Since 2007, there has been a 16 percent increase in ADHD diagnoses in the United States. While this may alarm some parents, Kids In The House experts explain what this increase really means and how parents can help children who have been diagnosed with ADHD.
Jerome Schultz, clinical neuropsychologist, explains to Kids In The House that there may not actually be an increase in ADHD, but rather more kids who are being diagnosed with ADHD now that more doctors are able to recognize the symptoms.
However, the increase in diagnoses may also a result of the increased demands put on kids, explains psychologist and author Ross Greene. He says we expect kids to develop more quickly than is appropriate for their natural development.
"The earlier in development you place demands on kids, the more are going to fall off the apple cart," says Greene. "Kids who wouldn't have fallen off the apple cart if the demands were more reasonable are falling off the apple cart now."
What if your child is diagnosed with having ADHD? Ed Hallowell, psychiatrist and ADHD specialist, explains that having ADHD is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain, but with bicycle brakes. He says helping kids overcome this lack of control requires consistency and support rather than punishment.
"It's a matter of structure, support, education, sometimes medication, sleep, diet, and exercise – that's how to strengthen their brakes, as I like to say," explains Hallowell. "Give them the internal control that they lack. Punishment is absolutely counterproductive."
Greene also encourages parents to better understand their child's strengths and weaknesses. He says the goal of parenting is to figure out what is in your child's way and help them move past it.
"The definition of good parenting is being responsive to the hand you've been dealt, not having your kid turn out exactly the way you thought he or she would," explains Greene. "You've got to know who your kid is."