Supporting somebody with ADHD

As a parent of a child with ADHD you may need extra support to understand and manage some of the behaviours that are specific to their ADHD. Conditions such as ADHD can present different challenges for parents over and above those of most parents, and it is for this reason that it might help you to access additional support and advice from parenting workshops and support groups.

Children and young people with mild ADHD symptoms can be supported with ‘behaviour support strategies’ both at home and at school.

If you’re a parent of a child or young person with ADHD, it’s important to seek support and advice about parenting strategies to help support and manage your child’s ADHD.

One of the things you need to consider is what behaviours are part of your child or young person’s ADHD and not deliberate. This could be tapping fingers or feet, fidgeting, having difficulty getting to sleep or forgetting what you’ve asked them to do.

Learning what your child finds difficult is important as you’ll then be able to come up with strategies to help them, for example, asking them to get one thing at a time rather than giving a list of three or four things, and making sure you have their full attention when you’re giving an instruction.

Children and young people with ADHD can often lack self-esteem as they struggle with everyday tasks and might compare themselves to their peers. Give as much praise as possible, even if it’s for achieving something seemingly small, such as remembering to bring their lunch box home from school.

Try to ignore negative behaviours and behaviours that appear to be part of the ADHD unless you’re worried about risk. Wherever possible, talk with your child about the behaviours that are difficult, and work with them to come up with alternatives or consequences for negative behaviour.

Be very clear about boundaries within the household with agreed rewards and consequences.

If there are several behaviours you’d like to change, don’t try and do them all at once. Write a list and focus on one or two at a time. Sometimes working on small things first can help you both feel like you’ve made progress.

Bedtimes and falling asleep can be very difficult for young people with ADHD. It’s important to have a clear bedtime routine with at least an hour of no screens before bedtime. If your child is having difficulty getting to sleep and you’d like extra support and advice, Parenting Special Children have a Sleep Service with specialist sleep practitioners who can help you.

Schools can be a very difficult environment for young people with ADHD as they’re required to do all the things they find difficult.

They have to sit still for long periods of time, concentrate on tasks that might not interest them, keep quiet and not call out in class, remember equipment and organise themselves between various activities.

If their behaviour isn’t understood in the context of ADHD, this can lead to them being seen as disruptive, which can have an impact on their peer relationships, their learning and their self-esteem.

There are many strategies schools can use to help support children and young people with ADHD.

If your child has ADHD, it's important to meet or talk with the school regularly. Talk about the supports they’re putting in place for all aspects of the school day, such as break times, lessons and the beginning and end of the day when your child might need help organising themselves and remembering things.

The kind of things that might help are:

  • Checklists for remembering equipment
  • Seating close to the front of class and away from distractions
  • A home/school book for communicating changes and homework
  • Sensory or movement breaks.

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