Parenting a Child With ADHD

Parents often criticize children with ADHD for their behavior -- but it's more helpful to seek out and praise good behavior instead of punishing or taking away things for bad behavior. Ways to do this include:

  • Providing clear, consistent expectations, directions, and limits. Children with ADHD need to know exactly what others expect from them.
  • Setting up an effective discipline system. That means learning discipline methods that reward appropriate behavior and respond to misbehavior with alternatives such as time out or loss of privileges.
  • Creating a behavior modification plan to change the most problematic behaviors. Behavior charts that track your child's chores or responsibilities and that offer potential rewards for positive behaviors can be helpful tools. These charts, as well as other behavior modification techniques, will help parents address problems in systematic, effective ways.

Children with ADHD may need help organizing their time and belongings. You can encourage your child with ADHD to:

  • Stay on a schedule. Your child will function best if they have the same routine every day, from wake-up to bedtime. Be sure to include homework and playtime in the schedule. Kids may benefit from a visual representation of their schedule , such as a calendar or list. Review this with them often.
  • Organize everyday items. Your child should have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and school supplies.
  • Use homework and notebook organizers. Stress the importance of having your child write down assignments and bring home the needed books. A checklist at the end of the day can be helpful to make sure items like schoolbooks, lunch boxes, and jackets are brought home each day.


Helpful Tips for Doing Homework

You can help your child with ADHD achieve academic success by taking steps to improve the quality of your child's homework. You can do this by making sure your child is:

  • Seated in a quiet area without clutter or distractions
  • Given clear, concise instructions
  • Encouraged to write each assignment in a notebook as it is given by the teacher
  • Responsible for their own assignments; you should not do for your child what your child can do for themselves.
  • Well-hydrated and fed; a snack break can do wonders for helping to sustain attention. Try to choose healthy snacks which incorporate protein. Avoid sugary snacks or snacks lacking nutrients.

Also, see if your child does better with a short break after school.  Some kids have a hard time going straight from school into homework.  Other kids, though,  get too distracted by breaks and have a hard time refocusing. And make sure your child is getting plenty of exercise.  Sometimes a little added activity can do wonders for focus.


ADHD and Driving

Driving poses special risks for teens with ADHD. The following behaviors associated with ADHD impose serious driving hazards:

  • Inattention
  • Impulsivity
  • Risk-taking
  • Immature judgment
  • Need for stimulation

Discuss driving privileges with your teen in relation to the overall ADHD treatment plan. It is your responsibility to establish rules and expectations for safe driving behaviors. Be sure to include a discussion about the risks of texting and talking on the phone while driving.

Kids With ADHD and Relationships

Not all children with ADHD have trouble getting along with others. If your child does, however, you can take steps to help improve their social skills and relationships. The earlier your child's difficulties with peers are addressed, the more successful such steps can be. It is helpful for you to:

  • Recognize the importance of healthy peer relationships for children
  • Involve your child in activities with their peers; choosing an activity your child is particularly good at or enjoys will help them to have the confidence needed to focus on engaging more with peers.
  • Set up social behavior goals with your child and implement a reward program
  • Encourage social interactions if your child is withdrawn or excessively shy
  • Schedule play activities with only one other child at a time
  • Supervise play activities as your child practices social skills. If something doesn’t go well, process it with them later.  Maybe try role-playing to see what they could have said or done differently.


WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on November 13, 2019


SOURCES: (Children and Adults With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

Attention Deficit Disorder Association.

National Resource Center on ADHD.

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