How to Help Your Child with ADHD Especially Now
As your kids return to school with a blend of in-person and online learning, you may face some uncertainty about how to make things work. Whether you're working away from home or at home, it’s not surprising that reduced classroom time and online instruction may have you uneasy about the providing adequate academic support for your child.
You're not alone. Most parents are concerned about how to help their child with ADHD especially now. You face similar challenges with fostering social connection, and implementing routine and structure, together with the specialized support required for your child.
Here are four strategies and some quick tips to get results for your child, and to give yourself some peace of mind.
Utilize Your Child's Accommodations at Home
• Reach out to your school or IEP case manager to clarify how the school will continue to provide services, in accordance with the free and appropriate education the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires.
• If services can’t be fully implemented, determine what kind of replacement services can be provided.
• Support such as shorter or less assignments, extra time to take a test, being tested on less material, or shorter work periods are some of the accommodations you can implement in your own home. Speak with your child's teacher, or if your child is in middle school or older, work with your child to self-advocate to make arrangements.
• Supplement one-to-one teacher support with reliable, consistent time that you and your child can count on for check-ins or to work together on challenge areas.
Focus on Interests
Kids with ADHD are motivated by their interests. If you have a child who struggles with a subject, rather than focusing on that one problem area, which instantly makes the day exhausting for both of you, consider using your child’s interests to incorporate that subject.
• Suppose your child doesn’t like writing but loves to draw stories and act them out. Have your child use his strengths and interests to support his writing.
• Learning can be blended with board games and card games. Some parents are using Minecraft for math and sciences with its educational modules that kids can play alone or with you.
• Make learning fun by incorporating the comforts of your home. Alternate sitting at a desk with sitting on a comfortable couch. For written table work, put some life into sitting at the table with M&M math or cozying up to a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Use shaving cream to draw out math facts or have your child sing out spelling words or important facts.
• Assist your child to add social fun into her day. Especially with the reduction of in-person contact, challenges with executive functioning, and pandemic restrictions, your child may not be organizing social plans. Review what you are comfortable with, such as a family "pod," acceptable activities with other like-minded families and their kids, screentime connection or extra-curricular activities (such as virtual or reduced in-person programming).
One of the benefits of learning or studying at home is the ability to add movement whenever it’s needed. Movement can help your child with ADHD process information.
• Try a standing desk, large stability ball, or bean bag chair to encourage variation in movement.
• To build focus, for fidgety hands, use silly putty, play doh, or a bean bag. For restless feet, try any kind of kick ball or a trampoline. It's also Ok to allow your child to spread out on the floor.
• Encourage breaks. Set a timer for stretching, hydrating, grabbing a snack, and getting some fresh air for both your child and yourself.
Accept What Is and Model Resilience
When we want things to be different from what is, that's when we suffer most. You may be frustrated and stressed that your children are aren't getting the instruction you're used to. That's understandable. At the same time, this is the situation right now. When there's resistance to the way things are, we judge the situation as not good enough.
Accepting what is doesn't mean you give up and surrender. It means that rather than focusing on what’s missing and lacking, which tends to make you feel powerless, you are responding to what your kids need more intentionally. In this way, you are practicing and modeling resilience.
• When your child is refusing to do his work, or when you think he is making your day difficult, rather than asking, "Why can't he do this," shift to "I wonder what's making this difficult for him." This shifts your perspective to a position of problem-solving.
• Assume best intentions. It's natural to feel frustrated when your child refuses to do what she needs to do. When we feel angry and triggered this is a sign that we're taking it personally. Assume your child needs more skills to get his needs met. This will give you more patience to handle what she needs and the perspective to highlight her strengths.
• Kids are in tune to their parents' energy. Try to remain as positive as you can. Online learning or reduced in-class instruction may not be the best option for your child, but it may be the optimal situation for the time being. Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t, and show your kids that you can get through this together.
While we’re beginning to live with this new normal, to get results for your kids (and yourself too) especially now:
• Utilize Your Child’s Accommodations at Home
• Focus on Interests
• Add Movement
• Accept What Is and Model Reslience
Experiment with these strategies and let me know how it goes for you!
PS. Need more assistance supporting your kids with ADHD and related challenges?
Contact me for an ADHD Strategy Assessment and we can talk about some solutions you can put into place now!
Transforming Parents Lives