I just wanted to thank you for breaking up the circle of violence and asking for help - that seems like a hard step!
I'll add few more bits I can think of, but I'd be glad if someone with more experience joined in.
First the ADHD - it seems to me that this diagnosis is quite overused. Circumstances might involve:
- people are having children at older age nowadays, and they naturally often don't have energy to be a partner-at-play with the child - the child is smarter and faster :). However, people perceive themselves to be OK, hence the
weirdo ADHD label goes to the unlucky child.
- advent of sweet drinks - my opinion is that children should grow up without sweet drinks just as they grow up without cocaine or nicotine (my 3.5yo does).
A big part of parenting is energy management - letting child rest when she wants to, and letting her run when she has a lot of energy. I see lot of parents around feeding their children sugary drinks, while they are strapped into stroller - no wonder they become torpedoes the moment they get out, they are bursting with energy.
So, no kid overdosed in sugar? Great!
Then the basics: ensure everyone is well rested, fed, have enough water (I can see children around who are thirsty, because their parents only remember to give them water/tea when they themselves are thirsty; kids get thirsty faster than adults and thirsty kids become moody) and enough attention.
Everyone happy? Great. The next step is both simple and hard: golden rule. Do onto others as you would have them do. This means no violence and lot of communication and self-awareness.
Why self-awareness? I often see parents in the bus or metro, who are using force on their children routinely without realising. And there is huge difference between:
- grabbing a child by the wrist vs. extending your hand and letting them hold (& leave) whenever they want
- strapping them into stroller (stroller as a prison) vs. letting them climb in and out of stroller when they want to (stroller as a vehicle)
- telling them manipulative lies that make them fear the unknown ('just keep doing this and huge bogeyman will take you') vs. telling them why you don't like them to do something ('I don't like when the cupboard stays open after we clean the dishes')
- making them follow parent's busy schedule vs. accepting their will and taking time to let them see the fountain or feed the birds
Great resource is the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk - it shows (among other great things) how to reframe the problem, so that it's you and child together against the problem.
I unfortunately witness quite a few parents every week who miss the self awareness to do this, and, as a result, problems divide them from their children instead of strengthening the bond ('look at yourself! what have you done!' vs. 'oh, the ice cream is on the floor - how can we clean this together?')
Second book I'd like to recommend is
Respect and be respected - this is a fundamental book of our family. Unfortunately, it might be hard to get as it's an english translation of a great Czech book, but the key concepts are very well summarized in here (the book has nothing to do with the Bible).
Last, be a great example, as you'll realise that children are firstly the mirror of yourself and their environment.
So, there - to me, it seems that 95 % of problems (with both children and adults we found :)) can be easily solved with energy management, providing for basic needs, paying attention (listening to children), and learning to communicate.
Hope I helped a bit.