When Conventional Parenting Techniques Don’t Work

by Yafa Crane Luria


punkish guys_2120376If conventional parenting techniques work for you – the ones that work for non-ADHD kids – then keep using them. It’s silly to change something that works!

But if conventional parenting techniques don’t work for you, it’s silly not to change them.

5 signs that your conventional parenting techniques don’t work

  1. You’re yelling, nagging, over-reminding or lecturing.
  2. You get so sick of waiting for your kids to get a chore done that you do it yourself.
  3. You spend time on social media commiserating with other parents. (“Commiserating” comes from the word “Misery.” Therein lies the problem: you’re miserable.)
  4. You make excuses for your child to other people, “Well, she has ADD/ADHD after all, so it’s tough.”
  5. You wonder if you’re a bad parent, or at least not good enough.

My question to you is: why should conventional techniques work? You’re not raising a conventional child.

Parenting ADHD kids isn’t just about tweaking conventional strategies

It would seem logical that, given the tendency for ADHD kids to be unfocused, you might need to spend more time reminding ADHD kids to get their chores done or to do their homework or to just be polite. But that doesn’t work well, does it? It’s common for me to hear parents complain about having to remind their children to do something 20 times.

Here’s why that doesn’t work, even though it sounds pretty logical: ADHD brains tune out repeated comments or reminders.

anxious girl_3835156Ideally, people with ADHD learn to very rapidly sort through incoming information and discard what’s not important or what can be postponed. Oftentimes, someone will ask me an important question or share a concern with me and I ask them to send me an email or text reminder so that I can give it my best attention. Saying something to me repeatedly is like a fly buzzing incessantly at my ear. I just want to swat it away!

Also, if I have something on my mind and you add to the information load, my inclination is to preserve the thoughts that were already engaging me, especially if what you’re saying is something like, “Please wash the dishes.”

5 things to do instead of trying to make the conventional fit your unconventional thinker

  1. Give your child a heads up, like “At 12, I need to talk to you about how we’re going to make time for cleaning this weekend.”
  2. Let them defer, but they have to choose another time right then. If 12 isn’t a good time, have them choose a time that will work for both of you. BONUS: It’s good for developing Executive Functions!
  3. Set a time limit for the activity/conversation. Thinking that this interruption to all their important thoughts will never end is just torture. “Let’s work really hard for 15 minutes, then you can go back to what you’re doing.”
  4. Plan ahead. Riffing or improvising doesn’t work well with ADHD kids. They know when you’re just being random or haven’t thought things through and that’s a cue to not really pay attention or to come at you like a high-powered negotiator! You can’t plan for their response, but you can plan your delivery.
  5. Be polite rather than directive or authoritative. Include a lot of “Please,” and “Thank you.” For example: “Honey, it’s 1:20. It’s time to bang out that homework assignment. Thanks, honey.” It may seem silly to have to thank a child for doing what they’re supposed to be doing but it works great.

It’s not as hard as you might think to raise an ADHD child. It’s a matter of learning different techniques. And the results? So much joy. Having that monkey off your back is sooooo worth it. (Note: your child isn’t the monkey; your worrying is!)

What dilemma keeps you up at night, makes you squirm, or has your stomach doing flip flops?

xo, Yafa

Copyright 2017 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved


What troubles you about parenting an ADHD child or teen?

Let’s talk! No judgment, no salesy come-on. However you WILL receive a good deal of TLC and a slew of strategies. You can say anything. You can cry. You can swear. Your confidentiality is guaranteed, and I promise to listen and give you hope and relief. (You might even find yourself spontaneously doing a happy dance).

“Thank you Yafa. You’ve given me incredibly helpful tools! It was really a pleasure to speak with you. I’ll be back in touch in the coming weeks.” Stella R, Portland, OR.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynnette March 13, 2016 at

Great information. I can’t believe how often I get “sucked in” to what I think “should” work parenting my teenage son. Some very simple but 100% doable techniques. I’ve printed the article and I’ve put it in my desk draw to remind myself whenever I get drawn back into parenting that just doesn’t work!


Margit Crane Luria March 16, 2016 at

Thanks for your comment, Lynnette, and your praise! I’m glad to know that my words have struck a chord with you! xo, Margit


Cate July 11, 2016 at

Hi Margit,
I just discovered your site- and we just discovered our 7 year old son is gifted ADHD. I remember the moment I realised “typical” parenting strategies weren’t going to work with him: he was 4 years old and we were on holidays in our camper trailer. He finished his cereal, stood up, walked to the door and tossed his empty bowl outside. I threw my hands up and said(in an exasperated tone) “why did you do that?!” He turned around and said to me innocently, “for the donkey.” (There was, of course- no real donkey anywhere around, we were on the beach.) I have since found attachment parenting, and the kind of strategies you have suggested here- working cooperatively with him with lots of encouragement and praise for doing the right thing, have been game-changers for us. Thanks for your wonderful site; I’m enjoying reading your great articles and feel very encouraged and helped by your insights. Cate


Margit Crane Luria July 11, 2016 at

What a great story, Cate! Thanks for the chuckle. Please let me know if I can help in any way. I’m debuting an online Video Club at the end of the month. This might interest you! xo, Margit


Fern Weis August 6, 2016 at

Great tips which work for all kids (and many adults I know, too).


Margit Crane Luria August 15, 2016 at

Yes, my techniques work for everyone which is why helping ADHD kids doesn’t take anything away from non-ADHD kids! Thanks for reading!


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