Parenting Plays Important Role in a Child’s Treatment for ADHD

Parenting is tough. When you parent a child with a special challenge such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it can at times seem overwhelming. Fortunately, ADHD is treatable. With support and education, parents have the opportunity to help their child live a happy, productive and fulfilling life.

“ADHD is a disorder people typically struggle with throughout their lives. There is no cure but symptoms can be managed with success,” said Brandi Paluska, a licensed professional counselor at The Children’s Center, a program of Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois. “For children with ADHD, consistency and organization are extremely helpful in day-to-day functioning. As children mature, it is essential to teach them ways to stay organized – this is vital to their success. Implementing routines, especially before and after school, at bath time and bed time, keep children from becoming as agitated.” 

Consistency is also important when it comes to punishments and rewards. If a child is warned that they will go to their room if they throw the ball one more time, the child should be taken to their room if they disobey. Continuing to warn and threaten only angers the parent, which can lead to the parent losing control and the child being too severely punished.  

“Immediacy is imperative for children with ADHD,” Paluska said. “Rewards and punishments should be administered as soon after the behavior as possible. This helps children identify good and bad behaviors and also shows the child that they are being paid attention to all the time, not just when they misbehave.”

It can be difficult to help a child diagnosed with ADHD with social skills because their emotions are intense and can escalate quickly. As a parent, it is important to be proactive in avoiding confrontation. Do not let children play unsupervised if you think there is potential for conflict. 

“Children with ADHD are often in trouble for lashing out, but it is because they do so loudly,” Paluska said. “It is helpful to develop and practice scripts for difficult situations. For example, losing a game is often upsetting for children with ADHD. If the family rule is that you say ‘Thank you for playing with me. That was a good game,’ your child has a better chance of appropriately handling a similar situation with other children.”

  • Know the symptoms:
  • Inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity are the primary symptoms of ADHD, though not all children display these symptoms and severity varies. Children who daydream constantly or are unusually forgetful may be struggling with focus and attention.
  • If you observe or teachers report that your child is more physically active or excessively talkative compared to other children of the same age and gender, talk to your primary care physician about an evaluation for ADHD.