To effectively parent a child with ADHD you must be an effective manager. You are
managing someone with poor self-regulation. Your interactions with your ADHD child must be
consistent, predictable and most importantly, understanding of the chronic difficulties
this child likely will experience. The following guidelines are essential:
- Education. You must become an educated consumer. You must thoroughly understand
this disorder, including developmental, scholastic, behavioral and emotional issues.
- Incompetence vs. Non-compliance. You must develop an understanding of
incompetence (non-purposeful problems that result from the child's inconsistent
application of skills leading to performance and behavioral deficits) and non-compliance
(purposeful problems which occur when children do not wish to do as they are asked or
directed). ADHD is principally a disorder of incompetence. However, since at least 50% of
children with ADHD also experience other disruptive, non-compliant problems. Parents must
develop a system to differentiate between these two issues and have a set of interventions
- Positive Directions. (telling children what to do rather than what not to do or
giving them a start rather than a stop direction). That provides the most effective type
of commands for the ADHD population.
- Rewards. Remember that children with ADHD need more frequent, predictable and
consistent rewards. Both social rewards (praise) and tangible rewards (toys, treats,
privileges) must be provided at a higher rate when the ADHD child is compliant or
succeeds. Remember, it is likely that the ADHD child receives less positive reinforcement
than siblings. Make an effort to keep the scales balanced.
- Timing. Consequences (both rewards and punishment) must be provided quickly and
- Response Cost. A modified response cost program (you can lose what you earn) must
be utilized with this child at home. This system can provide the child with all the
reinforcers starting the day and the child must work to keep them or can start the child
with a blank slate, allowing the child to earn at least three to five times the amount of
rewards for good behavior versus what is lost for negative behavior (earn five chips for
doing something right, lose one chip for doing something wrong).
- Planning. Understanding the forces that affect your ADHD child, as well as the
child's limits should be used in a proactive way. Avoid placing the child in situations in
which there is an increased likelihood the child's temperamental problems will result in
- Take Care of Yourself. Families with one or more children experiencing ADHD are
likely to experience a greater stress, more marital disharmony, potentially more severe
emotional problems in parents and often rise and fall based upon this child's behavior. It
is important to understand the impact this child may have upon a family and deal with
these problems in a positive, preventative way rather than a frustrated, angry and
negative way after you have reached your tolerance.
- Take Care of Your Child. Remember that your relationship with this child is
likely to be strained. It is important to take extra time to balance the scales and
maintain a positive relationship. Find an enjoyable activity and engage in this activity
with your child as often as possible, at least a number of times per week.
Sam Goldstein, Ph.D. Dr. Goldstein is a member of the faculty at the University of Utah
and in practice at the Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center. He has authored twelve
texts, book chapters, articles and training videos dealing with a range of child
Correspondence to Dr. Goldstein can be addressed c/o the Neurology, Learning and
Behavior Center, 230 South 500 East, Suite 100, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102, (801)
532-1484, FAX (801) 532-1486, e-mail: email@example.com,
or visit his website at www.samgoldstein.com
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS
WORKING WITH CHILDREN EXPERIENCING ATTENTION PROBLEMS
Goldstein, S. & Goldstein, M. (1997). A Parent's Guide: Attention Deficit
20Hyperactivity Disorders in Children, 4th Edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Neurology,
Learning and Behavior Center.
Goldstein, S. & Goldstein, M. (1995). A Teacher's Guide: Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorders in Children, 3rd Edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Neurology,
Learn and Behavior Center.
Goldstein, S. & Hinerman, P. (1988). A Parent's Guide: Language and Behavior
Problems in Children. Salt Lake City, Utah: Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center.
Goldstein, S. & Goldstein, M. (1992). Hyperactivity: Why Won't My Child Pay
Attention? New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Goldstein, S. & Mather, N. (1998). Overcoming Underachieving: An Action Guide to
Helping Your Child in School. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Ingersoll, B. & Goldstein, S. (1993). Attention Deficit Disorder and Learning
Disabilities: Myths, Realities and Controversial Treatments. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Ingersoll, B. & Goldstein, S. (1995). Lonely, Sad and Angry: A Parent's Guide to
Depression in Children and Adolescents. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Alexander-Roberts, C. (1995). A Parent's Guide to Making it Through the Tough Years,
ADHD and Teens. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Co.
