Having a child with ADHD means dedicating time to meeting their special needs and making sure that doesn’t come at the expense of your other children. This was easier said than done. Showing each child that they are equally loved while keeping in mind the needs of the ADHD child requires a delicate balance.
It became apparent early on that my son’s siblings began to feel jealous and acted out if they sensed my attention being shifted away from them.
Like a squeaky wheel, the child who was the loudest often got the most attention and this was usually my son with ADHD. Most of my energy was spent on meeting my child’s special needs, whether it was therapy, extra time helping with homework, or consistent effort in managing disobedience and impulsivity.
My son’s behaviours made it hard for my other children to get along with him as a peer. It soon became obvious that they simply did not like being around their brother. They preferred being at a friend’s house rather than at home and rarely invited anyone over to hang out for fear that they would be embarrassed. At this point I knew that the love for each child was not being balanced and that changes needed to be made.
I needed to re-evaluate my expectations of my children who didn’t have ADHD, as I was expecting immediate obedience from them and I assumed that they should know better. I had to remind myself that they are still kids and that helping them to understand boundaries and rules is just as important to them as it is to my child with ADHD.
Finding quality time with each child was extremely important, as was treating each of my children like individuals based on their own unique needs – just as I did for my child with ADHD. I had to make the effort to make them feel special and important. This helped with regaining balance and minimizing the resentment that my children felt towards their brother.
Working on the communication within our family was next. I wanted my children to be comfortable with their brother’s ADHD, understand it, learn from it, be empathetic and hopefully begin to adjust to their brother’s condition. This helped with building trust amongst each of them so that they learned how to make it work.
We still have many ups and downs and I knew right from the beginning that having a child with ADHD would be hard on everyone in the family, but those moments are not all bad. We are continuing to adjust, learn and be patient…each and every one of us.
This is a guest post.