Coping with ADHD
ADHD in School
Do you or somebody you know have a child who struggles with ADHD? School creates multiple challenges for kids with ADHD, but with patience and an effective plan, your child can succeed in the classroom. As a parent, you can work with your child and his or her teacher to implement practical strategies for learning both inside and out of the classroom. With consistent support, these strategies can help your child meet learning challenges and succeed in the classroom.
Tips for working with teachers:
Plan ahead. You can arrange to speak with school officials or teachers before the school year even begins. If the year has started, plan to speak with a teacher or counselor on at least a monthly basis.
Make meetings happen. Agree on a time that works for both you and your child’s teacher and stick to it. If it’s convenient, meet in your child’s classroom so you can get a sense of your child’s physical learning environment.
Create goals together. Discuss your hopes for your child’s school success. Together, write down specific and realistic goals and talk about how they can be reached.
Listen carefully. Like you, your child’s teacher wants to see your child succeed at school. Listen to what they have to say—even if it is sometimes hard to hear. Understanding your child’s challenges in school is the key to finding solutions that work.
Share information. You know your child’s history, and your child’s teacher sees them every day: together you have a lot of information that can lead to better understanding of your child’s hardships. Share your observations freely, and encourage your child’s teachers to do the same.
Ask the hard questions and give a complete picture. Be sure to list any medications your child takes and explain any other treatments. Share with your child’s teacher which tactics work well—and which don’t—for your child at home. Ask if your child is having any problems in school, including on the playground. Find out if your child can get any special services to help with learning.
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ADHD in the home
Raising a child with ADHD can be challenging. Normal rule-making and routines can seem impossible, depending on the severity of your child’s symptoms. It can become frustrating but there are easier ways.
Principles of behavior management therapy:
Decide ahead of time which behaviors are acceptable and which are not: The goal of behavioral modification is to help your child consider the consequences of an action and control the impulse to act on it. This requires empathy, patience, affection, energy, and strength on the part of the parent. Parents must first decide which behaviors they will and won’t tolerate. It’s crucial to stick to these guidelines. Punishing a behavior one day and allowing it the next is harmful to a child’s improvement. Some behaviors should always be unacceptable, like physical outbursts, refusal to get up in the morning, or unwillingness to turn off the television when told to do so.
Your child may have a hard time internalizing and enacting your guidelines. Rules should be simple and clear, and children should be rewarded for following them. This can be accomplished using a points system. For example, allow your child to accrue points for good behavior that can be redeemed for spending money, time in front of the TV, or a new video game. If you have a list of house rules, write them down and put them where they’re easy to see. Repetition and positive reinforcement can help your child better understand your rules.
Define the rules, but allow some flexibility: It’s important to consistently reward good behaviors and discourage destructive ones, but you shouldn’t be too strict with your child. Remember that children with ADHD may not adapt to change as well as others. You must learn to allow your child to make mistakes as they learn. Odd behaviors that aren’t detrimental to your child or anyone else should be accepted as part of your child’s individual personality. It’s ultimately harmful to discourage a child’s quirky behaviors just because you think they are unusual.
Manage aggression: Aggressive outbursts from children with ADHD can be a common problem. “Time-out” is an effective way to calm both you and your overactive child. If your child acts out in public, they should be immediately removed in a calm and decisive manner. “Time-out” should be explained to the child as a period to cool off and think about the negative behavior they have exhibited. Try to ignore mildly disruptive behaviors as a way for your child to release his or her pent-up energy. However, destructive, abusive, or intentionally disruptive behavior which goes against the rules you establish should always be punished.
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