How to Help Someone with ADHD?

It can be challenging to live with someone with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). When you don’t understand ADHD, it can cause miscommunication and frustration in any relationship. Though the differences may be challenging, this can be a wonderful opportunity to grow and strengthen your relationship with yourself and the individual with ADHD.  Understanding ADHD and relationships will allow you and your loved ones to live in a complementary environment and reduce the negative impacts of ADHD symptoms.

This post will provide several ways to help someone with ADHD. We will provide you with knowledge regarding interactions and relationships with someone diagnosed with ADHD. Additionally, we will help get to know the disorder to minimize your concerns about behaviours and offer supportive friendships by understanding supportive interactions that meet your needs.

By the end of this post, you will form an understanding of ADHD that can help you have compassion towards a person with ADHD and yourself as you interact with someone with ADHD.

Before Helping Someone, Help Yourself by Properly Educating Yourself on the Subject.

To support your efforts in understanding an individual with ADHD requires an understanding of how the brain works. ADHD is well known for its symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. However, ADHD is more than a problem with attention, forgetting things, or constant, perpetual motion. Those traits are the behavioural symptoms of this complex, often a crippling condition that is common to nearly all people with ADD, which is executive dysfunction.

Our executive functioning system is the part of our brain that makes us human and sets us apart from other mammals. At least seven executive functions are associated with self-awareness, self-monitoring, inhibition, memory, planning and sense of time, emotional control, and motivation. In the case of ADHD, one or more of these control systems are not working properly. As a result, the individual can appear insensitive, unprepared, unorganized, overly emotional, or emotionally aloof.


The symptoms of executive dysfunction may appear as intentional slights, but they are largely a biological issue. It becomes easier to extend compassion to your loved one when you realize their mistakes or challenging behaviours are not signs of disrespect or selfishness but a brain chemistry imbalance or challenges to brain development in certain areas. Knowing that your loved one struggles to restrain behaviours may change the way you look at their intentions and your resulting frustrations.

Check out these 16 quotes that illustrate what it is like to have ADHD

Make It Easy for Them to Find Treatment

Finding help after an ADHD diagnosis can be one of the hardest things. There’s no clear way forward for some people with ADHD. They are often provided with a large amount of information, which can feel overwhelming and difficult to organize, or no information at all, contributing to feelings of inadequacy and defectiveness.

Helping someone with ADHD find a course or resource for treatment can be very helpful. Your loved one may need assistance to work out a plan for treatment or may need time to digest the situation until they are ready to move forward with intervention and help.

For treating ADHD, medications and therapy are often used together. In most cases, stimulant and other medication is prescribed by a psychiatrist or medical doctor. Your doctor will follow a course of treatment to find the best ADHD medication for your situation.

A therapist (registered clinical counsellor, psychologist, or social worker) can help with several different approaches. The right therapist can work through feelings of inadequacy and negative perceptions of self. Other approaches help develop self-regulation, organization, and day-to-day living with ADHD. You can help your loved one learn social skills, set routines, discover strategies, and cope with life. You need to remember to take care of yourself and seek your own support if you find that you feel stretched, impatient, or frustrated by the individual.

Communicate with Your Loved One

As a caregiver, friend, or partner of someone with ADHD, effective communication will help both individuals. Listen to your loved ones’ concerns, learn to express your own, but be mindful of moments that become heated. Tense moments are often accompanied by not feeling heard, which can happen to each of you. It’s valuable to hear what each other has to say, but it’s equally important to do so when you are both calm. We hear each other when we are calm.

When we are tense, the only thing we hear is our need that is going unmet, which leads to great hurt and misunderstanding. If you struggle to communicate in a calm manner, take a moment (or 20 min) to let the body calm, and then reengage.

Be clear and straightforward in your language, avoiding ambiguity. Whenever possible, address problems immediately after they occur, before your list of grievances becomes unmanageable, resulting in anger or resentment, but only if everyone can remain calm. If that becomes challenging, it may be time to seek out professional support to help your communication styles.


Establish a Routine

Those with ADHD can benefit greatly from routine. It may prove helpful to children with ADHD to have a structured school day, and some adults may feel relieved by going to work regularly. Though this can help some individuals, it can also become a point of tension when deadlines and timelines become restrictive. Someone with executive functioning disorder (ADHD) struggles to switch from task to task.

If there is not enough time factored into the changes throughout the day, you can be met with frustration, obstinate, or heightened emotional reactivity. It’s difficult to adjust to uncertain time frames, so plan the time throughout the day to help support adequate expectations. Don’t lecture or criticize, as this communicates inability or inadequacy.

