Miroslava L. Pradella, LCSW, CASACII
Therapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and School Social Worker promoting mental health wellness. Seek Help=Strength
Does your child have ADHD? Or maybe you just have a very active child?
ADHD is characterized by impulsivity, a lack of focus, and distractibility that are also sometimes intertwined and co-existing with other behavioral and/or developmental challenges.
Dealing with a child with ADHD can be challenging.
Try these techniques to learn more about ADHD:
1. Realize that the ADHD brain is wired differently. Researchers and scientists have shown that the brain of children with ADHD has different characteristics which are responsible for the child’s symptoms.
○ Once you acknowledge that your child’s brain is simply wired differently (not better or worse-differently), it becomes much easier for you to keep yourself in control when faced with difficult and challenging behaviors.
○ Imagine for a moment that you have a hundred different things trying to get your attention without the self-control and self awareness to devote your attention to just one of them; it can be difficult to get anything accomplished.
○ You may find yourself thinking that your child seems to be able to focus on playing video games or do build Legos for hours at a time; how is that they can do that? This is a preferred task that motivates them to hyper focus.
2. Be consist. One of the most important things you can do when parenting a child with ADHD is to use consistency when communicating with your child.
○ This is sometimes tough for parents because this assumes that we’re always going to have the same tone of voice and not allow our own emotional states to affect what we’re trying to communicate, simplify your directions and be clear.
○ For example, one to two step instructions; repeat if necessary.
3. Use token economies for incentives. This is a simple, yet consistent, behavior management approach that uses a token economy system to encourage appropriate behaviors.
○ This will also let your ADHD child begin to learn what’s expected of him and see that he gets rewarded when achieving those expectations. At this point in time the motivation may be external.
○ The basic idea behind this behavior management system is that the child receives a token for following a demand and then he can turn in those tokens for rewards.
○ A token economy system can be as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be. You can use pennies, buttons, colored popsicle sticks, reward dollars, or any other number of objects as the tokens.
○ The frequency of the rewards that you give out will depend on the nature of your individual child. A child that has immense difficulty following-through, for example, will require more rewards in the beginning to achieve the desired outcome.
○ The idea is to eventually phase out the rewards or to spread them further apart so that the child doesn’t become dependent on them. The goal is to have the child feel happy with success and move on to a higher level of motivation (intrinsic).
Parenting a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD is no easy task. It often requires help and assistance from multiple professionals, such as counselors and therapists, school staff, and special education teams.
Being consistent, maintaining open communication, and a behavior management system are all important keys to parenting success with an ADHD child.
*This post meant for education and it is not therapy or a replacement for professional services.
Blog post TheraBlog.