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17 ADHD Parenting Tips to Raise Great Kids

As a parent it can be difficult to ride this ADHD Parenting roller coaster with your kids. 

I speak from experience when I say some days seem insurmountable. Our patience can be dangerously thin. Our temper can flare and escalate an already not great situation. 

 We take our kids to countless appointments, advocate for them at school, spend time researching the latest trends, all while loving them through outbursts, complications with friends, and the ups and downs of their many and varied emotional states. 

I know you work really hard to make things easier for your ADHD kiddo.

But, What are some tips for ADHD parents ?

But what about us? We search for ways to help our ADHD kids, what about tips and strategies to help us when we ADHD parents are at our worst? 

We want to show up in a way that will help our kids, but what exactly should we be doing?

How can we maintain our calm and do our best to deal with our ADHD kids when they are struggling the most?

17 Helpful Tips for ADHD parents

1. Call Your Listening Partner

In her book, Listen( a must read), Patty Wipfler  recommends having a listening partner – someone who you can call at a moments notice and vent to.

A listening partner is someone who will listen without judgement, offer help, if asked and lend a fresh perspective to your predicament.

It can help immensely to just tell someone what is happening, even if it’s the 10th time you’ve talked about the same, darn, thing.

My listening partner knows me well and helps me to view the situation from a different lens. We inevitably find something to chuckle about and I’m back to feeling able to handle the next thing.

Calling your listening partner can be the first line of defense. Who is your listening partner?

adhd parenting tips

2. Find a self care practice you’ll actually do

This one isn’t new, you hear it all the time. In fact, you may hear it so much that you actually don’t listen to this advice anymore. 

Self care doesn’t have to mean a fancy pedicure or spa visit. In fact, the very mention of those things may turn you off.  Most self care ideas are too expensive, and time consuming, really.

Change your mindset 180 degrees when it comes to self care and I bet you’ll find something that you’ll actually do.

Here are some ideas to consider to help you feel more like yourself:

  • Take a walk in nature. Even 10 minutes in nature will have a salve-like effect on you or your children – or both!!
  • Put headphones on and zone out to music or a podcast for 10 minutes.
  • Read a magazine. Maybe even lock yourself in the bathroom to do it. 
  • Peruse the book section at Goodwill.
  • Clean for 10 minutes uninterrupted.(Yes, it can make you feel better to have at least one area clean and uncluttered!)
  • Get rid of stuff. Walk around the house and compile a bag for Goodwill. Less stuff equals less stress. Do this for as many days as is necessary. You’ll know when it feels done. 
  • Do a job your kids hate. For us its weeding (my kids HATE this job), so I’m usually alone in the sunshine.
  • Draw for 10 minutes.  The concentration and focus this takes makes everything melt away around me. 
  • Do 10 minutes of Stream of Consciousness writing – write down everything that comes into your mind – a bit of a brain dump, really.
  • Listen to a guided meditation on Headspace or Smiling Mind.
  • Visit a quiet library and find a good book.

Having a kid who struggles means it’s that much more important to be our best for them.

Taking care of yourself, also helps you to be a model of self-care for your kids.  Then, they can see first hand, how vital it is to find and do things that make you happy. 

3. Decipher what is behind the behavior

 Learning how to “discipline” your adhd child may be the most challenging issue for adhd parents.

Our society is so quick to look at a child’s behavior and label them as stubborn, lazy, defiant, or rude. 

When things get tough, we need to remember that behavior is communication and dig deep to figure out what is trying to be said. If you are not already familiar with The Explosive Child, it’s THE book to teach you about digging underneath the behavior and learning collaborative problem solving.

The big mindset shift is to always think, “Kids do well when they can” (Thanks Ross Greene!)  Poor behavior is simply a way of communicating.

This can take time to sink in for us parents.

I have learned over the years that “bad” behavior from my kids is my signal to get quiet and listen, give us all some space to cool down, but keep hanging around for when IT finally does come out. ” I’m scared about…….” or “I’m nervous about…..”

