Parenting a child with ADHD

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October is ADHD Awareness Month and Rebecca Brown Wright says that having a child with ADHD has been the best thing for her parenting. As she delved into how to parent a child with ADHD, she learned why consequences didn’t work for her kid. This led Rebecca to find a different way, and thankfully, she was introduced to the idea of connecting with her children when they’re struggling, defying, or melting down.

Kids with ADHD struggle to remember past consequences, and apply them to their current choices. So that consequence that makes sense to you now isn’t going to stay with them the next time they face the same situation. The consequence won’t change their behavior. Kids with ADHD are often impulsive, so they don’t always think their decisions all the way through. They don’t set out to be naughty, they’re following their curiosity. Punishing them for the natural way their brain works won’t help them. It’s better to teach skills.

Kids with ADHD deal with emotional flooding. If you give them a harsh consequence, they may be able to focus only on that consequence, and their emotions will explode. Which will lead to more consequences, which will lead to more explosions, which will lead to… you get the idea.

Kids with ADHD are distracted. So they may make a mistake without even realizing they did it. Once it’s pointed out to them, they get it. They know. And they feel terrible about themselves. A consequence is salt on their wounded self-esteem.

Kids with ADHD hyperfocus. They can get sucked into something that interests them, and not notice anything that’s going on around them. Threatening them with a consequence when they’re in this state isn’t going to help them, it’s just going to hurt them when they come out of hyperfocus and realize they messed up. Again.

It’s estimated that by age 12, kids with ADHD have received 20,000 more negative messages about themselves than their counterparts without ADHD. They don’t need us to pile on the consequences. They need us to understand their symptoms, gently guide them to learn coping tools, and connect, connect, connect. The next time someone tells you to give your child a consequence, give your kiddo a hug instead. Talk gently to them and find out what’s going on in their brain. Then work on a solution together.

To read Rebecca’s blog and take her courses, visit

Deena Manzanares
Deena Marie Manzanares is a Utah native, but lived in NYC for a few years while attending the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School. Locally, she has worked as a professional actor for years in both stage and film.

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