ADHD: Suggestions For Helping Your Child
The following are some suggestions for helping you work with a child who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- Set up specific time periods for waking, bedtime, chores, homework, playtime, TV time, dinner, etc. Changes in schedule are disturbing to children with ADHD, so be as consistent as possible. Explain any changes in routine ahead of time so that the child understands, and can anticipate the changes.
- Set up clear and concise rules of behavior for the family, including the child with ADHD. Rules, as well as consequences for breaking them and rewards for appropriate behavior, can be written down and posted in a prominent place. Consistency is the key here — if a rule is broken, consequences should follow every time. If the child behaves appropriately, reward them often! Be firm on setting limits but give plenty of love and affection, too.
- Give instructions as simply and clearly as possible, demonstrating if necessary. Ask your child to repeat them back to you, then praise them when they respond correctly. Do not give more than one or two instructions at one time. If a task is difficult, break it into smaller parts and teach each part separately.
- Provide time with their own “special” quiet spot without distractions in which to do academic work or quiet work. Face the desk toward a blank wall, minimize clutter, and avoid bright, distracting colors or patterns in decor. Remember that the child has difficulty filtering out unnecessary stimulation.
- Repeated messages, directions, requests, etc., are inefficient disciplinary techniques and create a variety of unpleasant behaviors in the family. To stop this ineffective process try the following: say what you need to say, but say it once — briefly — clearly — completely — firmly — calmly. Follow through with a logical consequence or restructuring technique. ACT–DON’T YAK!!! A helpful thing to do while communicating is to use physical contact. Place your hand on the child’s shoulder or put your hands around their face while talking to them eye-to-eye in order to get their attention.
- Allow the child choices within the limits you have set. Help them develop their initiative and self-control and give a sense of personal influence.
- Help your child find avenues of self-expression that will help them express their wants in acceptable, useful ways. Children sometimes use misbehavior to communicate. Teach appropriate verbal communication skills. Ask yourself, “What does my child want to have happen as a result of this behavior?” and help him search for other ways to gain it.
- Use a time with small chores in order to help give your child a sense of passing time.
- A child’s behavior can often be very irritating. However, should you become excessively angry your effectiveness with your child will be greatly reduced. Anger is normal but can be controlled. Strive to keep your VOICE QUIET and slow when managing your child.
- Separate behavior which you may not like from the child’s person which you like, e.g. “I like you. I don’t like you to track mud through the house.”
- Labeling behavior can be very useful to help your child identify when they are acting inappropriately. You can develop your own code words to relate to specific behaviors in your child so that they recognize them when you use the words regularly and understand they are expected to correct the behavior. Example: When you do that you are arguing and it upsets me. When you jump in front of people watching TV, you are being rude which is unacceptable behavior.
- Above all else, the child suffering from ADHD needs compassionate understanding. His parents and teachers should not pity, tease, be frightened by, or overindulge this child. They must understand that the condition is real; it involves essential deficits; that they did not cause the condition; and much can be done to help him or her at home and at school.
SOURCE: Adapted from material from Sydney Paver, Ph.D. Testing Coordinator, Austin Mental Health Associates, Child and Adolescent Assessment Program, January 1996.