kids with adhd

From Challenges to Strengths

Parenting is difficult at the best of times, but if your child has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), your task will be even more challenging. The good news is that research into ADHD has uncovered a wide range of effective management techniques, including parenting strategies that can help keep symptoms under control. Add these to your parenting toolbox and you may well find that things aren’t quite as hard as you first expected. Let's dive into how to help kids with ADHD.

1. “Discipline” and “Punishment” Are Different

Many parents punish their children when discipline would be a more productive and healthier strategy. Punishment simply penalizes children for poor behavior, whereas discipline is intended to correct their behavior. Instead of just punishing your child, explain why their actions were not acceptable and encourage them to change their behavior. Those are the core principles of effective discipline.

2. Accept that Children Cannot Control Certain Behaviors

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a child afflicted with ADHD is to punish (not discipline, but punish) them for behaviors they can’t control. Remember: children with ADHD have significant attention deficits, and they are easily distracted. Patience and understanding are much better than anger and short tempers when it comes to keeping your child on task.

3. Plan Ahead

Many parents of children with ADHD linger in “reactive” mode, instead of being “proactive” about potentially difficult situations. If you know your child is going to be in a potentially difficult situation, talk to him or her beforehand. Provide him or her with tools and ideas for managing situations that might trigger misbehavior, so he or she doesn’t feel surprised or overwhelmed.

4. Strive for Consistency

One of the most effective parenting strategies for kids with ADHD is consistency. Your home should function like an informal military barrack; kids should get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Meals should be served on a regular schedule. Chores, tasks and play time should all run like clockwork. This helps kids get used to functioning within structured environments, which will help a lot in school and in life.

5. Don’t Go It Alone

Just as kids with ADHD need a structured support system, so do parents. Your child’s primary caregiver can likely link you with community resources that will provide you with additional strategies and help you make friends with other parents who are struggling with the same issues you’re facing. Things always seem more manageable when you have other people you can lean on.

6. Lead by Example

As a parent, you’re a role model for your children, so be extra careful not to exhibit the types of behaviors you’re trying to discourage in your child. If you do, acknowledge it, apologize to your child and change your habits. Above all, control your anger. You’re going to face frustration, but it’s essential to learn to keep it in check.

7. Follow the Treatment Plan

Your child’s doctor will provide you with a detailed treatment plan, including medications and supplemental therapies. Because kids with ADHD are naturally distracted, it’s largely going to fall on your shoulders to make sure this plan is carefully followed. Don’t deviate from the treatment plan unless you get the blessing from your child’s doctor, and be communicative with your doctor at all times if you notice new symptoms, worsening symptoms, declining symptoms, or side effects.


8. Reward Positive Behavior

When your child does something right or has been particularly well-behaved, give him or her a reward to express your appreciation. This reinforces positive behavior, giving your child an incentive to continue it in the future. Children with ADHD also tend to be particularly sensitive, so going out of your way to make him or her feel “good” instead of “bad” or like a “problem” can go a long way.

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