Why should I consider parent training?

Kids with ADHD need to acquire the essential tips and tools to improve their executive functioning skills and this rarely happens through observation or osmosis. While medication can make them more attentive to absorb and process information, pills don’t teach the essential skills they need to mature into independent, capable adults. Children and teens with ADHD depend on parents to teach them the tools for key executive functioning skills such as self-regulation, initiation, time management, goal-directed persistence, and organization that they need for successful daily living. Parent training has been proven to be a successful method to create and sustain behavioral change for kids and families living with ADHD.1

infographic adhd parent training

In my 30 years of experience, I have found that unquestionably, parent training programs are most effective when they focus on collaboration as a way to improve cooperation and build on the positive parts of any parent-child relationship. My 5C’s of ADHD parenting approach- self-control, compassion, collaboration, consistency and celebration2 – can improve daily living, offer a strong foundation that can be applied to any program, and nurture the trust and connection that families need in order to follow through, adjust and note progress on agreed-upon plans.

Regardless of whatever parent training program you choose, managing your own reactions before dealing with your son or daughter, meeting kids where they are instead of where you think they should be, working together to create solutions, aiming for steadiness rather than perfection and noticing what’s going will foster the growth mindsets that lead to lasting change.

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About the Author

Sharon Saline

Sharon Saline, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and author of the award-winning book, What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew: Working Together to Empower Kids for Success in School and Life and The ADHD solution card deck specializes in working with kids, young adults and families living with ADHD, learning disabilities and mental health issues. Her unique perspective – as a sibling in an ADHD home, combined with decades of experience as a clinical psychologist and educator/clinician consultant – assists her in guiding families and adults towards effective communication and closer connections. She lectures and facilitates workshops internationally on topics such as understanding ADHD, executive functioning, anxiety, different kinds of learners and the teen brain. Dr. Saline is a regular contributor to ADDitudemag.com and PsychologyToday.com, a featured expert on MASS Appeal on WWLP-TV and a part-time lecturer at the Smith School for Social Work. Learn more at www.drsharonsaline.com.


1 https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/behavior-therapy.html#;

To learn more about ADHD, executive functioning and the 5C’s, check out:

  • Saline, S. (2018). What your ADHD child wishes you knew: Working together to empower kids for success in school and life. New York: TarcherPerigee.
  • 2 Saline, S. (2020). The ADHD solution deck: 50 Strategies to help kids learn, reduce stress and improve family connections. Eau Claire, Wisconsin: PESI.

To learn more about parent training, check out:

How can I best parent my ADHD child?

Yes, ADHD is complicated, and it can be difficult to manage. As a parent, it can be frustrating, annoying, irritating, and worrisome. It can also be inspiring, playful, creative, curious, and incredibly rewarding! The truth is an ADHD child or teen only needs a few key essentials from their parents. It’s not about charts, or reward systems, or even about consistency. What kids with ADHD need most is a parent who understands them, accepts and respects them, believes in their strengths and possibilities, and empowers them to want to reach their full potential.

“How?” you might ask.

infographic parenting adhd child

First, if you are a parent with ADHD yourself, your child needs you to consciously manage your own ADHD. Whether you choose to treat it with medication, meditation, exercise, nutrition, coaching, or all of the above — get support for yourself and model that for your child.

Next, create a home environment that makes it okay to make mistakes. Don’t try to avoid them at all costs, because mistakes are going to happen especially in ADHD-land. So normalize that, and practice learning from them without judgment and shame.

Finally, take a marathon view. If you try to tackle everything at once it’s likely to make everyone feel a little crazy. Think in terms of fostering independence a little bit at a time and stay focused on the process and incremental change.

Above all, lean into your relationships, love your kids for who they are, and don’t let the world’s expectations prevent you from meeting your kids exactly where they are so you can guide them to grow with love.

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About the Author

Elaine Taylor-Klaus

Author, parent educator, certified coach, Elaine Taylor-Klaus co-founded ImpactADHD®, now ImpactParents.com. Download bonus content for her new book, The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety and More, at ImpactParents.com/Guide

Why does ADHD seem to run in families?

Part of the reason why ADHD runs in families is down to genetics: ADHD has a high heritability of around 70-80%. What this means is that in an average person with ADHD, 70-80% of the inattention and/or hyperactivity can be explained by contributions of variants in genes. Those variants in genes are not only present in people with ADHD – every person has a few, and each of those variants is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause ADHD. However, the more of those variants a person has, the higher their risk to develop ADHD. The average person with ADHD probably has tens to hundreds of those gene variants in their genetic make-up.

