Find the Positives!

 

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? It consists of three main components: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.  Although these characteristics are common for children in general, those with ADHD include these experiences:

  • the 3 components mentioned happen more frequently than expected for a child’s age
  • Inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity lasts longer than 6 months (it’s not a phase)
  • The components are not age-appropriate
  • They happen in more than one setting (home and school, etc.)
  • They interfere with life

 

ADHD does not equal failure.

 

Did you know that Justin Timberlake has ADHD? And Michael Phelps?  There are ways to channel the extra energy into SUCCESS!  Some characteristics that tend to go with ADHD are creativity, problem solving, energetic, and hyper-focus, which means being intensely focused on a task that there’s no notice of others around. So, when you see your child struggling to focus on math homework, it’s ok! Because he might be a better fit as an Olympic swimmer.  The goal is to find what fits for your little one.

What are some signs of ADHD in children? An official diagnosis comes from psychological testing. Look for these characteristics to see if your little one would benefit from some creative parenting!

 

5 SIGNS OF ADHD IN KIDS:

Chatty. Very, Very Chatty.

Does your child seem to never stop talking? Not in the sense of a 3-year-old that says, “mom” 20 times until you answer her. However, an elementary school-aged child that seems to randomly, abruptly start talking about a game she likes…and just…keeps…talking…regardless of the social cues and prompts to change subjects or activities.

Difficulty Following Directions.

Struggles to follow instructions that are age appropriate. For example, asking a 4-year-old to follow a 6-step directive is too much. But asking a 7-year-old to follow a one-step direction, and then they get side tracked before completing the task represents a possible sign of ADHD.

Impatient.

Children with ADHD seem unable to wait. They will start to wiggle, dance, and their eyes will wander. This can happen after waiting literally 15 seconds for their food to microwave!

Inattention.

Difficulty paying attention is a common sign of ADHD. This tends to lead to a child being unable to focus on a task at hand.

Loses Items Frequently.

Your child frequently loses items. This typically stems from putting the item down when distracted for another. Check out some like hacks to help with this listed below!

 

It can be challenging to find the positives at times when it comes to ADHD. It’s normal to feel both frustrated and worried as a parent when a child doesn’t “go with the flow” in predictable ways. The risk of expecting kids with ADHD to move in neurotypical ways is feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and an environment that ends up (unintentionally) being invalidating for the child. Parents can tweak some things to better support kids with ADHD. Follow these tips to help make life a little easier for the both of you:

 

5 TIPS FOR PARENTS:

Work on Time Management.

This helps ALL children.  Structure in the daily routine is helpful, but for those with ADHD, a time allowance given PRIOR to the start and end of an activity can make a big difference.  For example, saying, “ok, you can play with Legos for 15 minutes before dinner.” Then give a 10-minute warning, and finally a 5 minute one. Some parents mark the clock with a marker or set a “fun timer.”

Work on Organizational Skills.

For important items that your child needs daily, such as a name tag for school, pick ONE spot where it goes.  Make this part of the routine.  For example, when your child gets home from school, have them hang their name tag in the designated spot. It could be on a hook near the door. It helps if the hook is a fun color or has their name on it. Extra parent points if they help make their own name tag for the hook!

Let Them Be a Part of the Process.

Identify a few items that are lost often and cause distress. Talk with your child about where they would like “the spot” to be.  It may make sense for us to hang keys on a hook near the door, but they might remember it better in a bowl in their bedroom.

Use Visuals.

This is especially helpful for younger children. If there is a list of activities for the day (in the order which they occur, sequence is important) then there are no surprises.  For older children or those entering middle school, calendars and timed activities are appropriate. Large family calendars at homes are the BEST way to keep everyone on track.

Praise Success.

Practice will make progress, and progress gets praise! Reward systems work, but often the “random praise” works best! Keep fun stickers in your purse and when your child “randomly” reaches a goal, they get a sticker!  If you see them waiting patiently in line at the grocery store, say, “thank you so much for waiting patiently with me!” And give them a sticker. Remember that we are not looking for perfection, the goal is to help your child find what fits for them to be more organized, feel more in control, and thrive in their own way.

 

If you or a loved one is in need of support, Low Country Counseling offers specialized therapy for Individuals, Moms, Couples, Families, Children, and Teens. Contact us for any questions you need answered or to schedule an appointment. Help is available. You are not alone!

 

Hope Starts HERE.

 

Written by: Debra Cone, LCSW
Debra works in both private practice and within the local school system. She specializes in child therapy for mental health and social coping skills as well as those experiencing developmental delays. Her passion is helping kids in need of support and being with parents through that process. Her practice serves children in Savannah, GA.