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How Do You Parent a Child with ADHD When You Have ADHD?

By Devyn C. Longstreet, LPC 

It’s not unlikely that an ADHD diagnosis can be generational and shared between adult and child. According to the Neuropsychiatric Disease Treatment Center, Attention- Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms are multifactorial and influenced by environment and genetics. (Tartakovsky, 2016). As one would imagine, parenting can become pretty tricky in these types of situations. So what can be done to make things less challenging? 

Here are 7 tips on ways that can help maintain a healthy bond with your child, reduce stress in the household, and strengthen parenting skills overall. 

  1. Education on ADHD and symptoms

What is ADHD? Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms can look different from person to person, but can be characterized with inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. It is important that you and your child are evaluated by a mental health professional in order to better learn and understand ADHD, and you and your child’s symptoms. Education on this disorder for non-ADHD spouses and other non-ADHD family members is just as important. Provide age-appropriate resources, books, and online materials that help give a clear understanding. 

  1. Discover you and your child’s challenges and create steps to solve them that work for you.

How can you solve a problem without knowing what the actual problem is? Identify what works best for you and your child when experiencing challenges through-out the week. Remember that symptoms of ADHD can look different based on individual and age. Try keeping a log of certain symptoms you notice and which situations seem to contribute to them more. This will help narrow down solutions on ways to better manage daily stressors that you and your child will encounter. 

  1. Establish expectations and goals for yourself and your child.

What do you and your child want to accomplish? Be clear and concise on what your expectations are for yourself and child. Set mini goals to stay organized and use the reward system to increase positive goal setting and the bond between you and your child. Try thinking of where you would like to see yourself and where your child would like to see themselves in the future, make a vision board or draw out how you all will get there. 

  1. Communication and positive talk. 

How do you talk to each other? Talking with your child about what you may be experiencing with your symptoms can help a child better process and normalize the symptoms that they are experiencing. What we say as parents has a strong effect on our children’s self-development. Being able to talk with your child about expressing their feelings and what their interests are is key to helping them manage self-blame and negative thinking. This can also help you as a parent build a bond with your child by seeing them as a separate individual and caring for their needs. 

  1. Be creative in your approaches.

Have Fun. It’s important to have patience with yourself and your child. Try new ways of helping yourself and child handle obligations. This may look like letting your child do something fun before an obligation or spending five minutes to yourself before taking on being a super parent. Spend a few moments throughout the week involving your child’s interests with learning interactions and be sure to identify your interests as a parent. 

  1. Allow you and your child to have choices.

What are the options? In order for children to have a healthy development they have to feel that they are given options and can be independent, when appropriate. This can look like giving your child two options for meals or allowing them to choose what assignment they do first. Be clear, as children usually only need two-three parent approved options. Providing options increases social and emotional learning. Adults love options and choices too, it allows us to gain a sense of control in a world that has a lot of uncontrollable factors. 

  1. Self-Care.

How do you self-care? Self-care can be anything that promotes an overall healthier well-being in the physical, emotional and mental areas of an individual. What are some things that help you and your child relax? Some people enjoy yoga, deep breathing and grounding techniques, walking or exercising, dancing and listening to music.

If you have a busy life and are finding it difficult to slow things down for self-care, try taking 5-10 minutes out of the day to do a self- care activity for yourself and/ or child. The important thing is figuring out what works best for you and your child. 

If you or your child need resources or additional support on navigating parenting children with ADHD, while having ADHD too, it might be helpful to talk to one of the counselors here at Symmetry. You can contact Symmetry today by calling 312-578-9990 to get matched with one of our licensed counselors.   


Tartakovsky, M. (2016, May 17). 21 Tips for Raising Kids with ADHD When You Have ADHD Too.

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