Impulsivity & Hyperactivity

Problems Solved!

ADHD parenting tips for helping your child learn problem-solving skills that will help her achieve success at school and at home.

ADHD Parenting Tips: Teach Problem-Solving Skills to Your Child
ADHD Parenting Tips: Teach Problem-Solving Skills to Your Child

It’s no secret that impulsivity is a key ADHD trait.

For children with attention deficit, this may bring more than its fair share of challenges, from acting on impulse to repeating the same problems over and over. It also makes it more difficult to overcome challenges.

A child with ADHD may rush into grappling with a problem without thinking it through, and it’s our job as parents to help them break this habit.

Instill Self-Reliance

Methodical problem-solving doesn’t come naturally to children with ADHD, but it can be taught. And learning to tackle challenges on his own, using solutions he came up with, will boost your child’s self-esteem.

Here’s how three parents built their children’s problem-solving skills while meeting three tough challenges:

[Free Resource: Great Activities for Kids with ADHD]

#1: Jill and her mom had nightly fights over homework.

At the end of a rough week, Jill’s mom sat down with her daughter. She asked, “What can we do about the homework battles that make us both unhappy?”

Jill told her mom she felt “bottled up inside” when she came home. They brainstormed a few solutions. Jill proposed walking the dog before starting homework, or having her mom help her prioritize her assignments. Mom suggested setting a timer — and racing to beat it — while working on each subject. She also offered to fix a healthy snack, “for munching between tasks.”

After discussing, and discarding, many ideas, Mom asked, “Which solution do you want to try first? It’s OK if it doesn’t work. We can try a different idea next week.”

Jill decided to have her mom help her arrange her work on the dining-room table. The next week went much better. When her mom asked, “How do you think your plan worked?” Jill gave herself credit for being a good problem-solver. They also decided to add the munchies.

[Never Punish a Child for Behavior Outside His Control]

#2: Karen was sad because no one wanted to play with her at recess.

Her mom and dad decided to hold a family meeting, to solicit suggestions. Sam, her big brother, said, “Karen always asks her friends to play her game.” They developed a list of ideas. Karen decided to invite two girls over for a play date, but didn’t think the idea was successful. “I still can’t get them to play what I pick,” she said.

Next, Karen decided to try joining in whatever activity other girls were already playing at recess. At that week’s family meeting, Karen smiled and said, “It’s more fun to try new games than I thought it would be.” Karen’s parents told her she should be proud of herself for finding a solution.

#3: Robert was always yelling at his little sister.

Each outburst left her feeling hurt and Robert feeling guilty. One evening, Robert and his dad sat down to talk about it. “I think your sister wants your attention. When she can’t have it, she does things to annoy you, and you respond by yelling,” said Dad.

Armed with this insight, Robert came up with ideas. “Let’s lock her in her room,” he suggested. Dad didn’t think that would be fair. Finally, Robert came up with a plan: “I will tell Sara that I will play with her after school for 20 minutes. If she doesn’t bug me, I’ll add five minutes. If she bugs me before our playtime, I’ll take away five minutes.”

At first, Robert’s sister lost playtime, but after a few days, she began to earn extra minutes. Robert invited Sara to join in the evaluation session, and she said she liked the time they spent together. “I guess we won’t have to try the ‘lock up’ idea,” he said with a smile.

[Positive Charge: How to Reinforce Good Behavior]