Parenting Strategies for Children with ADD (Without Hyperactivity)

Children with ADD can be quiet, withdrawn and shy.  They can suffer from low self-esteem, miss details, be forgetful and often misplace items.  The following strategies for parents can help keep their children with ADD on track.

By Eileen Bailey

  1. Consistently work with teachers.  Create a system of communication that will allow you to know on a daily or weekly basis how your child is doing in school.  This communication can be via email, through written notes home, on in their homework book.  One parent I know wrote a checklist for the teacher to complete each Friday, listing items such as: homework handed in, upcoming tests or assignments, classroom behavior, and social skills.  The parent was able to see each week how their child was doing in many different areas and what they needed to continue to work on at home.

  2. Find a quiet zone at home.  Establish a place your child can go to unwind.  This may be their room, a family room or an outside area.  If they like to listen to music, make sure they have access to music in their area.  When they arrive home from school, allow them a few minutes to spend leaving the stresses of school behind before starting on homework.  Teach them relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing techniques, for example, which will help them to regroup, especially after an upsetting day.

  3. Offer frequent praise.  Children with ADD often have low self-esteem and may feel as if they do not fit in at school or in other social situations.  Use praise often to combat these situations and let them know there is somewhere they can feel good about themselves.

  4. Help them create successes.  Children have their own special talents.  Some may do well on tests or in certain subjects, while others may excel at sports or music.  Each child is different and has much to offer.  Help your child find what they are good at and remind them often of their self-worth.  Help them develop their strengths by finding activities or other children that share their interests. 

  5. Provide social opportunities.  Make sure social outings are supervised by an adult that understands where your child is having problems.  Children with ADD often have problems making friends so they may feel alone.  Find clubs and activities where they can feel welcome and will help develop their strengths.  Monitor the situation to make sure your child is receiving the most from the activity.

  6. Provide assistance rather than criticisms.  When correcting your child, listen to how you are phrasing your words.  Stay away from phrases like “You will never…” or “That will never work…” and instead use phrases like “Can I help you try it this way…” or “What other ways do you think will work…” By rephrasing your words, you are empowering your child to believe in themselves, rather than to believe they were wrong and help to develop self-reliance and independence.

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