There is always something else behind the behavior. Always.

4. Seek professional help

As parents of kids who need extra help, it’s imperative that we get good at asking for help.  In this day and age, the “stigma” of seeing a therapist has disappeared.

 Seeking help for our mental health and emotional well-being is now, almost a given. It took us a few years to finally settle on an amazing therapist – one trained in the Collaborative Problem Solving method that has been so helpful.

Our goal, as much as possible, is to get in front of the behavior whenever possible. With lots of planning and conversations, we can avoid many outbursts before they even start.

4. Realize this is hard for our kids, too

Acknowledging this stage in my kids’ lives is just as difficult for them as being a toddler. Did you know middle schoolers grow and change as much as they did from birth to 2?

Both of my kids have an awareness of their struggles and it can make them feel really bad about themselves.  

My compassion for them has to be really obvious and transparent. They need to know someone is on their side – all the time. 

Being a kinder, gentler mom at these times can be a struggle, but being a soft, loving place for them to fall is so helpful to us all.  

You have to put in the time either way – and wouldn’t you love to fill them up first, rather than put out fires later?

5. Look for progress

As with most things in life, parenting has many different seasons. We may go through a rough patch that lasts an hour, a day, maybe even a week. But we do get past it, every time. 

“This too, shall pass,” as my father always says.

When things are tough, look back over the year and make note of where you see improvement.  You are moving in the right direction – perhaps not as fast as you’d like, but we will all get thru this. and be better for it in the end.

Thnk back over the past few months – or years – and see just how far you’ve come.

I have so much more compassion for my son’s sensitivities and anxiety. We are letting  my son set his boundaries with his comfort level , not where I think he should be for his chronological age, which leads us to……

adhd parenting tips

6. Stop shoulding all over yourself

I struggle all the time with thinking that because my boys are nearly teenagers they should be able to do this or that. They should be able to do their chores without being reminded, or brush their teeth well or put themselves to bed.  

This kind of shoulding is so unproductive. Our kids are who they are and are doing the best they can at any moment. ADHD is a developmental condition, so our kids fall behind their typically developing peers in some big ways. 

Again, this is when you can look for progress! Things are moving forward. 

We need to honor my kids timeline and meet them were they are.

So, we can look at them still needing us as a gift – the gift of caring for them for a little bit longer. 

Related: Our ADHD Story

7. Uncover YOUR Part in This

Having gone thru years of therapy myself, I have learned to turn the finger back around and point it at myself.

What is my part in this?  

Our reactions, as parents, have so much to do with what happens next. Flip the switch onto yourself.

How do your reactions to your kids’ behavior affect the outcome? How can you more positively affect the situation?

What childhood wounds do you have that might be contributing to this?  How can you heal yourself so that your child can be healed?

This is HUGE for us as parents. The more we work on ourselves, the better it is for our families.

We just need to slow down, take time and take a closer look at what our kid might be stirring up inourselves.

My own mother died when I was 4, leaving a huge wound that I covered up for most of my life.  With the birth of my first son, it all came rushing in…the fear of losing someone close to me is immense.  I am sure I passed this anxiety on to him. 

I’ve been in and out of therapy, myself for years. And as I heal myself, my son’s anxiety lessens. I am learning to have an enormous amount of compassion for the both of us – I need it as much as he does….

adhd parenting tips

8. Have Compassion for yourself

I tell myself that this parenting gig can be hard. Kids don’t come with rule books. Every parent faces challenges. I am doing the best I can at any  moment. We all are. 

Parenting is a journey full of ups and downs and lots of learning.

Yes, I’ve lost my sh%t when I wish I hadn’t. 

The reality is, we are all human. 

Having compassion for ourselves and acknowledging that we are not a perfect parent is one thing we all can be working on.

9. Make a deposit to the Karma Bank

Whenever I am feeling crazy unsettled, I take the focus off myself and do something good for someone else.  

