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How to Parent College Kids With ADHD

by Cara Batema

Your child with ADHD probably required support from you, teachers, IEP meetings and other educational professionals to push him through school -- so what happens when your kid decides he wants to go to college and now has only a fraction of that support? Every child’s situation is different, but you don’t want to let your child’s ADHD diagnosis prevent him from reaching his goals.

Make a plan with your college kid regarding your involvement. He might want you to restrict phone calls to once a week, or he might like to come home for dinner twice a month. Set up this plan and stick to it -- it will help give your child the independence he wants while also letting you know it’s okay to check in every once in a while. Remind your child that if he needs extra support from you, he can talk to you to adjust your plan.

Encourage your child to reduce his first semester course load. While some students might load up their schedule, the amount of homework or extra hours outside of the classroom might prove to be too stressful for a college kid with ADHD. On the other hand, too few classes might not provide enough structure, which you know from experience your child does need.

Give gentle reminders. It’s not up to your child’s college to remind him to take his medicine or make it to his counseling appointment. You want your child to be independent, but for important things like medication, you might need to continue to provide the reminders and support.

Know when to let things go. If your child’s dorm room is a mess, you might be quick to start an argument about it -- but is this a battle you need to win? You can’t always hover over your child’s shoulder and remind him to clean his room or brush his teeth. Remember you probably did the best you could with teaching these skills as your child grew up.

Find a doctor near your child’s college. This step is particularly important if your child goes to a college away from home. Sometimes medication adjustments are necessary, or your child might want to seek counseling services.

Ask your child to talk to his professors about his ADHD. Some colleges allow extra time on tests or recordings of lectures, but your child will need permission from professors first.

Use vacations or breaks from school to reinforce the ideas you taught your child. Provide healthy meals and let your college kid help you prepare those meals, so he has skills he can take with him to college. Don’t wait on your child during vacations, but rather let him do his own laundry or continue routines he needs to have at school.

Tips

  • Remind your child it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, so teach him that asking for support from you is okay.
  • Talk to your child about having access to his academic records. With the shift to electronic grading systems, grades are often available online after an exam or assignment. Ask if you can monitor these grades as well, so you can talk to your child if you notice a drop or celebrate when his grades improve.

About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images