Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioural disorder that includes symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Although it can be difficult at times, it's important to remember that a child with ADHD cannot help their behaviour. People with ADHD find it difficult to suppress impulses, which means they do not stop to consider a situation, or the consequences, before they act.
Plan the day
Plan the day so your child knows what to expect. Set routines and a visual timetable can make a difference to how a child with ADHD copes with everyday life. For example, if your child has to get ready for school, break it down into structured steps, so they know exactly what they need to do. (Visual timetable resources can be found in the Home Learning / SEND tab on our website)
Set clear boundaries
Make sure everyone knows what behaviour is expected, and reinforce positive behaviour with immediate praise or rewards. Be clear, using enforceable consequences, such as taking away a privilege, if boundaries are overstepped and follow these through consistently.
Give specific praise. Instead of saying a general: "Thanks for doing that," you could say: "You washed the dishes really well. Thank you." This will make it clear to your child that you're pleased and why.
If you're asking your child to do something, give brief instructions and be specific. Instead of asking: "Can you tidy your bedroom?" say: "Please put your toys into the box and put the books back onto the shelf." This makes it clearer what your child needs to do and creates opportunities for praise when they get it right.
Set up your own incentive scheme using a points or star chart, so good behaviour can earn a privilege. For example, behaving well for an hour will earn your child time on the computer or some sort of game.
Involve your child in it and allow them to help decide what the privileges will be. These charts need regular changes or they become boring. Targets should be:
Immediate – for example, daily
Intermediate – for example, weekly
Long-term – for example, three-monthly
Try to focus on just one or two behaviours at a time.
Watch for warning signs. If your child looks like they're becoming frustrated, overstimulated and about to lose self-control, intervene. Distract your child, if possible, by taking them away from the situation. This may calm them down (see the resources below for calming techniques).
Make sure your child gets lots of physical activity during the day. There are lots of exercise videos online such as Joe Wicks PE or Go Noodle. Also using calming exercise such as Yoga on Cosmic Yoga. Why not make an obstacle course?
Keep an eye on what your child eats. Make sure it is balanced and avoids foods that may cause them to be more hyperactive.
Stick to a routine. Make sure your child goes to bed at the same time each night and gets up at the same time in the morning. Avoid overstimulating activities in the hours before bedtime, such as computer games, watching TV, exercise or exciting activities (a visual timetable can help with this)
Sleep problems and ADHD can be a vicious circle. ADHD can lead to sleep problems, which in turn can make symptoms worse. Many children with ADHD will repeatedly get up after being put to bed and have interrupted sleep patterns. Trying a sleep-friendly routine can help your child and make bedtime less of a battleground.
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