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Tips to Help Your Child Struggling with ADHD
Have you begun to notice that your child has difficulty focusing on tasks? Or have you received calls from school stating your child has been misbehaving or acting impulsively?
Helping your children with organization skills can be very important and helpful; however, some parents, teachers, and therapists struggle when faced with children with Attention-Deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is one of the most common disorders of childhood. However, it can persist into adulthood. Those with ADHD may have trouble paying attention or controlling impulsive behavior, be forgetful, and even show aggression. Children with ADHD often have difficulty organizing and prioritizing, causing them to have poor time management and planning skills, be fidgety, and have difficulty coping with stressors.
Here are a few tips to help those who struggle with ADHD.
1. Praise and Rewards (Consequences, too!) – Studies have indicated that children with ADHD often receive negative feedback most of the day. In school, they are fidgeting, talking, getting out of their chair, and unable to focus on their assignments. They are often met with a teacher or parent providing negative feedback. "Why can't you behave?" "You need to get back in your seat or else!" "You're getting a time-out!" Because of this, they often have low self-esteem and may begin to have a "what's the point?" attitude toward tasks. We must provide positive feedback to our children even if we believe they're doing what they should be. We all live with rewards, which is sometimes why we do things.
2. Give your child clear instructions. – The goal is to be as specific and positive as possible, and here are a few examples:
Vague: "Be patient."
Specific: "Sit quietly at your desk until it's time to leave."
Negative: "Don't touch the computer. Don't move your chair. Don't get
out of your seat."
Positive: "Sit quietly with your hands on your lap.
The difference here is to let them know what we want from them as specifically as possible. Sometimes we can forget that kids aren't little adults and they're not mind readers. They look to us for what to do; they don't know, but they're learning daily with you!
3. Routine, Routine, Routine! –Children with ADHD often get overwhelmed with the tasks ahead of them and can sometimes shut down. It is important to build these skills as early as possible to get them accustomed to eventually being able to complete and organize things on their own.
4. Social Skills – Children with ADHD often have difficulty beginning or maintaining friendships; this could be because of their lack of social skills or impulsivity. First, it would be necessary to start to educate your child about the issue. Identify the problem areas, like listening to others, sharing, or aggression. All the adults (parents, teachers, etc.) need to provide immediate and frequent feedback on their social skills. This can even be done while watching TV by pointing out proper/improper behaviors. Most children's shows do an excellent job at this. You can practice role-playing when you engage the child in play as well.
It also can be helpful to schedule smaller play dates with children who are good role models. Sometimes bigger groups can be overwhelming or overstimulating, so keeping play dates to 1-2 children is best.
5. Don't Underestimate the Importance of Movement – Often, the H (hyperactivity) in ADHD can mean your child is going and going like the Energizer bunny. Don't be afraid to use exercise when dealing with ADHD. Studies have indicated it can help improve executive function, the mental processes that assist with planning/organizing, and improve mood and learning. Putting your child in a sport can also help with social skills and structure, but it can be helpful to use mindfulness, breathing techniques, or yoga to help your child learn how to regulate their emotions. The movement has many benefits for anybody, so get on with your kids too!
We understand, however, that sometimes even implementing these tips, children may need extra help either with a therapist or in school. Most schools can implement a 504 or IEP plan to get your child more specialized help, like extra time or taking exams in a room with a smaller group of students. However, making these changes can continue to help your child and set them up for success in the future.
ADHD or not, these skills are helpful to all children and even adults. If you, as the parent, feel that you need extra help with these issues, our therapists can help diagnose, test, and create a treatment plan that fits you and your family. Reach out to ITS to get started.