December 31, 2020

How to support someone with ADHD

It can be challenging when you have a loved one that struggles with ADHD, as it usually affects many areas of the person’s life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand ADHD

It is a good idea to read as much information about ADHD as you can. Understanding ADHD and what it means can help you to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected and the ways that you can help.

To read more information on ADHD, you can view our pages on ADHD and getting help for ADHD.

Help them to feel supported

ADHD is a condition that can be misunderstood as a kind of deliberate misbehaviour. Therefore, people suffering from ADHD can easily feel as though they lack support. It is important to make sure that they feel supported. To do this, you can:

Show acceptance- Because of their challenges, they can feel like they are not good enough. Remind them that they are loved and valued no matter what.

Be patient- Be mindful about how you react to their behaviour. Avoid reacting whilst you feel frustrated. Take the time to think about responding in more a helpful way.

Separate the person from the disorder- This is very important. It is good to remember that the person is not the disorder. This will allow you to avoid feelings of frustration and resentment towards your loved one, because it is not their fault. This means that your loved one can also be free from feelings of guilt.  

Help them to find the right support

Encourage them to find support through a GP or therapist. If this involves your young child, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to search for a therapist
  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP or therapist
  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)
  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources
  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up
  • Give them small reminders to do their homework assigned by the therapist

Ask them what they need

They may or may not be able to tell you what they need, but it is always good to ask. They might let you know other ways that you can help them. This way you won’t have to figure it out on your own.

Encourage them to have a routine

Having a routine can help your loved one to have more structure in their daily life. Following a schedule and having a plan can make tasks much easier to complete for a person with ADHD. You might help them to:

  • Make a timetable
  • Make a checklist
  • Use colour codes for their schedule
  • Use creative reminders (e.g. fridge magnets, sticky notes, phone reminders)
  • Schedule free time

Point out their strengths

It is good to remind your loved one of the things they are good at. You can point out their strengths and talents, as a way to remind them of the positive things in their life. This will uplift them and help them to appreciate their own strengths, despite struggling with ADHD.

Encourage them to stay physically active

Doing physical activities such as exercise might help your loved one to release excessive energy. Exercise can help them to focus their attention and energy in a healthy way. You could invite them out for any type of exercise that will get them moving (e.g. a walk, jog, group exercise class).

These activities will also help to release ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, which can fight off other problems, such as depression or anxiety.

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too.

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources

MIND

To read general information about helping someone with a mental health problem on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.

NHS

To read information about living with ADHD on the NHS website, you can click here to access the link.

ADHD Foundation

To read advice for carers and parents of children with ADHD on the ADHD foundation website, you can click here to access the link.