Last Modified: December 4, 2023 | Published: February 25, 2023

Would you like to have more patience with your child? Know you are not alone. Kids who are inattentive or hyperactive can be challenging for parents. It may be that your child has ADHD, or there may be some mild issues with attention or behavior. 

ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a combination of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention problems. ADHD can also include disinhibition.

In this article, explore how to help your child with ADHD-related issues. You’ll learn how to know if ADHD is the issue and what you can do to help. More importantly, this article helps you if you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and losing your patience. Please know that this situation is normal. Most parents with inattentive kids get frustrated sometimes. Read on to learn how to help.

How to tell if my child has ADHD

Here are 5 signs your child may have ADHD. If you suspect ADHD, visit your local child psychologist or pediatrician.  

  • Your child is easily distracted.
  • Your child is bouncing between activities. For example, your child will begin their homework, think of something funny, which makes them think of laughing at lunch today, which will make them think of grabbing a snack, which makes them wander aimlessly into the kitchen.
  • Your child drifts off. For example, your child may be quickly drawn away from the focus of the activity. In reference to your child, you may hear family members say, “Look, squirrel!” jesting that your child is easily distracted by the smallest thing.
  • Your child is impulsive. For example, your child struggles to stop and think.
  • Your child is constantly moving. For example, your child seems to be constantly moving, tapping, playing with something, drawing, chewing, or bouncing.

Here are seven tips for having patience with your ADHD child.

1. Learn strategies for regulating your own emotions.

When we are experiencing strong emotions ourselves, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it can be extremely difficult to have patience with ourselves and our children. Practicing calming techniques, mindfulness, and self-care can help us be better parents. For help, check out this blog on tips for calming down as a parent

Learning to have patience for your child’s ADHD symptoms can be done. You can learn to have kindness towards yourself and more tolerance for your child’s challenges. Parent compassion is one of the highest evidence-based interventions for ADHD [2]. Not sure how to do this? Try the Cadey app for helpful tips today

2. Know it is not your child’s fault. Their brain is wired differently.

Your child is not trying to annoy you or ignore your directions. Your child’s brain is wired differently because of ADHD. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier, but it can begin to build understanding. 

Please be aware that the tips and tricks that work for your friend’s kids may not work for you. It can be tough to go out for coffee with a group of friends and hear how much easier it sounds for them to manage their children’s behaviors. 

You may even find that it is sometimes hard to hear about your friend’s kids’ accomplishments. It may get irritating to hear that their children earned student of the month and made the varsity team. In the meantime, you may just be trying to keep your head above water as a parent.

Instead of getting discouraged by these stories, we recommend leaning away from that noise. Learning about strategies that will work for your particular child can make a huge difference. Our mission here at Cadey is to give you those strategies. To get personalized tips, try the Cadey app

mom and daughter annoyed with each other

It’s normal to lose your patience with your ADHD child sometimes.

3. Have compassion for yourself.

Knowing it is hard to parent an ADHD child, have compassion for yourself.

The first step in self-compassion is letting go of your sense that you ‘have to get control’ over your child’s behavior. Myths abound that it is the parent’s job to know exactly how to get the child to do what they should do. In fact, much of the time, parents are wise to take a step back. 

Start by taking a moment to notice your own experience as a parent. Is your child’s behavior triggering your own issues from your childhood? Do you have the sense that because you cannot control your child’s behavior, you are a bad parent? 

Even harder is the sense that you are worthless or that your hard work in parenting is all for nothing. If you just take a minute to notice these issues coming up for you, this is a huge step in your own well-being and parenting skills. Research shows that parents who are getting support for their own mental health have happier and more resilient kids.[1]

When you haven’t had your ‘best parent’ moment, acknowledge the experience and know you are doing your best. Beating yourself up or criticizing your kid will not help you or your child do better. Practice self-compassion by talking kindly to yourself and treating yourself with care. 

Remind yourself that all parents sometimes feel inadequate. Even more importantly, realize that your success as a parent is not measured by what your kid does. In fact, your success is measured by what you do. If you are doing your best to be loving, compassionate, and provide consistent boundaries, you have done your part. Your child’s behavior may not instantly change as a result of your efforts.

It is your relationship with your child that happens over time that matters the most. 

