Tips for Parents of Kids with ADHD
All children have trouble with attention, activity, and impulsiveness some of the time.
Children with ADHD, however, have much more trouble with these challenges than other children. To be diagnosed with ADHD, these problems have to be so bad that they interfere with a child's normal functioning at home, in school or with friends.
ADHD can be a challenge for parents. However, there are easy ways to help a child with ADHD become motivated to succeed at school and around the house.
Dr. Robert Needlman, development and behavorial specialist at MetroHealth and revising author of the latest Dr. Spock book, created a tip sheet for parents of children diagnosed with ADHD to help them help their kids to thrive.
Make simple lists of tasks for your children. Break big projects down into single steps. For example, “clean your room” becomes a list like this:
- Pick clothes off floor
- Put dirty clothes in hamper
- Fold or hang clean clothes and place them in the closet
- Pick up toys and put them on shelves
In addition have your child make the list; he/she can add pictures or color it in. If possible, have the list laminated, so it is "special,” and so it lasts. Use a dry-erase marker, hung from a string, so your child can check off items as he accomplishes them. Post the list where your child can see it.
One way to help keep your child with ADHD motivated and on task is to give incentives for completing chores by using a point system. Successful completion of a chore earns a point (or, give more points for harder tasks). Points can be traded in at the end of the week for privileges (or money); or your child can “bank” his points.
Incentives work best if:
- You and your child agree on them
- You give them immediately
- They change from time to time, to keep from being boring
The point is to increase your child’s self-reliance. Instead of nagging, just remind your child to look at the task list. If your child fails to complete a task, he should experience the consequence (for example, loss of points on a homework assignment).
- Work first, play later. For example, no TV until homework and chores are done.
- Start small, with one or two-step tasks that your child can accomplish easily.
- Give praise (and points) for completion; gradually make tasks harder.
- Help your child get organized by using a calendar or planner.
- Help him/her to writes in what needs to be done in the coming week.
- Help him remember to refer to the planner regularly.
- Try to maintain a structured lifestyle. (For example, dinner at roughly the same time, regularly planned family activities.)
- Structure helps all kids to feel in control.
Robert Needlman, MD
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Specialties: Developmental Pediatrics, Behavioral Pediatrics
Learn more about Dr. Robert Needlman