4 Ways Parents Can Help Children with ADHD

My oldest son is one of the 5.9 million kids in the U.S. who have ADHD. And like those millions of other children, he’s a great kid with a ton to offer. He’s kind, thoughtful, and loves to make those around him laugh. But he has struggled in many of the same ways other children with ADHD struggle. School has never been easy for him. His energy-level is often overwhelming for other kids his age, which has made making close friends difficult, and the list could go on and on.

Through the years, his dad and I have tried many different parenting strategies, with varying degrees of success. As any parent with a child with ADHD knows, often trial and error prevails, and when you find something that works, you stick with it. I feel like there still isn’t enough information out there to guide parents of kids with ADHD, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned over the years about what has worked for my family. Here are a few tips:

Make sure they get plenty of exercise.When my son turned 7, he started playing soccer. At that point, my son, my husband, and I were all frustrated. Every day at school was a struggle for my son and he’d come home angry and upset, which made for some challenging evenings. So, we signed him up to play soccer, hoping that having an outlet for his energy would help. And boy did it! Almost instantly, we noticed that he had better impulse control and was able to sit for longer periods of time without fidgeting. Now, he’s on his middle school team and truly loves the sport. Soccer isn’t the only great sport for kids with ADHD. As ADDitudeMag.com notes, many other sports, such as swimming, martial arts, gymnastics, track and field, and yes, even wrestling, are excellent ways for kids with ADHD to get active.

Speak with their teachers.When my son first started school, he hadn’t yet been diagnosed with ADHD. Those first couple of years were a struggle for all involved—him, us, and his teachers. But once we had the diagnosis, and I was able to prepare his teachers ahead of time, all went much more smoothly.

As HelpGuide.org notes, parents of kids with ADHD must remember they are their “child’s advocate.” It’s up to you to prepare your child’s teachers for what works best for them in the classroom. My son has been very lucky. His teachers have been patient and understanding. In fact, this year his teacher even offered to work with him one-on-one after class. That focused time with her has helped him improve his grades significantly.

Remember, rules are made to be broken.Of course, every child is going to break rules from time to time. But there was a period when it seemed like my son lived to break the rules. Any time my husband and I tried to regulate his behavior by setting a rule, he’d test us by breaking it almost immediately. My husband and I had to learn what this article on parenting and ADHD explains regarding rules, they will be broken and we shouldn’t take it personally.

As the article notes, rather than making new rules, it’s better to focus on positive and negative behaviors. My husband and I realized that because he and I were so focused on the rules we never celebrated our son’s triumphs. As we reworked how we responded to his different types of behavior, we were all a lot happier.

Help them get some sleep. Many children with ADHD have trouble sleeping. This was certainly the case with my son. One thing we did that seemed to help him get more restful sleep was change the color of his room. We went from red to a light blue, and I think the less stimulating color made it easier for him to relax in his room. Of course, there are many other ways for kids with ADHD to sleep better. EverydayHealth.com recommends creating a bedtime ritual that includes a “relaxing activity” such as reading or listening to calming music. The site also notes that positive reinforcement—praising your child for sleeping through the night—can help instill in them the importance of quality sleep.

Today, my son is doing great, and I am very thankful for that. However, I know that there are challenges to come. My hope is that my husband and I, and all parents of children with ADHD, can meet those challenges with the patience and kindness our children deserve.

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Patricia Sarmiento is a health and fitness enthusiast. She loves writingabout health, wellness, fitness, and other health-related topics on her blog. A life-long athlete, she makes living an active lifestyle a constant goal. She lives with her family in Maryland.


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