You might have realized that your child is unable to focus. You might have also noted that your child is unable to sit still and has almost zero self-control. The truth is, your child could be suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is a disorder that affects the ability to pay attention, focus, and makes your child rowdy. The good news is, there are ways that you can help your child get better. Let’s learn about ADHD.
What is ADHD?
It is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. According to the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), an estimated 8.4 percent of children are diagnosed with ADHD and 2.5 percent of adults have ADHD. There are an estimated 1.46 to 2.46 million children with ADHD in the United States. Most research suggests that the condition is diagnosed four to nine times more often in boys than in girls. Children who have ADHD have a tough time to memorize, concentrate, and to connect with other children.
Parenting a child with ADHD can be exhausting and make you worrisome because he or she is unable to sit still or get any task done on time. Raising a child with ADHD is not as easy as it sounds. However, with proper attention, ADHD can be controlled.
ADHD can be of three types:
- Inattentive type
- Hyperactive/ Impulsive type
- Combined type
Here are the common characteristics of ADHD.
A child who is inattentive may have the following symptoms:
- He/she is less attentive to detail.
- He/she is clumsy.
- Has problems staying focused on tasks.
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to.
- Does not follow instructions.
- Does not complete assigned tasks.
- Has problems organizing things.
- Does not manage time well.
- Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort.
- Often loses things needed for tasks or daily life, such as school papers, books, keys, wallet, cell phone, and eyeglasses.
- He/she is easily distracted.
- Forgets daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands.
A child who is hyperactive may have the following symptoms:
- Fidgets with hands or feet while sitting is a clear ADHD symptom
- Runs aimlessly or climbs where it is inappropriate.
- Unable to play quietly.
- Talks too much.
- Blurts out an answer before a question has been finished.
- May finish people’s sentences, can’t wait to speak in conversations.
- Has difficulty waiting for his or her turn, such as while waiting in line.
- Cuts into conversations, games, or activities, or starts using other people’s things without permission.
However, your hyperactive child can be treated. Click below to book an appointment with Mango Clinic!
The following are ways that can help you tackle your child better if he/she has the above-mentioned symptoms.
1. Develop a Plan
A well-developed plan can help your child remember things quickly. Children with ADHD do not have the capability to remain focused on tasks at hand. They tend to be very forgetful. They need guidance at home and at school to develop social skills. Once your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it is time to act wisely rather than panic. Developing a plan can bring the discipline that is missing in your child’s life so they can have their thoughts in order. A routine doesn’t mean that everything has to happen at exactly the same time every day.
Following are steps you can take to develop a plan for your child:
Use a clock or a wristwatch
Take the assistance of wall clocks or wristwatches to get your child to do tasks timely. Mathematics can be hard for them but a watch of their favorite animated character could pique their interest and make them learn about the concept of time. Even vibrating buzzers seem effective in catching your child’s attention and to bring them back to reality from their daydreaming ventures. Watches are effective tools to use as they remind children of their tasks of refocusing their attention and remembering things.
Use a calendar
A predictable schedule can help your ADHD child to feel safe and secure and they can psychologically benefit from a structured routine. Devise a schedule from morning routines to bedtime regime, including activities for the weekend. A well-planned calendar should include after school activities which will ensure structure in their lives. Summer vacations should have a separate calendar with outdoor fun activities but their daily schedule should include fun activities too so they are excited about following it.
Practice sequencing technique
To help your child to focus, break down a long assignment into short ones with interrelated activities. Once you have divided the task and made it look easier to your child they will be able to complete the tasks assigned to them.
Create a daily activity schedule
A schedule will help you analyze your child on a daily basis. Children with ADHD tend to be very forgetful. Therefore, having a daily activity schedule can help to organize their tasks and remind them of what they were supposed to do. You can have a morning routine that includes a checklist of chores including making their bed and hygiene routine of brushing their teeth, taking a shower, brushing their hair. If the child does not have to go to a school that day, start with simple tasks that can be related to homework or helping parents out around the house.
For example, your child may sleep later during the summer. But things still need to be scheduled in the same order. For instance, your child should brush his/her teeth before coming down for breakfast.
2. Use Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral therapy is an effective method to help improve ADHD ,your child’s behavior, self-esteem, and self-control. Behavior management, also called behavior modification, can make parenting a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) a little easier. Behavioral Therapy for ADHD treatment involves rewarding and praising your child’s good behavior and discouraging unwanted or impulsive behavior with appropriate consequences. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT for ADHD), in this regard, serves as the perfect example. The following are the steps to follow in order to achieve the best behavior out of your child:
Explain the rules
Make your child aware of your house rules and implement them at school too. Post them on places where your child can read them. For example, on the refrigerator or on a specific board assigned for reminders for your child. Constantly remind them these rules are meant to be followed. Explain each and every rule and repeat them so they are etched in their brains.
