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Diseases & Conditions

Parenting a Child with ADHD - Tips for Daily Life

(Also Called 'Parenting a Child with ADHD--Tips for Daily Life - Family Issues')

Children with ADHD need consistent rules that they can understand and follow. If children follow rules, they should be rewarded. Children with ADHD often receive, and expect, criticism. Children’s good behavior should be sought out and praised. Parents should:

  • 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 behavior and respond to misbehavior with alternatives such as "time out" or loss of privileges.
  • Create a behavior modification plan to change the most problematic behaviors — Behavior charts that track a child’s chores or responsibilities and that offer potential rewards for positive behaviors can be helpful tools. These charts, as well as other behavior modification techniques, will help parents address problems in systematic, effective ways.

Children with ADHD might need help in organizing. Therefore, parents should encourage the child with ADHD to:

  • Schedule — The child should have the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. The schedule should include homework time and playtime.
  • Organize needed everyday items — The child should have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and school supplies.
  • Use homework and notebook organizer — Stress the importance of having the child write down assignments and bring 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. Parents should make sure that a child with ADHD is:

  • Seated in a quiet area without clutter or distractions
  • Given clear, concise instructions
  • Encouraged to write each assignment in a notebook as it is given by the teacher
  • Responsible for his/her own assignments — Parents should not do for the child what he or she can do for himself or herself.

ADHD and driving

Driving poses special risks, particularly for teens with ADHD. Driving risks associated with a diagnosis of ADHD include:

  • Deficiencies in attention
  • Impulsivity
  • Risk-taking tendencies
  • Immature judgment
  • 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 behaviors.

Tips for the teacher

With simple adjustments in the classroom, teachers can more easily work with the strengths and weaknesses of the child with ADHD.

It is helpful for teachers to:

  • Give assignments one at a time to avoid work overload
  • Pair written instructions with oral instructions
  • Give clear instructions
  • Set up clear rules of behavior and consequences for breaking these rules
  • Seat the child near a good role model or near the teacher

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 might be. It is helpful for parents to:

  • Recognize the importance of healthy peer relationships for children
  • Involve a child in activities with his or her peers
  • Set up social behavior goals with the child and implement a reward program
  • Encourage social interactions if the child is withdrawn or excessively shy
  • Encourage a child to play with only one other child at a time

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 8/1/2007…#11767