Positive Parenting

Making Connections

Learn why connections with art, animals, nature, and community groups can help your child with ADHD grow up happy and self-confident.

Father and daughter with ADHD talking on bench in park by lake
Father and daughter with ADHD talking on bench in park by lake

You hope that, despite the challenges, your child will do well in life. Helping your child make connections with the rest of the world will ensure that he does. After connections with family, here are the most important:

Friends and Neighborhood

The glue that holds a life together is friendship. Encourage your children to make and keep friends. Set an example in your own life by making time for friends, even when it isn’t easy.

Remember the words of the poet W. B. Yeats: “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends and say my glory was I had such friends.”

School or Work

The measurement here is not the grades your child with ADHD gets in school or what your pay level is, but how comfortable you feel at school or work, how welcome, how safe, how alive.


Encourage your children with ADHD to try every sport, hobby, and after-school activity they can. Childhood is a time to explore and find out what you like, what you love, and what you can leave aside. The more activities you find that you like, the greater your chances of being happy all your life.

[Free Download: The Best Sport for Kids with ADHD]

The Past

Cultivate a connection to the past through stories told by grandparents, stories you tell of your own childhood, stories of your ancestors and family traditions, as well as of family struggles, triumphs, and hopes.

Nature and Special Places

Kids naturally connect to nature. Special places – such as tree houses and swimming holes – are part of the folklore of childhood.

The Arts

Music, rhyming games, dress-up, painting – children are natural artists. By exploring the arts, they can begin to develop a lifelong interest in one or more of them.

Pets and Other Animals

Every kid should have a pet, if possible. Pets provide a special connection like no other.

[Your Turn: Does a Pet Help You or Your Child Feel Better?]

Information and Ideas

It’s not how much you know nor the facts you have at your fingertips, but how comfortably connected you feel to the domain of information and ideas. The greatest learning disability is fear. Make sure your child is not afraid of information and ideas.

Groups, Teams, Clubs, Institutions

Groups instill a sense of responsibility in children with ADHD, as well as an introduction to the power and joy of team effort.

The Spiritual Realm

Make sure there is some kind of spiritual connection in the life of your child. This does not require allegiance to an organized religion, just a forum for wondering about the ultimate questions. Kids need a place and time to do this. They are natural wonderers. Encourage their spiritual wondering.

To Himself

The connection to self develops naturally as other connections are made. It is magnificent for a parent to watch a child get comfortable with the person he is, without having to pretend to be anyone else.

How to Show Love Through Words

Expressing love can take many forms. Here are six examples that will strengthen your child’s spirit and unwrap his gifts. Adapt them to your child, and look for opportunities to praise your child.

“Sarah, you are so kind. When I was tearing up at Grammy’s funeral and you handed me a couple of Kleenex, that was so nice.”

“Tommy, you have a real knack for puzzles. I don’t know how you put one together so fast.”

“Holly, you see colors better than anyone I know. All I saw was green, but you saw a hundred shades of green.”

“Tucker, you never give up. It’s amazing how you just keep at it, whatever it is.”

“Lucy, you notice everything. Nothing escapes your eye.”

“Jack, you are a master builder. What you did with that sand castle is just amazing.”

[The Art of Happiness — and Self-Esteem]