From the author: The article describes a family in which a child suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) grows up. To determine the strategies and methods of working with families and children with ADHD, the types of family relationships focused on the parents’ understanding of the ADHD problem and their attitude towards a sick child are identified. (“Actual problems of pedagogy and psychology”, 2011)
Family of a hyperactive child
Over the past 10 years, the number of children suffering from various combinations of motor disinhibition, impulsivity, inattention, and increased distractibility has steadily increased. After many changes in the terminology of this disease, experts settled on a name that more accurately reflects its essence: “attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder” (ADHD), and also determined the degree of its severity: mild, moderate and severe ADHD [1; 2].
hyperexcitability , motor disinhibition, motor awkwardness, absent-mindedness, increased fatigue, infantilism, impulsivity predominate in children with ADHD , then in schoolchildren, learning difficulties and behavioral deviations come to the fore.
When they say “attention deficit”, it means the inability to concentrate attention for a short period of time. The child is not only unable to complete the task, but also careless in its performance. In the lesson, he cannot work together with the whole class, he does not remember the teacher’s instructions well. It is known that attention is one of the most important mental functions that ensure the success of learning. Also, in such children, memory impairment, reduced mental performance, and increased fatigue are noted.
Already at the end of the first half of the year of study, hyperactive children noticeably lag behind other schoolchildren in their studies. Behavioral inadequacy, social maladjustment, various personality disorders cause the child’s failures, negative attitude towards himself both at school and at home [2; 3; four].
Focusing our attention on the family of a child suffering from ADHD, it should be noted that such a family is co- dependent , especially the mother. All the burdens of education, as a rule, fall on her shoulders. Constant complaints about the child, which the mother hears from strangers, and sometimes from the father of the child, that he is ill-bred or even some kind of abnormal, bring her great suffering and psychophysical fatigue. Such a state underestimates her self-esteem, provokes the emergence of depressive states, thoughts arise about the hopelessness of the current situation. Or, she becomes aggressive, punishes the child physically, accuses her spouse of the fact that the child “went” to him or his relatives. There are constant quarrels, scandals, etc. in the family.
Considering intra-family relationships and interactions in a family where children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder grow up, several types of families were identified:
– A family that studies the problem of ADHD accepts the child for who he is. Turns to specialists for help.
– A family that understands the problem, but shifts the responsibility for raising a child with ADHD to others (kindergarten, school, etc.). Does not seek help from specialists or seeks, but does not follow the recommendations.
– A family that does not understand the problem of ADHD does not accept the child as he is. Ignores the help of specialists.
Our study examines complete families (mother, biological father or stepfather) and single-parent families, as well as their attitude to the problem of their child suffering from ADHD.
1. A family studying ADHD.
It is known that genetic mechanisms, organic brain damage and psychosocial factors, as well as the influence of several factors that influence each other, play a role in the origin of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Therefore, it is possible already in early childhood to determine the “risk” group of children who may develop this syndrome.
And when the child has already been diagnosed, the parents of this type of family, compared to others, are more calm and self-possessed. They are ready to fight for their child and, if necessary, treat him, study special information about the skills of dealing with such children. However, in these families, the problem of raising children with ADHD, to a greater extent, falls on the shoulders of the mother. She spends almost all the time with the child, gets tired both physically and psychologically not only from the child, but also from other worries, but she finds the strength to control her emotional state and properly raise the child.
Speaking about a prosperous family in which a child suffering from ADHD grows up, we assume, to a greater extent, emotional well-being. Self-possessed and calm father, patient mother, patient sisters and brothers. The right approach to education, increased attention, love and affection, as well as the possession of special skills in dealing with children with ADHD.
The results of working with such a family determine a decrease in the manifestations of ADHD symptoms in a child, and in some cases, the development of the disease stops.
A family that studies the problem of ADHD is a happy family that accepts the child as he is. In this family, there is good emotional contact between all family members. Preparing a child for kindergarten and school takes place in accordance with the characteristics of children with ADHD. All this determines an integrated approach, accompanied by a child suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at an early stage of its development. And when these children come to kindergarten or school, the process of adaptation is more favorable.
