Teens & Young Adults

How to Keep the Peace in Your ADHD Family

Why can’t everyone with with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the family just get along? Six ways for ADHD families to fight less and communicate better!

ADHD Fights: When parents and Kids Both Have ADHD
ADHD Fights: When parents and Kids Both Have ADHD

Parents with ADHD often have stormy relationships with their children who also have ADHD. Some feel guilty about passing the condition on to their children; others find it painful to watch them struggle with the same problems they had growing up. Here are some strategies to resolve conflicts with your children, and be their behavior role model.

Learn to Control Your Emotions

Accept the fact that you are angry, frustrated, and fearful. So is your child — although his bravado may hide it. You can’t help your child through tough times if you can’t control your emotions. If you can’t, seek the help of a doctor or therapist.

Bond Over Your Shared ADHD Diagnosis

Admit to your daughter that having this condition isn’t easy and that ADHD symptoms take a lot of effort to manage. Tell her about some of the challenges you have faced, and the ways you have succeeded. Use humor to deflect anxiety. Always reinforce your daughter’s strengths.

Practice Healthy Confrontation

If you are about to lose your temper, use these techniques:

1) Avoid accusing your ADHD child or teen — focus on solutions to the problem and teach your daughter to find alternatives that work.

2) Focus on the behavior — make it clear that your son is not the sum of his behaviors, and that he, within reason, can control them.

3) If you or your son starts to shout, break the pattern by speaking softly.

Follow Through On Your Actions

It isn’t easy for parents with ADHD to remain disciplined enough to punish a child for not obeying a rule. Make this a priority. If you told your daughter she must be home by 10 or she will lose her car privileges, and she comes home at 11, don’t get angry. Take away her car privileges. This may be inconvenient — you may have to drive her to her tutoring sessions — but do it anyway. If you don’t, your daughter will miss out on learning to equate her actions with consequences and on seeing that a person with ADHD can demonstrate responsible behavior.

Avoid ADHD Guilt, Accept Each Other’s Imperfections

You may have challenges like those of your son, but he is his own person. ADHD is an explanation of behaviors, not an excuse for them. Your own failures don’t mean you shouldn’t have reasonable expectations for him.

It is difficult enough to deal with your own ADHD, let alone your teen’s. Don’t let the perception that you’ve failed as a parent, because of your daughter’s challenges, affect your interactions with her. You are a role model for your daughter, imperfections and all.

Use Humor to Defuse a Fight

Parents who have a sense of humor during tense, stressful situations may make their child feel more accepted, less anxious, and better able to regulate his emotions, say researchers. No kidding. Here is a refresher course for some parents who may have lost their sense of humor:

Son: Dad, about the new car…
Dad: You mean, did I hear the one about the new car?
Son: Yeah, the new car without a right fender and a scratch on the passenger door!
Dad: Ho, ho, ho!
Son: Dude!

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