Infographic ADHD runs in families

The genetic make-up of a person is determined by the combination of genetic material (i.e. DNA) of their father and mother during conception. The more ADHD-related genetic variants father and mother have in their DNA, the more likely they are to pass some of them on to their children. As indicated above, the number of such variants will be particularly high in those parents that have ADHD themselves. Thus, those with ADHD are likely to have a high-risk genetic make-up and pass it down to their children.

While the genetic make-up provides a good explanation for the observation that ADHD runs in families, there are probably also other factors contributing, some of which may even be family-specific.

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Barbara Frank

Barbara Franke is a Professor of Molecular Psychiatry at the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. She studies the genetic factors involved in psychiatric disorders, especially ADHD, and investigates the biological pathways that lead from variants in genes to alterations in the brain and to symptoms.

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What is ADHD coaching?

Life with ADHD can become overwhelming. So many of us with ADHD struggle with the daily tasks of being a grown-up:  paying the bills, reading essential emails, making necessary phone calls, etc. An ADHD coach can help you improve your life and overcome these feelings and get stuff done.

infographic adhd coaching

Research shows that ADHD coaching can improve ADHD symptoms, executive functioning related behaviors, self-esteem, well-being, and quality of life. Coaches who specialize in working with clients who have ADHD will often educate their clients about ADHD and how it affects them across a lifetime. Building on that awareness, coaches support their clients in creating systems and strategies that help their clients manage the practical aspects of life.

ADHD coaches encourage you to stay focused on your goals, develop resilience when you face obstacles, and to feel better about the way you engage your life. They are specifically trained and certified to help individuals with ADHD better manage their lives more effectively.

To find a coach, visit ADHD Coaches Organization’s Find-a-Coach https://www.adhdcoaches.org/find-your-coachMany ADHD coaches work virtually, on Zoom, Skype, or other platforms. The price of coaching varies depending on where you live and who you hire. While ADHD coaching is not covered by insurance, some experts may offer a sliding-scale payment plan.

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Tamara Rosier

Tamara Rosier, PHD is the founder of the ADHD Center of West Michigan. She leads a team of professionals to provide outstanding resources for individuals and their families after they receive a diagnosis of ADHD. In her coaching, she helps her clients understand their thinking processes in order to develop more confidence, smoother communication, closer relationships, and increased academic or work success. She is a board-certified coach (BCC) and is the president of national association, ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO).

Further Reading

If my child has extra time and other accommodations at school, isn’t that cheating?

If a child is blind, no one considers it cheating to provide them with materials in Braille. If a child is hearing impaired, no one would consider it cheating to provide them with access to learning through signing. The question itself then implies the assumption that ADHD is not a disability. Unlike blindness or deafness, attention deficits that impact learning are invisible to those who choose not to recognize them.

Infographic adhd school accomodations

Recognition of attention problems as a disability allows us to make specific and evidence based accommodations specific to that child’s impairments. Note that this does not mean there is one IEP that fits all children with ADHD.

A child with a specific problem with processing speed should be given the time needed to show what they know and have their academic achievement measured by what they can do, and not by the limitations imposed by processing delay.

A child with dysgraphia should be given the opportunity to learn to keyboard, dictate, or have a scribe.  

A child who cannot organize should be given the opportunity to have extra books at home, or flexibility with turning in assignments.

A child who cannot work in the evening off stimulant medication, should be given the opportunity to complete work in the classroom, under supervision, and on medication.

All accommodations are “fair” when they allow a child to show that they have been able to learn as another child who does not struggle with the same challenge. 504 or IEP plans that provide a blanket set of core recommendations for all children with ADHD, without attention to their specific difficulties, are unlikely to be helpful. By the same token, however, neither do they provide any advantage.  If a child, any child, does much better at showing what they know when given extra time, the problem is in the test, not the accommodation. 

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Margaret Weiss

Margaret D. Weiss, MD, PhD, FRCP(C), is currently the Director of Clinical Research in Child Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge MA. She has specialized in diagnosis, treatment and research in ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders in all age groups. She received her MD and Fellowship in Psychiatry from McGill University and her PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University. Dr. Weiss has published over 125 peer-reviewed articles relating to these topics. She is the author of two book chapters on ADHD and coauthored the book ADHD in Adulthood: A Guide to Current Theory, Diagnosis, and Treatment, which is currently under revision. Dr. Weiss is known for her research demonstrating that melatonin is a safe and effective treatment for initial insomnia in ADHD. She is the author of the Weiss Functional Impairment Rating Scale, a widely used measure translated into thirteen languages. She has lectured in more than twenty-one countries. She was the Director of the ADHD Program at Children’s and Women’s Health Centre in British Columbia for 15 years and then was the Director of the Division of Child Psychiatry at University of Arkansas Medical Sciences. She is on the advisory council of the Canadian Attention Deficit Disorder Resource Alliance, and the board of the American Professional Association for ADHD and Related Disorders.


