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Understanding ADHD and Emotional Regulation in Children and Teens

Updated: Oct 30, 2023


Child showing different facial emotions
ADHD is more than just difficulty paying attention; it often intertwines with emotional regulation challenges

Parenting comes with its unique set of challenges, and when a child or teenager is diagnosed with ADHD, navigating the emotional landscape can become even more complex. One aspect that often stands out is the impact of ADHD on emotional regulation. In this blog, we'll explore how ADHD affects emotional regulation in children and teens and discuss practical strategies parents can implement to support their child's emotional well-being.


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Children and teens with ADHD may struggle to manage and express their emotions appropriately.

ADHD is more than just difficulty paying attention; it often intertwines with emotional regulation challenges. Children and teens with ADHD may struggle to manage and express their emotions appropriately. This can manifest in impulsive behaviour, mood swings, and difficulty in handling frustration or disappointment. Understanding the connection between ADHD and emotional regulation is crucial for parents in providing practical support.

Factors Contributing to Emotional Regulation Challenges:

  1. Executive Functioning Deficits: ADHD is linked to deficits in executive functions, which include skills like planning, organising, and impulse control. These deficits can impact a child's ability to regulate emotions.

  2. Sensory Sensitivities: Many individuals with ADHD also experience sensory sensitivities, making them more susceptible to becoming overwhelmed by environmental stimuli, further challenging emotional regulation.

  3. Difficulty in Transitions: Children and teens with ADHD often struggle with transitions. Changes in routine or unexpected events can trigger emotional responses that are challenging to manage.


Two faces showing happy and sad
Understanding the connection between ADHD and emotional regulation is crucial for parents in providing practical support.

Strategies for Parents:


Establish Consistent Routines:

Creating a predictable daily routine can provide stability for children with ADHD. Knowing what to expect can help reduce anxiety and improve emotional regulation.


Teach and Practice Emotional Awareness:

Encourage your child to identify and label their emotions. This can be done through conversations, journaling, or visual aids. The better they understand their feelings, the more equipped they will be to regulate them.


Provide Clear and Concise Instructions:

Break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Clear instructions help in avoiding overwhelm and frustration, contributing to improved emotional regulation.


Incorporate Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

Teach your child simple mindfulness exercises or relaxation techniques. These practices can assist in managing stress and promoting emotional balance.


Encourage Physical Activity:

Regular physical activity has been shown to affect mood and attention positively. Encourage activities that your child enjoys, whether it's sports, dancing, or simply playing outside.


Offer Positive Reinforcement:

Acknowledge and reward positive behaviour. Positive reinforcement can motivate your child and boost their self-esteem, contributing to better emotional regulation.


Consider ADHD coaching:

At REACH, we specialise in working with children and teens with ADHD. We provide tailored strategies and coping mechanisms to improve how they understand the impact of their emotions and build tools to assist with their management.


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Parenting a child or teen with ADHD requires patience, understanding, and a proactive approach to support emotional regulation

Parenting a child or teen with ADHD requires patience, understanding, and a proactive approach to support emotional regulation. By implementing these strategies and maintaining open communication with your child, you can create an environment that fosters emotional well-being and helps them navigate the challenges associated with ADHD. Remember, each child is unique, so it may take time to discover which strategies work best for your family. At REACH in Perth, Western Australia, we partner with families to build practical tools to support their children when they become emotionally deregulated.

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