So many children today have a hard time focusing. They can’t stay on task. They’re easily distracted. Learning and school success are at risk. Perhaps he’s hyperactive. Or maybe she’s just “zoning out.”
Some hyperactive kids can’t control their behavior. They act impulsively. Shawn blurts out answers at school. Brittany makes poor choices without thinking. Some of these kids have ADHD. Others don’t.
But whether your child has ADHD or just can’t focus, these strategies will help parents help their children to be more successful at school, to learn more, and to be more cooperative at home. And a note to teachers: several of these strategies will work in your classroom too. And you can certainly suggest them to parents.
- If appropriate, encourage your child to work in spurts with breaks. Encourage her to work in intervals of no more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time with ten-minute breaks in between. This will help her stay focused because as she’s working, she’ll know there’s a break coming up. She needs to learn to treat herself well–after all, it’s hard for her to stay focused.
- Remind her to remind herself that when she’s supposed to be working, she needs to stay on task. This means she needs to concentrate: think, read, write and talk.
- ADHD behavior charts. Try using a behavior chart. Be sure to design this with your child. Together come up with your goals. For example: I will play after school until 5:00. Between 5:00 and 6:00 I will do my homework (be sure to include breaks as recommended above). I will eat dinner between . . . etc. Have fun creating your chart together. Then set up your goals. Your child receives a star, a sticker, or a check mark, for each accomplishment. When he has received five of them, he gets a toy or whatever you’ve decided together would be an appropriate reward. Since ADHD children need immediate gratification, they’ll respond positively to frequent rewards. If a child has to wait the whole week for a sticker or for the reward, you’ll probably lose his attention and this strategy won’t work.
- Use a timer. When doing homework, it may keep him on task and moving at a good pace. Be careful though, because some children become anxious about being timed. For others, timers can be distracting. Look for timers that don’t tick.
- ADHD medications. If various strategies are not successful, and your child is still having difficulty staying focused, your physician may recommend medication. With the proper choice and dosage, the improvement can be amazing. But be sure you’re consulting a doctor who’s knowledgeable about ADHD stimulant drugs. Most pediatricians are not as they receive little training in neuropsychopharmacology. Ask for a referral to a child psychiatrist. You want to make sure your child receives the best drug and in the proper amount.
- ADHD diet. Sometimes certain foods affect children in unpredictable ways. If you suspect diet might be an issue, consult your physician. Make sure your child eats a healthy diet. Too much sugary, processed food and not enough protein can cause your child to act in ways that might make you think she had ADHD. A healthy breakfast is a must.
Now pick one of these strategies at time. And since good parenting involves getting the kids involved, let your child pick the one they think they’ll like the most. Gradually add another activity from the list. You’ll soon find what works and what doesn’t. Teachers, you can also pick a strategy or two that will work at school to help those ADHD kids in your classroom.
What ADHD strategies work at your house? Please share with our readers.