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30 Tips on Managing Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at Home

Being a parent of an ADHD child is a challenge. Here are 30 tips on managing Attention Deficit Disorder at home.

Being a parent of an ADHD child is a challenge. Here are 30 tips on managing Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) at home.

Based on 50 Tips on the Classroom Management of Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell, MD and John J. Ratey, MD

These tips are directly from Hallowell and Ratey with only slight modifications in wording as they apply to the home situation.

According to Hallowell and Ratey:

  • There is no one syndrome of ADD, but many.
  • ADD rarely occurs in "pure" form by itself, but rather it usually shows up entangled with several other problems such as learning disabilities or mood problems.
  • The face of ADD changes with the weather-- inconstant and unpredictable.
  • The treatment for ADD, despite what may be serenely elucidated in various texts, remains a task of hard work and devotion.

There is no easy solution for the management of ADD in the home. After all is said and done, the effectiveness of any treatment for this disorder depends upon the knowledge and the persistence of the parent.

Needed: structure, education, and encouragement

1. Make sure what you are dealing with really is ADD.

Make sure someone has tested the child's hearing and vision recently, and make sure other medical problems have been ruled out. Make sure an adequate evaluation has been done. Keep questioning until you are convinced.

2. Build your support.

Make sure there is a knowledgeable person with whom you can consult when you have a problem (learning specialist, child psychiatrist, social worker, school psychologist, pediatrician -- the person's degree doesn't really matter. What matters is that he or she knows lots about ADD, has seen lots of kids with ADD, knows his or her way around a classroom, and can speak plainly.) Make sure the teachers are working with you.

3. Know your limits.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. You should feel comfortable in asking for help when you feel you need it.

4. Remember that ADD kids need structure.

They need their environment to structure externally what they can't structure internally on their own. Make lists. Children with ADD benefit greatly from having a table or list to refer to when they get lost in what they're doing. They need reminders. They need previews. They need repetition. They need direction. They need limits. They need structure.

5. Post rules.

Have them written down and in full view. The children will be reassured by knowing what is expected of them.

6. Repeat directions.

Write down directions. Speak directions. Repeat directions. People with ADD need to hear things more than once.

7. Make frequent eye contact.

You can "bring back" an ADD child with eye contact. Do it often. A glance can retrieve a child from a daydream or just give silent reassurance.

8. Set limits, boundaries.

This is containing and soothing, not punitive. Do it consistently, predictably, promptly, and plainly. DON'T get into complicated, lawyer-like discussions of fairness. These long discussions are just a diversion. Take charge.


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Last Updated: 11 February 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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