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Parenting and ADHD

Parenting and ADHD

Possible Ways to Help Your Child Live a Fulfilling Life and Manage Their ADHD

Video Tips


Michele Borba discusses her thoughts on encouraging children to embrace their talents/goals

Video area
  • 396
    Parenting Together: Getting on the Same Page

    Elaine Taylor-Klaus shares her experiences co-parenting with her husband

  • 401
    Sleep Schedules and How They Affect the Family

    Dr. Lisa Shives talks about the importance of sleep for families

  • 406
    Getting Ready in the Morning

    Elaine Taylor-Klaus describes her family’s busy morning routine and her key learnings for other parents

  • 311
    Embracing Your Child’s Talents

    Elaine Taylor-Klaus talks about how she has embraced her daughter’s talent

  • 316
    A Tip for Handling New Situations
    Kirk Martin shares an approach he took to help his son adjust to new situations

Parenting and ADHD

Positive Parenting Tips on Giving Directions By Michele Borba, EdD

Whether it is a simple task or something more detailed, I have found that a child with ADHD may have difficulty following through on instructions or sustaining his/her attention to finish a task. Below are some tips and techniques that I have used as a special education teacher and modified for parents to consider using at home:

  • Eye contact. Get eye to eye to say your directions or say “eyes please,” which cues your child to look at you, and then listen.
  • Lower your voice and keep the noise around you low. Use a quiet and calm voice.
  • Stay in close proximity. When giving direction, be close by so that your child’s focus is on you.
  • Ask questions. Stop at points to ask questions to give your child an opportunity to demonstrate that they understand the directions.
  • Use a visual cue. Put your hand down as a cue to stop what she or he is doing and focus instead on the task.


Making Strides with Your Child’s Ability to Stay on Task By Michele Borba, EdD

When talking to parents, I find one of the concerns that they regularly raise is helping their child make strides staying on task longer. While every child is different, below is some simple guidance I have provided to families that has helped increase their child’s ability to concentrate and even recall what he hears or sees:

  • Get an accurate picture. First, in working with a multidisciplinary team, consider both the academic and behavioral needs of your child, using formal diagnostic assessments and informal classroom observations. Your child’s healthcare provider, counselor or teacher can help you secure some of this information. In my experience, developing an accurate picture of your child’s capabilities and problems may take time, but I think it is essential. I also recommend observing your child in different settings and seeking the advice of his or her teacher, coach and other caregivers.
  • Be consistent. I advise parents to experiment until you discover what works best to help your child pay attention, and then consistently use that response.
  • Keep to a schedule. Children with ADHD may benefit from routines because those repetitive schedules create predictability. For example, I advise parents to try to find the best time for your child’s homework, bed, dinner, etc., based on his/her ability. Warning: That time may be different from your other kids. Then, post those times on the refrigerator or bulletin board as a reminder and try to stick to the same daily routine as best you can.
  • Reduce distractions. It has been reported to me by many parents that kids with short attention spans, like those with ADHD, can be distracted easily by noises, smells and images. I advise that parents take some time to determine what things hinder your child’s concentration (for instance, the flickering overhead lights, a barking dog, the neighbor kids yelling) and reduce what you can.
  • Offer frequent feedback. Acknowledge any effort your child makes to stay on task. Some kids benefit with a token reinforcement system where they earn points towards a prize or treat for completed tasks. In my experience, I’ve found that the trick is to wean the child from a “reward system” as soon as it is no longer needed.
Could Your Child Need “Retaining Wheels?" By Michele Borba, EdD

When I talk to parents and they share with me that their child(ren) with ADHD might fixate on the wrong details or have trouble “holding a thought” in their head, I explain one of my favored training techniques. Similar to how training wheels are tools to help our children master riding a bike, below are some of my suggested “retaining” strategies to help kids pay closer attention to key ideas or important points:

