Parenting kids with ADHD – with ADHD

Hot pink and blue text that says "It's not wont, it's can't! Kids with ADHD are likely to be about two years behind thier peers and kids with ADHD whoa re also autistic are likely to be more like three years begind thier oeeers when it comes to executuve functions."

Parenting kids with ADHD – with ADHD

An image about parenting with ADHD that states: kids with ADHD are likely to be about two years behind their peers and kids with ADHD Who are also autistic are likely to be more like three years behind when it comes to executive functioning

If you’re a parent with an atypical brain and you parent kid/s with atypical brains, you know all too well that it can be super challenging. It was a complete nightmare for us for the longest time, but once I began to understand my boy’s needs, things got so much better!

I’m often asked to share what works for us so here are my GO-TO principles that I come back to over and over that help Harry, my 9yo, so that we have a harmonious home in which we can both thrive. 🌈

It starts with me! 

‘Put your own oxygen mask on first’ is not just a slogan – because if I’m cactus, so is my kiddo! By educating myself about ADHD and getting my own management right, I’m able to parent more consistently and provide the support Harry needs to realise his potential.

We’ve all heard it before. But it’s true! We’re no good to anyone if we’re in a heap on the floor. If you’ve followed along for a while, you’ll know that is very much a work in progress for me. I am FINALLY accepting that I need to REST as much as possible as a my spoons are all taken most if the time, for now at least…

And we all know this, but we simply can’t parent well if we’re stressed out of our minds. (Don’t get me wrong, some of the time it’s inevitable, but it makes it much harder…)

This is where self-compassion is SUPER important! I have it in spades with all the mindfulness I’ve done for a very long time, thank goodness, or there’d be a fair amount of self-loathing going on around here because I am FAR from the perfect parent.

So doing the inner work to overcome self-stigma and deep insecurities, and often trauma, does us and our kids so much good. 💛

Scaffold scaffold scaffold


This is one of the most important sentences I have ever heard!

“It’s not won’t, It’s can’t.”

Most kids want to please their folks most of the time. So if they’re continually not ‘doing the right thing’, whatever that might be, it’s HIGHLY likely they’re not developmentally capable of what you are expecting of them.

And just because they could do it yesterday, it doesn’t mean they can today. We all know know this! Our capabilities fluctuate from day to day and even moment and so do theirs. And even more importantly, kids with ADHD are likely to be approx. two years behind their peers, and kids with ADHD who are also autistic are likely to be about 3 years behind developmentally when it comes to executive functioning.

If we expect our kids to match their peers when it come to initiating, organising, remembering and not acting impulsively, they’re continually going to fall short. When I adjusted my expectations and accepted Harry is on his own developmental trajectory it was a game-changer.

My focus became supporting him to develop the skills he needs by helping him get started, breaking things down into smaller tasks, remove temptations instead of expecting him to control his impulses and educating him about working with them. Because as we know, a life of constantly falling short leads to terrible self-worth and the mental health problems that come with it.

Using ‘declarative language’


This is gold! When we use statements instead of telling our kids what to do, they’re so much more likely to do the thing AND we’re helping them build an ‘inner voice’ that guides them in a way that those of us with ADHD don’t have ready access to like those with typical brains.

Here’s a great description of declarative language and a example to explain:

“For example, you have misplaced your spectacles. Your inner voice may ‘say’, “I had my specs at lunch time. Now where was I seated?” Basically, your inner voice guides you to think through a situation and starts you on a plan of action to solve a problem. Many children do not independently develop this inner voice to regulate their thoughts, actions and emotions. Developing this ability helps children to ‘think out loud’. You can predict (“It’s going to fall!”), or reflection of past experiences (“I built a bridge with the big blocks”), thereby providing a clear language model from which your child can begin to form an inner voice of his/her own.

And one more pearl, a phrase in our house I’m trying to use more and more is “Would you be able to…..”
It’s an absolute winner as it’s not directive and is therefore more inviting than demanding. 👍🏼

Fostering connection above all else


This is last because I hope you’ll remember it most. It’s THE MOST IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE in my mind. Our kids need to feel like you’ve got thier back, plain and simple. When I’m attuned to his needs and emotions, it strengthens our bond and helps our family thrive. I try to get Harry’s ‘buy in’ whenever I can and ensure he feels understood as much as possible.

Don’t worry though, I get it. My boy pushes my buttons all the freaking time and I lose it not infrequently… I am very human after all. So then I go into repair mode, acknowledging I was wrong and make it up to him in any way I can. I consider this role-modelling and at the end of the day he needs to understand that if he pushes people too far, they will lose their temper.

It’s not exactly breeze parenting our lot especially in this world that doesn’t, but I’m a big believer that things can be awesome and bloody hard at the same time. 🌈

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