This has been a practice of mine for years – way before kids and husband, even.  

I bring coffee to my co-workers, pay for the next person in line at Starbucks, or hide a 5 dollar bill in the eggs at the grocery store. 

It’s fun to surprise someone and make their day, no matter how small the gesture. 

When you help someone else, you put your problems into perspective and it can be so incredibly healing. Everyone is struggling with something. Everyone. 

Put this into practice with your kids, too.  Who can you give something to or do something nice for? We love to go to our local thrift store (where we are frequent shoppers, ourselves) and hide dollar bills inside books and shoes. It’s so fun to be sneaky with some goodness in mind!

adhd parenting tips

10. Make Time for Connection

When you make time to connect with your kids, the behaviors associated with ADHD diminish drastically and everyone has an easier time. 

ADHD kiddos  may not experience connection with their peers or at school, so finding time to connect as a family or just one on one with your kiddo is so vital. 

I know, I know, you’re busy.

But finding time to connect with your kid will be something that they’ll remember 10 years from now. 

We can’t have those great moments of connection with our kids unless we slow down. 

Really slow down. 

One of my very favorite ADHD gurus, Dr. Ned Hallowell, talks at length about connection(“the other vitamin C”, he calls it) being an important part of a treatment plan for ADHD. 

Adding connection to your kid’s bedtime routine can be just the secret sauce to make things feel warm and cozy at the end of the day.

Bedtime is one of the best times of the day and one we can count on – and our kids can count on, too. This is a great time for conversations to start and important feelings to be expressed.

A long, slow bedtime has forever been part of our family rhythm that will continue as long as we can. 

We found bedtime to be such a great, fulfilling time for us as a family, that I wrote an entire course on it. Click the Button Below to check out Sleep Strategies for ADHD Kids, and end the bedtime battles and get more connection.

11. Support your ADHD child’s interests

Unfortunately, ADHD kids often get reprimanded for all the things they can’t do right.

Like 20,000 times before they are 10, say some reports.

As a mother of 2 ADHD boys and a teacher, I feel like these stats are all too correct.   

This is why it is so important for ADHD kids to be able to pursue an interest – something that brings lots more positives than negatives.

There is nothing more confidence boosting and life giving than pursuing a personal interest. Making time for your child and allowing them to explore their own interests is so valuable for their growth and emotional well-being. 

For my own kids, it’s drawing, playing an instrument, and learning about WW 2 airplanes. I support them by having lots of art supplies at home, paying for music lessons, and making multiple trips to the library each week. 

What interest of your ADHD kiddo can you support?

Related: The Best Stuff to keep your ADHD kiddo busy and off a screen

12. Simplify your schedule, home, and life!

As a Simplicity Parent Family Life Coach, I eat, sleep and breathe keeping things simple. 

When our lives get too full – of commitments, and stuff – we all get a bit out of whack.  

Keeping things simple has a top down effect on our family.  when mama’s calm everybody is calm. 

But, I’d also argue that the entire family benefits from putting even a few of these simplifiers in place. 

Maybe some of the things can help you:

  • Keep activities to a minimum 1 or 2 for each kid at any given time. 
  • One day of the weekend remains completely free of commitments
  • I serve a few healthy favorite meals over and over.
  • Snacks are primarily nuts, fruit and veggies.
  • Rotate toys so there are only a few options at a time.
  • Rotate books for the same reason.
  • Keep only clothes that are worn in each family members bedroom. Store out of season clothes elsewhere and donate clothes that don’t fit.
  • Keep decor simple. The less you have to dust, the better. 
  • Practice the one in, one out rule for all family members.
  • Give experiences rather than things.

13. Educate yourself about ADHD

Finding a few good books about parenting ADHD can help immensely.

Whether you need to get advice, new recipes for an ADHD Diet, a quick tip or a gentle reminder, having a few great books that resonate with your parenting style can be invaluable. 

