Having a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can challenge even the most patient of parents and adults. These simple yet effective strategies, when applied consistently, can help your child succeed at home and/or at school.
Your child’s room should be a peaceful area of the home with a desk set up and a complete work station where they can store a set of spare supplies and other essentials so that there is no need to wander around the house trying to find what they are looking for.
We do not recommend any media in the child’s room, only in the family room, and only with limited access. If you are having them work on their homework in another area of the home other than their own room, the TV and music player/radio should be turned off.
2-Offer two simple and clear choices so your child is involved in decision-making on an active level.
It is hard for children with ADHD to focus and make decisions, but you can help them practice by offering them two clear choices on a regular basis.
Recognize that ‘no’ or ‘none’ or another option they come up with will often be a third choice. Decide whether or not it is a valid one depending on the circumstances. For example, if you say vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and they ask for strawberry, that is not the end of the world (though you might not have it in the house). But if you say peas or carrots and they refuse any vegetable, you might accept that answer for a day to avoid a battle, but not give them a choice the next day and have them eat both.
3-Keep rewards immediate and small.
For younger children, a gold star or other form of recognition that they have done well will help keep them on task and eager to please. Motivating with privileges and more allowance works well with older children.
4-Keep a positive attitude, not a negative one.
Reward whenever possible. If you do have to punish your child, explain immediately what action they have done wrong. Then try to link the penalty to the inappropriate behavior. For instance, if your child rides his or her bike without a helmet, do not allow him or her to ride the bike for a certain amount of time, like the rest of the day or week.
5-Cultivate the interests and skills of your child.
Children with ADHD have their challenges, but they also have certain character traits and talents in common that can help them succeed if you cultivate them. For example, they are usually very creative. Encouraging their own natural talents and skills helps build confidence and self-esteem. Focus on what they can do well rather than constantly harp on what they can’t.
They will need to follow a balanced curriculum to cover all subjects throughout their formative years of compulsory education, but when doing homework, try to start and end each session with their favorite subjects or types of tasks. Sandwich in their less favorite tasks between the things that they enjoy. Give genuine praise and encouragement.
6-If you opt for medication, stick closely to the schedule.
Make sure they get their medicine on time, even if you have to schedule reminders in your electronic calendar and have them texted to your mobile phone and/or email. Medications work best when there is a continual steady supply in the blood stream. You may want to give your child a drug holiday to try to avoid the risk of side effects, or use patches that they can peel off when they do not need to focus so intently, but follow all instructions and discuss any changes or withdrawal of medication before doing so.
These are just a few suggestions on how to keep your child with ADHD focused and learning, no matter what the setting.