Parenting Tips for ADHD: Do’s and Don’ts (2022)

Parenting Tips for ADHD: Do’s and Don’ts (1)Share on Pinterest

Parenting tips for ADHD

Raising a child with ADHD isn’t like traditional childrearing. Normal rule-making and household routines can become almost impossible, depending on the type and severity of your child’s symptoms, so you’ll need to adopt different approaches. It can become frustrating to cope with some of the behaviors which result from your child’s ADHD, but there are ways to make life easier.

Parents must accept the fact that children with ADHD have functionally different brains from those of other children. While children with ADHD can still learn what is acceptable and what isn’t, their disorder does make them more prone to impulsive behavior.

Fostering the development of a child with ADHD means that you will have to modify your behavior and learn to manage the behavior of your child. Medication may be the first step in your child’s treatment. Behavioral techniques for managing a child’s ADHD symptoms must always be in place. By following these guidelines, you can limit destructive behavior and help your child overcome self-doubt.

Principles of behavior management therapy

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There are two basic principles of behavior management therapy. The first is encouraging and rewarding good behavior (positive reinforcement). The second is removing rewards by following bad behavior with appropriate consequences, leading to the extinguishing of bad behavior (punishment, in behaviorist terms). You teach your child to understand that actions have consequences by establishing rules and clear outcomes for following or disobeying these rules. These principles must be followed in every area of a child’s life. That means at home, in the classroom, and in the social arena.

Decide ahead of time which behaviors are acceptable and which are not

The goal of behavioral modification is to help your child consider the consequences of an action and control the impulse to act on it. This requires empathy, patience, affection, energy, and strength on the part of the parent. Parents must first decide which behaviors they will and won’t tolerate. It’s crucial to stick to these guidelines. Punishing a behavior one day and allowing it the next is harmful to a child’s improvement. Some behaviors should always be unacceptable, like physical outbursts, refusal to get up in the morning, or unwillingness to turn off the television when told to do so.

Your child may have a hard time internalizing and enacting your guidelines. Rules should be simple and clear, and children should be rewarded for following them. This can be accomplished using a points system. For example, allow your child to accrue points for good behavior that can be redeemed for spending money, time in front of the TV, or a new video game. If you have a list of house rules, write them down and put them where they’re easy to see. Repetition and positive reinforcement can help your child better understand your rules.

Define the rules, but allow some flexibility

It’s important to consistently reward good behaviors and discourage destructive ones, but you shouldn’t be too strict with your child. Remember that children with ADHD may not adapt to change as well as others. You must learn to allow your child to make mistakes as they learn. Odd behaviors that aren’t detrimental to your child or anyone else should be accepted as part of your child’s individual personality. It’s ultimately harmful to discourage a child’s quirky behaviors just because you think they are unusual.

Manage aggression

Aggressive outbursts from children with ADHD can be a common problem. “Time-out” is an effective way to calm both you and your overactive child. If your child acts out in public, they should be immediately removed in a calm and decisive manner. “Time-out” should be explained to the child as a period to cool off and think about the negative behavior they have exhibited. Try to ignore mildly disruptive behaviors as a way for your child to release his or her pent-up energy. However, destructive, abusive, or intentionally disruptive behavior which goes against the rules you establish should always be punished.

Create structure

Make a routine for your child and stick to it every day. Establish rituals around meals, homework, playtime, and bedtime. Simple daily tasks, such as having your child lay out his or her clothes for the next day, can provide essential structure.

Break tasks into manageable pieces

Try using a large wall calendar to help remind a child of their duties. Color coding chores and homework can keep your child from becoming overwhelmed with everyday tasks and school assignments. Even morning routines should be broken down into discrete tasks.

Simplify and organize your child’s life

Create a special, quiet space for your child to read, do homework, and take a break from the chaos of everyday life. Keep your home neat and organized so that your child knows where everything goes. This helps reduce unnecessary distractions.

Limit distractions

Children with ADHD welcome easily accessible distractions. Television, video games, and the computer encourage impulsive behavior and should be regulated. By decreasing time with electronics and increasing time doing engaging activities outside the home, your child will have an outlet for built-up energy.

Encourage exercise

Physical activity burns excess energy in healthy ways. It also helps a child focus their attention on specific movements. This may decrease impulsivity. Exercise may also help to improve concentration, decrease the risk for depression and anxiety, and stimulate the brain in healthy ways. Many professional athletes have ADHD. Experts believe that athletics can help a child with ADHD find a constructive way to focus their passion, attention, and energy.

