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How to support your child with ADHD

Author Contributing Authors
Submitted 11-02-2021

If your child has ADHD, there will be some tasks that will be more difficult for them than usual, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of achieving everything they dream of. As a parent, your job is to help your child be the best that they can be, and that starts with understanding them and helping them with any difficulties they encounter. Here are some of the ways that you can support your child who has been diagnosed with ADHD.

Get an official diagnosis

If you only think that your child has ADHD, the first step is to get a diagnosis from your child’s pediatrician. When it comes to getting a diagnosis, boys are almost three times more likely to get diagnosed than girls are, with 13.2% of boys being diagnosed and 5.6% of girls. However, this may not be due to fewer girls having ADHD and more to do with the fact that girls show their ADHD in different ways. Make sure that you find a doctor who can properly diagnosis ADHD in girls if you have a daughter.

Plan your disciplinary measures ahead of time

Kids with ADHD usually act out or misbehave in the same or similar ways. This means that you can make a plan for what you will do when they begin to misbehave, and you can figure out what behaviors you want to discourage or encourage. You want to be clear and consistent with how you’re disciplining them about what they’re doing wrong and praising what they’re doing right. You should make sure that you have rules that are clear and simple for your child to follow to ensure that they understand why they’re being praised or punished.

Using a point system is one good way to get through what is good behavior and what isn’t since there is a clear correlation between earning and gaining points. You can have certain rewards for having higher points, and on the other side of things, you can have certain privileges that get taken away when they aren’t behaving. You could reward them with a trip to the movies, a meal at their favorite restaurant, or a small toy, and you can punish them by taking away things like TV time or video games.

Plan properly for problem activites

If there’s a certain activity that your child struggles with because of their ADHD, you should be ready for it before you go. For example, if your child is part of the 25% to 50% of kids who require some sort of orthodontic work, they may struggle with sitting still in the chair for the time it takes to do the work. Some childrens’ orthodontic offices may provide handheld games or screens playing movies or TV shows to keep children entertained during procedures, but if yours doesn’t, bring something to help your child.

In other situations, reminding your child of the coping mechanisms they can use for common behavior issues that they have at certain activities can be helpful as well. For example, if your child loves chess, but sometimes gets distracted during it, remind them that during their opponent’s turn, they can get up and walk around to expel some of their energy instead of acting out.

Create structure

Rituals and routines are very helpful for kids with ADHD. If they know that they have a certain schedule they have to stick to, it can help them focus a little more on the task at hand. Even small parts of their routine, like normal meal times or a nighttime routine, can help get them back on track with their day even if they’ve gotten off track during the day.

Limit distractions

When your child is completing a task, try to limit any possible distractions in their environment. Removing things like TVs, video games, and computers from their work areas or rooms can help them focus on things like homework or cleaning a lot better. If your child is doing work on a computer, consider installing a program that will restrict any applications that they aren’t supposed to be using to help them focus.

Encourage exercise

Kids with ADHD seem to have more energy than they know what to do with. That’s why doing high energy activities, like exercising, can be so helpful. When they are able to fully expend all of their energy, they’ll be less likely to act out in other activities. Signing them up for sports can be a great way to help them make friends and expend their excess energy at the same time.

Know there will be mistakes

There will inevitably be mistakes and setbacks for both you and your child no matter how much thought and planning you put into your parenting techniques. There should be space to make mistakes and to talk about the mistakes together. This is especially important if you make a mistake — showing your child that even grown-ups make mistakes is key to helping them learn to properly own up to and recover from mistakes.

Communicate with your partner or coparent

Whether you are with your child’s other parent or not, communication is key to making sure that your child has structure and consistency in their life. If your child is part of the 25% of children with divorced parents that live with their father, you should make sure that you’re communicating with your ex-partner, now coparent, about the techniques that you use to create structure and consistency in your child’s life. This will help keep the rules consistent and as non-confusing as possible.

Take breaks for yourself

If you know you’re getting too frustrated or upset with your child, take a step back out of the situation to go for a walk or something else that is time just for you. This is a time when working with your partner or coparent is important because they will be able to cover for you while you take a moment to yourself.

Sometimes parenting a child with ADHD can be challenging, but remember that your child is just as capable of success as anyone else. With proper support and a thought out approach, you can help support your child to succeed.