Ask the Experts

15 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew About Raising a Child with ADHD

“Never take away the area of strength as a punishment, or as a way to motivate the child to do better in school.” And more essential parenting advice from a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 30 years of experience with ADHD.

A quick checklist of pointers for how to help a child with ADHD and a learning disability… Add your suggestions to the comments box below!

  1. Identify and treat the problems as early as possible, preferably before age 10. The first years in school are crucial to beginning intervention and preventing failure and feelings of inferiority.
  2. Help the child gain an understanding of his disability from a biological perspective. Don’t use or allow negative labels, such as “lazy,” “stupid,” or “inferior.”
  3. Help the child learn to identify feelings, use words to describe them, and talk about them.
  4. Provide a structured and stable environment at home. Routines (morning, study time, bedtime) are essential for young children. Insist that the child learn these routines and take responsibility for following them.

[Get This Free Download: Routines for Morning and Night]

  1. Help the child find his strength and capitalize on it. Pursue skill and competency in that area. You may have to try several activities to find the right one for the child.
  2. NEVER take away the area of strength as a punishment, or as a way to motivate the child to do better in school.
  3. Involve the child in group activities (sports team, photography club, church group) to develop social skills.
  4. Make a point to praise and reward effort, not just successful outcomes. Grades are less important than progress.
  5. Help the child set realistic, achievable goals. Confidence cannot survive without success.
  6. Don’t take over and do the work for the child. Provide help, be a monitor, but never take away the primary responsibility for doing the work.
  7. Help the child keep trying when faced with obstacles. Determination and resiliency will help the child get through any hardship.
  8. Never give up or lose hope. Never allow the child to give up on himself. Don’t allow the child to make excuses for not trying. Failure means failing to try.
  9. Help the child develop diverse activities, interests, and friends. Try many things and keep the child engaged in them. Variety challenges the brain and helps it grow.
  10. Use all appropriate interventions. In addition to school services, take advantage of outside resources when needed.
  11. Provide multimodal, interactive, and hands-on learning. Children with disabilities learn better by doing things than by talking about them.

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Peter Jaksa, Ph.D., is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Medical Review Panel.