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Regulate sleep patterns

Bedtime may be an especially difficult for children suffering from ADHD. Lack of sleep exacerbates inattention, hyperactivity, and recklessness. Helping your child get better sleep is important. To help them get better rest, eliminate stimulants like sugar and caffeine, and decrease television time. Establish a healthy, calming bedtime ritual.

Encourage out-loud thinking

Children with ADHD can lack self-control. This causes them to speak and act before thinking. Ask your child to verbalize their thoughts and reasoning when the urge to act out arises. It’s important to understand your child’s thought process in order to help him or her curb impulsive behaviors.

Promote wait time

Another way to control the impulse to speak before thinking is to teach your child how to pause a moment before talking or replying. Encourage more thoughtful responses by helping your child with homework assignments and asking interactive questions about a favorite television show or book.

Believe in your child

Your child likely doesn’t realize the stress that their condition can cause. It’s important to remain positive and encouraging. Praise your child’s good behavior so they know when something was done right. Your child may struggle with ADHD now, but have confidence in your child and be positive about their future.

Find individualized counseling

You can’t do it all. Your child needs your encouragement, but they also need professional help. Find a therapist to work with your child and provide another outlet for them. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance if you need it. Many parents are so focused on their children that they neglect their own mental needs. A therapist can help manage your stress and anxiety as well as your child’s. Local support groups may also be a helpful outlet for parents.

Take breaks

You can’t be supportive 100 percent of the time. It’s normal to become overwhelmed or frustrated with yourself or your child. Just as your child will need to take breaks while studying, you’ll need your own breaks as well. Scheduling alone time is important for any parent. Consider hiring a babysitter. Good break options include:

  • going for a walk
  • going to the gym
  • taking a relaxing bath

Calm yourself

You can’t help an impulsive child if you yourself are aggravated. Children mimic the behaviors they see around them, so if you remain composed and controlled during an outburst, it will help your child to do the same. Take time to breathe, relax, and collect your thoughts before attempting to pacify your child. The calmer you are, the calmer your child will become.

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Don’t sweat the small stuff

Be willing to make some compromises with your child. If your child has accomplished two of the three chores you assigned, consider being flexible with the third, uncompleted task. It’s a learning process and even small steps count.

Don’t get overwhelmed and lash out

Remember that your child’s behavior is caused by a disorder. ADHD may not be visible on the outside, but it’s a disability and should be treated as such. When you begin to feel angry or frustrated, remember that your child can’t “snap out of it” or “just be normal.”

Don’t be negative

It sounds simplistic, but take things one day at a time and remember to keep it all in perspective. What is stressful or embarrassing today will fade away tomorrow.

Don’t let your child or the disorder take control

Remember that you are the parent and, ultimately, you establish the rules for acceptable behavior in your home. Be patient and nurturing, but don’t allow yourself to be bullied or intimidated by your child’s behaviors.

(Video) ADHD Parenting Tips: What Parents Can Do To Help Their Child With ADHD!


How can I be a better parent with ADHD? ›

Here are more tips of Terry's tips for moms with ADHD.
  1. Explain ADHD symptoms to your family.
  2. Solve problems together — no finger pointing: “This is the problem — how should we solve it?”
  3. Learn communication strategies.
  4. Keep a calendar, and use different colored inks for schedules.
  5. Have down time to re-energize.
Apr 14, 2022

What should you not say to a child with ADHD? ›

6 Things Not to Say to Your Child About ADHD
  • “Having ADHD isn't an excuse.” ...
  • “Everyone gets distracted sometimes.” ...
  • “ADHD will make you more creative.” ...
  • “If you can focus on fun things, you can focus on work.” ...
  • “You'll outgrow ADHD.” ...
  • “Nobody needs to know you have ADHD.”

What is the best way to discipline a child with ADHD? ›

1 These discipline strategies can be instrumental in helping a child with challenging behaviors to follow the rules.
  1. Provide Positive Attention. ...
  2. Give Effective Instructions. ...
  3. Praise Your Child's Effort. ...
  4. Use Time-Out When Necessary. ...
  5. Ignore Mild Misbehaviors. ...
  6. Allow for Natural Consequences. ...
  7. Establish a Reward System.
May 11, 2020

How do you discipline someone with ADHD? ›

Some ideas for strategies include deep breathing, visualising one's lips staying closed, walking away, paraphrasing the other person's statement before responding. Practicing meditation and mindfulness may also improve the ability to pause. Get to know how their unique brain works, their strengths and their challenges.