  • Lovett BJ, Nelson JM. Systematic Review: Educational Accommodations for Children and Adolescents With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. Jul 31 2020.

What are the most common relationship issues when one partner has ADHD?

ADHD brings very consistent patterns to romantic relationships, particularly when it goes undiagnosed or under-managed. One of the most common, and most destructive, is what I call “parent/child dynamics.” In this pattern, the ADHD partner makes promises but has trouble following through on those promises for reasons that include: distraction; difficulty planning; trouble completing; trouble remembering to do the thing, and more.

infographic ADHD relationship issues

The ADHD partner is “consistently inconsistent,” which means the other partner cannot rely on him or her. Because the non-ADHD (or more organized other ADHD) partner never knows what will or won’t happen, s/he takes on more and more responsibility to compensate. Many adopt an ‘if I don’t do it, it won’t get done’ attitude. Unfortunately, the burden of taking on so much eventually leads to resentment and anger in the non-ADHD partner, particularly after children are added to the family. In response to the non-ADHD partner’s anger, the ADHD partner then also gets angry. It becomes a negatively reinforcing, downward spiral of interactions.

Other common relationship issues include: chore wars; having the non-ADHD partner who feels unloved because it’s so hard to get the ADHD partner’s attention; misinterpreting ADHD symptoms in a negative way; lying and cover ups of ADHD symptomatic behaviors; and difficulties with their sex life. The good news is that once partners better understand ADHD and learn how to deal with it, they can find the love they thought they had lost.

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Melissa Orlov

Melissa Orlov is the founder of ADHDmarriage.com, and author of two award-winning books on the impact of ADHD in relationships, including The ADHD Effect on Marriage (rev. 2020). She is considered one of the foremost authorities on the topic of how ADHD impacts adult relationships.


How can people with ADHD eat healthier?

ADHD is associated with unhealthy dietary patterns, which may directly lead to excess weight gain. They consume less healthy foods (such as vegetables and fruits) and more unhealthy foods (fatty, sweet and processed foods). The health risks associated with an unbalanced diet have become the leading factor contributing to the global burden of disease. Hence, it is necessary to find intervention programs aimed to improve the eating patterns of individuals with ADHD. 

infographic eat healthy adhd

There is a discrepancy between the unhealthy eating behavior of individuals with ADHD and their food-related perceptions. They have the same benefit and risk food perceptions, as individuals without ADHD. Meaning they know what is dangerous and what is better to eat but their behavior does not match their knowledge. Therefore, it is important to focus on their environment. It has been found that environmental factors can influence food choices (emphasizing the attractiveness and convenience of the food). Moreover, individuals with ADHD are more influenced by advertising, compared to individuals without ADHD.

Healthy food advertisements raise their healthy food choices. Possible explanations for this phenomenon are their impulsivity and sensitivity to rewards.

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Shirley Hershko

Shirley Hershko is the director of the diagnostic and support center, a senior teacher, and a researcher at the Hebrew University in Israel. Her study won an award at the World Congress on ADHD.

Further Reading

Why is it important to diagnose and treat ADHD in adulthood?

Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in adulthood is important because many adults have lived with feelings of failure, anxiety, poor self-esteem, depression and other negative emotions for years, never understanding that there is a reason for the challenges they have faced.  For those adults who have always felt “off” or like they just didn’t fit in easily with others, discovering that they have ADHD can be life changing,  Imagine the relief that comes with knowing that there is a reason for all of the lost keys, missed meetings – and opportunities, emotional outbursts and failures at work, relationships and/or finances.  I should know since I experienced that ah-ha moment for myself as an adult!

infographic diagnose adhd adults

Once you KNOW you can seek answers, treatment and solutions.  Even if you have managed to be relatively successful and don’t feel the need to seek further treatment just knowing can make a positive difference.  I did not seek treatment immediately after my diagnosis at the age of 41. I was a busy single parent, raising two sons and successfully navigating my career.  I’d not only survived but thrived up until that point. But then came the fluctuating hormones of menopause and a new demanding job that required more paper pushing than interactions with people.  It was such a relief to realize right away that I could seek multiple treatment paths to help me get through this rough patch. Knowing there was a reason I was having such difficulty made all the difference.  So whether you’ve been successful all your life, or have struggled because of undiagnosed ADHD, just KNOWING can open up new possibilities and provide new paths to self-acceptance and inner peace. 

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Evelyn Polk Green

Evelyn Polk Green, MSEd, is a past president of both ADDA, the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, and CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). Evelyn is an adult with ADHD and the mother of two adult sons who also have ADHD. She has been active in ADHD and mental health advocacy for more than 25 years.

