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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Parents' Guide

What can Parents Do to Help Your Child?

Children with ADHD could face additional challenges in both home and school lives. Nevertheless, there are some guidelines for parents to help children overcome the obstacles brought by ADHD, and hopefully restore harmony and peace in the family. 

1. Establish a routine with “visual calendar”

Plan a timetable with your child. Include your child in the process to make sure he or she agree on the planning. A visual calendar can be in the form of a checklist, stating when and what should be done in order of time. Since children with ADHD usually inattentive, it is very useful to use pictures, drawings and colours in the calendar and display it in a conspicuous place at home.


2. Give countdown reminders

Allow time for your child to process change. Before making changes during the day such as turning off the TV, having meals, going to bed and leaving the house, remind him or her 10 minutes ahead. 


3. Focus on good behaviours, not the bad ones

Positive reinforcement should be used far more than punishments or criticisms with children with ADHD. When there is any sustained good behaviour, give appropriate rewards to promote good performance, such as praising your child for the desired behaviours. Remember, it is important to be specific to your child about which behaviours are praised. You may have to criticize your child occasionally. However, you should distinguish the improper behaviours from your child by focusing on his or her behaviours and the consequences. 


4. Contracting – setting up a “deal”

Contracting refers to setting a goal with your child with rewards when he or she achieves it. It is crucial that your child agrees on the behavioural change and the reward is meaningful to him or her. The goal has to be specific, appropriate, sustainable and time-bound.


5. Active listening

Challenging behaviours may arise when children find it hard to express their emotions in suitable ways or communicate their feelings to their parents. Therefore, always listen to your child attentively. It is essential for you to acknowledge his or her emotions and reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing without interruptions or judgements. 


6. Stay calm during emotional outbursts of your child

How parents react is the key to manage emotional outbursts of children. Try your best to remain calm, listen to your child, acknowledge his or her anger and speak softly. Do not yell as it may trigger a “meltdown” of your child.


7. Set rules for “meltdowns”

After the outburst is past and your child is settled down, review with your child the causes of his or her acting up, and let your child concur with how to behave when agitated in times to come. So, when there is an outburst of temper, carry through the agreement. 


8. Maintain sleep hygiene of your child

Symptoms can be lessen and concentration will be higher when children with ADHD get adequate sleep. Help your child keep to the schedule of when to bathe and brush teeth every day. Also, you can set a bedtime alarm that is quiet and not intrusive. Besides, a weighted blanket that exerts deep pressure to the body can foster children with ADHD to sleep naturally. 


9. Communicate closely with your child’s teachers

It is helpful to meet your child’s teachers individually to let them understand the triggers of problem behaviours of your child and how he or she learns best (e.g. through seeing, hearing or doing). You can make requests on your child’s seating arrangement in class that can help reduce distractions. 


Shire Pharmaceuticals Limited. (2018). ADHD: A guide for parents. What to expect and how to manage.

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