What does ADHD look like in parenting? ›

Most new parents suffer from symptoms that could fall under the general guidelines for a diagnosis of ADHD: lack of focus on directions, forgetfulness, disorganization, losing important items and a general sense of foggy thinking. Simply adding a fully dependent human being to your busy schedule can do some of that.

What its like to be a mom with ADHD? ›

Even with treatment, coping with her ADHD symptoms is a struggle. As a mom, she's “hyper-rigid” with routines and often anxious about being late, buffering in time for any given scenario that might occur. “I know I can't be 45 minutes late for school or a pediatrician appointment,” she explains. “It's really hard.

What does ADHD look like in mothers? ›

Dr. Littman says that's part of the unique set of issues women with ADHD face around self-doubt, shame, and self-esteem. “Mothers with ADHD are always questioning their own adequacy. As a result, they feel guilty all the time that they're not doing a good enough job with their child,” she explains.

How can you promote positive communication with a child with ADHD? ›

Communication Tips
  1. Give clear, specific directions.
  2. Try to break tasks into one or two steps so they do not feel overwhelming.
  3. Give the child choices.
  4. Ask questions instead of making statements. This forces a child to stop and think about the alternatives.
Oct 28, 2019

Does ADHD make you say mean things? ›

ADHD blurs the boundaries between what you should say, what you shouldn't, and when to speak up. Impulsive behavior, one of the main symptoms of the disorder, can make others feel angry or hurt and make you feel bad, too.

Is ADHD on the autism spectrum? ›

ADHD is not on the autism spectrum, but they have some of the same symptoms. And having one of these conditions increases the chances of having the other.

How do you discipline a child with ADHD and anger issues? ›

Child with ADD or ADHD? 5 “Don'ts” When Your Child Is Angry
  1. Don't Lose Your Cool – Take a few deep breaths. Take ten breaths if possible. ...
  2. Don't React – Respond. ...
  3. Don't Dictate – Discuss. ...
  4. Don't Demand – Encourage. ...
  5. Don't Give Up – Stay Committed. ...
  6. What to Discuss with Your Child's Pediatrician.

How do I teach my ADHD child self control? ›

Impulse Control Solutions at Home
  1. Be proactive in your approach to discipline. Respond to positive and negative behaviors equally. ...
  2. Hold your child accountable. Making your child understand what he did wrong is essential in molding a responsible adult. ...
  3. Let the punishment fit the crime. ...
  4. Let minor misbehaviors slide.

How do you engage a child with ADHD? ›

Below are some of the most effective strategies and adjustments you should make.
  1. Build a Strong Relationship with the Child's Parents. ...
  2. Educate Fellow Pupils. ...
  3. Establish Effective Seating Arrangements. ...
  4. Establish Rules and Routines. ...
  5. Be Simple, Clear, and Direct. ...
  6. Break Things Up. ...
  7. Allow Extensions. ...
  8. Reward Good Behaviour.
Nov 8, 2017

Do people with ADHD lack self-control? ›

ADHD can also cause challenges with self-control. And sometimes what looks like a lack of self-control is actually a lack of social skills. It's hard for kids to follow social rules if they don't know when they're breaking them. With the right support, kids can improve their self-control.

Do people with ADHD have self-control? ›

In fact, in research studies, children with a diagnosis of ADHD possess the self-regulation or self-control of children approximately two-thirds of their chronological age. It's not that their self-control isn't developing, it's developing at a much slower pace.

How do I build willpower with ADHD? ›

How to Increase Willpower: 5 ADHD-Friendly Steps
  1. Notice urges when they arise. The emotions behind an urge can tell us a lot. ...
  2. Practice waiting. ...
  3. Bring a focused activity into your daily routine. ...
  4. Reward yourself for not giving in to distractions. ...
  5. Make peace with your impulses.
Jan 28, 2022

What triggers ADHD meltdowns? ›

difficulty expressing thoughts or feelings. unmet physical needs, such as hunger or fatigue (lack of energy) a lack of alternative ways to manage emotions. prior reinforcement, which occurs when caregivers have previously given in to tantrums.

