The National Resource Center on ADHD provides science-based information on ADHD. Services include a resource center staffed by highly trained information specialists, a website with information and resources on ADHD, and a library open to the public. The NRC is operated by CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Contact the NRC at 800-233-4050 or visit their website at www.help4adhd.org.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders is a neurological disorder that interferes with the capacity to sustain effortful attention, inhibits actions, organize and to persist. Individuals with ADHD typically exhibit a reduced sensitivity to behavioral consequences. These characteristics are not the result of laziness or moral weakness.
Occasional praise a few times a day works for children and adolescents without ADHD, but individuals with ADHD require frequent feedback. The adult may find this tiring, but frequency is necessary in order to change patterns of behavior that have developed in the individual with ADHD over time. Adults need to remember to look for behavior for which to give feedback. Children are much less influenced by general rules than by immediate consequences. Positive feedback may take the form of praise or material rewards, but it should be clear, specific, and occur as close to the moment of the behavior as possible.
For the individual with ADHD verbal praise is rarely sufficiently potent by itself. The addition of physical affection, privileges, and material rewards increases the effectiveness of positive feedback.
Just noting the occurrence of the positive behavior increases the likelihood it will be repeated. Change or rotate rewards frequently in order to maintain a high interest level. Consider writing a contract with the child for specific behaviors with rewards to be earned and consequences for violations. Sign and post it. It helps to have explicit goals to work towards. Everyone in the family can have a list of goals to work on and chores to do.
Your child should know exactly what you expect. Remind your child of appropriate behaviors in advance. Let them know what they can do, instead of saying “don’t.” If you say “no” stick with it. Aim for firm, consistent limit setting (consistent for similar behaviors and between caregivers.)
If there is no homework, then other academic or educational activities can be pursued (have a specific list of approved activities). This decreases tendency to rush or forget homework. Consider a regular family board game night. Read together as a family.
Identify what your child is good at doing (like art, math, and computer skills) and build on it. Develop interests and area of expertise to foster self-esteem and a sense of mastery.
Some children do well with team sports but some do not and individual sports should be considered as well. Consider activities such as martial arts or yoga which stress self-control and concentration.
Children function better in school if they eat a good breakfast. Establish routines for meals and bedtime. If a child has trouble going to sleep be sure to limit caffeine and chocolate intake. Consider using a fan for white noise or a relaxation tape with calming exercise music, breathing, muscle relaxation and guided active imaginary to soothe and release tension.Â
Example: Ready, Set, Release CD www.readysetrelax.com
Regular, scheduled one-on-one quality time with parent is very powerful, simple technique to establish and preserve a positive relationship with a child especially for a child who has difficulty with behavior or self-control. “Special Time” should be short (so it is easy to do it often) maybe 10-15 minutes (use a timer) with a parent doing something the child chooses to do (not TV). Make it daily if possible for younger children, 2-3 times a week for older children. Special time should take place even if child (or parent!) has had a bad day. It is non-judgmental, non-teaching, just enjoy being together time. Consider it an investment in each other.
Learn more about behavior management strategies with resources such as 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12. 2nd Revision edition (March 1996) by Thomas Phelan Ph.D.; Child Management; 1-800-442-4453. This book or videotape discusses how to get your child to stop inappropriate behaviors. Also available on audiocassette. It is suggested that parents obtain the video and purchase the book which goes into more detail. It is very useful to have all childcare providers watch the video so that there is consistency in management techniques. The video More 1-2-3 Magic explains how to get your child to increase positive behaviors. Consider parenting workshops or counseling to get “coaching” in behavior management techniques and to decrease stress in the family.
Consider Dr. Phelan’s Surviving your Adolescents for older children.
Keep a sense of humor and perspective. Forgive yourself and forgive your child. Enjoy your child for who they are. Tell your child that you love and support them unconditionally.
“Understanding the Child with ADHD: Information for Parents on ADHD”
This new booklet addresses parents' concerns about ADHD by providing up-to-date, accurate information about this much-discussed condition. Organized in a reader-friendly format with extensive question-and-answer material, this booklet recognizes that an effective ADHD treatment plan requires a long-term, multifaceted approach involving medication, school, behavior therapy, and other resources. Also included are safety tips, a guide to brand-name medications, information about related conditions, and more. (Description from the AAP Bookstore website.)
NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale for Parent (1.15 MB pdf)
NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale for Teacher (1.1 MB pdf)
Tips for Parents of Children with ADHD (1.04 MB pdf)
Working With Your Child's School (978 k pdf)
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