10 Tips for Parents of Kids with ADHD

February 13, 2013

The following are 10 recommended do’s and don’ts for parents of children and teens with ADHD, adapted from my book: The ADD/ADHD Checklist, 2nd edition.  This is a 2-part blog.  I will be sharing additional tips for parents in my next blog later this month.


1. Do not be misled or fooled by your child’s inconsistent performance. It can be very frustrating and puzzling to see your child one day or minute able to perform a task with ease, and unable or struggle to perform that same task at a different time.    Do understand that variability of performance is a key characteristic of ADHD, and it is to be expected.

2. Do not set your radar and overly focus on your child’s misbehaviorsDo consciously make an effort to notice and pay attention to your child with far more frequency when he or she is behaving appropriately.  In other words, “catch your child being good”, and give your positive feedback and attention at those times.

3. Do not forget or overlook how essential it is to cultivate and nurture your son or daughter’s areas of strength and interest.   Do involve your child in opportunities to build upon his or her talents, interests, and passions. Help your son or daughter gain confidence and competence through those activities in life that give him or her joy.  Avoid making your child’s participation in these activities contingent on his or her behavior/school performance.

4. Do not focus on what you cannot control – someone else’s (e.g., your child’s) behaviors. Do work on what you can take control over: your own responses to your child’s behavior, your own education and knowledge about ADHD and ways to help; and the structuring, management, and discipline practices you choose to employ.

5. Do not keep your child’s ADHD a secret from those who spend much time with your son or daughter (e.g., babysitters, teachers, coaches, relatives, close family friends).  Do inform those people who will benefit from having a better understanding of ADHD, and what is driving some of your child’s behaviors that are difficult to deal with and understand.  It is helpful to share, as well, some key strategies you find effective in preventing or minimizing some of the challenging behaviors.

6. Do not accept an evaluation or diagnosis by any clinician who does not adhere to the diagnostic and treatment guidelines for ADHD set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA).   Do ask questions and make sure that whoever evaluates your child is well qualified to do so, and is familiar with accepted clinical diagnostic and treatment protocol.

7. Do not doubt your parenting abilities, or be hard on yourself for what might have or have not taken place so far.   Do know that it is never too late to learn, make changes, and move ahead. You are not to blame for your child’s ADHD, or for not acting upon what you did not yet know.

8. Do not think you are alone, and have no other parents to share with who understand your child or family needs.   Do know that it is generally very helpful to connect and network with other families who have kids with ADHD.   If there is a local CHADD chapter in your community (Children & Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders – www.chadd.org ), go to at least one of their meetings.   It is well worth the time and effort, and you will likely find a lot of useful resources, information, and support.

9. Do not neglect yourself or your own needs (e.g., for good physical/mental health, nurturing, respite, and support).   Do take time for yourself, seek help, and find ways to recharge, and fulfill your own personal needs.  This is important for everyone – especially parents who live with the daily stress that is so common in families of children with ADHD. You are best able to parent and care for your family when you are happy and healthy.

10. Do not act upon the advice from others (as well intentioned as they may be) who are not truly knowledgeable about ADHD.   Do have the confidence to follow your own best judgment.  After learning from expert sources, then make an informed decision on how to best treat, educate and manage your child’s ADHD.


Source of this blog:

Rief, Sandra (2008). The ADD/ADHD Checklist: A Practical Reference for Parents & Teachers, 2nd edition.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


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