ADHD Family Support

Laurie Duplar

Managing Siblings

A Note from ImpactADHD: We all know that siblings of kids with ADHD can get the short end of our attention. We want to do something about it, but are usually aren’t sure where to start. Laurie does a great job of breaking it down to simple steps — when its important to take action, and how. As “May Madness” creeps in, and you go from dance recital to choral concert, remember that all your kids deserve your attention. But have no fear — you can handle it!

As a parent, you spend lots of time worrying and planning. You want to give your children what they need. You want your children to be happy and successful, whatever that means to each of them.

When you are the parent of a child with ADHD, your worry and concern for that child often ends up being your central focus. It affects everyone in the family, including their non-ADHD siblings.

Creating a healthy family means we, as parents, must consider everyone’s needs.

If you have more than one child at home, you probably want to support your non-ADHD child(ren), but you don’t know how. Keep it simple. Sometimes it doesn’t take much for your non-ADHD child to feel acknowledged.

What does ADHD family support look like? Here are some tips:

  • Watch for power struggles. Conflict is normal with kids, but when it gets intense, it can challenge their sense of safety and self-esteem. Every child has a right to feel safe in his/her own home. Set rules in your house about what behaviors are “ok.”
  • Don’t ask them to be responsible. It is exhausting to parent an ADHD child, and tempting to ask our kids to take over. It is not fair to expect your other child to be responsible for your ADHD child.
  • Know your ADHD child’s limits. If you know that your son cannot sit still through his sister’s ballet class, try to hire a babysitter or bring along toys or games to help him stay quiet. When your child with does interrupt, return to the activity with the other child(ren) as soon as possible.
  • Listen and act. When one of your children reports aggressive behavior (verbal or physical), take action. Having ADHD is not an excuse for being mean. Many kids do not manage conflict well, and sometimes they can’t handle it themselves. Get involved before it becomes a problem.
  • Focus on your non-ADHD child(ren). Make the effort to spend time and appreciate all your kids. Have special one-on-one time with them that doesn’t involve talking about ADHD or their siblings. Focus on what your children love, and who they are. It is easy to focus all your attention on meeting the needs of your child with ADHD. A once a week “date” can go a long way to helping each child feel loved and supported.
  • Siblings are important to your ADHD child. It’s important to work with all of your children, teaching them to learn and grow together. After all, their relationships are likely to last longer than yours.

These tips and other strategies can be found in 365 Ways to Succeed with ADHD.

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