to incorporate more positive language. For example, instead of I can’t understand math; your child can say, I don’t understand this yet. Instead of, I can’t do anything right, try, I do struggle with basketball, but I am really good at painting.

You can also help your child develop positive self-talk by asking them to think of a positive statement, or an affirmation, to repeat to themselves when they’re feeling discouraged or frustrated. An affirmation is a positive statement that is repeated to oneself to help build self-confidence. For children with ADHD, affirmations can be particularly helpful in building self-esteem and helping them to focus on strengths rather than their challenges. Helpful affirmations may include, I am smart and capable, even if I struggle sometimes; I am unique and special, and my ADHD is just one part of who I am; I am always learning and growing, and I can overcome any challenges that come my way; I am worthy of love and acceptance, just the way I am. Affirmations should be encouraged and repeated frequently.

 

The Bottom Line!

In conclusion, supporting a child with ADHD requires a thoughtful and intentional approach. By practicing active listening, encouraging deep breathing, visualizing a stop sign, and encouraging positive self-talk parents can help their children feel supported and understood. By taking the time to understand your child’s needs and preferences, you can develop a personalized approach that supports their growth and development.