ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a very common disorder in children and adults. There are two subtypes of ADHD: Inattentive (formerly ADD) and Hyperactive. Research has shown, however, that no matter how the symptoms are manifested (inattention, hyperactivity, or both), the disorder is the same.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, your doctor will look for your child having at least 6 of the following symptoms for more than six months before diagnosing your child with ADHD:
- The child does not pay close attention to details and makes careless mistakes
- The child often has trouble holding attention on certain tasks
- The child is often forgetful
- The child often does not seem to listen or understand when spoken to directly
- The child often does not follow instructions and fails to finish work or chores (because of failure to understand, not defiance)
- The child often avoids or dislikes things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time. (Over 5 minutes)
- The child often has trouble with organized activities
- The child often loses things needed for tasks and activities
- The child is easily distracted
Cultivate Focus and Attention
Children with ADHD are often overwhelmed by activities that take a long time to complete. Feelings of boredom and defeat may appear to teachers and parents as defiance. To develop their ability to focus, help children break down large tasks into smaller segments. Provide materials and activities kids can successfully complete in a short amount of time. Fidget tools like putty, spinners, or foot fidgets also help students focus.
Build Self-Esteem and Problem-Solving Skills
Ensure that your child with ADHD receives clear expectations, instant positive reinforcement for good behavior, and engages in activities where they can make their own decisions. Kids with ADHD can have low confidence because they aren’t trying to act out or be disobedient even though it may look that way. Allow them to express their feelings, practice oral communication, and explore social situations in a safe context. Reinforce the positive actions you saw in their behavior.
Helping a Child Stay Organized and on Task
Encourage children to develop strategies for staying organized, such as using color-coded folders and bins. Have them write checklists that will not only keep them on track, but give them a sense of accomplishment as well. Stickers are always popular! Laying out clothes the night before can help with anxiety around a tight schedule. Establish consistent daily routines that help children stay on schedule. And remember, positive reinforcement is huge!