4. Have compassion for your child.

Remember, your child is not trying to misbehave. I once worked with a middle school girl who had ADHD.  When we met, she would share how defeated she felt because she could not meet her parent’s or the school’s expectations. She told me how deeply she wanted to be able to focus and please her parents. To her parents, it looked like she was refusing to focus and get her work done. I could tell she sincerely struggled. 

In our therapy together, I taught her what it means to have ADHD, the gifts of having ADHD, and the struggles that come with ADHD. I taught her skills to help her be successful, and I encouraged her parents to connect with a pediatrician about medication. Helping your child understand ADHD and giving them skills for success can go a long way. To get help now for your ADHD child, download the Cadey app

5. Don’t compare yourself to other parents you know.

I once worked with a woman I thought to be the most amazing parent. She did everything by the book. She had clear rules and boundaries for her children. She followed through with the rules and expectations she set. She met her children with warmth and understanding. 

Her children still got themselves into trouble fairly often, and I would secretly wonder what was happening. For most children, given the same structure and guidance, they wouldn’t risk the consequences that followed their actions. I later learned that her children had ADHD and struggled with impulsivity. They truly did not stop and think before acting. 

She persisted with clear expectations, rules, boundaries, warmth, and understanding. Her children are young adults today and excelling in life. Her consistency and dedication to her children did work. However, it was 100x more challenging, and she didn’t see the payoff until her children were much older. 

I share this story as your parenting journey may not look like what you see with your friend’s kids. This does not mean you have failed. Know that you are doing your best, and keep going. 

6. Build self-care into your day.

Self-care can feel almost impossible sometimes as a parent. This is totally understandable. When we are burnt out, stressed, exhausted, and at the end of our rope, it is hard to be present for anyone, including our children. 

Our children who struggle with ADHD need our help and support. Self-care as a parent can be looking at your life and asking yourself what commitments to let go of so you can have more time for yourself. It may be making your work commute a time of peace and sanctuary. You can do this by listening to music you enjoy, a favorite podcast, or sitting in absolute silence. 

One of our colleagues, Dr. Willard, who has two kids with ADHD, suggested that the car rides are a major strategy for her own mental health. She deliberately goes for a drive, rolling down the windows and blasting her favorite music. Even just a 20 minute car ride brings relief after a hard day with the kids. 

It can also help to create a bedtime routine for your child. You would work to set up a routine where your child is in bed early enough for you to have some time for yourself. As hard as it is, even taking a few minutes after the kids go to bed for journaling, coloring, or calling a friend, can make a huge difference.

7. Get support for yourself.

Parenting a child with ADHD can feel lonely and isolating. You may feel like the only one with these struggles. You are not alone. Support can include gaining strategies that work from the Cadey app or reaching out to a healthcare professional.  

Another idea to get support for yourself is to consider joining an in-person or online support group. Look around for a group of parents with children who have ADHD. Research shows that parents who have a supportive community are more equipped to support their children’s mental health and development. [1]

Finally, you could try hiring an executive functioning coach. This coach helps your child with homework and organization, taking some of the pressure off of you. An excellent resource for executive coaching is Untapped Learning

If you are able to hire a tutor or an executive coach for your child, try your best to step away from the homework time. Sometimes homework becomes a big strain on the parent-child relationship. If you can, use that time to prepare a special meal for the family or go for a walk. Even that slight refocus on positive time in the evening can go a long way. 

Other causes of similar symptoms

Trauma, lack of sleep, anxiety, and depression can be underlying reasons for your child’s inability to focus and pay attention.

Fun fact: 25 percent of children who are diagnosed with ADHD are not getting enough sleep, and it is a sleep problem or lack of sleep that is the cause for hyperactivity and trouble focusing.

How to get help

If your child is struggling with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, it is often necessary to seek professional help. If these challenges are clinically significant, they can have a pervasive impact on many areas of your child’s life.

If you want to find peace as a parent and teach skills to your child, we are here to help. The Cadey app shows you how to do it. Available for both iOS and Android, Cadey is for you. 

[1] Julie Anne Laser & Nicole Nicotera (2010). Working with adolescents: A guide for practitioners

[2] Willard, M. & Kroncke, A. (2023). Recent Advances in ADHD: 8 Tips Every Parent Should Know. This FREE class is instructed by Cadey clinical child psychologists to help parents manage ADHD.