Do not expect perfection
You need to remember, we all make mistakes. Therefore, don’t expect perfection from your child even after several attempts to improve his or her conditions. You cannot expect perfection from your child even if you have to repeat certain rules each and every day. The important thing to remember is that one day your child will learn and notice the little improvements he/she makes on a daily basis.
Reward your child for good behavior (Activities for children with ADHD)
Rewarding is an effective way for children to remember that they did something right and got a treat or a reward for it. Allowing them to go and play outside or do favorite activities or snacks can be examples of rewards you can give your kid. Children with ADHD need more immediate feedback for their good behavior, as well as their unwanted behavior, than other children. Children with ADHD may learn from praise for their good behavior long after it occurs.
However, due to the short attention span of ADHD children, they need to be told right after they perform good or bad so they can work on their behavior and improve.
Give clear commands
Do not pile up commands on your ADHD child. This is because of the forgetful nature of children with ADHD which makes it hard for them to memorize instructions as other children. Instead, redirect your child towards their tasks every time they divert their attention from the given task. This will help them to work independently and to memorize their assigned activities.
3. Avoid Gadgets
Too many devices will reduce face-to-face time with your children which is essential for their growth and learning. The time you should spend communicating with your child where facial expressions, body language, and your voice comes to play is being taken by the virtual world of gadgets. Too much time given to gadgets harms your child’s thinking ability and damages their brain. Here’s how to avoid the amount of time spent on gadgets.
Fixed screen time
Set up fixed screen time for your child and a fixed duration. Kids with ADHD do not have a great sense of time. Which can make them forget that they have been sitting in front of the screen for hours. Therefore, set boundaries for screen time with your child. Instead of saying ‘five more minutes’, have a thorough sense of how long is the movie or video or game they want to play and if the duration is long, divide it through the course of the entire day.
In order to make your child obey, you yourself need to set an exemplary standard. Be your child’s role model. To do this, refrain your child from using gadgets for too much time. You too need to practice not to spend a lot of time on your mobile or laptop as well.
They will follow in your footsteps and learn from your model behavior and make good habits a part of their personality.
Plan some alternative for children such as painting, making pottery, biking, and board games. One of the best fun projects can be the simple act of storytelling. Every night narrate a story to your child and engage them in this daily routine to build their vocabulary and have a bonding experience with them.
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4. Collaborate with Teachers
To bridge the gap between home and school, you have to coordinate with your child’s teachers. Your child spends almost six hours of his/her day at school five days a week. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that your child’s teacher is aware of your child’s mental health issues in order to improve. Teachers are the guardians of your child outside the confines of your home and need to be updated regularly with your child’s performance at home and vice versa. Cooperation with your child’s teacher will help both you and your child improve themselves and grow. This can build a successful experience for your child in school. Take every opportunity to appreciate teachers for going the extra mile to help your child improve and learn. Here are some ways you can cooperate with teachers to better parent your child having ADHD and get positive results:
Evaluate your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses
Have a detailed discussion with your child’s teachers about his/her strengths and shortcomings. Talk to the teachers about the events that might trigger your child and how to deal with them. Make the teachers fully aware of how to draw your child’s attention towards them in class in order for your child to learn and not lag behind. If a teacher points out a problem, be positive, and work towards a solution rather than being defensive.
Provide an advance organizer
Devise a plan with the teachers to overcome difficulties and to achieve desired results. Divide the tasks you as a parent have to do at home and the teachers have to fulfill at school. Since you know your child better than anyone else, share your classroom strategies that have worked on him/her in the past with the teachers.
Review previous lessons
Set up a planner to review any progress in your child. This can be done by comparing their gradual change. Add new goals for them to achieve if you see improvement in many areas. However, if there are certain areas that still need to be worked on, focus on those first. Reviewing your child’s grades on worksheets, homework assignments, and tests can also show if there is an improvement.
Set learning expectations
Set up weekly and monthly expectations for your child and help in whatever way you can for your child to achieve them. But, remember not to overburden the teacher or your child. It can be difficult for teachers to take full responsibility for a child with ADHD. Therefore, communicate with them and help them out in order to achieve the set learning goals. Again, follow through on tasks you and your child’s teachers have agreed to accomplish.
5. Provide a Healthy Diet
Feeding your child can become an everyday hustle. Especially if she or he is picky about what to eat. According to studies, children with ADHD are prone to crave sugar more than nutritious and protein-rich food. This is because as the ADHD brain shows low levels of dopamine activity, children become more inclined towards sugar than towards a fish or vegetables. Always maintain a healthy diet for your child for his/her nourishment and think of innovative ways to make them like the food.
Make meals interesting
One technique that you can use is to visually trick your child into thinking the dish that you are serving is quite delicious. Note that healthy dietary habits are established in childhood and can last a lifetime.This tip will make your child eat the right amounts of proteins and healthy fats, just by making a bit more effort than before to make the dish look presentable in your child’s eyes.
