Raising an ADHD Child

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a Challenge, but Responsible Parents can Cope.

Copyright © 2012 ; All Rights Reserved; Posted February 9, 2012

A child studying; photo courtesy Pamala Wilson


The full name for the acronym ADHD is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is fairly self-explanatory. Only in recent years has the diagnosis become popular. Earlier, it was simply assumed to be a personality issue that was dealt with using parental discipline.

What are the Symptoms of ADHD?

The symptoms of this condition are easy to list, but they are very subjective, and there is one school of thought that medication is sometimes administered in cases where the condition does not really exist, but parental skills are lacking. Unlike “the old days”, we are now overwhelmed with both parents working, latch-key kids, and single-parent households.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Impatiently answering questions before a question is completely stated.
  • Abnormally impatient behavior.
  • Difficulty staying on task, i.e. getting distracted away from one task by another one before the first one has been completed.
  • The child is not able to be patient enough to wait for his turn (an important concept in civilized society).
  • Frequently causing problems by interrupting.
  • Very creative and intelligent. It makes one wonder about some talented people who become personal train wreaks. Mr. Sheen comes to mind. Winning!

What Parents Need to do to Help

Medication alone will help, but it should not be the first solution in many cases. First and foremost, parents need to step back, take a deep breath, and realize that it’s not about them anymore. Parenting has to be focus number one. As an example, I once had a project manager (who made a lot of money. When I told him that at my home we took a slight financial hit becuase my wife did not go back to work after giving birth; she stayed home with the kid.

He sighed and said, “I wish we could do that, but we take the babies to day care every morning so the wife can work too.”

I asked him, “What? Are you so in debt that you can’t get along with one income?”

He said, “No, but we like new cars and a long vacation every year.” Clearly, this is a family that has totally lost focus on priorities. You have to buy a licence to go fishing, but they let anyone have children.

Here are some strategies to cope with your ADHD child:

  • Be there for them and be patience; take the high road.
  • Set limits and rules and enforce them consistently. Your child needs to know what is expected of her and what the consequences and rewards are.
  • Maintain structure in all household routines. As a parent, your days as being a spontaneous pleasure-seeker are now limited. Deal with it.
  • Keep tasks short and sweet. Don’t give your child a list of chores. Give one at a time and move on after completion. Try to be patient and develop focus in your child.
  • Always give praise for good behavior. We all like praise and it is the easiest way to mold good behavior. Not just for children either; a study showed that office workers were happier in an environment where there efforts were applauded more than in an environment where they got raises but were not appreciated in a more personal way.

Medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Medication is often prescribed when the diagnosis is made. The most common are stimulants (counter-intuitive when you consider the hyperactivity component). The one name brand that seems to make the news most often is Ritalin, others that you might see are methylphenidate, Metadate, and Concerta.

Antidepressants are also commonly prescribed, especially in cases where stimulants are found to be inappropriate. According to Webmd.com, the one you will usually see is Wellbutrin. Other names you might encounter are Pamelor, Aventyl, Tofranil, and Norpramin.


  • www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting_challenges/adhd.aspx
  • www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-symptoms

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