ADHD Parenting Tips
Does your child have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? Learn what you can do to manage their behaviour and deal with common ADHD challenges.
How to help your child with ADHD
Life with a child or teen with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) can be frustrating, even overwhelming. But as a parent, you can help your child overcome daily challenges, channel their energy into positive arenas, and bring greater calm to your family. And the earlier and more consistently you address your child’s problems, the greater chance they have for success in life.
Children with ADHD generally have deficits in executive function: the ability to think and plan ahead, organize, control impulses, and complete tasks. That means you need to take over as the executive, providing extra guidance while your child gradually acquires executive skills of their own.
Although the symptoms of ADHD can be nothing short of exasperating, it’s important to remember that the child who is ignoring, annoying, or embarrassing you is not acting willfully. Kids with ADHD want to sit quietly; they want to make their rooms tidy and organized; they want to do everything their parent says to do—but they don’t know how to make these things happen.
If you keep in mind that having ADHD is just as frustrating for your child, it will be a lot easier to respond in positive, supportive ways. With patience, compassion, and plenty of support, you can manage childhood ADHD while enjoying a stable, happy home.
ADHD and your family
Before you can successfully parent a child with ADHD, it’s essential to understand the impact of your child’s symptoms on the family as a whole. Children with ADHD exhibit a slew of behaviours that can disrupt family life. They often don’t “hear” parental instructions, so they don’t obey them. They’re disorganized and easily distracted, keeping other family members waiting. Or they start projects and forget to finish them—let alone clean up after them. Children with impulsivity issues often interrupt conversations, demand attention at inappropriate times, and speak before they think, saying tactless or embarrassing things. It’s often difficult to get them to bed and to sleep. Hyperactive children may tear around the house or even put themselves in physical danger.
Because of these behaviours, siblings of children with ADHD face a number of challenges. Their needs often get less attention than those of the child with ADHD. They may be rebuked more sharply when they err, and their successes may be less celebrated or taken for granted. They may be enlisted as assistant parents—and blamed if the sibling with ADHD misbehaves under their supervision. As a result, siblings may find their love for a brother or sister with ADHD mixed with jealousy and resentment.
The demands of monitoring a child with ADHD can be physically and mentally exhausting. Your child’s inability to “listen” can lead to frustration and that frustration to anger—followed by guilt about being angry at your child. Your child’s behaviour can make you anxious and stressed. If there’s a basic difference between your personality and that of your child with ADHD, their behaviour can be especially difficult to accept.