4 Tips for Helping a Child with ADHD

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Contributed by: Patricia Sarmiento

Although, as WebMD.com notes, one out of 10 children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD, it’s a condition that is still widely misunderstood by parents, teachers, and even some medical professionals. Commonly, symptoms and behaviors that actually point to ADHD may be dismissed simply as a child misbehaving or not listening.

The danger, of course, is that when children aren’t properly diagnosed they can’t receive the treatment they need to be their best. So, how can you tell the difference between ADHD-related behavior and a child acting up? The best indicators are the severity of the behavior and how significantly the behavior impacts the child’s life. For example, SheKnows.com points out that a child may have ADHD if they’ve exhibited certain behaviors, such as “inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity” for six months or more and that behavior regularly impacts “at least two areas of life: home, school, daycare, playground.”

If you’re the parent of a child who’s been diagnosed with ADHD or if you suspect your child might have the disorder, there are many steps you can take to help them manage their symptoms. Here are a few:

Modify their room.Every child benefits from a soothing, calming living environment, but maximizing that feeling can be especially beneficial for children with ADHD. Making changes throughout your home might seem overwhelming, so start with your child’s room and then work your way out. The great thing is the changes don’t have to be dramatic to be effective. For example, this article on how to create an optimal living environment for a child with ADHD notes that simply painting your child’s room a soothing color, reducing the number of electronics in their room, and creating “centers” or “zones” in the room for work, play, and rest can make a huge difference.

Establish structure.Disruptions can upset a child with ADHD’s equilibrium. HelpGuide.org stresses the importance of routine and structure for kids with ADHD. It notes you may even want to use clocks and timers to guide a child through tasks and daily routines. However, it also explains that jam-packed schedules can be over-stimulating for children with ADHD. So, be sure to keep afterschool activities, in particular, to a manageable number.

Focus on the positive.The difficulty for many children with ADHD is that even after they’ve received a diagnosis their bad behavior remains the focus and they may continue to be punished for behavior that is difficult for them to control. I think AttitudeMag.com provides excellent advice when it suggests that parents train themselves to focus on their child’s positive, rather than negative, behaviors. It advises families to “make happiness and laughter the cornerstones” of their lives.

Get creative with learning help.According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America,30 – 50 percent of children with ADHD also have a learning disability. School can be a very tough place for a child with ADHD. Unfortunately, they’re often seen as disruptive and inattentive.

But given the chance kids with ADHD can certainly learn and excel…sometimes it just takes a little creativity. As this article shows, one fun and effective method that’s gaining traction with teaching children with learning disabilities how to read are therapy dogs. It explains that in “canine reading programs” children are paired with therapy dogs and then spend time reading to them. It cites a study that found that these programs can help children improve their reading skills by 12 percent after just 10 weeks.

Despite the number of ADHD diagnoses in the U.S., many parents of children with the disorder may still feel in the dark as to how best to go about helping their child. The good news is that when parents are armed with the right information they can help their children excel in every aspect of life.

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Patricia Sarmiento loves writing about health, wellness, fitness, and other health topics. She blogsregularly and is an avid swimmer and runner. She is a former high school and college athlete and continues to make fitness a focus in her everyday life. She lives with her husband, son, daughter, and the family dog in Maryland.