Top Ten Tips
for Parenting ADHD and Spirited Kids from The Gift of ADHD
1. Advocate for your child. This means you need to spin" your
behavior to friends, family and teachers. Has your child's antics been any worse
than our leading politicians? Probably not. Imagine the spinmeisters on talk
shows who try to get their politicians elected. Do the same for your child.
2. Coach your child to name and feel ok with all
their emotions. Kids act bad when they are mad, sad or scared. When you coach
your child to tell you what she feels, her bad behavior will heal.
3. Look inside yourself. Sometimes kids act out unexpressed conflicts of their
parents. Are you struggling with depression, anxiety, rage? Get help for
yourself and your kids will shape up.
4. Think of yourself as a coach. Your job is to coach your child to success in
social, emotional and educational settings. Sometimes the answer is practice,
practice, practice. Don't get discouraged if you have to repeat yourself over
and over again.
5. Ask yourself: If my child's most frustrating behavior was meant to teach me
something, what would it be?" Many parents find themselves half distressed and
half impressed at their child's indifference to people pleasing. Sometimes this
is just the lesson parents need to learn in their own lives -- many parents have
become imbalanced in attending too much to seeking approval from others.
6. Forget about the competition. Your child can still strive to be
outstanding without it being about comparisons to other children. ADHD and
spirited children are sensitive to tension produced by parents' competitiveness and the fear based
motivation inhibits them.
7. Keep Yourself Alive! It takes a lot of energy to keep up with ADHD and
spirited kids. You need to become your own energy source. Feed your own
passions. If you are married, work to increase your intimacy with your partner.
If you are single, keep your own love life alive.
8. Honor the kernel of self-reliance in all acts of defiance. Every time your
child doesn't do what you asked them to do, ask them for an explanation. Honor
their independent thinking and consider what part of it you may want to
incorporate into your discipline. Continue to insist that your child respect
your rules while demonstrating respect for their own rhythm and logic.
9. Practice preventative medicine. Many times children's bad behavior is a
misguided attempt to get some precious attention. Fuel your child up with the
highest octane energy you can early in the day. Spend a few minutes being
entirely present with your child. Look them in the eyes, touch them lovingly and
listen closely to your child. This intense presence will give them what they
need and head off desperate pleas for attention. Sometimes just a few minutes
will prevent large energy draining hassles.
10. Connect with your child's teacher. Research has shown over many decades that
your child's educational outcomes are very closely linked with how much the
teacher likes your child and how much they expect from your child. This is why
you need to advocate for your child at the same time as you connect with your
child's teacher. Show enormous respect for your child's teachers and try to
forge a close alliance with him or her. They will go the extra mile for your
By: Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D.
Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is author of
The Gift of ADHD: How to Transform Your Child's Problems into Strengths, the
forthcoming Gift of Depression: How Listening to Your Pain Can Heal Your Life
and more than twenty-five scholarly articles. Her work has been featured in
Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and Publisher's Weekly as well as newspapers
across the country and local and national radio and television. She specializes
in the treatment of ADHD and depression and the psychology of pregnancy and
motherhood; she speaks regularly on her areas of expertise. Honos-Webb completed
a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at University of California, San
Francisco, and has been an assistant professor teaching graduate students. She
offers telephone psychotherapy and coaching. Visit her website at