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12 23Thu09182014


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Back Helping Your Child Succeed 10 tips for managing attention deficit disorder

10 tips for managing attention deficit disorder

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CHILDREN and teens with attention deficit disorder (ADD) face many challenges in school and in life.

Parents can help manage their children’s ADD by providing them with coping tools, structure and encouragement. Below are 10 tips parents can use:

  1. Provide Structure. Children with ADD need their environment to be structured externally because they haven’t learned how to structure it internally on their own. These children benefit greatly from having charts or lists to refer to when they forget what they’re supposed to be doing.
  2. Have as predictable a schedule as possible. Post your child’s daily schedule in a visible, high-traffic area in your home. It can be on the refrigerator, in your child’s room, or even in the bathroom. Also, encourage your children to make suggestions for their schedules for after school in order to help foster self-reliance. Since transitions and unannounced changes are very difficult for children with ADD, prepare for transitions in advance whenever possible.
  3. Set rules and limits. Make rules and expectations explicit. Don’t assume anything or leave anything to chance. Since many children with ADD learn better when they see and hear information, put the rules in writing and post them in a visible place.
  4. Break down large tasks into small ones. Large tasks quickly overwhelm children with ADD. By breaking the task down into manageable parts, each component looking small enough to be doable, the child will not be overwhelmed. This can be extremely helpful for small children who are prone to throwing tantrums due to anticipatory frustration. With older children, it can help them avoid the defeatist attitude that often keeps them from succeeding.
  5. Repeat, repeat and repeat. Children with ADD need to hear things more than once. So be prepared to repeat instructions and directions over and over. Remember to stay calm and be patient. Getting angry will not increase your child’s memory.
  6. Provide frequent feedback. Frequent feedback helps keep children on track and lets them know whether or not they are meeting the expectations set for them. Notice the positive steps no matter how small and tell your child what you see. For areas that need improvement, show your children what they need to do by offering suggestions instead of simply telling them what they did wrong.
  7. Use tricks to improve memory. Children with ADD can use cues, poems and rhymes to enhance their memory. Also, encourage your children to make up their own methods for remembering what needs to be done.
  8. Use feedback that helps the child become self-observant. Children with ADD often have no idea how they come across or how they are behaving. Try to give them this information a constructive way. Ask questions like,”Do you know what just happened?” or “How do you think you might have said that differently?” Ask questions that promote self-observation.
  9. Set up a system of rewards and incentives. A point system is a great tool to use as part of a behavior modification or a reward system for children with ADD.
  10. Seek out and underscore successes as much as possible. Often the most devastating aspect of ADD is not the ADD itself, but the secondary damage done to self-esteem due to frequent failure. Therefore, children with ADD need all the positive feedback they can get. These children need and benefit from praise and encouragement. So always be on the lookout for sparkling moments.

Most of these recommendations are simple, fairly easy to implement, and have been proven effective through years of research. However, the key to their successful implementation is consistency. Parents must always keep in mind that children with ADD will struggle with the disorder throughout their lives, and by implementing all or some these strategies, parents can help them behave better at home and in school, and perform better academically.

Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed, MA, is a teacher with 25 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at] with your questions or comments.

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