Has a teacher ever mentioned your child is unable to sit still? Or do you notice your child is able to sit still, but doesn’t listen to directions? From time to time, some of this behavior is normal for all children. But if this has become a pattern, your child may struggle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Here are some tips to help your child.
- Get a Professional Diagnosis
It’s important to have your child diagnosed by a psychiatrist, psychologist, pediatrician or family doctor, nurse practitioner, neurologist, or licensed counselor. Once they are diagnosed, you can work with their doctor or mental health professional to decide a plan of action that may involve medication and lifestyle changes.
- Educate Yourself
When you think of ADHD, you might think of a child who is hyperactive and unable to sit still. But did you know that there are other forms of ADHD? Try to find out all you can about ADHD—especially which type of ADHD your child has. Here are the three types of ADHD and their symptoms:
- Inattentive: lacks focus and attention
- Hyperactive-impulsive: unable to sit still and control behavior
- Combined: both inattentive and hyperactive
- Work With Their Teachers
When your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it’s important to meet with your child’s teacher and principal to make a plan for your child. It’s ideal to do this before the school year starts, but you can do it at any time during the school year. Ask for a schedule of upcoming assignments, either on paper or online, and for your teen to use free periods for homework.
- Improve Their Diet
Experts agree that a healthy diet is important for healthy brain development. And when kids stop eating anything with artificial food dyes, ADHD symptoms may improve. Here are some more ways to improve their diet:
- Eliminate junk foods from your home.
- Make processed foods and sugary foods off-limits when eating out.
- Give your child a daily vitamin-and-mineral supplement with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Encourage Movement and Sleep
Children with ADHD often have energy to burn. Organized sports (such as tae kwon do) can help your child to exercise regularly. Not only that, but it can help kids pay attention and can boost their mood, too. Being active will also help him or her sleep. A consistent, early bedtime will help improve ADHD symptoms.
- Use Timers
It’s not uncommon for kids with ADHD to lose track of time. One way to help them stay focused is to use kitchen timers or alarms on watches or cell phones to keep track of time. Have your child set an alarm for a specific amount of time for them to do their homework. This alarm will also help get him or her back on track if they get distracted.
- Use Rewards
Homework is often a struggle for kids with ADHD. Try to offer rewards for finishing it. They shouldn’t be big, but they need to be immediate. As soon as your child finishes their homework and puts it into their backpack, offer to read a story. Give a sticker. Allow TV or video game time. Building the rewards into your after-school schedule will help them with consistency.
- Implement Consequences
Let your child know what the consequences will be before they misbehave. Speak gently, but firmly, with your child after they have misbehaved. Here are a few examples of consequences you may want to carry out:
- