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ADHD in Children Health Center

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6 Parenting Tips for Raising Kids With ADHD

What to do, and not to do, if your child has ADHD.

3. Don’t let ADHD become a convenient excuse

Yes, ADHD makes many tasks harder, but children should learn to take responsibility, Meyer says.

“Don’t let them make ADHD an excuse for something.," Meyer says.

"For example, many young children quickly learn to say things, such as, “I don’t need to do my homework because I have an attention deficit disorder,” Meyer says. “That’s not going to cut it."

The reality? “It may be harder for me to do my homework because I have an attention deficit disorder.”

4. Enforce rules and consequences calmly.

For a child with ADHD, it helps to have verbal and written expectations. For example, parents could post a chart that lists the child’s responsibilities and the house rules.

Rewards are fine, Meyer says, but make them immediate, such as TV time or gold stars that can be redeemed for prizes. Since children with ADHD have trouble with planning for the future, it may not work to offer a new bike for a year’s worth of good grades.

Parents must be clear about consequences and enforce them right away, calmly and clearly. While parents may often feel frustrated, avoid punishing in the heat of disappointment or anger, Meyer says.

That can be hard when a parent has ADHD, too, Quinn says. The disorder can run in families.

Parents with ADHD might yell because they have trouble with impulsivity, according to Quinn. “We really do try to help the parent remain in control in these situations," she says. "Often, I say that the child doesn’t need a time out -- sometimes the parent needs a time-out before they discuss the situation.”

Parents need to get their own ADHD under control so that they can model appropriate behavior, Quinn says.

5. Help your child discover his strengths.

Children with ADHD are often compared unfavorably to others. Hence, some develop low self-esteem and depression, Meyer says.

Problems with self-esteem occur as early as age 8, says Quinn. Many teens with ADHD, especially if undiagnosed, develop a learned helplessness. “They say, ‘Nothing ever goes right for me. Why should I even bother to try?’ There’s a lot of demoralization and depression that goes along with it," Quinn says.

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