8 tips: Working with children with ADHD

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since the last posting (sorry!). Today we would like to share with you some tips and strategies for you to consider when you work with a child with ADHD.

  1. Provide structure – It will help the child know his/her boundaries. When there is no clear structure for the child, it becomes hard for the child to focus. For example, physical structure; have the child seated at the designated work station area when the child needs to do work. Keep toys away and ensure child is free from distraction (TV set off) so that the child knows and senses that it is ‘work-time’ as the physical structure has already been set.
little girl writing on a notebook
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2. Break down tasks – It will help the child to know how much work needs to be done at a time. Be sure to tell the child how much work has to be done first, and how it’s being split (e.g. “We have three pages to do, but we will do one page first, then have a one-minute movement break. ) You may give the child options for the break activity so that the child feels empowered and has something to look forward to after a task is done.

tired little girl sleeping on book at home
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3. Keep it interesting – even as adults, we like it better when things are interesting right? Make the activity engaging and fun for the child. Incorporate movements, songs, videos or even explore different mediums for writing or paper activities so that the child feels motivated to learn and work.

a boy and girl painting on floor
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4. Take breaks – allow the child to regulate by taking short breaks in between tasks. This is especially for cognitive-heavy or demanding activities like Math word problems, reading comprehension activities, or physically demanding activities like running. When the child’s tolerance level towards task duration has increased, breaks can be planned later so that the child can get used to working at a sustained duration.

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5. Encourage exercise – exercising is a good form of physical activity to engage children. It also allows the child to focus the abundance of energy the child has to something productive. Exercising can train a child’s attention to following instructions, joint attention, social learning and developing focus on task. Plus it keeps the child healthy too!

boy in red and gray long sleeves shirt sitting on floor while reaching for his toes
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6. Think out loud – practise thinking out loud so that your child can model you on pausing to think before doing an action. Never underestimate the power of modelling; when you keep on modelling positive behaviours like Stop-Think-Do, the child is more likely to follow especially when the child sees you achieving success doing the strategy.

man in white t shirt and brown pants painting cardboard house
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7. Use positive language – positive feedback can help build the child’s confidence. When the child feels positive doing the task, the likelihood of the child persevering and completing the task will be higher. Children with ADHD tends to not complete tasks as they may like to quickly move on to another activity without checking the completion of their task. Encourage the child to check their task completion before moving on to another activity. Remember, the child models after the person the child looks up to, so use positive language so that the child will use the same language on others too.

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8. Praise and encourage – give positive feedback immediately so that the child feels satisfied and encouraged to repeat the positive behaviour again. You do not need to wait for the activity to be over before encouraging or giving positive feedback to the child, praise the child when you see the child showing positive behaviour during the task itself. Recognise effort, not just the outcome. It will give the child motivation further to complete the task.

african american mother with happy daughter giving five in kitchen
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Hope these strategies will help you in working with the child positively. Till next time!

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