All children and teens can present with unique challenges, particularly as they develop, but those that have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder formerly known as Attention Deficit Disorder) can often benefit from targeted, specific treatments and techniques. ADHD affects approximately 6% of children and teens and can have a notable impact on everyday life (CDC, 2019). If your child/teen has ADHD, it can be difficult to adjust to the reality of the diagnosis, and she or he may
need additional support in coping with their disorder. In this article, we’ll be going over recommendations to help your child or teen thrive with an ADHD diagnosis.
Making a Treatment Plan
After an appropriate diagnostic process, the next step is developing an effective treatment plan. This is a dynamic process, so try to avoid getting frustrated if your first plan doesn’t work. Part of treating ADHD is remaining consistent with appointments and recommendations, whether for behavior therapy or medication management. Importantly, behavior therapy and/or parent interventions related to behavior management can lead to significant improvements in ADHD symptoms (Evans, Owens, & Bunford, 2014). Finding the right therapist or psychologist may take a few attempts, but the benefits outweigh the costs especially in the long-term. A well-trained psychologist will be able to help your child
navigate ADHD symptoms across all major areas of life, such as school, relationships, home, self-concept, and more.
Consistency is Key
Consistency and structured routines have been scientifically supported as helping children with ADHD function in everyday life. Developing a daily routine (e.g., when to wake up, when to eat) can help your child gain some independence and autonomy. Even adults can have issues with consistency, so you may find it helpful to use regular alarms and a daily calendar to stay on track. As your child gets older, they may be able to personalize this time independently, but providing additional support as needed and recommended by providers will benefit your child/teen.
Children often have limitations in understanding and fully adhering to boundaries, and for those diagnosed with ADHD, this may be a greater challenge. Setting appropriate boundaries is beneficial in a
parent-child relationship, and being consistent with boundary setting will facilitate behavior management. A good first step is setting clear, defined expectations of behavior. It will help to explain to a child or teen how ADHD affects their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors while simultaneously explaining ADHD is not a justification for boundary or rule violations. Effective two-way communication between parents and children/teens is also an important facet of setting boundaries. It can help to validate your child’s emotions, preferences, and concerns while also maintaining necessary boundaries and expectations.
Similar to boundaries, consistently enforced rules are imperative. As individuals with ADHD often have issues with working memory (short-term memory) and follow through, having a written list of rules, chores, and consequences may be a great tool. Keeping it in a shared space (e.g., on the refrigerator) where the child sees it regularly can help with memory as well as routine (NICE guideline, 2018).
Depending on the child, positive reinforcement, or rewards that increase the likelihood of a targeted and desired behavior occurring in the future, may be more effective than punishments for poor behavior. Punishments, such as time-outs or losing privileges, are effective for some but only when they are clearly and compassionately delivered. In delivering a punishment, it is helpful to focus on why the specific action or behavior is inappropriate.
Homework can be especially difficult for children with ADHD, particularly as academic and cognitive demands in school increase. Developing a daily homework routine can help mitigate this challenge. Distributing homework over the week and working on it for a set amount of time every day can help children or teens, especially if they struggle with initiation, concentration, and follow through.
There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for ADHD treatment, but Interface Consulting and Psychological Services can help you and your child develop a routine and treatment plan that fits your unique family and recognizes your strengths. We are happy to help children, teens, and adults on their journey in navigating ADHD.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Data and Statistics About ADHD.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2018). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: diagnosis and management. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng87
Evans, S., Owens, J., & Bunford, N. (2014). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 43(4):527-51.
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