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ADHD Parenting—Defusing the Atomic Child - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Parents Offer Helpful Tips

April 19th 2006

ADHD Parenting—Defusing the Atomic Child - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Parents Offer Helpful Tips

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Parents of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) express frustration when their children experience emotional meltdowns for seemingly no reason.

Sandy Halpern, mother of two children with ADHD, describes a weekly event. “I’ll ask my boys to stop playing with LEGOS or X-Box to come eat dinner. The next thing I know, they are calling me names, throwing things and stomping through the house.”

We have found three effective ways to turn meltdowns to your advantage. First, it is critical to first defuse the situation. Instead of engaging in a screaming match yelling outrageous punishments and hurtful words, remain calm and unemotional.”

Trying to reason with a child with ADHD at this point is useless—they won’t hear a thing you say.


Next, find out what’s really going on. Maybe your child got bullied at school or scolded by a teacher. Or he messed up, feels stupid and is afraid you’re going to be disappointed.

Instead of storming into your child’s room to lecture and list consequences, first create an atmosphere in which your child will feel free to open up. Find out what’s upsetting your child inside and deal with the underlying root first.

Finally, enforce consequences in a calm, reasoned and firm manner.

Let your child know you are addressing the underlying reason they are upset. Then explain that even though they were upset, their reaction was unacceptable and consequences are necessary.

Use Meltdowns to Your Advantage


If you can catch your child before the meltdown occurs—say, when he’s about to lose it over a disappointment (a friend can’t come over, he can’t stay up to watch a movie)—you can use the opportunity to actually turn it into a positive.

“Johnny, I know you are really disappointed. And I can tell you are about to cry. But YOU are in control of your emotions and I know you can keep it together. Life is going to be filled with disappointments, and I know you have a lot of power inside you. So if you make the choice to keep it together this time, I promise you we’ll make a new play date soon, okay?”

Give your child an opportunity to achieve the satisfaction of being in control, of showing mastery over his own emotions. Tell him you are proud of him. The greatest reward will be an internal satisfaction and strength—but don’t forget to reward your child for a difficult choice.

The next time a disappointment happens, recall the times he’s made good choices—and he’ll begin to build confidence and self-control.

Remember, you cannot enforce rules without a relationship. So take some time to enjoy your kids and laugh with them. Let them know you not only love them, you really like who they are. Then your rules and consequences will mean much more to them.

For a free newsletter filled with practical tips to help parents of children with ADHD, please visit or email Kirk Martin at

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By Kirk Martin
Kirk Martin is Founder of Celebrate!ADHD, an educational organization that provides Camps and Coaching to help children with ADHD.  Contact Kirk

Books on ADHD

Keywords and Misspellings: ADD ADHD attention deficit disorder atention defecit attension dissorder

Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.

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