Tips for Parents When a Child is Diagnosed with ADHD

Health Writer

When a child is diagnosed with ADHD, parents may be confused, not knowing where to turn or what to do. Below are ten tips for parents after their child has been diagnosed with ADHD:

  1. Find the right medical practitioner. Many primary doctors today can diagnose ADHD in children. Even so, this does not mean they are able to effectively treat ADHD symptoms. It is important to find a clinician that can create a custom treatment plan based on your child's specific symptoms and areas he or she may find particularly difficult. The medical professional you choose should be willing to coordinate care, including working with therapists (if necessary), teachers and other caregivers.

  2. Make sure you have an accurate diagnosis. Children with ADHD commonly have other comorbid conditions, such as depression, anxiety or learning disabilities. Having a treatment plan that addresses the specific challenges your child faces is based on having an accurate and complete diagnosis. If you find a treatment plan is not bringing about the results you desire, talk with your doctor about additional assessments to determine if there is a different diagnosis, or an additional diagnosis, that should be treated as well.

  1. Be aware of all treatments available for children. Research has shown the most effective treatment for children with ADHD is a combination of medication and behavioral modification programs. Behavioral modification can include teaching skills for self-control, socialization and target specific behavioral challenges. Understanding the treatments available can help you make an informed decision on what is best for your child.

  2. Talk with your child's teacher and school personnel to create an educational plan to help your child succeed in school. Children with ADHD may not be eligible for an Individualized Educational Plan but may be eligible for services and accommodations under Section 504. Even if your child does not qualify for accommodations, school personnel may be willing to work with you in other ways, such as additional reading instruction or increased communication between parents and teachers. Remember, teachers want your child to succeed and most will work with you.

  1. Learn about ADHD. Understand what ADHD is and how it may impact your child's life, both academically and socially. Read information on childhood ADHD.

  2. Consider parent training. Children with ADHD do not always respond to traditional parenting techniques, such as grounding. Children with ADHD often respond to immediate and positive reward techniques. There are a number of programs around the country to provide parent-training programs to help develop effective strategies for parenting children with ADHD. If you cannot find one in your area, you can search on the internet or read books on effective parenting strategies.

  3. Find support. Many parents of children with ADHD feel alone and isolated. Reaching out to other parents can help you to deal with daily frustrations and to find strategies that may have worked for other parents. There are many parents throughout the country that may be facing similar issues and it can help to talk with other parents and know that you are not alone.

  1. Take time for yourself. Raising a child with ADHD is often time consuming and energy draining. It is important to take time for yourself. Taking even ten or fifteen minutes each day to relax, meditate or just be by yourself can help to reinvigorate yourself.

  2. Make time for your spouse. It can be easy to ignore your own relationship when caring for children with special needs and those that require extra time and effort. But your relationship with your spouse is important and should not be ignored. If you are not able to get a babysitter and go out on a regular basis, take some time after the children are in bed to reconnect with your spouse. Set up a specific time so you are both prepared to enjoy each other's company and talk about issues important to you (but not talking about the children.)

  3. See ADHD as a gift, rather than a liability. There are many positive characteristics of ADHD and it is important to look at these as gifts. Although it is easy to focus of the challenges and difficulties your child experiences, changing your thought patterns to see the positive can help you change your child's and your family's view of ADHD.