How to Support Your Kid with ADHD: Tips from Experts

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6 Things Parents Of Kids With ADHD Need To Understand

It can be hard to understand what’s going on in your child’s mind when your brain doesn’t work like theirs. 😕

If you have a kid with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), you may feel like they are not listening to you, ignoring your instructions and trying to cause trouble. But kids with ADHD often can’t help the way they act. Their brains are “wired” differently; they don’t experience time or approach tasks in the same way that non-ADHD brains do. 🧠

“The most important thing that a non-ADHD parent needs to know about their ADHD kid is that their brain does not work in the same way as their child’s,” A. Jordan Wright, psychologist and chief clinical officer for Parallel Learning, told HuffPost. Expecting a kid with ADHD to sit still and sustain focus is like asking your left-handed child to handwrite an essay using their right hand: It won’t come naturally, will require intense effort and they’ll likely give up out of frustration. 😫

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pexels rodnae productions 7403019

ADHD is not your fault or your child’s fault.

For parents, seeing a child struggle like this can cause feelings of guilt or make them wonder if they’ve done something wrong. But “this isn’t the result of the way you raise your kids,” Scott Kollins, psychologist and chief medical officer of Akili Inc., told HuffPost. “It’s something that’s biologically driven, and we’ve got lots and lots of evidence and years of studies — brain-imaging studies, genetic studies — that show that this is something that is … neurologically based.” 🧬

However, Kollins emphasized that this doesn’t mean kids (and parents) are helpless. “It doesn’t mean that you can’t modify, you can’t change and improve what you see in the world of how ADHD then presents itself,” he said. Understanding the way the ADHD brain tends to function, as well as how your particular child’s brain works, can help you empathize with their struggles and come up with solutions to challenges they may face. 💡

People with ADHD perceive time differently.

You’ve probably noticed that kids don’t experience time the same way that adults do. This difference is amplified for kids with ADHD. “ADHD essentially gives you a clockless mind, so you need to use external tools to track when time is moving,” Jesse Anderson, author of the ADHD newsletter Extra Focus, told HuffPost. Dani Donovan, creator of ADHD comics and the organizational tool The Anti-Planner, refers to this phenomenon as “time blindness.” ⏰

Let’s say you’ve sent your child upstairs to grab their backpack. When they don’t return quickly, you holler for them, then wait a while, until finally you make your own way up to their room to see what could possibly be taking them so long. You might find your child sitting on the floor, deeply absorbed in the task of building something with the pile of Legos they stumbled across — and no backpack in sight.

How can you help your kid with time management?

One way is to use visual cues and timers to help them keep track of time and stay on task. For example, you can use a Time Timer or an app like Forest to show them how much time they have left for a certain activity or how long they need to focus on something. You can also use color-coded calendars or charts to help them plan ahead and see what they need to do each day or week. 🗓️

Another way is to break down tasks into smaller steps and use rewards and incentives to motivate them. For example, you can say, “If you get your backpack and come downstairs in five minutes, you can play with your Legos for 10 minutes before we leave.” You can also use stickers, points or tokens to track their progress and let them exchange them for something they want. 🎁

People with ADHD have different levels of attention.

People often think that ADHD means having a short attention span or being easily distracted. But that’s not always the case. People with ADHD can also have hyperfocus, which means being so engrossed in something that they lose track of everything else. This can be a strength when it comes to pursuing their interests or passions, but it can also be a challenge when it comes to switching tasks or following directions. 😲

“When kids are hyperfocused on something they enjoy, they may not hear you when you call their name or ask them to do something,” Wright said. “This can be frustrating for parents who may think their child is ignoring them on purpose or being defiant.”

How can you help your kid with attention regulation?

One way is to use gentle reminders and cues to help them shift their attention when needed. For example, you can say, “I see you’re really into your game right now, but we need to leave in 10 minutes. Can you pause it and get ready?” You can also use a timer or an alarm to signal when it’s time to switch activities. ⏰

Another way is to help them find a balance between tasks that require focus and tasks that allow for movement and creativity. For example, you can alternate between homework and playtime, or between reading and drawing. You can also help them find outlets for their energy and interests, such as sports, music or hobbies. 🎨

ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis.

ADHD is not a single disorder, but a spectrum of symptoms and behaviors that vary from person to person. There are three main types of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive and combined. Each type has its own strengths and challenges, and each person has their own unique profile of traits and preferences. 🌈

“There is no ‘typical’ ADHD kid,” Wright said. “Some kids may be more hyperactive than others, some may be more distractible than others, some may struggle more with organization than others.”

How can you help your kid with their individual needs?

One way is to learn as much as you can about ADHD and how it affects your child. You can read books, articles or blogs, watch videos or podcasts, or join online forums or support groups. You can also talk to your child’s doctor, therapist or teacher for more information and guidance. 📚

Another way is to work with your child to find out what works best for them. You can ask them what they like or dislike about school, home or other settings, what they find easy or hard, what helps them focus or relax, what makes them happy or upset. You can also observe their behavior and mood in different situations and take note of what triggers or soothes them. Then you can use this information to create a personalized plan that supports their strengths and addresses their challenges. 🙌

I hope this article helps you understand your kid with ADHD better and gives you some tips on how to help them thrive. Do you have any questions or feedback? Let me know in the comments below! 😊


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