Parenting a child with ADHD
Consistent discipline and a structured lifestyle are two of the top requirements when parenting a child with ADHD.
It can help parents of children with ADHD to go to special parenting classes. Keeping in touch with other parents in similar situations and joining self-help groups can also help.
ADHD parenting tips include:
- 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 behaviour and respond to misbehaviour with alternatives such as loss of privileges.
- Create a behaviour modification plan to change the most problematic behaviours. Behaviour charts that track a child’s tasks or responsibilities and that offer potential rewards for positive behaviour can be helpful tools. These charts, as well as other behaviour modification techniques, will help parents address problems in systematic, effective ways.
- Children with ADHD may need help with their organisation. Therefore, parents should encourage the child with ADHD to:
- Plan. The child should have the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. The plan should include homework time and playtime.
- Organise essential everyday items. The child should have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, school bags and stationery.
- Use homework and notebook organisers. Stress the importance of your child writing down what homework needs to be done when and bringing 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 all homework instructions in a notebook as they are given by the teacher.
- Responsible for his/her own work. 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 judgement
- 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.
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 child’s relationships. The earlier a child's difficulties with peers are noticed, the more successful such steps may be. It is helpful for parents to:
- Recognise the importance of healthy peer relationships for children.
- Involve a child in activities with his or her peers.
- Set up social behaviour goals with the child and implement a reward programme.
- Encourage social interactions if the child is withdrawn or excessively shy.
- Encourage a child to play with only one other child at a time.