Setting Expectations for Your ADHD Child

Phelan The Problem
Even average children act up on a regular basis. Unfortunately, ADHD kids are very likely to act up more often and be more aggravating than their non-ADHD counterparts. It’s important, therefore, to know exactly what to expect from your youngsters with ADHD and to know in advance how to handle their difficult behavior. These two skills, when practiced regularly, can reduce your emotional upset by more than fifty per cent.

The Unknown Truth
How do you know if your expectations for your ADHD youngster are out of line? First, you are frustrated a lot! Second, you often say things like, “How many times do I have to tell you!” and “What’s the matter with you!!”

With ADHD children, we use “The 30% Rule” to set realistic expectations. The 30% Rule goes like this. Take the age of your ADHD child and subtract 30% from it. If your son is 12, for example, subtracting 30% of 12 (3.6 years) from 12 gives you 8.4. What is 8.4? It’s a more realistic estimate of the functional emotional and behavioral maturity of your boy.

Simply put, ADHD kids generally don’t act their age. That’s why your seventh grader (around 12-years old) often acts more like a third grader (around 8-years old).

The Solution
First, reset your expectations for your ADHD child. Accepting The 30% Rule will make you a more sensible and down-to-earth parent. You will still work on fostering your child’s growing maturity, but you will appreciate the handicap you are both working under. Instead of yelling, “What’s the matter with you!!” you will actually silently answer that question in your own head: ADHD is what’s the matter.

Second, create and implement a management strategy that is appropriate for a child who is 30% younger. Maybe your 12-year-old doing homework, for example, needs checking and friendly support every 10-15 minutes instead of every 20-25 minutes. Maybe your 8-year-old daughter with ADHD has tantrums you’d expect from a 5-year-old. You need a calm routine for managing those. With any ADHD child, perhaps you should consider more one-on-one time rather than always emphasizing family activities.

Unrealistic expectations increase parental anger. Having no strategy for a particular behavioral problem, in turn, will always make that anger worse. Use The 30% Rule to reset your expectations, then create solid, workable tactics for dealing with your ADHD youngsters. Repeat as necessary!

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