I often hear parents complain: “I think my child has ADHD; he/she can’t concentrate or control themselves, and sometimes I think I might have it too. We have the same problem, and when they combine, things get worse and worse.” Also often heard is: “I can’t do everything myself; and when my husband (or wife) gets home, they’re the same way, and they just make it worse. What can we do?” These complaints are really two sides of the same coin.
A lot of ADHD is genetic, and while the manifestation of the disorder may be inconsistent, it has been estimated that 40-60% of children with ADD have at least one parent with the same disorder. ADHD in the family is one of the hardest things to deal with; the combination of a child and parent with ADHD can become a disaster. While the ADHD parent can empathize and understand the difficulties of the child, the combination can be extremely overwhelming.
Three aspects of parenting are particularly important:
• Parental Monitoring: Parents with ADHD have a difficult time monitoring (tracking where a child is, what they are doing, and whom they are with) their children. Difficulties in this area increase focus and/or behavior problems in ADHD children.
• Inconsistent Discipline: This refers to variability in parents’ responses to child noncompliance. ADHD parents’ difficulties here foster further problems with self-control in their ADHD children.
• Problem Solving: Parents with ADHD provide solutions with lower levels of planning and effectiveness, exacerbating their ADHD child’s difficulty of organizing and planning.
There are some additional problems inherent in the ADHD parent-ADD child combination. Overloading responsibilities to the non-ADHD parent is one. An often bigger problem is a possible denial of the ADHD child’s problem by the ADHD parent. They may not acknowledge their child’s problem, since it is so similar to their own challenges. This denial often boomerangs and leads to denial of help for both persons.
Effectively treating children with ADHD may frequently necessitate treatment of an ADD parent as well. It is very helpful to the parent, their children, their non-ADHD spouse, and of course, essential for their ADHD child. While simultaneous treatment is best, it is also beneficial to treat one first (usually the child), and then the other later.
One method of treatment is Neurofeedback, a non-drug, painless, side effect-free procedure in which the person learns to re-train the attention mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition. Once the treatment is complete, no further training is necessary.
Dr. Stephen A, Ferrari, Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback