Get Focused: 8 Tips for Living with Attention Deficit Disorder

If you’re a parent of a child with ADD, you know that life isn’t always easy. What is easy is getting frustrated at finding a way to meet your child’s special needs and helping them overcome the particular challenges that ADD throws their way. Here are some tips to help life with ADD stay on an even keel.

Create Structure and Consistency

Kids with ADD can really thrive in a highly structured and predictable environment. Try to set a routine with meals, quiet time, homework, and bedtime scheduled around the same time and in the same order each day. Go over the daily schedule with your child and write it down for them so they know what their day is going to be like. This can reduce your child’s stress and give them a feeling of calm and control.

Go for Simplicity

When you are making up your schedule, don’t be fussy about it – figure out what exactly your child needs to do for the day and help them figure out the order in which it should be done. Don’t overload them and really keep to the essentials. When you’re giving directions, keep them simple as well. Don’t cram too much into your day or your communication. ADD children do much better with reduced complexity in their environment and an activity detox.

Communicate with Your School

Communication with your child, your child’s teacher, and other members of your family is very important in helping your child overcome their challenges. So talk with your child’s teacher and let them know what kind of behavioral goals that you and your child have set so that the same behaviors are expected both at school and at home – and both you and the teacher know what they are.

It is also a good idea to check in periodically with your child’s teacher to monitor progress and to discuss any issues that might arise. Also look into the possibility of IEPs or 504 plans to help your child at school.

Define Clear Goals and Expectations

Set clear expectations for your child’s behavior. Sit down with your child and tell them concretely what their responsibilities are. You might find it helpful to set up a progress chart. Dole out stars for good behavior and lay out concrete, clearly stated rewards for those goals. “John, if you listen to your teacher and follow her directions in class all week, we’ll go out for pizza.”

It’s okay if your kid needs reminding. Have a list of rules or of things your child needs to do on the back of the door, in the kitchen, in his planner – or all of the above. The extra reminders can be exactly what they need to keep them on track.

Collaborate on Strategy

The best behavioral strategies are collaborative. Sit down with your child and plan out what the behavioral goals should be – and how to meet those goals. This strategy should also include clear rewards if your child is meeting his goals – and disciplinary measures if there is an infraction (such as getting into a fight at school). Having a strategy that both you, your child, and other important people in your life are aware of can help your child be successful and achieve the goals you have set out.

Build on Self-Esteem

Children with ADD can sometimes have fragile self-worth. One of the best ways to deal with this particular aspect of ADD is simply to love them unconditionally – and to tell them and show them this often. Children who know they are loved and get this kind of emotional support at home will find it easier to learn how to cope with their special challenges.

Accept Their Unique Selves

Above and beyond loving them, it is also important to accept your child for who he is. It’s difficult for parents of special needs kids to admit that their child has challenges – especially in a culture which seems to demand perfection. This doesn’t mean to say that you do not want to help them to meet the goals that you both have set, and be successful at home and at school – it just means that, even if they are having a bad day and you are having to discipline them, you accept them for who they are. ADD children often have problems with feeling rejected and this acceptance is incredibly important.

Help Them to Focus

ADD kids have specific challenges at home and at school because of their lack of attention. Help them focus in on tasks in order to overcome their challenges.

  • Distraction. ADD kids are easily distracted. When they’re in class or doing their homework or housework at home, help to minimize those distractions. Request for your child not to be seated by a window, to avoid time spent staring out the window rather than learning the lesson. The same goes for seating assignments with best friends or unruly children. At home, keep noise to a minimum and make sure that distractions – such as another sibling, or the family pet – don’t turn their attention from what they need to do.
  • Impulsivity. Impulse control is another daily challenge. A clear and concrete system of rewards and disciplinary actions will be your best friend.
  • Hyperactivity. Sitting still, listening, and focusing on work are all skills that kids need in order to be successful in school – but they can be hard for children struggling with ADD. So at home, don’t expect them to just sit and do their homework for a full hour straight – give them breaks, even if it is only for a few minutes to run around. After school, make sure they have some time to play before they have to even begin homework – working some of that amazing energy off can help them to focus on what they need to do.

What strategies do you find helpful for your ADD child? 

Tags : health   development   ADHD   

Tricia Goss
Terrific, helpful tips! There are many tools available now that you can implement at home and at school. For instance, we just got my grandson a wiggle seat for school so he can move a little without disrupting others.