Parenting strategies for kids with ADD, ADHD

For any parent, it can sometimes feel like your child is the one running the household. For those whose children are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But, Children’s Health licensed professional counselor Angeleena May comes pretty darn close.

“They need each day to be set up for success,” said May, who is the behavioral healthcare manager at Children’s Health.

Her first tip to parents: maintain positive interactions with your child. Sounds simple, right? Well it’s critical to keep up desired behavior.

“So, letting them know that you noticed that they're doing a great job and that you really appreciate it,” May said. “And showing them attention in those areas rather than only noticing the areas in which they need to re-focus.”

Next: use visuals like sticky notes or lanyards with lists to keep your children on task, and let the kids get involved in creating their schedules.

“Often kids with ADHD get distracted, and so having those visual cues around the home can help children and parents not forget those important things,” May said. One idea that could make life easier is a color-shaded clock.

“Coloring in red is for playtime, yellow is for dishes, blue is to get ready for bed,” May explained. “So when they get distracted there's one place to go to remind them what they're supposed to be doing at that time.”

May said that visuals leave out negative parent interactions and emphasize the child’s choices and behaviors. And when things don’t go exactly as they’re supposed to, follow through with appropriate consequences or discipline.

“If we look at what emotion is driving that behavior, that's usually a way we can determine-- do they need a consequence or do they need some support? If your child is watching something inappropriate on YouTube, then we remove that device from the child. When it becomes a choice that you feel like is not part of an ADHD symptom, then a clear consequence should be established.”

Finally: set your children up for success in any environment they’re in by creating customized plans with teachers and schools to ensure they’re supported and understood every step along the way.

“If challenges at school are not addressed, children internalize negative feedback they receive which can lead to increased anxiety and depression,” May said.

Possible symptoms your child may have ADD or ADHD:




Inability to sit still

Zoning out


Inability to listen

Easily distracted

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