July 21, 2023

5 common mistakes parents make when parenting a child with ADHD

Parenting a child with ADHD can present many distinct challenges. It requires extra care and attention to ensure that the child is getting the best care and support they need. Unfortunately, there are some common mistakes that parents make when parenting a child with ADHD, which can make their condition worse

In this blog post, we'll be exploring five of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them in order to help your child cope with their ADHD.

1) Not acknowledging the condition

One of the most common mistakes that parents make when parenting a child with ADHD is not acknowledging the condition. ADHD can have a significant impact on a child's behavior, emotions, and ability to learn. Failing to recognize and understand these challenges can lead to frustration, stress, and misunderstandings between the parent and the child.

Unfortunately, ADHD is often misunderstood or misdiagnosed, leading some parents to dismiss the diagnosis entirely. This can lead to the child feeling unsupported and misunderstood, making their symptoms worse.

It is important for parents to educate themselves about ADHD and work with their child's healthcare provider to develop an appropriate treatment plan. This may include medication, therapy, and accommodations in the home and at school.

By acknowledging the condition and working to understand its impact, parents can better support their child's needs and reduce the risk of worsening their symptoms. Additionally, a child who feels supported and understood is more likely to feel confident and succeed in life.

2) Overreacting to the child's behavior

One of the common mistakes that parents make when parenting a child with ADHD is overreacting to their child's behavior. It can be difficult for parents to cope with a child who is constantly on the go, struggles to concentrate, and exhibits impulsive behavior. However, reacting strongly to these behaviors can actually make things worse.

When a parent overreacts to their child's ADHD symptoms, they may inadvertently create an environment that exacerbates the child's behavior. The child may feel constantly criticized, ashamed, and frustrated, which can make them more anxious and more likely to act out. Parents may become overly controlling, causing their child to feel resentful and push them away.

One way to avoid overreacting is to learn more about ADHD and its symptoms. Understanding that ADHD is a real condition and not simply bad behavior can help parents feel more compassionate and less frustrated. Additionally, it's important for parents to learn strategies to help manage their child's symptoms. Seeking the guidance of a healthcare professional can be beneficial in this regard.

Overall, parents need to remember that overreacting to their child's ADHD symptoms can be counterproductive. By providing support and understanding, parents can help their child feel accepted and encouraged to learn coping strategies.

3) Not providing structure and routine

Another common mistake that parents make when parenting a child with ADHD is not providing enough structure and routine in their daily lives. Children with ADHD often struggle with executive functioning skills, such as organizing and planning, so having a structured and predictable environment is essential for their overall well-being.

Without a clear structure and routine, children with ADHD may feel overwhelmed and have difficulty focusing on tasks or following instructions. They may become easily distracted and struggle to complete their homework or chores. Additionally, a lack of structure can lead to impulsive behavior, as these children may struggle to control their impulses without clear guidelines.

To address this issue, parents should establish consistent routines and schedules for their child. This includes having set times for meals, homework, and bedtime. Creating visual schedules or using timers can be helpful in providing a visual representation of the day's activities and time limits. Breaking tasks down into smaller, manageable steps can also make it easier for children with ADHD to stay on track and complete tasks.

Furthermore, it's important for parents to communicate and reinforce the structure and routines consistently. Clear expectations and reminders can help children with ADHD understand what is expected of them and reduce anxiety or frustration. Consistency in enforcing rules and consequences is also crucial in providing a stable and predictable environment.

Structure and routine are essential for children with ADHD. It helps them feel secure, reduces their anxiety, and enhances their ability to focus and engage in daily tasks. By incorporating these strategies, parents can help their child with ADHD thrive and reach their full potential.

4) Using punishment as the only form of discipline or not using punishment at all.

Parenting a child with ADHD can be challenging, and it's easy to get overwhelmed by their behavior. As a result, many parents are unsure on how to discipline a child with ADHD. And, oftentimes, make the mistake of relying solely on punishment as a form of discipline or avoiding punishment altogether. 

While it's important to have consequences for inappropriate behavior, punishing a child with ADHD excessively can be counterproductive. It can increase their frustration and anxiety levels, and lead to a negative cycle of behavior.

Children with ADHD often struggle with self-regulation and impulse control, and they may not always understand the consequences of their actions. As such, it's essential to communicate what they have done wrong clearly and calmly, and use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior. 

By working with your child's unique needs, you can create a positive, supportive environment that promotes growth and development. Remember that parenting is a journey, and it's okay to make mistakes. But by avoiding the common pitfalls of punishment and focusing on positive discipline, you can help your child thrive.

5) Not addressing your own emotions.

Adjusting your parenting style to be more structured, emotionally supportive, and authoritative can positively impact the symptoms of ADHD in children, but it requires self-care, awareness, and acceptance from the parent. (HG Parent coaching can help parents navigate how to evolve and shift their parenting style.)

In order to effectively parent your ADHD child, you need to check your own emotions. Becoming overly emotional or irrational will trigger your child. When you are overcome by emotion, try communicating those emotions with your child. This will help them understand how you’re feeling and help them react accordingly.

If your child is struggling to put their shoes on for school and you grow agitated, that’s OK, but remain calm. That doesn’t mean being emotionless but instead responding with your emotions in a composed fashion. “I’m sorry Dad is annoyed by this, but we need to get your shoes on to get you to school on time.” 


As a parent with a child with ADHD, do I need to parent differently? Absolutely! While all these mistakes are common, a parenting style shift can help you avoid them.

The authoritative parenting style, which combines high control with high warmth and support, is considered the best parenting style for children with ADHD.

Research suggests that children raised by authoritative parents tend to have better social skills, emotional well-being, and academic performance compared to children raised with other parenting styles. This parenting style provides a balance between nurturing and setting appropriate boundaries, fostering a positive and supportive environment for children to thrive.

Authoritative parents set limits with emotional support, emphasizing the importance of understanding their child's struggles and offering help while still expecting high achievement.

Accepting and understanding your child's ADHD, while still providing structure and boundaries, leads to better outcomes and reduces stress for both parents and children.

The authoritative parenting style, which is the most effective, is challenging and requires self-care, awareness, and acceptance from the parent.

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