Organizing Your Child

This ADHD House

Hyperactive preschoolers with attention deficit disorder climb, explore, act up. You want your ADHD children to stay safe — and yourself to stay sane — while they do it.

Keeping ADHD kids safe
Keeping ADHD kids safe

All parents know to toddler-proof their home. But parents of ADHD children must take extra measures to keep their ball of energy out of harm’s way.

One family, with a highly adventurous four-year-old, worried about the dangerous situations he might get into before they were awake and on-duty. The answer? They installed a Dutch door in his room — with the lock on the outside. The bottom door was locked when they went to bed, so their accidental explorer was safely confined to his room. The top door, which was too high for him to climb over, was left open, so he didn’t feel cut off from the family.

Ask any mother of a hyperactive preschooler, and she’ll tell you that she is permanently overwhelmed. “The crying, the noise, the fact that they’re always there. He goes to sleep when I do, and, often, he wakes up before me. I never get enough rest. He runs all over the house during the day. I hate myself for yelling at him. I never feel good about myself as a parent.”

Is your three- to five-year-old running your household? First, give yourself a break. The preschool years are the most intense for parents. Second, try these at-home tweaks to prevent your child from getting hurt — and yourself from going crazy.

Buy Child-Proof Furnishings

Choose easy-to-clean, dirt-hiding floor coverings for those times when your child decides to empty Rice Krispies and milk onto them.

Stain-proof, sturdy furniture — hard plastic or resin — can stand up to climbing, dancing, and pounding. Think IKEA, not the antique store.

Don’t decorate with stackable furniture or tall bookcases that are tempting to climb. Place skid-free cushions underneath area rugs. Serve meals on plastic plates, cups, and utensils.

Think Like a Preschooler!

End household clutter by installing low, adjustable shelving, with plenty of bins and boxes for storage.

Clearly identify where things belong with labels or photographs. This way, cleanup is simplified, whether you or your child does the tidying up.

Limit the Toys

Don’t let fate or impulse determine the number of toys your child has.

If there are toys or games that drive you crazy because of the number of pieces that end up on the floor or under the rugs, put them away until your child is old enough to help with chores and pick up after himself.

Establish Routines

It’s important to have a set schedule with a time to get dressed, to eat breakfast, and to begin the day.

Use TV or DVDs judiciously, to allow yourself time to get through your own morning routine. Put on a morning show or a favorite movie to occupy your child while you shower and dress after breakfast.

If you are concerned about your toddler being out of eyeshot, let your child watch TV in your bedroom while you get dressed. It works.

Embrace Quiet Time

When your preschooler becomes tired, cranky and on the verge of a meltdown, tell him that he’ll feel better if he has some quiet time.

Don’t banish a child to his room, as if he were being punished. A better parenting strategy is to make this downtime pleasant. Tuck him in on the family room couch, draw the blinds, and have him listen to quiet music for a few minutes.

Updated on April 4, 2017

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