There are several different options for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depending on the specific needs of each child and family.
Treatment may involve different health professionals, including a doctor, psychiatrist, paediatrician, psychologist or family therapist. Parents — and possibly schoolteachers too — need to be actively involved in the treatment plan.
The first step is often to use positive parenting strategies. It can help to stick to a routine, help your child build their social skills and talk to the school to plan an environment where they are able to learn.
If the ADHD is still having a big impact on your child’s life, it might be time to consider medication. Stimulant medicines can reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity. They help a child to focus and learn.
Stimulant medicines have been thoroughly researched for many years. They are not addictive and do not cause withdrawal symptoms. However, they can cause side effects like loss of appetite and difficulty falling asleep. For children who may experience side effects from these medicines, non-stimulant medicines are also available.
Psychological treatments, such as behaviour therapy, may help a child develop strategies and skills for learning and controlling their behaviour.
Below are some tips on coping with a child with ADHD:
- Provide structure — try to ensure that rules and instructions are clear, brief and, where possible, presented in charts and lists.
- Maintain a good relationship — this will assist with their self-esteem and help them to be more cooperative.
- Become a keen observer — notice those things that will help in managing behaviours and put in place strategies to manage the situation.
- Provide praise and positive reinforcement — this is important for all children, but particularly for children with ADHD.
You can get more information from:
- your doctor
- your local health district services, including community health centres or specialist child and adolescent mental health services (during business hours)
- other specialists who work with children and adolescents, such as paediatricians, child psychologists and school counsellors
Last reviewed: September 2018