Last updated:

January 24, 2023

5 mins

 min read

The challenges of parenting a child with ADHD

When talking about ADHD, you may find an abundance of tips or coping mechanisms for you and your child with ADHD. Frustrated parents may think “What to do when your child with ADHD is out of control?” Through this post, we want to talk about how an ADHD diagnosis affects parents and the common challenges.

Reviewed by
Reyana D’Souza
Written by
Ipsa Khurana
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Raising a child is taxing. If they have ADHD, those challenges quickly multiply and it can seem like the most difficult job in the world. The apple of your eye is often easily distracted, disoriented, needs to stick to a schedule, and is hyperactive and inattentive. They can display anger management issues because they’re not sure how to regulate their emotions as a neurodivergent child. These “quirks” can get exhausting as a caretaker.

Frustration could lead to you thinking “I want to give up on my ADHD child.”

The first thing we want to assure you with is that what you’re doing is commendable and while exhausting, your love and concern for your child has brought you here. 

Maintaining Tolerance and Patience

This is easier said than done, of course. But one of the major challenges your child faces is the lack of emotional regulation. 

When it comes to social relationships, they can have frequent outbursts of uncontrollable anger or breakdowns unexpectedly. To calm them down and bring them out of that emotional state requires constant patience and a lot of tolerance on the parent’s part. 

Calm, consistent parenting is a key contributor to positive adjustment as children with ADHD grow. Knowing that, and to be able to inculcate that, requires heavier regulation on parents’ side, so that they can have the emotional energy to calm their child. Repeating instructions for the third or fourth time requires a lot of composure and consideration.

Looking for accommodations 

Neurodivergence is complicated and difficult to understand. It manifests itself in various ways that are hard to trace back to ADHD symptoms. And honestly, the conversation on mental health is still a relatively new idea for a country like ours. Mental disorders are still treated as super taboo topics. 

To get accommodations in such an environment becomes extremely difficult, because schools and other institutions do not recognise how ADHD students find it hard to concentrate, wait their turn, and sit still. This leads to constant complaints from the school, which can be stressful for parents, not to mention for the child too. The treatments also need to be taken extra care of, especially if it includes medication (apprehensive about psychiatric medication? Check out this blog.).

Isolation


Parents also might feel like they’re alone. Their struggles might feel isolating when compared with parents who do not have neurodivergent children who might just tag their child as ‘naughty’ or ‘restless’. These labels are understandably upsetting. It is important, in such situations, for parents to find a support system. These could be your family, friends, other parents or a mix. 

Guilt

There can be many circumstances where you are hit with intense feelings of guilt and overwhelm. You might think "I have no patience for my ADHD child" or feel like a bad parent. You may feel guilt about not listening to their impulsive speaking or that you weren’t able to calm them down during a moment of hyperactivity, which led to a breakdown. A learning or neurodevelopmental disorder is not a result of bad parenting and that in itself requires a lot of acceptance

Marital Stress

According to a 2008 study, nearly 23 percent of married couples with an ADHD child under the age of eight got divorced as opposed to around 12 percent of couples who did not have a child with the condition. As important as it is to find some help and comfort in relationships, the frustration and lack of energy caused by the struggles of dealing with all that comes with having a child with ADHD can get to you, causing strain in other relationships as well. The person who would be most impacted would be your partner because they’re just as exhausted. 

Being Shut Out 

Following the lack of emotional regulation, children with ADHD can easily be triggered by small things such as changes in schedule. The hyperactivity can make it worse. At times like these, you want to offer empathy and care to them because you understand what they’re going through, but sometimes doing that becomes very difficult when your kid is shutting you out in a moment of rage. You might end up the target of this misplaced rage. 

Teaching Social Skills 

Though ADHD children are inherently just as innocent and sweet as all children are, they can come across as rude and ill-mannered because of their condition due to their impulsivity and hyperactivity. They have trouble waiting for their turn and tend to blurt things out. They tend to do things they shouldn't, without thinking. They may jump or fidget in situations where they need to sit still. They might rush, have trouble following instructions or seem distracted. These can be difficult to manage and eliminate in an ADHD kid without treatment as can be seen as socially unacceptable in settings like classrooms. The onus of ‘disciplining’ this child, according to the people observing, falls on the parents. 

When the parent also has ADHD

Since there is a significant genetic component to ADHD, it is quite possible that the parent and child both have it. There are both pros and cons to it. Although an ADHD parent can understand their kid’s struggle thoroughly, while dealing with emotional dysregulation, it is important for the parent to keep their calm, which becomes extremely difficult for a person already going through the condition themselves. This can also magnify the feeling of guilt. These struggles become more overwhelming if the parent is undiagnosed. They might be normalising behaviours that can be attributed to ADHD symptoms. Studies show that intervention for kids with ADHD tends to be less effective when a caregiving parent has ADHD, too.

Parenting a child with ADHD is one of the most challenging jobs which can commonly go unappreciated. We’re here to tell you help is available and you’re doing a superb job at it. Check out our next blog for tips on ADHD parenting, or seek a therapist online.