Supporting Someone With ADHD

Supporting Someone With ADHD

Struggling to support someone with ADHD? This article's got your back! Discover how to be the ultimate friend, partner, or parent by understanding the unique effects of ADHD on adults and kids. Unlock tips for effective communication and learn to help your loved one go from surviving to thriving.

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Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach

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9 Ways You Can Support A Loved One With ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is more than just a mental health condition that affects focus and behavior. It's a complex set of challenges and strengths that manifests differently in each individual. Adults with ADHD, children who show signs of ADHD, and even their non-ADHD partners can find daily life somewhat complicated when trying to navigate the nuances of this condition. ☹️

While most of the spotlight on ADHD is often shone on the person with the diagnosis, it's crucial to remember that ADHD has a ripple effect that touches everyone around them, especially loved ones. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association and other credible sources provide resources that can offer a deeper understanding of ADHD symptoms. Still, there needs to be more practical advice specifically geared toward the people who love and support them. That's where this article steps in! 🙌

If you have a loved one with adult ADHD or someone showing symptoms, this guide is for you. We'll offer nine ways you can be a supportive friend, parent, or partner to someone dealing with ADHD. Whether you're new to the term or looking to improve communication and support, this article aims to give you some actionable tips and insights into moving forward. 🥰

Educate Yourself About ADHD

The first step in supporting a loved one with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is getting educated. 🤓 For adults with ADHD or children showing symptoms, life can be a rollercoaster of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and attention issues. But it's important not to rely on stereotypes or misconceptions about ADHD symptoms - the more you know about the actual science and individual experiences behind ADHD, the better you'll be able to provide meaningful support. 👍

There are many online, reliable resources available for learning about ADHD. Apart from The Mini ADHD Coach, the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADD), for instance, offers a wealth of information. ✅ You can also consult with a mental health professional to help differentiate between actual symptoms and behaviors that may be wrongly attributed to ADHD when they are more indicative of a comorbid disorder

Understand how ADHD extends beyond the clinical diagnosis by getting to know the unique experiences and strengths of your loved one. Whether it's adult ADHD or a child struggling, take the time to understand the intricacies of their everyday experiences. For example, while some people with ADHD may exhibit hyperactive symptoms, others may have trouble staying organized or experience issues maintaining relationships and friendships.

Equipping yourself with accurate and empathetic knowledge will make a difference in how you relate to your loved one and empower them to better manage their behavior and take control of their life by feeling more understood. 🥰

Avoid The Parent-Child Dynamic

Navigating a friendship or relationship when a loved one has ADHD can often feel like you're walking a tightrope. You might feel the urge to be a bit parental to help them manage their symptoms or tasks, but be cautious! ⚠️Taking on a parent-like role can add stress to the relationship and may not actually be that helpful for your friend..

Remember, you're their equal, not their parent. If your loved one hasn't adequately been diagnosed and isn't consulting with a mental health professional, suggest that they seek a proper diagnosis. Still, be supportive rather than dictatorial - this could involve supporting them by reaching out to ADHD clinics or encouraging them to find the appropriate treatment such as therapy. The relationship should be equal, and your role is not to monitor their every move or behavior.

Create an ADHD Friendly Environment

Think about the environment you create when spending time together.

Whether it's a child or an adult, people living with ADHD often have trouble focusing on tasks. From doing the laundry to preparing a business report, starting tasks and finishing them can feel unachievable. In everyday life, consider creating added structure by integrating features like visual aids, timers, or even just setting up a calm, uncluttered space. These small changes can make a world of difference for your loved one dealing with symptoms of attention deficit disorder.

Be Flexible

When you're friends with someone with ADHD, a little flexibility can go a long way. Knowing the symptoms of ADHD can help set realistic expectations for each other. And understanding what ADHD actually is can be a light bulb moment 💡 in the relationship. If you're informed about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it becomes easier to adjust your expectations and be more forgiving when inevitable hiccups occur, like lateness or disorganization.

Managing these expectations can significantly reduce tension and conflict. You don't have to be a saint and put up with everything, of course. The key is communication. ✅Make it clear what you can be flexible about and what is a hard limit for you. Just because your friend might struggle with time management doesn't mean you have to always be the one waiting. However, a little heads-up from their side can keep things balanced.  🕒

Practice Patience

Let's face it; symptoms of ADHD - like impulsivity and hyperactivity - can flare up without warning. When this happens, your patience can make a massive difference to both of you. Maybe your friend impulsively spends money they shouldn't or becomes easily distracted when you’re speaking to them. Instead of getting annoyed or anxious, try to understand this is part of their ongoing experience of having ADHD.

If your loved one has trouble with tasks, perhaps suggest breaking them down into smaller tasks. Offer to help them develop a routine that minimizes their symptoms' effect on their daily life. Your support during these difficult times shows your true friendship and helps them in practical ways.

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Use ADHD-Friendly Communication Skills

Practical support for a loved one with ADHD begins with communication. Whether you're dealing with adult ADHD or the challenges children with ADHD face, understanding how to communicate is essential. You'll often find that people with ADHD struggle with emotional regulation, which can affect their behavior and your relationship with them. For example, someone with ADHD might react impulsively to a situation, making it even more challenging to maintain a balanced conversation. 😬

According to the American Psychiatric Association, a diagnosis of ADHD often co-occurs with other mental health conditions like anxiety. Being mindful of this can help you approach sensitive topics with more care. Depending on your loved ones unique needs, you'll probably need to speak more directly than you're used to and be more precise about your feelings and expectations

For example, instead of saying, 'can you try to remember to take out the trash?', you could say: 'could you set a phone reminder to take out the trash every Wednesday night?' This approach lays out what you need and why it's important while offering a practical strategy for your ADHD partner to remember. 

