Parenting a Child with ADHD
Suggestions for parenting a child with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), creating stability and providing support.
Children with ADHD need consistent rules that they can understand and follow. ADHD kids should be rewarded for following these rules. Parents often criticize children with ADHD for their nonadaptive behavior -- but it's more helpful to seek out and praise good behavior. Parents should:
- Provide clear, consistent expectations, directions and limits. Children with ADHD need to know exactly what others expect from them.
- Set up an effective discipline system. Parents should learn discipline methods that reward appropriate behavior and respond to misbehavior with alternatives such as time out or loss of privileges.
- Create a behavior modification plan to change the most problematic behaviors. Behavior charts that track a childs 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 in organizing. Therefore, parents should encourage the child with ADHD to:
- Schedule. The child should have the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. The schedule should include homework time and playtime.
- Organize needed everyday items. The 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 the child write down assignments and bring home needed books.
Helpful Tips for Doing Homework
Parents can help a child with ADHD achieve academic success by taking steps to improve the quality of the child's homework. They should make sure their 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 his/her own assignments. Parents should not do for the child what he/she can do for himself/herself.
ADHD and Driving
Driving poses special risks, particularly for teens with ADHD. Driving hazards associated with ADHD include:
- Deficiencies in attention
- Risk-taking tendencies
- Immature judgment
- Thrill-seeking tendencies
Teen driving privileges should be discussed in light of the overall ADHD treatment plan. It is a parent's responsibility to establish rules and expectations for safe driving behaviors.
Kids and Relationships
Not all children with ADHD have trouble getting along with others. For those who do, however, steps can be taken to improve a childs relationships. The earlier a child's difficulties with peers are noticed, the more successful such steps may be. It is helpful for parents to:
- Recognize the importance of healthy peer relationships for children.
- Involve a child in activities with his or her peers.
- Set up social behavior goals with the child and implement a reward program.
- Encourage social interactions if the child is withdrawn or excessively shy.
- Encourage a child to play with only one other child at a time.
- Cleveland Clinic
Last Updated: 18 March 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD