Parenting an ADHD child is not for sissies. It is also not impossible, but you have to be aware of and know a lot of things.
In this series, we will cover these issues one at a time.

First issue is know yourself. If you have an ADHD child, the odds are that one of you also has ADHD. ADHD has a
heritability factor of about 80%, which is about the same as height. That means one of you almost certainly has ADHD.

This can be good or bad. You may remember your own issues with ADHD and be able to understand your child’s situation better than a non-ADHD parent.  On the other hand, you may have more problems dealing with your ADHD
child because your temperaments are too similiar or you may have a lot of your own issues about ADHD that negatively impact your ability to deal with your young ADHDer.

Whichever, you need to be aware of what you bring to the interaction with your ADHD child. Objectively look at your interactions and be aware of what happens. Does one of you (parents) always end up in yelling matches with your child?

Does one of you always get overwhelmed by your child and give up?

Understand that with an ADHD child you could have a knockdown drag out screaming match every day if you want to.

And understand, it will do no good as far as changing your child’s behavior. And, you will pay for it when they become teenagers.

Be aware that in dealing with ADHDers, you have to be firm. You have to be consistent. You have to be in control. If you lose control of yourself dealing with your ADHDer, you will surely lose the immediate battle plus you break down the behavioral structure you’re trying to build.

That’s why the first rule in dealing with an ADHD child is to know yourself– know your tendencies, know your strengths and weaknesses. Be brutally honest. Be objective.

Next step–look at your interactions


(This is an update of an earlier article)

Its easy as an ADHD parent to lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish with your child.
There’s so much that could be improved.
So many areas that cause problems.
So many things that are irritating and frustrating.

One way to stay on track is to have a good idea of what you would like your child to be like when he or she is 18 or 21. This is not just about grades and school but  also about personal characteristics you’d like to see. For most of us that would include things like being responsible, honest and persistent.

Its really important to be clear on what you’re trying to teach your child.  It also helps you set priorities. Priorities help you decide how to intervene and whether to intervene. It also helps you decide what to reinforce and what to extinguish.

Say, for instance, responsibility is a strong value for you that you’d like to teach your child. You can recognize when he is being responsible  and encourage that. You can set up situations in which your child can be responsible and reinforce appropriate behavior. You can recognize that constant criticism about lack of responsibility is not effective.

You must have an appreciation of the principles of successive approximation when you use this approach. Successive approximation is just a fancy term that summarizes the idea that change happens a little bit at a time. If you are teaching responsibility, it is not different from learning to play  a musical instrument or learning an athletic skill. You have to learn a little bit at a time. First make a noise with your clarinet, then learn fingering, how to make the different notes, then scales, then simple songs and so on.

Personal characteristics that we’d like to see our children develop are the same way. You have to learn to recognize and praise small steps in the right direction. If your child does one small thing–like making his bed, but not totally cleaning his room. Praise for doing the bed,not criticism for failing to clean the whole room.

Its important to develop the ability to recognize these small improvements and encourage them. And remember to stay focused on the distant goal you have for your child.


ADHD Brain–let ’em fly

March 18, 2010

Sometimes it seems like being the parent of an ADHD child is all about frustration and fear. Frustration that they can’t seem to get stuff done the way their peers, brothers and sisters can and fear that they won’t be able to make their way in the world. I propose another way to look at […]

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ADHD Brains–Meds Not Enough to Improve Grades

March 11, 2010

Just medication is not going to improve your child’s academic performance! A recent research study by Dr Jeffrey Epstein of the Center for ADHD at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio indicates that just following pediatric guidelines for treatment of ADD, didn’t result in functional changes for children with ADHD. Just proper medication didn’t change their […]

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ADHD Brains–Working Memory Trumps IQ in School

February 23, 2010

Working memory is more important to academic success than IQ, according to recent research.  Why is that important to ADHD parents and what the heck is working memory anyway? Working memory is the ability to keep information in awareness until a task is accomplished. An example would be when you tell your child to do […]

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ADHD Brains-Cognitive Behavior Therapy

February 18, 2010

ADHD kids are plagued by emotions that are frequently out of control. They are emotionally labile–happy one minute, enraged the next. They appear to have little control over their emotions. This is a cause of significant distress for the child and everyone around him or her. One of the characteristics of ADHD children who are […]

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ADHD Brains–Internal Structure

December 1, 2009

Disorganization is one of the hallmarks of the ADHD brain. We’ve already talked about the need for external structure to improve performance for ADHD’ers. This is the first step in developing an internalized ability to organize. For a child with ADHD to learn to be a reasonably organized person, he or she must experience organization […]

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Training ADHD Brains–Structure

November 19, 2009

Chaos without reinforces chaos within.  ADHD Brains are different. ADHD kids live with chronic chaos–in their brains. Their innner experience is frequently disorganized, unfocused  and not particularly goal oriented. When scientists look at their brain functions, ADHD kids have underactive frontal lobes  and generate more of the brain waves associated with disorganized thinking. They, more […]

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Training the ADHD Brain–Meditation

September 22, 2009

When I was a boy psychologist first learning about ADHD, I thought meditation, relaxation training and/or hypnosis  should be an effective treatment because it trains the mind to focus. One of the attempts to define hypnosis even calls it a state of heightened focus. Additionally, my patients were reporting heightened abilities to concentrate after starting […]

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Training the ADHD Brain–Neurofeedback

September 8, 2009

Another drug-free approach to improving cognitive performance is neurofeedback. It is a biofeedback methodology that gives the individual feedback about the kind of brainwaves being generated and trains the individual to produce the appropriate brain waves. The brain waves associated with focused attention are called Beta. The brain waves associated with disorganized thinking are called […]

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