Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is characterized by the hallmark traits of impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. Children with ADHD often struggle with academic tasks such as time management, prioritization, starting tasks, sustaining attention, and being able to shift their attention appropriately. If your child has ADHD, and even if they don’t, here are a few things to remember while helping your child this school year.
They may need extra accommodations, whether through their school or at home. Parents become frustrated time and time again when their child takes FOR-EV-ER to complete their homework, or when they find their child “goofing-off” when they are supposed to be doing their homework. Children with ADHD often have a VERY difficult time self-directing. This means that yes, they do need help staying on task, especially when it comes to homework. Working out a consistent system with your child will be helpful in the long-run. Have a set time that they will be responsible for doing their homework independently, as well as a time that extra help or assistance will be available. As a special note, for those children that have been prescribed medication, it may be worthwhile to ensure that they complete their homework while the medication is still in effect. This will cut down on frustration for both the parent and child.
Make visuals for your child. Help them SEE what they need to be doing. For children engaging in remote learning, they are at a distinct disadvantage as compared to in-person schooling. While in-person, if a child becomes distracted during a class activity, they merely need to look around at their peers to see what book should be out, which page they need to turn to, or what they need to be doing. In remote learning, many, if not all, of these cues are gone. Children must be more reliant on their teacher and following along, which is very difficult. Teach your child strategies to be able to follow along. Have a copy of their schedule out and available so they know which subject they are attending and which materials should be out. If need be, color code the schedule to the materials. For math, all they need to do is grab the blue folder, notebook, and packet to be ready to go. Set them up for success. Talk to your child about their schedule and where they are struggling to come up with ways to help them succeed.
Emotions are often at an all-time high. When emotions are high, children have a MUCH harder time taking in necessary, if not vital, information. Their primitive, emotional brain (often called the reptilian brain) is activated. Heightened emotions can definitely impede learning. It is important to make sure that your child knows how to regulate their emotions, or have someone available to help them regulate as needed. Until a child is calm and regulated, it will be difficult for them to take in any reasoning or logic. You cannot reason with a crocodile. Therefore, help your child regulate themselves before trying to explain or give justification for a task. It will save you both a lot of time and frustration. Also, staying calm yourself will go a long way in helping your child to calm down and regulate as they will be able to use
your calm as an anchor for their chaotic emotional state. Children will tend to [eventually] mirror what they see- how do you handle your frustration?
Movement helps. Let your child get up and move around. Let them have activity breaks between tasks or between classes. Let them have a dance party, jump on a trampoline, have a bear crawl race down the hall. Physical activity helps increase focus. Fresh air is even better. Go for a walk at lunchtime or before starting homework.
Still struggling? Reach out for help. ADHD is an incredibly complex issue and no two children are the same. Working with a professional can increase motivation and compliance, or serve as a fresh perspective on a stalemate between you and your child. Children with ADHD are creative, passionate, and full of life and energy. Help them utilize all of their skills and assets to the fullest.
Karen Rosian, Psy.D.