Tips to Manage ADHD in Children

Parenting a child with ADHD is unalike conventional child-rearing. It’s the day-to-day routine that presents the toughest challenges in parenting a child with ADHD, rather than the (hopefully) few indiscretions that arise in standard child development, like tantrums or hiding veggies in the nearest potted plant. Finding an approach to your ADHD child’s development will require patience and flexibility on both sides. You’ll need to manage their behaviours, and modify your own. We can’t create a routine that’s guaranteed to work for your family, but we can offer some tips to help you find the best routine and structure for your developing ADHD child:

Fully understand how ADHD affects your child.

Before you can create a routine and a day-to-day plan that’ll make life easier for both you and your child, you need understand how ADHD affects your child. Ask your child’s therapist about their ADHD condition, and how you can tailor your parenting style to support those areas that need extra attention.

Build structure.

Providing daily, structured routine makes it much easier for an ADHD child to stay focused, as consistency will help minimize impulsive tendencies. Create stability in their day, from meals to bedtime; even a task as simple as having them lay out their clothes for the next day provides much-needed structure.

Minimize distractions.

Marie Kondo’s best-selling novel The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing explains that an organized space makes for an organized mind. You can apply this school of thought to your ADHD child, and create a tidy, quiet space where he or she can do homework, read, and properly focus. Keep your home neat and organized so your child knows how everything is structured, which will help reduce distractions. Regulate time spent on television, video games, and other accessible distractions that encourage impulsive behaviour. By limiting screen time and increasing activity time, your child can unleash that built-up energy positively!

Get plenty of rest.

Lack of sleep exacerbates impulsive behaviour, hyperactivity, and recklessness. ADHD children that get a good night’s sleep won’t be so irritable throughout the day. Stimulants like sugar, caffeine, and coffee should be kept to a minimum before bedtime. Try to implement a calming bedtime routine.

Positive reinforcement, discipline, and punishment.

“Many parents use the terms ‘discipline’ and ‘punishment’ interchangeably,” says Sal Severe, Ph.D., the author of How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will Too! “In fact, they’re vastly different.” Discipline teaches your child how to behave. Explain to your child what they did wrong, and redirect them to what is acceptable – including positive reinforcement when they’ve learned their lesson. Punishment is a way to let them know they have misbehaved. While there is a place for punishment in child rearing, it should never be hostile, and should only be used as a last resort. If you’ve told your child a hundred times that spaghetti goes in the mouth and not on the head but they continue to make it rain, you can consider a punishment like taking away gaming privileges for the evening. Remember that positive reinforcement is essential when they’ve done well, otherwise, they’ll get discouraged and continue their erratic, impulsive behaviour!

For more disability support, check out our other blog posts dedicated to mothers and caregivers raising special needs children. If your family isn’t claiming disability benefits for your ADHD child, HelpCanadians can assist you with the Canada Child Benefit and Disability Tax Credit. You can learn more about these Canadian disability programs here.