Having a child with ADHD can be challenging. They may miss important instructions, have difficulty sitting still, struggle to keep their eyes on what they are doing, or be too distracted to carry out basic daily tasks. Some of the parents I work with are desperate for ways to help manage their children’s symptoms at home so daily life isn’t such a struggle. Here are 10 strategies to help your child be more focused and organized at home:
1. Kids with ADHD thrive on structure. Create structure in your day by keeping daily routines as consistent as possible. Use visual checklists and have your child check off completed tasks. If your child is not doing what is expected, instead of telling him what to do, ask him what he will look like when ready for the activity he is preparing for. This helps children pre-imagine the situation, develop situational intelligence, and get things done.
2. Keep your house organized. Having designated homes for everyone’s belongings helps kids find what they need when they need it, and it makes cleanup easier too!
3. Use analog clocks to help your child see the sweep of time. Children with ADHD often lack an internal sense of time and tend to require numerous external cues to help them stay on task and be on time. Place analog clocks at your child’s eye level in all of the rooms your child uses to get ready for the day and does homework in. Have your child estimate how long it will take to do various activities and then track how long it actually takes. You can even have them place magnets or Post-it Flags on their start time and estimated finish time to help them visualize the sweep of time.
4. In order to help with transitions, let your child know of plans well in advance. Instead of saying, “In ten minutes we’re…,” give them a heads-up. You can say things like: “Next week…,” “In two days…,” “Tomorrow…,” etc. It’s helpful to use a calendar with young kids to show the number of days until the event.
5. Get physical! Run, walk, hike, climb, play sports, swim, etc. Regular exercise has been shown to increase concentration, improve sleep, and decrease anxiety and depression.
6. Create a peaceful sleep environment by eliminating stimuli. Put toys away before bedtime. Wind down with quiet reading time or listening to calming music or nature sounds.
7. Recognize your child’s need to move and allow breaks from sitting as needed. This could mean a short burst of exercise, standing and marching in place, or incorporating movement into learning when possible. For example, practice math facts while jumping on a trampoline, or create a treasure hunt with spelling words and have your child practice writing each word where the word was found.
8. Teach your children strategies to help themselves stay seated when necessary. Some good strategies include pushing clasped hands together or knees together for 30 seconds; doing chair pull-ups or push-ups; placing a weighted stuffed animal or pillow on your child’s lap; sitting on inflatable seat cushions, or “wobble discs,” as I like to call them; and using a foot fidget or hand fidget. Experiment and see what works best for different circumstances.
9. Have your child identify his or her “Time Robbers.” Once students Identify the things that are distracting for them, then they can come up with a list of “Time Savers” to help prevent or deal with those distractions. Some kids are distracted by ideas and thoughts, while others are distracted by people, noises, and objects in the surrounding environment.
10. Give immediate and positive feedback to reinforce desired behaviors. Make sure to tell your children specifically what you’re praising them for instead of simply saying “good job.”
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Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to help your child master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding & executive function coaching, but also work with children on social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to be successful. Learn more about our team & services at www.skills4lifeot.com, or you can contact our office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.