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Parenting is the hardest job around, and parenting a child with ADHD can be extra challenging.  The 5 tips below are free, available almost anytime, are good for both child and parent, and have no negative side effects!

  1. Focus on your child’s strengths.  A kid with ADHD might not be great at tuning out distractions, but maybe she is great at divergent thinking, at being creative, or is wonderfully empathetic to others.  Always keep your child’s strengths in your focus—it helps them feel better, helps you feel better, and helps keep your relationship positive.
  2. Take care of yourself so that you can take better care of your child.  If you are tired or hungry or stressed, you are going to be less able to handle the curveballs your kid might throw.
  3. Stay peaceful.  Parents who lose their temper more often have kids who do the same.  One of the things your child needs to learn is how to handle upsets and frustrations, and one of the best ways for your child to learn this is by watching you.
  4. Get outdoors, get active.  We all know that our bodies need exercise, but did you know that physical activity is also proven to help with mood regulation?   It worked as well as an antidepressant in one study!  Kids with ADHD especially need to run, jump, bike, hang, and roll around.  Indoor exercise is good, but bonus points if you go outside.  Play catch, play chase, play with the dog… anything that gets your kid—and you—moving!
  5. Create routines.  All children, especially those with ADHD, need to know what to expect, and what is expected of them.  Having a typical daily schedule, or even just regular routines will help everyone: for example: after school you clean out your lunchbox, eat your snack, play in the backyard for 30 minutes, then spend 15 minutes on  homework.

The best news about these tips for parenting kids with ADHD is that they are great tips for parenting kids without ADHD, too.

It is hard raising kids with ADHD.  They can be hyper, emotional, disorganized, forgetful, and so much more.  They lose their pencils, lunch, jackets, and any else that’s not attached.  They forget to do their homework, or to turn it in.  The older they get, the higher the stakes.  By the time they get to high school, these challenges can really get in the way of excelling.

One thing to try is using a planner.  Many kids with ADHD are very visual, so seeing everything written down can help organize them and help them feel less overwhelmed.  This works well for many teenagers, but for others, like my own, losing the planner or forgetting to write in it became bigger problems.

What has been useful for us is using a white board.  Each week and each day, I have my son write down his assignments (which we are able to look up on a website that his school uses) and put them on the board with a due date.  I then help him to determine which assignments to do first, help prioritize, and plan his day and his week.  Again, this is a visual aid, and very helpful for many teens with ADHD.

Many parents end up fighting, often daily, with their teens over homework.  If you have the means, hiring a “homework helper” can be life altering.  You can get a local college student to come to your home and spend an hour organizing and assisting your teen with his homework, whether on a daily basis or less.  This removes you from the equation, thereby lessening the tension between you, which can improve your relationship with your teen.

Keep your child active.  Team sports have many advantages for teens with ADHD, not just the physical benefits.  The physical exercise is necessary for overall health and helps them to focus better.  But working together, being part of a group, and following rules are all important as well.

Make sure your teen gets plenty of rest and eats nutritious meals.  Try to limit the sugar.  This can be difficult with teens as they gain their independence.  But try to teach them about good health, and encourage them to make good choices.

Many teenagers will eventually outgrow or at least overcome the obstacles of ADHD. In the meantime, hang in there.  No teenagers are easy, and ADHD is never easy.  Combine the two, and you’ve got quite a challenge on your hands.  Remind yourself that it will get better.