What is the difference in ADHD between males and females?

When male and female accounts of specific ADHD symptoms are studied, research has found that the symptoms they experience are more alike than different.  When you ask women and men about their lived experiences with ADHD, however, you are likely to find some striking differences. 

Gender differences in ADHD

Certain aspects of ADHD – such as rates of diagnosis and treatment, presentation or “type,” and rates of co-existing depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders – seem to diverge along gender lines in ways similar to other psychiatric diagnoses. Although, again, the reasons behind these differences are layered and confusing. For instance, women and girls with ADHD tend to have a higher incidence of depression and anxiety. This could, in part, be due to a tendency of girls and women to exhibit internalizing behavior (anxiety, depression, people pleasing) while boys and men in general are more likely to display externalizing behaviors (hyperactivity, disruptive behaviors). There has yet to be an agreed upon reason for this difference in the ADHD community, with some trying to identify neurological reasons by looking at the increased rates of inattentive symptoms for females and hyperactive symptoms of males (nature) and others pointing to the complexities of socialization and gender-based behavioral expectations (nurture). (Yes, that same old debate is alive and well!)

Similarly, and likely for a variety of reasons, boys are diagnosed with ADHD two to three times as often as girls and they are more likely to be diagnosed early in life. Researchers are currently investigating whether there is a true difference in incidence of the condition between males and females, or whether differences in rates of diagnoses are due to other factors such as gender bias or variations in presentation of symptoms. Overall, however, women and girls are less likely to be properly diagnosed with ADHD, with boys and men being more likely than girls and women to be referred for services even when their symptom profiles are exactly the same. 

Further, a number of complex and nuanced factors influence the female experience of ADHD in ways that continue to lack robust research. One example is the impact of estrogen on dopamine, the brain chemical most prominently implicated in ADHD. Fluctuating estrogen levels can impact the intensity and presentation of ADHD symptoms. Women also continue to face gender-role expectations that do not always align favorably with the strengths and challenges of an ADHD brain. They also have higher rates of self-harming behaviors and lower self-esteem than men with ADHD. For all individuals regardless of gender-identity, it is likely that gendered expectations of behavior might complicate how symptoms are perceived.

While it is important to continue to consider the impact of sex differences on ADHD presentation and experience, it is also pivotal that we begin to question the role that gender-based biases and expectations might play in coloring our perception of the strengths and challenges inherent in this condition. To date, the field lacks meaningful research on the experiences of people with ADHD who do not identify as cis-gender.  We all need to be part of the collective story because the more diversity of representation in the research and literature, the more accurately we can diagnose and treat ADHD to help people live well with their differences, not simply in spite of them. 

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Michelle Frank

Dr. Michelle Frank is a well-regarded specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD who aims to help her clients learn how to live successfully with ADHD – and without shame. Dr. Frank is the co-author of A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Love Boldly, and Break Through Barriers, written in collaboration with Sari Solden and published by New Harbinger.  Dr. Frank is committed to ADHD advocacy and awareness campaigns, speaking nationally on issues related to ADHD, women’s empowerment, and neurodiversity.

Further reading

  • Mowlem, F.D., Rosenqvist, M.A., Martin, J. et al. Sex differences in predicting ADHD clinical diagnosis and pharmacological treatment. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 28, 481–489 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-018-1211-3
  • Hinshaw SP, Owens EB, Zalecki C, et al. Prospective follow-up of girls with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder into early adulthood: continuing impairment includes elevated risk for suicide attempts and self-injury. J
  • Consult Clin Psychol. 2012;80(6):1041-1051. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3543865/ Quinn PO, Madhoo M. A review of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in women and girls: uncovering this hidden diagnosis. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2014;16(3):PCC.13r01596. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4195638/

What does a comprehensive treatment plan for children with ADHD look like/include?

After diagnosis by a specialist, a comprehensive treatment plan should include a full explanation of the condition and the available treatments in understandable terms, together with an assessment of any other problems for learning and behavioural and emotional life that are associated with or complicate the ADHD. 

Infographic comprehensive treatement children ADHD

Interventions to be considered should include medication and/ or evidence-based psychological treatment such as cognitive-behavioural therapy; how to access them if recommended; potential benefits and harms; advice on education, exercise, and diet. There should be alternative plans if any one intervention is declined. There should be information on local and national support groups and voluntary organizations and on the right to a second opinion. 

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Dr. Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor is Emeritus Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at King’s College London and the Maudsley Hospital. He retired after a lifetime of ADHD research, clinical practice and leading the department at the Institute of Psychiatry for over 15 years.