  • What’s your “keeper?” After listening to a story, watching a documentary, or reading, ask your child a probing question such as, “What’s your keeper?” (Which means, “What is the most important thing you want to remember?”) Give them some time to think and then use a follow-up question so they can demonstrate what they know.
  • Draw it. It helps some kids stay focused if they draw storyboards of what they read.
  • Highlight a fact. Encourage your child to highlight key ideas with a colored highlighting pen as s/he reads. In the classroom, I would tell children the yellow highlighter puts “sunshine” on the most important ideas.
  • Keep it moving. Have your child do fun exercises or movements like jumping rope while spelling words.
  • Storytelling. I have found that it is important to have child(ren) with ADHD relay what happened during their day at dinner, or have them tell you the most interesting points of the book they are reading before bed time. Giving them the stage to retell the story they are reading, for example, may be an exciting way to help them relay key information.
Understanding Sleep & ADHD By Lisa Shives, MD

For children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), lack of sleep may increase ADHD symptoms. A study published in the journal Sleep showed that children diagnosed with ADHD spent less time in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep and less time sleeping compared to children without the condition. While it is possible to get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, judgment, reaction time, and other functions become impaired. In addition, the study showed that children with ADHD were also more anxious about sleep and had insufficient sleep.

I recommend to parents that they place an emphasis on establishing good bedtime habits to help make sure their child gets a good night’s sleep. This includes potentially beneficial measures such as setting a regular bedtime (even for weekends) and avoiding strenuous play after dinner. My advice is to develop a nighttime routine that can help signal to children that it is time to get ready to go to sleep. If your child has difficulties falling asleep, a doctor may recommend modifications to your child’s medication (time of dosing, dosing amount). If the problem of falling or staying asleep persists, you may want to consider having your child undergo a sleep evaluation.

3 Ways That May Reduce Power Struggles and Calm an Upset Child By Kirk Martin

Everyone feels helpless sometimes, but here are some strategies I suggest to parents that are trying to overcome power struggles with children and calm them down. These rules have been helpful for me and my son, but it is important to always remember that every child is unique. If you feel that your child will not respond to these suggestions, then go with your instincts. But, for me and families I have worked with, they have been helpful.

1. Make a Conscious Choice to Remain Calm

While not ideal, it’s possible that sometimes, we will lose control and, sometimes, our kids will lose control. But, as a parent, we should try to control ourselves and model proper behavior. On our worst day, some of us may throw adult tantrums when something goes wrong, and then expect our children to remain calm. No matter what your child does, try to maintain a sense of calm. Screaming or withdrawing emotionally may only make the situation worse. When we are calm, we can be fully engaged and solve problems instead of creating more of them.

2. Demonstrate Self-Respect

If your child is in a bad mood or lashing out, being reactive might not be the best approach. In those circumstances, I choose not to give my child the attention that he is seeking. Instead, I walk away calmly and go about my business. I have found that if my son is trying to get my attention in a negative way, ignoring inappropriate behavior forces him to adapt and try a new approach. Then when he comes back with a respectful tone, I make a point of acknowledging him and praising his behavior. Over time, he has recognized that being respectful and polite to others gets him positive results that don’t come by being confrontational or rude.

3. Assume a Calm Posture

Each time you approach your child ask yourself, “Do I want to have a conversation or a confrontation?” Instead of standing by and barking orders, I sit down, put my feet up and relax. I find it is much harder to yell and lecture when assuming a calm posture.

In my personal experiences and when working with families, I have found the most effective way to calm an emotional child is to be calm. Instead of threatening an upset child, we need to draw the child into our calm. What you are communicating, though, is (1) your actions cannot control or manipulate me and (2) no matter how out of control you may feel, I am a rock you can count on.

How Your Behavior May Impact Your Child’s Behavior By Kirk Martin

We’ve all heard that we should lead by example, but it’s not always easy. Here are three tactics that I have successfully used to model appropriate behavior with my son. As a side effect, I have found that they even have made a positive difference in many areas of my life.

But, always remember, every child is unique and you know your child best. With that in mind, don’t hesitate to practice trial and error to find the best solution for you.

