Do you know what ADHD is? Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that is characterized by problems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person’s age. According to Psychology Today 5 to 7 percent of children are diagnosed with this developmental disorder.
There are many ways to manage ADHD, but there’s no cure for this disorder. The Mayo Clinic states, that the most common treatment is medication and early diagnosis. I think that early diagnosis is a very important point. If your child has not yet been diagnosed, but you feel that your child presents some of the symptoms of ADHD, please don’t label and diagnose yourself, instead, seek professional assistance. This is key, to correctly identify any issues. What are the symptoms of ADHD? Based on an article from Web MD a combination of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention are the common symptoms, along with the following behaviors:
- Forgetting or losing things
- Making careless mistakes or taking unsafe risks
- Squirming or fidgeting
ADHD is a disorder that affects many children and young adults all over the world, and hyperactivity is one of the symptoms that makes completing tasks difficult for preschool age children, according to Everyday Health. And although there is no cure for ADHD, you can manage these challenges, with knowledge and proper planning. Try using these tips as a guide, to help your child stay focused, and on task:
Have a Plan
When you discover that your child has ADHD, begin planning right away. Gather information to learn as much as you can, but once you’re familiar with the disorder, think about the long-term challenges. Start your planning with a schedule, to keep you and your child on track. Routines are important, and when they’re repeated on a consistent basis, they become second nature. For instance, if you drive an automatic vehicle for several years, then you decide that you’d rather a standard, in the beginning you thought it would never happen, but after several attempts to master it, you’re shifting without even thinking about it. In addition to routines, create a long-term plan to assist your child with ADHD, and a great tool for this, is with a daily journal. I find that when I write down my thoughts or brainstorm, I uncover ideas and solutions without even being aware of it. If you’re someone who journals regularly, for whatever reason, then you know that there are many benefits, and here are a couple of them:
- A daily journal helps you monitor your child’s progress, and possibly come up with creative approaches and alternative solutions to various issues and concerns. For instance, you may discover that your child is less distracted in the evening, than during the day, and that homework time is less challenging, when your child is able to wind down after school, instead of doing homework as soon as they get home. Keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with making adjustments to any schedule when necessary.
- Journal daily, to help you identify what’s working, and what’s not. You may notice that on Fridays your child has more difficulty paying attention, and is more reluctant to do homework, chores, etc. By keeping a journal, you become aware of patterns and any behavioral changes as they occur, which can also assist you in determining some of the causes, and therefore, solutions.
Create Daily Routines
Structure is an important part of raising children, and contrary to common beliefs, they actual grave it. The Child Development Institute states that homework time is very important and regular schedules provide the day with a structure that orders a young child’s world. And as children grow and become older, they have a better sense of what’s going to happen, which allows them to be and feel more independent. In turn, a disrupted routine can make a child feel insecure and irritable.
According to Web MD staying focused is often a difficult task for those with ADHD, especially since hyperactivity contributes to their ability to concentrate for long-periods of time. Children who struggle with this, also have trouble making decisions, or getting tasks done before a deadline. Some get too distracted with other activities around them, while others find it hard to plan ahead, or they get frustrated easily and give up. In my experiences, you can help with this just by “checking in” to monitor your child’s progress. For instance, you don’t want to hover over your child, but if you check on them frequently, you can divert their attention back to the task at hand. The most important part of this process is making accommodations, meaning if a routine or time slot needs to change to increase progress, don’t be afraid to modify it.
Distractions are everywhere, and they can plaque all of us if we allow them to. Children with ADHD are easily distracted, and even the simplest noise can interfere with their ability to stay focused. The best way to avoid distractions, is to remove them! Most children have limited attention spans, not just those with ADHD, and through my experiences I find that children with learning disabilities or challenges, learn better in stages. And an approach that I find effective when trying to help children focus, is to set time limits, such as 15 minutes of homework with a 10 minute break, then repeat until the task(s) is completed.
Have Patience & Be Attentive
Your child will struggle with this disorder at times, and so will you, but that’s to be expected. What’s required, is patience. When there’s support and understanding, it makes a huge difference in your child’s development and progress. With a background in Human Services and major in Educational Support, I’ve worked with many children and families, in their home, and in the educational system. Whether you’re a Teacher, Educational Assistant or a parent, you may feel irritated and frustrated from time to time, and although it’s not always easy to hide your emotions, it’s important to remain calm and attentive to their needs. When your child is struggling and seeking help, they need encouragement and praise, but if the response or interaction they receive is negative, it could cause them to avoid assistance, and start to feel inadequate, which can hinder their progress. According to Kids Matter children who are self-motivated tend to stick at things for longer, and they feel a sense of control over what they’re doing. Are you motivated by positive feedback?
Overall, ADHD is a well-known condition that is very manageable, and many children grow up to have fulfilling functional lives. I would say that one of the best ways to help your child reach their goals, is by boosting their self-esteem. Research found on Additude states that children need two things: the sense that they’re successful, both socially and academically, and unconditional love from their parents. If either ingredient is missing, a child will have a hard time developing self-esteem.