2. A family that shifts the responsibility for raising a child with ADHD to others (relatives, kindergarten, school, etc.).
As stated earlier, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a family problem. However, the attitude to this problem in all families is different, and therefore it became necessary to determine the type of family in which a child with ADHD is brought up. This need is characterized by the establishment of a family attitude to the problem of ADHD development, its understanding, desire and ability to fight the disease and help the child. This allows specialists to determine the strategy and methods of accompanying a child in a family.
Speaking about a family that understands the problem of ADHD, but shifts the responsibility for raising a sick child to others, one cannot say that it is dysfunctional. However, if we consider it in the model of complex support, where the family plays the main role and takes responsibility for raising, the possibility of treating a child with ADHD in close cooperation with specialists, then this family cannot be considered safe in relation to the problem of ADHD development.
In a family of this type, parents tend to blame each other, shift the responsibility for raising a child with ADHD to each other or grandmothers, blame teachers for bad attitude towards them and the lack of proper methods in working with their children in kindergarten, or school. The psychological situation in the family is tense. Negative emotions in relation to each other predominate to a greater extent. When the mother understands the problem and does nothing, she develops an internal conflict, emotional lability, aggressiveness. She is also codependent , physically and psychologically tired. In conditions when the mother is in constant nervous excitement, conflicting with the child and everyone around him, she develops neuropathology (neurosis, etc.), which contributes to the development of a more severe degree of ADHD in the child. The child is under constant “pressure” of negative emotions, is subjected to various kinds of punishment. They complain about him in kindergarten and school, they reject him and do not want to communicate with him. If the family is complete, then the father (stepfather) is almost completely removed from raising the child or, conversely, applies physical punishment, sometimes turning into physical violence. Constant conflicts between family members, caused by a hyperactive (uncontrollable) child, often lead to its disintegration, and the child to social maladaptation.
Communication with such parents is difficult. It is difficult for them to explain that almost everything depends on the family and it is possible to help them when the family not only understands the problem, is interested in working with specialists, in treating the child, but also follows all the recommendations for raising children with ADHD, and also understands the need studying the literature on this issue.
Despite the difficulties that arise in working with this type of family, it is possible to help raise a child with ADHD.
3. A family that doesn’t understand the problem of ADHD.
When making a diagnosis (differentiated examination) by a doctor, as a rule, the reaction of parents to the information is negative. In their opinion, the child is completely normal, and experts tend to exaggerate. Parents compare siblings (sisters, brothers) with each other, as well as with the children of relatives and friends, they compare with themselves when they themselves were still children. It is believed that ADHD will go away as the child grows. The received information about the disease is not accepted, they refuse to study the literature, they do not agree to observe and accompany the development of the child in an integrated approach. However, after two or three years, when learning difficulties begin, difficulties in regulating behavior in the older groups of kindergarten and elementary school, when there are clear signs of social maladaptation, some parents still come for help, having missed a long period of time and the necessary treatment for ADHD.
In such a family, physical punishment of the child is persistent and mandatory. This is a family in which in most cases the parents do not have any education, often one of the family members, perhaps both parents suffer from alcoholism or lead an antisocial lifestyle. Due to the late appeal to specialists, if at all, the provision of assistance to the child and family is difficult. In some cases, the child needs to consult a psychiatrist and, possibly, his support (observation).
In some children, ADHD is combined with urinary incontinence (enuresis), involuntary excretion of feces ( encopresis ), obsessive nail biting ( onychophagia ), sleep disturbance, etc. They also have an increased exhaustion of the central nervous system, the risk of psychosomatic disorders.
With closer contact with parents, it becomes possible to observe the child more often, adjust education, and, if necessary, receive advice from other specialists. Preventive work makes it possible to minimize the manifestation of mild symptoms and stop the development of the disease into a more severe form of severity.