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Positive Parenting When Your Child Has ADHD

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on June 09, 2022

When your child has ADHD, they may act impulsively and find it difficult to stay focused, among other issues. This often impacts how well they do in school and other areas, which can be stressful for you. The good news is that there are techniques that can help you manage your emotions and keep a positive attitude when parenting. Here’s what you need to know.

Try Parent Training

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends medication and parent/behavior training for children with ADHD older than age 6. But parent training alone is suggested for children ages 4-5. That’s because they aren’t old enough to change their behavior without an adult’s help.

Parent training is designed to help you better understand your child’s symptoms and learn to manage them. It uses strategies such as:

  • Creating familiar structure to the day
  • Praising good behavior
  • Discouraging negative behavior
  • Being consistent with discipline
  • Using positive communication to build a stronger relationship with your child

More specific tips you may learn in parent training include:

Stick to a routine. Try to keep your child on the same schedule every day. This helps them know what to expect throughout the day and can curb unwanted behaviors.

Keep everything in the same place. Direct your child to put their bookbag, clothes, and toys in the same place every day. This makes them less likely to lose these items.

Limit distractions. Turn off the TV and set up a clean and quiet workspace for your child to do their homework. Some children with ADHD do better when they’re moving or listening to background music. Try it with your child and see what works.

Limit choices. This may keep your child from feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated. For example, give them two outfits to choose from, not three or four.

Speak clearly and be specific. This can make it easier for your child to understand what you need them to do.

Teach your child how to plan. Show them how to break down tasks into simpler, shorter steps. Start earlier and take breaks with longer tasks to ease stress.

Reinforce positive behavior. Set realistic goals for your child and decide on an appropriate reward.

Discipline differently. Try not to scold, yell, or spank your child. Instead, try time out or taking away privileges.

Provide positive experiences. Learn what your child does well and encourage them in those areas.

Keep them healthy. Lots of fruits and vegetables, physical activity, and sleep can help keep ADHD symptoms from getting worse.

Be Mindful With Your Child

Early studies suggest mindfulness training for both you and your child might help with ADHD symptoms and the stress they sometimes cause. Mindfulness training is based on meditation techniques. The goal is to raise awareness of the present moment, work on nonjudgmental observation, and reduce automatic responding. But more research is needed.

Keep Your Child Active

Research suggests physical activity plays a role in easing anxiety and depression, aggressive behaviors, thoughts, and social problems among children with ADHD. One study looked at the impact of yoga on children with ADHD. It suggested yoga might help their attention span.

Help Your Child Fidget

Look for items that are quiet and won’t cause distraction. Options include putty, squeeze toys, or gum if allowed. You can put one in your child’s backpack so they have something to do when feeling fidgety.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

The International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being: “Experience of stress in parents of children with ADHD: A qualitative study.”

CDC: “Behavior therapy is an important first step for children under 6 with ADHD,” “Treatment of ADHD.”

Journal of Child Family Studies: “The Effectiveness of Mindfulness Training for Children with ADHD and Mindful Parenting for their Parents.”

Medicine: “Impact of physical exercise on children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders.”

PeerJ: “Effects of an 8-week yoga program on sustained attention and discrimination function in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

Chadd.org.  "Fidget Toys and ADHD: Still Paying Attention?"

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