Now, we've all had moments where we've let our frustrations get the best of us. However, it's especially crucial for ADHD adults that those who support them choose their words carefully. Hostile or demeaning language can have an adverse effect and could exacerbate symptoms of ADHD like hyperactivity or exacerbate common ADHD experiences like anxiety, shame, or rejection sensitivity dysphoria.

To mitigate this, try to notice when your loved one shows a positive difference in behavior. Instead of saying, 'you never listen to me,' switch it up to, 'I really appreciate it when you focus on our conversations. It means a lot to me.' This subtle change in communication can improve your relationship and may motivate your friend to manage their symptoms more effectively.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Remember, ADHD affects more than just attention span or hyperactivity; it can also be emotionally draining. Positive reinforcement works wonders when you're supporting a loved one with ADHD. Congratulate them when they remember to do something that usually slips their mind or recognize when they've managed to stay organized for a week. Little victories can lead to significant changes, making it easier for adults and children to handle the unique experiences that ADHD brings into their lives. 💪

Focus On Their Strengths

ADHD isn't just about challenges or symptoms that need managing. It's an experience that includes some pretty awesome strengths, too! 👏 Our brain isn't 'broken' or defective - it's neurodiverse. And being neurodiverse comes with lots of advantages.

For example, many people have an enthusiasm and zest for life that is utterly contagious. Whether it's adults in the workplace or kids on the playground, this high energy can be a beautiful thing to witness and a joy to be around. Traits such as being spontaneous can often make someone with ADHD a fantastic adventure partner. They're usually up for trying something new or going off the beaten path, adding a layer of excitement and unpredictability to life that many find endearing.

Research backs up these lived experiences, showing that people with ADHD often have high social intelligence, humor, and empathy. They often know how to navigate social situations with finesse, making them great conversationalists and empathetic listeners. Additionally, the ADHD brain is an expert at thinking outside the box, coming up with inventive solutions and original ideas that might not occur to someone else.

And finally, research suggests that people with ADHD tend to have higher levels of resilience. Life with ADHD often requires constant self-awareness - of your behavior, environment, and how you're feeling in the moment. This can become a form of self-protective strength, making individuals more resilient during times of stress - both for themselves and for others.

So, while treatment for managing the challenging aspects is essential, let's not overlook the gifts and talents that come with ADHD. ✨

Set Boundaries

Creating a fulfilling friendship involves setting boundaries from both ends. It could be attending a support group or discussing feelings openly. For instance, if you're a non-ADHD partner, it might help clarify what types of behavior you can tolerate and what types you can't. If you have ADHD, acknowledging and working on your issues can also mean a lot to your friend. Remember, the effort should come from both sides for the relationship to flourish. 🌱

This could mean actively participating in plans, reciprocating emotional support, or seeking treatment options to better manage symptoms. You're not just the 'ADHD friend'; you're a person, an equal partner in the relationship. 


Supporting a friend with ADHD isn't just about knowing the dos and don'ts; it's about being informed, understanding, and patient. Being aware of the everyday experiences and true symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder helps you offer your loved one the support they need and manage your own expectations and behaviors effectively. 👍

However, while it's vital to be there for your friend or partner with ADHD, don't forget the importance of self-care. When supporting loved ones, any strong emotions that come up for you are valid, too. If you're a non-ADHD partner, it can sometimes feel like you're carrying the emotional load, and that's why it's crucial to also practice self-care and seek therapy or treatment if needed. 💕

When both parties in a friendship understand each other, allow flexibility in routine, and respect each other's needs with patience, the friendship can thrive in ways unimaginable. Having ADHD or being close to someone with ADHD can add depth and richness to your relationship, which is both enlightening and rewarding. 💫

Sure, we might not always be the easiest to handle 😆 - there are ups and downs - but people with ADHD also make incredibly rewarding friends and partners. We're often the fun ones at the party, the supportive shoulder to cry on, and endlessly fascinating with our unique perspectives. 😉

So yes, it's a journey that might test your patience, but it also brings valuable life lessons and everlasting bonds. Being a friend or partner who 'gets it' can indeed be a game-changer in the life of someone dealing with ADHD. It's not just about managing symptoms and behaviors; it's about embracing the whole person, quirks and all. And believe me, it's worth it. 🤩

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How To Support Someone with ADHD: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the best way to support someone with ADHD?

The best way to support someone with ADHD is through understanding, patience, and open communication. Every person with ADHD has a unique experience, so it's crucial to ask them how you can specifically help. Setting a structured routine can make a world of difference for adults and children alike. Offer a listening ear and be there to encourage them, especially if they're talking about their struggles or symptoms. Explore treatment options together, whether medication, therapy or a combination of both. Remember, you're a partner or friend, not a parent or therapist. 💖

What do you say to someone who is struggling with ADHD?

First off, it's important to be empathetic. If they're open to talking, listen actively and validate their feelings. Avoid giving unsolicited advice unless they specifically ask for it. Encourage them to seek professional help if they haven't been properly diagnosed or are dealing with untreated ADHD. It's usually not enough to deal with ADHD symptoms without some form of treatment or therapy, whether medication, behavioral approaches, or a mix of both. 🌟

Is it hard to have a relationship with someone with ADHD?

Let's be real; relationships require work, whether or not ADHD is in the picture. That said, the dynamics can be different when a partner has ADHD. It might pose challenges, like impulsivity or forgetfulness, affecting everyday life. But remember, someone with ADHD also brings a lot of positives to a relationship - like creativity, enthusiasm, and a unique way of looking at the world. The key is open communication to manage expectations and address any issues head-on. So yes, while it can be challenging, the rewards often outweigh the hard parts.

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