There is a fine line between helping children with ADHD work to their fullest potential and enabling children by doing too much for them. Our Education expert shares 4 tips focused on helping your kids be the best they can be!
Disorganization, impulsivity and general hyperactivity are typically the traits that we associate with children with ADHD. For parents and teachers, these are the traits that make working with children with ADHD frustrating. These children require a lot of patience and support from everyone who works with them, but there is a fine line between helping children with ADHD work to their fullest potential and enabling children by doing too much for them.
Besides being disorganized and impulsive, children with ADHD also tend to be highly creative and energetic people. They can be motivated when engaged in work that is of interest to them. So how do we, as teachers and parents, use that motivation to teach independence? Ultimately, that should be the goal when working with kids with ADHD. We want children to be able to copy down their own homework, pack their own backpacks and clean their rooms independently. Below are some tips for parents and teachers to help children work to their fullest potential.
HELPING CHILDREN WITH ADHD
1.) Be honest with your kids.
The fact is that having ADHD means that your child will have to work harder than most kids. It might sound harsh, but as kids grow into teenagers and adults, the expectations become greater. Children need to experience and understand personal responsibility. Everyone struggles in life and for children with ADHD, being responsible for their own work and things will be theirs. Be there to listen and validate your child’s feelings of frustration, but also encourage your child to find ways to overcome his struggles.
2.) Give them strategies for success.
Checklists and visual reminders work wonders for kids with ADHD. More importantly though, have your child be a part of creating those lists. If your son keeps forgetting to bring his instrument to school, have him write a reminder on a post-it and stick it on the front door. Have him read it aloud each day as he leaves to get him into the habit of reminding himself. To help keep play or work spaces neat, create a check off sheet with specific step by step instructions on how to clean the room. Sometimes things like making your bed seem obvious to parents but are not clear to kids. I suggest laminating the sheet so that your child can use a dry erase marker to check off each step as she goes. The physical act of checking off each step forces her to be responsible for the work. In school, ask your child’s teacher for strategies to help your child bring work home. Many teachers will use check off sheets as reminders in class as well.
3.) Allow your child to experience consequences.
This can be tough for parents because we feel that there is already so much stacked against our kids with ADHD. All children need to learn at a young age that their behaviors hold consequences. I often see parents dropping off forgotten homework and snacks on a daily basis. Kids learn very quickly that if they forget something, Mom will just bring it for me. Unfortunately, if your child doesn’t experience a negative consequence for her forgetfulness, the behaviors will unlikely change.
When your child forgets something, it is important that he is part of remedying the problem. Try not to automatically fix the problem for him. Have him call a friend and copy down the math problems by hand, instead of you making the photocopy for him. Let your daughter tell her teacher what happened instead of writing a note for her. Always have your child make up the work he or she missed. The earlier children experience consequences the more likely they will be to be responsible in the future. The Elementary School years are the safest place to learn these rules for life. Missing a recess to complete homework or forgoing one day of snack might be enough to change your child’s behavior.
4.) Communicate with your child’s teacher.
This is the most important tip for success. Kids need to know that their parents and teachers are working together to hold them accountable for their own behavior. If homework has become a nightmare, reach out to your child’s teacher. If your child continues to forget to bring home assignments, work together to put a plan in place. Remember that the goal should always be independence, so plans need to be modified as the year goes on. Once your child starts to become successful, alter the level of adult involvement until your child is remembering on his own. Always praise each level of achievement and reassure your child that she can do this on her own.
Although there will inevitably be stumbles along the way, many children with ADHD are capable of so much more than they are given credit for. They will need help in learning how to organize and keep themselves on track, but once your child shows that she is capable of achieving certain goals, expect her to maintain those goals long term.
Thanks for reading,