1. Try your best to be relentlessly positive.

I know how easy it is to pick out all our kids’ faults, constantly nag, and say “stop” and “no” 358 times each evening.

So for the next few days, make an effort to find everything you can that is positive about your child. Get reacquainted with the following phrases that we all sometimes forget to say, “Great job,” “You’re really being helpful” or “I’m proud of you.” I bet it makes your kids feel different. I know it did for my son. It also always makes ME feel differently about my kids.

2. Challenge yourself to go a week without lecturing.

I used to feel like I haven’t done my job as a parent without a couple arguments and at least one good lecture.

A mom from New England e-mailed me with this statement. “I had one of ‘those’ mornings with my 14-year-old son, who asked the question: “‘What will it take for you to just be quiet?’”

If all of your lectures don’t seem to be getting through, then try and refrain from the speeches for one week. Then see what happens.

3. Do something different shock your kids by staying calm even when THEY freak out.

I have learned to stay calm during meltdowns and tantrums. It hasn’t been easy, but when my child is trying to manipulate me by losing it, I don’t even blink. This lets my son know that even though his world may feel out of control, yours isn’t. Unless they are threatening to harm themselves or someone else, it could help to try not to react. Your child may be so used to seeing you get emotional and it could make a positive impression to see you calm.

My Favorite Parenting Tips By Elaine Taylor-Klaus, CPCC, PCC

If you are a parent managing the challenges of raising child(ren) with ADHD, there are 6 strategies that I know yielded extraordinary results for me, my children, and my family. It’s not always simple to do them – and you don’t need to do them all at once –but it’s good to have a menu to choose from.

1. Educate Yourself & Your Child: Learn about ADHD. Prepare for the long haul: this is a marathon, not a sprint.

2. Activate the Brain: Understand how the brain is affected in your child’s unique version of ADHD, and try to learn what works best to support that.

3. Parent Positively: Identify your kids’ strengths and encourage the heck out of them. Focus on what they are doing well, instead of constantly correcting their mistakes. Believe in them, and they’ll believe in themselves.

4. Shift Expectations: Re-define success and set expectations that are in alignment with your values. Shed the “shoulds” and inspire your child to reach his/her current capabilities (not where you want them to be in 10 years). The sky’s the limit, but you’ll have to take a different path to get there, and it might take a little longer. That’s okay.

5. Manage the Behaviors: Consciously shape your kids’ understanding and acceptance of themselves. Empower your kids to take responsibility for their behaviors to achieve the ultimate goal: independence.

6. Take Care of Yourself: Seek support for yourself, not just for your kids. Whether it’s a coach, a therapist, a support group, an online class or a really clued-in best friend, you’ll find greater success and enjoyment when you feel connected to others who really understand.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had my mother known 40 years ago what I know now. Your child is lucky. S/he never has to wonder that. If you are raising a child with ADHD, YOU have the power to make a difference! What you do with that power is up to you.

Consider the T.L.C. Approach When Your Child Falters By Michele Borba, EdD

Some children’s success opportunities are cut short because they give up at the first sign of difficulty. If they see errors as indications that they are failures, eventually they’re likely to stop trying. One of my methods is to take the tender-loving-care (T.L.C.) approach to responding to children’s mistakes to help them rebound from thinking they’re incompetent while helping them figure out what they can learn from their errors. Those lessons will improve their chances of success. Here are some suggestions that I have provided to parents that they have found to be helpful:

T -Talk calmly about the mistake with your child. Try not to criticize or show anger.
Adult: “Let’s talk about your spelling paper. What do you notice?”
Child: “I missed five of my words.”

L -Tell what you can learn from the mistake.
Adult: “What can you learn from the test so you won’t make the same mistakes next time you take it?”
Child: "I learned I need to study my words a little every night and not wait until the last minute."

C -Comfort your child by reminding him that everybody makes mistakes.
Adult: “That sounds like a great plan! Successful people look at their mistakes and figure out what they can learn from them. That’s what you’re doing!”