Having a child with ADHD can be challenging. 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 checklists and have your child check off completed tasks.
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 clean up easier.
3. Children with ADHD lack an internal sense of time and tend to require numerous external cues to help them stay on task and be on time. Have your child track how long it takes to complete various tasks by using visual timers that illustrate the passing of time. My favorites is the Time Timer, which can be purchased or downloaded as an app.
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.
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 their 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. Identify the things that are distracting for your child so you can find ways to 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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