How You can Avoid the 3 Most Common Mistakes Parents Make with Kids with ADHD

As you crawl into bed after another long day struggling about school, chores and technology with your child or teen with ADHD, do you ever feel like throwing in the towel? You’re not alone. Many parents of kids with ADHD feel frustrated and dejected. In your efforts to help your son or daughter get their homework done, make it to sports practice and pick up their room, do you feel like none of your reminders stick? What could you do differently to foster long term results?

In spite of the pushback and yelling you may receive, your child or teen with ADHD really needs you to hang in there.  They can’t learn those all-important executive functioning skills like organization, planning, prioritizing and self-regulation without you. But, if you lose it when they’re already upset, if you don’t work with them on solutions to daily challenges and if you notice their efforts and encourage their progress, you won’t be assisting them to build the essential life skills and self-esteem they need. My 5C’s approach–self-control, compassion, collaboration, consistency and celebration–provides the tools for you to create lasting changes. You’ll be more of the parent you want to be and your child really needs. 

Let’s look at the 5 common mistakes parents of kids with ADHD make (without shame or guilt!) and how you can avoid them:

Mistake #1: Losing your temper: It’s natural to get upset when someone’s screaming, kicking or hitting you. But your agitation only adds fuel to their fire. The first order of business when things are escalating is to regulate yourself. By managing your own feelings first, you’ll be in a better space to act effectively and teach your child to do the same. This doesn’t mean never getting upset or always feigning calmness. Instead, you notice when you’re becoming riled up and try to bring yourself back. You stop what you’re doing, take some deep breaths, call a pause in the action and re-orient. Like your GPS, your re-center without judgment.

Mistake #2: Excluding them from participating in creating solutions to daily problems.

Kids with ADHD, even young children, have their own ideas about what isn’t working and what could be better. This input is very important. They spend all day at school–a place where they often face social, academic or emotional challenges and hear about how, where and when they’ve missed the mark. They’re given directions about how to do things differently that may not make the most sense for how their particular brain works. When parents or caregivers include the opinions of kids with ADHD to address problem areas, there’s more buy-in and, ultimately, cooperation. Collaboration means working together with your child (and other important adults) to find solutions to daily challenges instead of imposing your rules on them. This collaboration offers a “we” attitude instead of a “you” attitude: they see you more as an ally instead of an opponent.

Mistake #3: Being too focused on the outcome and ignoring their efforts along the way.

Many parents, understandably, want to see immediate changes in their child’s behaviors when they give feedback or start a behavioral plan. You are helping them achieve steps towards being the responsible, productive adult you both want to see. But sometimes these goals overshadow the efforts. Acknowledging their progress with genuine, positive comments actively counteracts the dominant negative messages they hear daily. Studies have found that a 3:1 ratio of positive comments to negative ones makes a big difference in promoting behavioral changes and can-do attitudes.

If you are struggling with a child or teen with ADHD and would like to learn some sure-fire tips for improving cooperation and reducing arguments, please join me for my upcoming 4 session online workshop: .