Barkley, R.A. (1995). Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete Authoritative Guide for
Parents. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Bloomquist, M. (1996). Skills Training for Children. New York, NY: Guilford.
Bain, L.J. (1991). A Parent's Guide to Attention Deficit Disorders. New York,
NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group.
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CH.A.D.D.) (1996). ADD in
Adolescence: Strategies for Success from CH.A.D.D. Plantation, FL: Author.
Clark, L. (1986). SOS: Help for Parents. Bolling Green, KY: Parent's Press.
Conners, C.K. (1990). Feeding the Brain. New York, NY: Plenum Publishers.
Dendy, C.A.Z. (1995). Teenagers with ADHD: A Parent's Guide. Bethesda, MD:
Fowler, M. (1990). Maybe You Know My Kid: A Parent's Guide to Identifying,
Understanding and Helping Your Child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. New
York, NY: Birchline Press.
Garber, S.W., Garber, M.D. & Spizman, R.S. (1990). If Your Child is Hyperactive,
Inattentive, Impulsive and Distractible. New York, NY: Villard Books.
Gordon, M. (1990). ADHD/Hyperactivity Consumer's Guide for Parents and Teachers. DeWitt,
NY: GSI Publications.
Greenburg, G.S. & Horne, W.F. (1991). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
Questions and Answers for Parents. Champaign, IL: Research Press.
Ingersoll, B. (1997). Dare Devils and Daydreamers: New Perspectives on Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Jones, C.B. (1994). Attention Deficit Disorder: Strategies for School Aged Children.
Tucson, AZ: Communication Skill Builders.
Jones, C.B. (1991). Sourcebook for Children with Attention Deficit Disorder: A Guide
for Early Childhood Professionals. Tucson, AZ: Communication Skill Builders.
Katz, M. (1997). On Playing a Poor Hand Well: Insights from the lives of those who
have overcome childhood risks and adversities. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.
McCarney, S.B. & Johnson, N.W. (1995). A Parent's Guide to Early Childhood
Attention Deficit Disorders. Columbia, MO: Hawthorne Press.
Parker, H.C. (1988). The ADD Hyperactivity Workbook for Parents, Teachers and Kids. Plantation,
FL: Specialty Press. (Also available in Spanish).
Patterson, G.R. & Forgatch, M. (1988). Parents and Adolescents Living Together:
Part I. The Basics; Part II. Family Problem Solving. Eugene, OR: Castalia Press.
Phelan, T. (1984). 1-2-3 Magic. Glen Ellyn, IL: Child Management Press.
Phelan, T.W. (1993). All About Attention Deficit Disorder: A Comprehensive Guide. Glen
Ellyn, IL: child Management, Inc.
Shure, M.B. (1994). Raising a Thinking Child: Helping Your Young Child to Resolve
Everyday Conflicts and Get Along with Others. New York, NY: Henry Holt & Co.
Silver, L.B. (1993). Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.
Taylor, J.F. (1990). Helping Your Hyperactive Child. Rocklin, CA: Prima
Turecki, S. & Tonner, L. (1985). The Difficult Child. New York, NY: Bantam
Goldstein, S. (1989). Why Won't My Child Pay Attention? Salt Lake City, Utah:
Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center. (Also available in European PAL format)
Goldstein, S. (1994). Why Isn't My Child Happy? Salt Lake City, Utah: Neurology,
Learning and Behavior Center. (Also available in European PAL format)
Goldstein, S. & Goldstein, M. (1990). Educating Inattentive Children. Salt
Lake City, Utah: Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center. (Also available in European PAL
Goldstein, S. & Goldstein, M. (1991). It's Just Attention Disorder: A Video
Guide for Kids. Salt Lake City, Utah: Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center. (Also
available in European PAL format)
Goldstein, S. & Goldstein, M. (1991). It's Just Attention Disorder: User's
Manual. Salt Lake City, Utah: Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center.
Barkley, R.A. (1995). ADHD: What Do We Know? New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Barkley, R.A. (1995). ADHD: What Can We Do? New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Barkley, R.A. (1995). ADHD in the Classroom: Strategies for Teachers. New York,
NY: Guilford Press.