How do you stop an ADHD meltdown? ›

9 ways to help soothe them
  1. Find the trigger. Look at what might be triggering your child's behaviors. ...
  2. Explain consequences in advance. ...
  3. Talk to your child and encourage them to talk back. ...
  4. Distract your child. ...
  5. Give them a time-out. ...
  6. Ignore the meltdown. ...
  7. Give reminders. ...
  8. Reward your child for positive behavior.

How do you calm down an angry person with ADHD? ›

If you're an adult dealing with ADHD and anger, you can:
  1. Notice your triggers and consider new ways to respond to them.
  2. Give yourself permission to walk away if you feel emotions rising.
  3. Work with a therapist to build your self-regulating skills.
  4. Get plenty of rest and exercise.
Mar 30, 2021

Is ADHD passed on by the mother? ›

ADHD tends to run in families and, in most cases, it's thought the genes you inherit from your parents are a significant factor in developing the condition. Research shows that parents and siblings of someone with ADHD are more likely to have ADHD themselves.

Is parenting hard with ADHD? ›

Moms and dads with undiagnosed ADHD often find themselves overwhelmed by the demands of parenting and struggling to meet their children's needs. Lacking organizational skills, they may find keeping up with their kids' schedules and managing their behavior very stressful.

Does ADHD worsen with age? ›

Does ADHD get worse with age? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) typically does not get worse with age if a person is aware of their symptoms and knows how to manage them.

What is depleted mother syndrome? ›

We're depleted Over time, mothers become physically, emotionally and mentally drained of nutrients, strength and vitality. Psychologist Rick Hanson coined the phrase “depleted mother syndrome” and emphasizes how important it is to regain the strength we need to be there for ourselves and to manage our care-giving role.

What is the best way to communicate with someone with ADHD? ›

Improving your communication skills when you have ADHD
  1. Communicate face to face whenever possible. Nonverbal cues such as eye contact, tone of voice, and gestures communicate much more than words alone. ...
  2. Listen actively and don't interrupt. ...
  3. Ask questions. ...
  4. Request a repeat. ...
  5. Manage your emotions.

Does ADHD affect manners? ›

We all interrupt sometimes, but folks with ADHD interrupt more often because they have a harder time holding back that reflexive response. Just as this affects their ability to pay attention to the teacher in class, it also affects their ability to follow all those social rules that make up good manners.

What are ADHD mood swings like? ›

Symptoms of Mood Swings in ADHD

Switching from excited one moment to sad, angry, or anxious the next. Fluctuating between having trouble paying attention and hyperfocusing on an activity. Having bursts of energy and fatigue through the day. Feeling emotions intensely and having difficulty regulating them.

Can ADHD cause lack of emotion? ›

Research shows that many people with ADHD have trouble with emotional regulation, experiencing symptoms such as low frustration tolerance, impulsivity, temper outbursts, and significant mood fluctuations.

What is it like to have an ADHD parent? ›

Moms and dads with undiagnosed ADHD often find themselves overwhelmed by the demands of parenting and struggling to meet their children's needs. Lacking organizational skills, they may find keeping up with their kids' schedules and managing their behavior very stressful.

Can people with ADHD raise children? ›

Parents who have — or suspect they may have — ADHD may be concerned about the types of challenges their kids might face with this condition. Rest assured, you can raise healthy and well-adjusted children with ADHD.

What is behavioral parent training? ›

Behavioral parent training (BPT) teaches parents about behavior management and discipline skills to extend treatment from the therapist's office to the home in order to address a wide array of problematic behaviors.

Are kids with ADHD more affectionate? ›

People with ADHD tend to have average or above average intelligence. They are often very creative and usually have a high energy level. These individuals also are frequently very sensitive and highly affectionate.


1. What to do & not do for your ADHD child - ADHD Dude - Ryan Wexelblatt
(ADHD Dude)
2. Parenting with ADHD (Part 1 of 2)
(What in the ADHD?)
3. How to Parent a Child With ADHD | 4 Tips
(His Heart Foundation)
4. Four Key Do's and Don'ts for Managing Children's Worry: Tips for Professionals from Lynn Lyons
(Dartmouth Trauma Interventions Research Center)
5. How Do I Manage Screen Time and ADHD? | Parenting Q&A with ADHD Expert Dr. Sharon Saline, Psy.D.
(Dr. Sharon Saline)
6. School Support | Supporting Learners with ADHD Part1
(Explore Planet English)

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