Is your child a 'troublemaker'?

Dr Shelja Sen

Sahil was a bundle of energy. His parents described him as being "driven by zeal" and "full of beans". Till the age of four, his liveliness was a source of amusement to his parents. But this soon became a source of concern once he entered school. The teachers started complaining to the parents about how Sahil was always wandering around the class and disturbing other children. Nevertheless, they dismissed the concerns thinking that he would settle down as he grew older.

However, once he reached Standard III, the frequent complaints from teachers became a nagging worry for them. Along with restlessness, the teachers also highlighted that Sahil was lagging behind his peers in studies. Though obviously bright, he would not listen to the teacher's instructions. Often he would be lost in his own world and was unable to complete his work. After a detailed assessment - which included talking to his parents, observing Sahil, getting feedback from his school and using various psychological assessment tools, I diagnosed him as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I could then work out a multi-disciplinary plan of management for him.

Recommended Read: Allow your child to make choices

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Only a trained psychiatrist, pediatrician or a psychologist can diagnose and treat ADHD. At times the child may not have the hyperactivity element so he is referred to as having ADD.
  • ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition and not caused due to "bad parenting".
  • Every "hyperactive" child does not have to have ADHD. Diagnosis is made according to the conditions' pervasive impact on a child's life.
  • ADHD is one of the most common conditions - estimates range from - 60 to 90 percent.
  • The prevalence of ADHD/ADD in school going children is 3 to 5 percent.
  • ADD/ADHD does not equate to failure in life - if such children are able to find their niche - they grow up to channelise their marvelous energy in their area of passion.

Recommended Read: Important manners you should teach your little one

Some Tips

1. Be Your Child's Coach: Whenever giving instructions, get the child's attention by maintaining eye contact, getting down to his/her level and maybe even holding his/her hand. Instructions should be simple, specific and if required repeated till the child responds. If it is a difficult task then break it into small "bite-size" subtasks.

2. Emotional Attunement: Children with ADHD/ADD go through more than their share of frustrations and disappointments. Make sure they come back to a home which is an emotionally safe zone for them to just "be", relax and express themselves. Lots of hugs, fun times, playful activities can be precious.

3. Discipline: Children with ADHD/ADD can be high maintenance and it is important for parents to provide them some level of clarity and structure to negotiate each day. The family rules need to be discussed and clarified in advance. However, understand that he/she is different from the others.

4. School: After careful evaluation, the child's psychologist/psychiatrist will give a list of recommendations for the school, which will help him/her to optimise his/her potential. However, the crucial element of your child's success in school is a close collaborative relationship with his teachers.