Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Health Issues

Adapting a Style of Communication with Your Child with ADHD

Children with ADHD frequently experience difficulty participating in elements of sustained and focused day-to-day conversation. But adapting your own style of communication to your child’s needs can help him maintain a connection.

When necessary, pause to get your child’s attention (call his name before giving a command), maintain eye contact, and perhaps have him repeat back or explain what you have told him to be sure he has heard and understands. This approach works well not only when issuing commands but also when beginning any sort of conversation with your child. If he tends to interrupt, help him out by keeping your sentences brief and focusing only on what needs to be said. Avoid interrupting him frequently because he may not be able to stay engaged in this type of interaction. If you sense that his attention is wandering, touch his arm, take his hand, or otherwise make physical contact. Some parents find that conversation flows more smoothly if they are also involved in a physical activity with their child, such as washing dishes or making dinner. Finally, if you are telling your child something that you want him to remember, write it down in simple terms or encourage him to write it down himself.

Introducing concepts such as “consequences,” “rewards,” and “positive and negative behavior” into the family vocabulary can go a long way toward clarifying communications. Where you might have previously instructed your child to “Go to your room!” following an unacceptable behavior, you can now inform him that his behavior has led to a “time-out”—and by the time you give this command, he will know the exact rules that apply to this term.

Specific behavior therapy language strategies, such as when/then statements (“When you finish your homework, then you can go play baseball.”) may also prove useful when interacting with all of your children and can improve communication and morale in the family as a whole.

Last Updated
ADHD: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Follow Us