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10 Tips for Supporting a Child With ADHD

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University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children'sExperts in Children's Health
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Living with ADHD can be challenging for parents and children alike. By providing the right support to your child with ADHD, you can help them boost their self-esteem and reach their potential. Plus, it can help keep your relationship with them healthy and strong.

“Living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, can be difficult for both the person who has the disorder and for those who live with them. When you have a child with ADHD, you can support them and make a positive difference,” says Denise Bothe, MD, a developmental behavioral pediatric expert at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s.

Try these tips:

  1. Learn about ADHD: Make an effort to research the disorder so you can better understand your child’s behaviors. This can include learning from a knowledgeable therapist or reading trustworthy sources of information, like the CDC.
  2. It takes a team: Parents, teachers and healthcare providers should work together to manage ADHD problems. Children with ADHD benefit from behavior guidance to learn self-regulation skills, environmental modifications to improve focus, and sometimes medication management to help with better self-control. Your child may need specially tailored instruction and goals at school.
  3. Encourage healthy habits: Following a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, and plenty of sleep can help keep ADHD symptoms in check. Help your child avoid processed foods and those that are high in sugar. Schedule time for physical activity. See that they go to sleep and wake up about the same time each day.
  4. Stick to a routine: Following a similar schedule daily can help with organization skills by repeating what is expected each day. Plus, routines help reduce stress for all, which can help a child with ADHD feel less overwhelmed and function better.
  5. Communicate clearly: All children benefit from clear communication, but this is especially important for children with ADHD, who need clear expectations. Keep communications and directions simple, brief and specific.
  6. Join a support group: Talking with people who are in similar situations can help. Try joining a group that helps parents and family members of people with ADHD connect with each other. If that seems like too much, you can also attend therapy geared toward families. CHADD is a great online resource for parents.
  7. Encourage tidiness: Keeping spaces organized can help manage ADHD symptoms and lessen the strain that ADHD can cause in relationships. Encourage your child to reduce clutter and keep items in the same place. Designate a specific place like a basket or table by the front door where they can drop important items. That way, they’ll always know where to find them, and that will cut down on stress – for both of you.
  8. Promote organization: Being organized is a trait that helps life run more smoothly. Write down reminders and appointments or encourage your child to do so. Have them write a daily to-do list. Work with the teachers to come up with strategies for organizing school/homework, with reminders to turn it in for credit. For school, one strategy is a one binder system, where each subject is in a different colored folder in the same binder, and this goes with the child to every class and home to reduce the chances of leaving important work at school or forgetting papers.
  9. Help them manage stress: Teaching deep breathing exercises can help your child learn a skill they can do anywhere to promote relaxation. Lots of exercise also helps get the stress out. Yoga can help your child with concentration and relaxation, while massage can help reduce muscle tension.
  10. Take care of yourself: You cannot take the best care of your child when you are running on empty. Take time out for self-care, whether it’s enjoying a hobby, going for a walk or taking a few quiet minutes to yourself.

Related Links

The pediatric experts at UH Rainbow address a wide range of child development issues and help families nurture children’s development, build strengths, and address children’s and families’ needs. Learn more.

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