It is very important if you notice signs of ADHD (see criteria provide by Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, CHADD) that you consult with a psychologist or your child’s pediatrician to seek a referral for psychological testing to obtain a formal diagnosis.
The following parenting strategies are helpful for managing symptoms of ADHD
1. Use a schedule. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Keep the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen. Write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible. Scheduling not only helps the family but it allows the child to keep track of their activities.
2. Set clear, behavioral expectations. Many children will benefit from establishing clearly defined rules. However, for children with ADHD this is extremely important. They will benefit from knowing exactly what is expected. Avoid telling your child “you can earn a reward for good behavior”. Instead, say “you can earn a reward for cleaning up your books after being told the first time”.
3. Provide frequent positive attention or rewards. Children with ADHD greatly benefit from reinforcement of appropriate behavior. Verbal praise can provide them with motivation to complete tasks and make them feel more confident in their abilities. Just think about it for a second. Would you rather work for a boss who tells you “great job” or “you never do anything right”.
4. Write things down to help with organization. Children with ADHD are often distracted and forgetful. Writing things down helps them with completing tasks in a timely manner. Additionally, it helps parents from getting frustrated for constantly repeating instructions or directions. Talk with your child to see what would make life easier for them. Some kids may want a daily planner, while others may prefer a check list.
5. Talk with your child’s teacher. Many children with ADHD may need accommodations in the classroom. For example, it often helps to sit near the front of the class or away from windows to prevent distractions. Being an advocate for your child’s needs are important. You may also be able to see what works in the classroom to help your child be successful at home. Having consistently across home and school can help with structure.
A version of this was previously written by Dr. Turner on FindAPsychologist https://www.findapsychologist.org/adhd-in-children-behavioral-strategies-for-parents/
American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition.