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5 Communication Strategies For Parents Of Kids With ADHD

22/02/2021
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Clear communication is key for a child with ADHD, especially for kids with sensory challenges. Getting it right takes trial and error but it’s worth persevering with, as it can make it easier to get through the toughest days and make family life a little calmer.

The tips below aim to improve communication between children with ADHD and their parents.

parenting kids with adhd playing with a toy

Observe When Your Kid Is Paying Attention

For most people making eye contact is a sign that they are being heard, but the mind of a child with ADHD operates at a fast pace. So just because they aren’t making eye contact with you, doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. In fact, it’s common for kids with ADHD to be fidgeting with objects while listening to you, so as a parent, you need to pay attention to your child’s cues.


Provide Short And Simple Directions

It’s easy for children with ADHD to be overwhelmed with information, so you need to give step-by-step instructions whenever you’re asking them to do something. You don’t have to lay out all the steps at once; just provide one or two simple steps before moving on to the next step.


Establish Communication Strategies

It’s worthwhile spending some time coming up with different and creative ways to communicate with your child. For instance, you can make use of visual and audio cues to help indicate the things you want your child to do. You can use picture cards showing what you want to happen next such as a photo of a child’s clothes, toothbrush, or shoes. When it’s bedtime, you can bring your child a stuffed animal they like to sleep with or turn down the lights and read them a story. Developing routines in this way helps the brain of a child with ADHD to associate events with different images and objects.

parenting kids with adhd teddy bear with a book on a bed

Use Visual Aids

One communication strategy that kids with ADHD often respond to is visual aids. So instead of just telling kids with ADHD that it’s bedtime, you can get creative. Design a poster that has a series of pictures that demonstrate the steps. Make your own visual timetable that shows how your child will be spending their day. If you can get a child involved in making these visual aids too, for example by using their drawings or photos, they will be even more meaningful.

mom parenting a child with adhd sulky

Be Soft And Calm When Talking

It’s important that you do everything you can to keep your cool; you might actually stimulate your child when you become agitated. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what you want to accomplish, especially if you are dealing with a child who is already upset. You need to speak quietly to your child and as much as possible, and stay calm even when they are throwing tantrums. Step away from the flying objects and engage in a quiet activity that your child may find interesting. Your calm state will definitely influence your child.


Many parents are noticing that their children are more unsettled than usual at the moment, as their routines and daily structure are so interrupted. Being a parent to a child with ADHD is always challenging, and you’re probably doing a much better job than you think you are.

At The ADHD Centre, we are currently offering online ADHD assessment for children as well as a range of evidence-based treatments. To find out more please contact us by telephone on 0800 061 4276 or by email at connect@adhdcentre.co.uk.

Further Resources

If you would like to learn more about ADHD in children, please download our free e-book:

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