9 Ways to Better Understand Your Child with ADHD

children with ADHD

Your child has been diagnosed with ADHD.  If you have never had difficulty staying on task and focusing it may be hard to understand why your child behaves the way he does even though you have a diagnosis.

In my practice I work with children with ADHD and their parents every day. What I have observed is that parents who do their research about ADHD and work closely with me to actively help their children see effective results sooner than those who only rely on medication.  

If you will make adjustments in the home and in the way you communicate with your child, you will see your child adapt and correct his behaviors more quickly. 

So, let's look at 9 ways to better understand your child with ADHD!

  1. Your child may or may not have the "H." Children who struggle with focusing but don't show the restlessness or impulsivity are typically diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type . These children are less prone to disruptive  behavior These kids typically don't receive diagnosis until later in elementary or even middle school when their struggle focusing and staying organized really shows up. Children who are highly active physically, can't ever sit still for more than a few seconds, show impulsivity are typically diagnosed with ADHD with Hyperactivity and Impulsivity. 
  2. Your child's brain has trouble shifting gears. You may notice your child can seem intensely focused when he is absorbed in an activity. You might hear this called hyperfocused. This is the reason your child may become upset when asked to stop doing something he is engaged in, like a favorite activity at school or playing a video game. Experts call this an inability to “attention switch." and it can be frustrating for you and your child's teachers. Understanding that this is really a brain thing and not defiance will go a long way!
  3. Your child doesn't want to fail. It's likely that she avoids the tasks that are hard for her to do because she doesn't want to fail. Children with ADHD often exhibit behavior that sure seems like defiance (refusing, tantrums, outbursts, avoidance) when faced with tasks that require focus and organization. Your child is actually behaving this way because she is afraid deep within that she will fail.
  4. You are a powerful agent in positively changing your child's behavior. When you give your child positive reinforcement when he is doing well, he can learn to reign in his extreme behavior and enjoy having positive relationships with parents and teachers.
  5. Your child may feel people don't like her. It can be heartbreaking to watch. Children with ADHD often have trouble getting along with peers and adults because their impulsivity causes them to interrupt, get into people's personal space and otherwise irritate others. Having your child in therapy will be an opportunity for her to work through these feelings while learning social skills and ways to regulate her behavior. 
  6. Your child will benefit from loving structure. I say "loving" because often parents mistake the word structure for hard strict rules. Stay positive and come from love as you implement systems such as check-lists, use of timers, organizational plans and predictable routines. Children with ADHD do best when they know what to expect and have loving "bumpers" that will redirect them to the task at hand.
  7. Your child needs fun time with you. When children with ADHD receive  negative feedback all day long, it can wear down self-esteem. It's important for you and your child to have special one-on-one fun time.  Board games, building a Lego tower or throwing the ball in the yard will help strengthen your child against threats to his self-worth.
  8. Your child needs to know you support and love her every day. I know you likely become frustrated with your child and her behavior. But it is so important you remind her every day several times each day that you love her and are there for her no matter what. 
  9. Your child CAN learn to manage his ADHD symptoms. With your help and the help of a licensed therapist along with teachers who are supportive, your child CAN learn skills and behavior management tools. You can set you child up for success and help him feel positively about himself by being involved, informed and staying positive.