Communication Strategies for Kids with ADHD

The task of communicating to each other sounds like it should be pretty straightforward, but this often isn’t the case. This is especially true when it comes to parents who have kids with ADHD. Even though you may believe you are communicating clearly, it can seem like you’re talking to a wall at times. Here are some simple steps you can take in order toimprove communication between you and your child with ADHD.

Understand When They are Actually Listening

One of the most important parts of communication is understanding that someone is listening, but it can feel somewhat frustrating with kids who have ADHD. Eye contact is typically the main indicator that someone is listening, but kids with ADHD may struggle to make eye contact even when they are actively listening. Kids with ADHD often fidget with items or color while they are taking directions or information, which can help them focus better. Understanding this can get rid of some of the frustration resulting from perceived inattention.

Keep Directions Simple and Clear

If you’re asking your kids to take care of chores or finish schoolwork, they can begin to feel overwhelmed pretty quickly. This can cause them to throw tantrums or give up on tasks before even trying. To avoid this problem, find ways to break down tasks into clearly laid out steps, which can make tasks feel smaller and less overwhelming. Teaching your kids this strategy to practice on their own will also be helpful for them throughout their future.

Find Opportunities to Give Them Choices

Kids with ADHD often perceive that their parents are simply talking at them rather than really trying to communicate, especially when trying to give directions throughout the day. One strategy that can break this misperception is to communicate in terms of choices. For instance, you can ask your child what reward they would like if they demonstrate good behavior at the store. When you offer choices, it automatically engages them and makes them feel drawn into the conversation.

Speak Calmly 

It’s often a natural reaction for people to want to start to raise their voices when they perceive that someone is ignoring them. When it comes toparenting kids with ADHD, this often just leads to less of a desire to want to pay attention, increased stimulation, and worse behavior. If you want your kids to listen, keep a calm voice. Your kids will pick up on this and change their effect to match yours. This strategy also helps to build attention skills for the long-term. When you speak in a soft voice, it automatically makes it so extra attention is needed to receive the information. Keep your voice calm, make your instructions clear, and use positive reinforcement to better communicate with your child and to teach them attention skills that will last.