Diet quality matters over quantity
Your kid will throw up if you force-feed or you over-feed them. What’s best is to not make them eat too much in one sitting. Try to indulge in eating the necessary healthy food choices during the course of the day. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein, healthy fats, and calcium-rich foods are a good choice.
According to a 2012 review article, added food coloring can have adverse effects on children with ADHD. It is quite common that your child might return home with an uneaten lunch, so focus more on having a heavy breakfast so they have the energy to be active at school. Refrain from sending them to school with the packed food and put together a healthy meal for your child.
Say No to candies and caffeine
It can be hard to say no to your child with ADHD but, you have to start practicing it now. A 2014 study reveals increased levels of sugar can also increase the risks of heart diseases and obesity.
Sugar intake makes kids hyper and your ADHD child might already be hyperactive and stay up till late at night due to excessive amounts of sugar.
6. Manage Distractions
Remove distractions such as a television playing in the background or a visual distraction around him/her. For children suffering from ADHD, ‘distractibility’ is the norm. Some children cannot even focus on the slightest sound around them. They cannot play or study attentively as their brains are not wired to take on plenty of distractions. Children with ADHD have a hard time filtering out things and focus on the task at hand as this chronic condition makes it difficult for children to control their behavior. ADHD in children is not just an inability to pay attention, it is an inability to control attention. They can be distracted even by their inner thoughts and feelings. For that reason, parents need to be vigilant in assisting their children to manage these distractions with the help of the following ways:
Make lessons exciting
One of the best ways to keep your kid on track is to make sure you plan interesting lessons for your child. Advise the teachers to make the lessons fun and mysterious to spike the interest of children. Make use of props and silly sticks while doing maths or subjects that take up a lot of attention from kids. You can use a sensory bin to teach your child new concepts and play dough can be used as a great incentive between lessons.
Make your child recognize the things that distract him/her so they can know what being distracted feels like. Make them practice positive affirmations such as “I can focus on this”, “I can do better” and “I can complete this”. These affirmations will help your child get better and manage their attention and concentrate more.
Spend time outdoors
There really is no substitute for basking in the Sun, a walk in the park and fresh air. When outdoors, your child can run as much they want, climb trees, observe birds, and learn things that cannot be taught by staying inside. Parents should plan outdoor activities for the weekend and before your child sits to work on his/her homework. This time can calm your child, control their tantrums and they can invest their hyperactive energy into the physical acts of skipping, running, or cycling. Outdoor plans strengthen the bond between parents and children even more.
If spending time outdoors with your ADHD child doesn’t help, feel free to book an appointment with us!
Play attention-boosting games
Let your child discover their inner artist and help them make their little garden. Let them go to town with paints or chalks and scribble away on the pavement of your house. These games will keep them on their toes and let them be as creative as they want. Playing games can help your ADHD child concentrate better.
7. Encourage your child
Kids with ADHD can often lose track of time, struggle with staying on top of their homework, and are scattered attending to their chores and tasks. You cannot lose hope and give up because you are the driving force for your child. You have to motivate your child during difficult times and be optimistic even when they are having a meltdown. Paying more attention to their positive behavior can help them and motivate them to control themselves. Positive remarks instead of negative criticism can help in order to maintain a healthy relationship with your child.
It is important to keep in mind that the most effective way is to focus their behavioral intervention strategies on praise rather than on punishment. Focusing on the positive, rather than berating your child for not finishing the entire task, is more effective for a child with ADHD. This helps build confidence in their abilities. But always be genuine, don’t practice praise inflation because your child knows that not everything he/she does is good. Define the appropriate behavior while giving praise.
Have a reward chart
Be specific with your child about the behavior they are being rewarded for. Even if you catch your child being helpful, respectful, or kind, give them behavior attention and positive praise so they are encouraged to repeat such behaviors. Let your child know the concept of personal space and how being rowdy at someone else’s home is unacceptable. Similarly, sharing food with a friend or helping someone out are acts that should be highly appreciated by you.
Give praise immediately
Be consistent and sincere with your praise. Immediately appreciate your child preferably in front of others and their peers. That uplifts your child’s spirits and enhances their self-esteem. Emphasize the things that your child does right.
For example, if he/she is given a multi-part task, say “good job” when at the completion of the first part. It will help them remember what it was that you cherished about them and they will try to implement the same good behavior again. Instant acknowledgment of your child’s good conduct will aid them in developing a good character.
In the case of bad behavior, you need to remember that negative consequences may temporarily change behavior, but they rarely change the attitude of your child. But that can change if you start punishing your child for every bad behavior. Moreover, punishment only teaches children what not to do. It does not provide children with the skills that they need, to do what is expected. Positive reinforcement produces the changes in attitudes that will shape a child’s behavior over the long term.
