How to Parent a Child with ADHD

Father and daughter reading book

If your child has been recently diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, you’re not alone. In fact, the CDC found that 6.1 million children aged 2-17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD. Many families across the nation and the world have children with ADHD, and these children grow up to be successful and fully functional adults.

Nevertheless, raising a child with ADHD comes with its unique challenges. By addressing these challenges, you can ensure your child grows up to be happy, healthy, and carefree.

What is ADHD?

ADHD, sometimes also known as ADD (attention deficit disorder), is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in the world. It’s usually diagnosed in early childhood, which is why ADHD is so commonly associated with children. A child with ADHD can have a range of symptoms, but they typically deal with inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

ADHD can manifest in many ways, but there are three main types to keep an eye out for. These include the following:

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation

Children with this type of ADHD struggle with inattentiveness, but not with impulsivity or hyperactivity. It may be difficult for them to finish tasks, follow instructions, or remember details.

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation

This type of ADHD involves hyperactivity and impulsivity, but not inattentiveness. Children will likely fidget and talk a lot, finding it difficult to sit still for long.

Combined Presentation

Combined Presentation is the most common type of ADHD. It’s a combination of the above two types. In other words, children with this type of ADHD will deal with inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

What causes ADHD?

There is a lot of information about what ADHD looks like and how to manage it, but there isn’t much information on what causes it. Scientists are still unsure as to the exact reasons a person develops ADHD. Research has shown that genetics do play a factor, but other causes could include brain injuries, premature birth, low birth rate, lead exposure, alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, and more.

Parenting a Child with ADHD

Parenting a child with ADHD is no walk in the park. Many parents end up worn out and frustrated by their child’s antics. But by taking the right steps, you and your child can end up in a better place. ADHD cannot be cured, but it can be managed by using behavior management therapy techniques such as positive reinforcement.

While you should always consult a medical professional—whether that be your child’s pediatrician or a psychiatrist—here are some steps you can take to help manage your child’s ADHD:

Create rules and guidelines, but don’t be too strict

Behavior management therapy focuses on helping children curb their impulsive tendencies by considering the consequences of their actions. However, children need to have a clear understanding of what kinds of behaviors are accepted and which are not. Create clear rules and guidelines, using positive reinforcement to reward good behavior.

However, there should also be some flexibility. Children need to make mistakes in order to learn. Additionally, children with ADHD may exhibit quirky behaviors. So long as these behaviors are not harming anyone, you shouldn’t feel the need to punish them.

Manage aggression with a time-out

Children with ADHD may have aggressive outbursts. The best way to deal with these outbursts is to put your child in a time-out. This gives your child time to cool off and think about their behavior. A time-out should only be used for destructive, abusive, or intentionally disruptive behavior.

Break tasks up in manageable parts

If your child has trouble concentrating, then they’ll have trouble completing tasks. It will be easier on them if you break up a task into smaller, more manageable parts. For instance, if you want your child to clean their room, tell them to clean up their toys first, then move on to their bed, and so on.

Limit distractions

Video games, TVs, and computers can exacerbate inattentiveness and impulsivity. If your child needs to complete a task, take an extra step to limit distractions. For example, give them a dedicated space to do their homework that is free of any TVs or video games. You can also limit screen time by encouraging outdoor activities.

Encourage exercise

If your child has ADHD, it may seem like they have limitless energy. A good way to deal with their hyperactivity is to encourage physical activity. Exercise can burn off excess energy while also improving your child’s physical and mental health. In fact, many professional athletes have ADHD, including Terry Bradshaw, Cammi Granato, Chris Kaman, and more.

At Steadfast Academy, we help all children develop cognitive, emotional, and social skills that will help them throughout their lives. To learn more about our early learning programs, contact us today!