4 Ways to Establish Structure and Solid Limits with You Child with ADHD

Does your child with ADHD wear you down with their constant negotiating, debating and wanting their own way? They can break you until you give in. It isn’t easy being a parent especially if your child has ADHD.

Children with ADHD can be impulsive and have a need for interaction and attention, even if it means getting into trouble at home or school. These children can’t control their impulsivity, so it’s extremely important to hold your ground when they are being demanding. Most children tend to try and push the limits, it’s normal. Children need structure and boundaries to feel safe, but if your child has ADHD they require consistency and follow through with structure and boundaries even more than your typical child.

Why? A child with ADHD’s brain is wired differently, so they require structure and predictability. Here are some strategies that can help you.

Negotiating Stops

Explain the expectations to your child before going shopping so they have a clear understanding what to expect. If they demand a treat or a toy, restate the expectations. If they start to scream and won’t settle down, you may need to leave the store with them. I know, it’s embarrassing having everyone look at you and judge you and your child, but if you give in, you’re telling your child’s brain how to act every time they want something.

It is important to stay calm and stick to the plan. Raising your voice, yelling or threatening a punishment will demonstrate your lack of control. Being consistent and true to your word, wins the race.

Be Clear with Expectations

Your child is good at negotiating or making excuses for not wanting to do something you asked them to do. If you ask your child to help with the dishes, and they come up with excuses not to help, stand your ground and be clear with expectations.

Keep to the request and use “I statements” and /or first and then, for example: “I’d like you to help with dishes, so we can get on with our evening please.” Or “First the dishes and then you can play.” Be consistent and keep to the request. Giving in will make your job harder the next time you ask for something to be done.

State your Request Once

When your child asks you if they can have a friend over and you have explained to them why they can’t have their friend over, but they keep at you asking over and over again. Do you need to keep telling them why? This will exhaust you and start the battle of the wills.

State “Did I give you an answer?” Your child will say, “Yes, but…” Stay firm and ask, “What was the answer?” Your child will say the answer, but keep negotiating. Stay firm and tell them. “Asked and answered.” Then walk away to avoid any further negotiating.

Follow Through

I’ve been working with moms helping them with their children for years and I get it. Sometimes it’s hard to follow through because it’s exhausting. It is easier to give in in the short run, but in the long run you’re not doing yourself or your child a favor. If you give into your child on a regular basis, you will be stuck on a roller coaster ride that is hard to get off of.

Giving in to your child tells your child you tilt to the weak and they know how to keep pushing your buttons to get what they want. In fact, a child thrives on boundaries to feel safe and secure.

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