Ignore minor errors and in case of errors, walk away from them or do not respond to their calls and let them come to you and realize that they have done something wrong.
8. Set a good example of Organization
Children with ADHD need organization help. Avoid picking up the trail of mess your child leaves behind. Instead, teach your child the organizational skills they need in order to get their act together. Establish a set of ground rules that every member of the house has to follow. When your child with ADHD will see everyone around them following cleanliness rules they will automatically follow suit. Have a separate reward system designed for your child when he/she accomplishes organizational tasks.
Design a study area
Design a study area for your child to help him or she excel in school. Children with ADHD should have an excluded area for doing their homework that is far from all the toys and drawing materials to avoid getting distractions. Establish everyday routines for getting ready for school, doing homework, and going to bed.
Provide useful supplies
Having highlighters, stickers, post-it notes and bookmarks can prove effective for your child. Children can post stickers on things you want them to memorize so they stand out. Stamps are also visual aids that prove efficient for children with ADHD as they find them interesting and playful. Colored planners and similar types of these supplies help children to stay organized and compartmentalize their tasks to get them done in a perfect manner.
Use similar strategies at school
Involve your child’s teacher in the system you have devised for your child. This will help your child to achieve fruitful results and to feel at home. Improved academic services for ADHD students help them to catch up with the rest of the students and lead a normal life. Teachers need to make sure they are patient with the students and give positive feedback to their parents. Students with ADHD need to be seated closest to the teachers to enforce discreet interaction between you and children suffering from ADHD. This diminishes the chances of visual distractions that can cause hindrance for learning for ADHD children.
9. Teach them to Control Impulsiveness
Has your kid been acting out without thinking lately? Does he not seem to have any mental brakes? There could be something more to this to this impulsive behavior. If it occurs once in a blue moon, there’s not much to worry about. But when it happens a lot, your child could have issues with self-control. When your child has ADHD he can have impulsive episodes but you as a parent can help him/her out immensely.
Parents have the greatest influence on their young child’s behavior and he/she may act out at home or school but there are things you can do to control their impulsivity because young children are not mature enough to change their own behavior without their parents’ help.
Impulsiveness in ADHD children is common. Book an appointment with Mango Clinic to treat this.
Raise awareness and seek help
The most glaring misconception about ADHD is it not being real. Whereas, it is a neurological disorder where an individual’s brain develops and functions differently than the rest of us. After the diagnosis of your child, parents should do whatever they can in order to raise about ADHD.
Starting from your child’s school to your peers, as ADHD can impair your child’s social and academic life, it is better to spread the knowledge that you have regarding ADHD to other parents going through similar hardships. Again, it is important to seek help, in case things get out of hand. A helping hand can prove to be all you need during these times.
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Take a deep breath
Do not tire yourself as you will not be able to help your child get better. Do not believe every bad thing you hear about your child and remember that you need to take care of your own health and sanity before helping anyone else. You cannot waste your time on self-blame because ADHD is not a problem caused due to the chaotic environment of a home but a disorder of the brain. All you can do is be there for your child and spend as much time as you can with them. ADHD and relationships are very hard to maintain. Your relationship with your child matters the most and talking to your child about ADHD can help both you and your child to come up with plans to improve their mental health.
Be patient and praise patience
Be patient towards your child. In the case of ADHD treatment, patience is key. Negative consequences can arise with having a child with ADHD. But, you have to power through these consequences and remember that there will be better days. Your child will eventually learn from his/her mistakes if you are patient with them. If your child waits on you after asking for something and they did not get impatient, immediately praise them for their calmness. Being tolerant is a well-appreciated virtue and your child deserves praise for it.
Compelling benefits of Emotional Support Animals for children with ADHD
Your child might feel lonely making him or her not wanting to leave his/her room. In such a case, you can help them by getting them an emotional support animal. You will notice how attentive they have become to the needs of their pets and leave the room to walk the dog and feed the cat. Your child can feel misunderstood sometimes and an embrace of a furry friend can help them get through their mood swings and calm their nerves. An emotional support animal can help in unimaginable ways to cater to the needs of your child as they unconditionally love your child and keep ADHD related hyperactivity and impulsivity at bay.
ADHD is a common neurobiological condition affecting 5-8% of school-age children. Children with ADHD can be labeled as annoying and disruptive whereas their parents can be blamed for their impulsive behaviors. It is not a good feeling to be called a bad parent when you cannot seem to understand your child’s behaviors.
It is important we lay great emphasis on the mental health of children. We should not negate their emotions and feelings as being irrelevant. If your child displays any signs of inattentiveness and impulsivity, you should consult a therapist before it is too late.
Book your appointment with EzCare Clinic to get your child professional healthcare assistance with ADHD!