The individual with ADHD instinctively knows that “something is wrong with them,” so these messages trigger the feelings of rejection and failure, leading to powerful, overwhelming displays of emotional reactivity, either internally (more so with female-presenting) or externally (more so with male presenting). Supportive reminders, acknowledgment, and encouragement go a long way to build a stronger bond between the two of you. It may be daunting, but the choice is frustration, anger, and contempt or patience, kindness, and closeness.

Give them a Little Relaxation.

You can help your loved one avoid becoming overwhelmed or frustrated by encouraging them to take a break instead of pushing on with a task. We live in a world that values productivity and excellence through what we achieve. Not everyone is capable of maintaining the workload often demanded by daily living, especially someone with ADHD. Stress and frustration can lead to less productivity and more mistakes, increasing their negative emotions.

Suggest a self-care or regular activity they enjoy to help your loved one regain focus and clear their mind. Self-regulation and self-awareness grow in the presence of someone who supports and cares about us, no matter how we show up. Consider what you value more: productivity, stress, and tension, or valuable time understanding one another, patience, and connection.

Engage in Appropriate Activities.

They are more likely to be aware and understand their bodies, feelings, behaviors, and hyperactivity if they learn, practice, and teach relaxation techniques or movements that help the body release excess energy. Moving the body can be helpful for some, but slowing things down may be helpful for others.

Yoga, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing are just a few of the exercises that can be used. Experimenting with these skills will help you find out when they’re most effective.


Be Patient and Understanding.

You may feel frustrated or annoyed by your loved one’s behavior from time to time. A person with ADHD suffers from limitations in functioning, so their behavior is reflective of the symptoms they are experiencing. They don’t mean to annoy you or upset you, nor does this mean they are stupid. Often, people with ADHD are highly intelligent or skilled in specific areas. Unfortunately, it may not be an area of your preference.

The symptoms of ADHD can make it difficult for someone to stay organized and focused or to manage their emotions. Additionally, it can contribute to irresponsible behavior, such as overspending or lack of consideration. If your loved one is willing, you can work together to manage these symptoms and embrace each other’s uniqueness rather than living with criticism and contempt.

Enhance their Self-Confidence by Recognizing their Strengths

The majority of ADHD patients are acutely aware of their weaknesses because they’ve been frustrated by them for years. They live with constant reminders about their faults, which can contribute to low self-esteem or lack of self-worth in people with ADHD. It is helpful to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses to boost their self-confidence, not destroy it.

Like any of us, a good way to communicate with someone with ADHD is by acknowledging their strengths, showing appreciation, and asking for the same in return if the relationship is with an adult. You can work together to strengthen the relationship by fostering an environment of acceptance and support for yourself and your loved one.

Make Sure Your Behavior is Appropriate.

The reactions of those around us affect us all to some degree – especially children, who are constantly developing and learning.

Ask yourself whether your behavior or reactions have the potential to trigger and exasperate ADHD symptoms. We act this way when we feel overwhelmed. Reach out for support if you sense the challenge is overwhelming at times.

Give Them the Space They Need

Giving them space may prove beneficial. Someone with ADHD may need to slow things down or feel supported when they crave insatiable activity. To work with ADHD effectively, the most important thing is to provide a non-judgmental environment and to be curious about the individual to learn about you and them in the process.

You Grow in the Process

This is the part where you benefit from growth as well. In helping your loved one with ADHD, you benefit as both of you are engaging in behaviours that help each other to grow. When we become frustrated with a loved one, we often want them to change their behaviour because it will help us cope. Growth comes when you learn patience, communication, understanding, and compassion for each other and your individual and joint experiences with ADHD.

Seek Professional Help

When the executive function is compromised, the brain requires extra effort to manage the tasks of daily living. This stress is experienced by the individual with ADHD and felt by those around them. We often want to control their behaviour to help us feel more settled. Most often, this approach will backfire as it signals that support is not available for the person with ADHD. This increases the level of stress, which in turn, increases problematic behaviour.

Boomerang Counselling Centre


You can make a big difference in your relationship with an individual with ADHD if consider implementing the information provided in this post. Managing ADHD and relationships is challenging, not impossible, and immensely rewarding.

With the right help and support, individuals with ADHD can form healthy relationships and find fulfillment.

If you feel overwhelmed dealing with an individual with ADHD, you can learn more to help you understand the disorder and learn about yourself and why you feel disheveled. At Boomerang Counselling Centre, we support family and friends of individuals with ADHD. If you are looking to understand someone or yourself and the challenges and wonderful possibilities that come with this disorder, book your free consultation here.


Gerten, K. (2022, October 9). 16 quotes that illustrate ADHD. Youth Dynamics.,D



We specialize in a variety of neurodiversity, behavioural, anxiety, attention, learning, social, and emotional problems. We also provide family support through parent coaching, counselling, and reunification.