Positive Parenting

ADDitude Asked: Parent-to-Parent

ADDitude asked: As a parent, how do you balance your time between your ADHD child and his non-ADHD sibling? How do you plan inclusive family activities for children with ADHD and neurotypical children?

A father and son put on beck ties
A father and son put on beck ties

For many adults, parenting a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and balancing family life is the biggest challenge they’ve encountered. Here, real-life parents and grandparents of ADHD children share some of the inspiring ways they prioritize activities that include the entire family, help forge bonds between ADHD and non-ADHD siblings, as well as spending alone time with their neurotypical children.

“I put my younger, ADHD child to bed, and I spend quality time watching baseball with my other son.” -Chiarina, New York

“Look for activities that the two kids can share. And find something that each child can do to entertain himself while you spend time with the other.” -Johanna, New Mexico

“I make separate visits to each of my grandchildren. This way, I can give each the attention he deserves. I also make sure to tailor the gifts I buy to their specific interests.” -Ellen, New Jersey

“I set aside an hour every week to spend time with each of them, and let them choose what to do — dinner out, bowling, basketball, or just hot chocolate at the kitchen table.” -Cheryl, New Jersey

How neurotypical and ADHD siblings support one another

“My 25-year-old son with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a great communicator, and he involves me in every aspect of his life. His brother, 23, keeps everything to himself. I make extra effort to keep in touch with my younger son, through e-mail and phone calls, so he doesn’t feel neglected.” -Ann, New Jersey

“We met the challenge by having our kids be each other’s cheerleaders. Our daughter has been her brother’s best supporter, despite her own successes in school! She reminds him of his gifts. They know that they aren’t competing against each other.” -K., California

“I ask my non-ADHD daughter to learn about her ADHD brother, and I ask my son to do the same with his sister. In our family, we make sure that there is no ‘he got, she got.’ In our family, they both get.” -Barbara, California

“My son’s school day begins and ends 45 minutes before my daughter’s. After dropping my son off, my daughter and I sit in the car and listen to our favorite radio show until she goes to class. In the afternoon, my son and I do the same thing while we wait for his sister. I cherish every second with each of them!” -Miki, Florida

“We make sure that our ADHD child gets his homework done early enough, so I can spend time with our non-ADHD son.” -Scott, Kansas

“Both my son and I have ADHD. I make special time for my non-ADD daughter by taking her out of school early sometimes (don’t tell on me!) and doing something together.” -Natalie, Vermont

How families can support ADHD and neurotypical children

“It’s rough in our family. The child with ADHD needs my attention, and he focuses all the negativity he feels on his older sister. People don’t realize that the non-ADHD child sometimes feels responsible for everything that goes wrong with their ADHD sibling.” -Melissa, Virginia

“I set things up so that, while my ADHD son is in an after-school art class, I make sure to do something with his younger, non-ADHD sister. The reverse happens later in the week. Occasionally, I hire a mother’s helper for a day, so that I can spend time with the one who needs me most.” -Jennifer, Maryland

“We make sure our non-ADHD child gets special treatment, even if he does not ask for it. This can be as simple as the two of us getting an ice cream cone. We also allow our chidl without ADHD to decide, on certain days, which movie we’ll see.” -Jean, Texas

“It’s tough to ensure that neither of my children feels slighted. Being a single parent makes it that much harder. I set aside time during most weeks, so that both have my undivided attention.” -Jennifer, Connecticut

“My non-ADHD daughter is on the honor roll every semester. My ADHD son struggles in school. I work hard to balance out the love and praise.” -Jessi, Tennessee

“My wife and I each spend time with one of our two children on Saturday. Then we switch on Sunday.” -An ADDitude Reader

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