My favorites rotate with what’s present for us, of course. Currently, Differently Wired, by Debbie Reber, Raising Will, by Katherine Quie, Listen by Patti Wipfler and Being at Your Best When Your Kids Are at Their Worst, by Kim John Payne are on my bedside table.

Related: The Best Parenting books for ADHD Kiddos

adhd parenting tips

14. Stick to an ADHD diet

I will be honest, sticking to an ADHD diet has not been a miracle for us. But it is the steady backbone. I can really tell when my kids are veering too much from our usual, healthy diet.

Their behavior and their sugar cravings let me know we’ve gotten off course. 

So when things start to go south, I make sure we are eating super healthy food every chance we get. I can’t control the pizza parties at school, but I can make sure I help my kids pack a great lunch and serve lots of fruits and veggies at home.

I’m also uber vigilant about our supplements.

In our long journey with ADHD, I have seen countless examples of how food can affect my kids behaviors. As they get older and have to make decisions without me standing next to them, it’s evermore important to keep up our healthy routine at home.  Modeling a behavior is the best way to affect their decisions!

15. Get a good night’s sleep

“Sleep is the best medicine,” said every relative I ever had over the age of 60. 

It’s certainly been true for my kids and it’s true for me, too. 

I do everything I can to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.  That means finding time to exercise, taking a magnesium supplement nightly, shutting off screens before bed and keeping the same routine at night.

 It takes work, but I know I am not as patient and kind if I don’t get enough rest.

16. Stay Positive and Enjoy the Ride

 Humans are wired to be negative-for survival reasons, so it takes some work to look on the bright side.

I make a conscious effort to keep looking for the good stuff – and it’s there. Even on the toughest of days, there are moments to grab onto.

What we focus on expands.  So when I stop and make note of these moments of calm, grace, joy, or hilarity, they really do seem to multiply. My kids are an enormous gift to me and to the world!!

We have been loving The Big Life JournalTeen Edition.  It does take some effort to get my boys to sit and work on it, but I sit with them and spend 5 to 10 minutes on a few pages and the mood is always better when we are done.  Learning to have a growth mindset is a skill that will serve them for their entire lives. 

17. When all else fails ADHD Parenting Tips:

If everyone is safe, go outside and walk around the house a few times.

Look at a sweet baby picture of your ADHD kiddo. I keep one in the kitchen.

Take deep breathes, breathing out for longer than you breathe in.  It resets the brain.

Put everyone in separate rooms – including yourself – and wait for the storm to pass.

We’d Love to hear from you!!!  

Take a moment to comment about what you do to get through a rough patch of ADHD Parenting. 

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Need more help with Parenting ADHD?

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Try one of our best breakfasts for ADHD. 

Read our personal journey in our ADHD story.

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  1. I have a 6 year old daughter, yes daughter with adhd. I also have add. I struggle with angry outburst and it is usually toward my daughter. I feel like such a failure as a mother because i know first hand what she is experiencing, and all the struggles she must face. Sometimes it is so very bad that I feel like giving up. I wish that my family would understand but they dont believe that it is real and that im lazy and i dont discipline my daughter. It is very depressing. I found your article and it was nice to read this and know there are people who get me who get that this is real.

    1. Hi Shelley, My heart goes out to you. I have felt like a failure with my kids, too. I think many, many parents feel that way. But, look at what you are learning to help you both. You have so much to teach your daughter because you can empathize with her! As far as other people, don’t worry about what they think, that’s their business. You know best for your daughter, mama!!! You were gifted her for a reason. Our therapist always says, feel guilty for 30 seconds and then move on with what you have learned. Please keep in touch!! I’m sending you good mama vibes – I so get what you are feeling.

  2. Laura Hemsley says:

    This has been an amazing read for me, one of the best I’ve read actually! Thank you!!

    1. Thanks so much Laura!! I am so glad you found it helpful. We Mamas have to stick together. : )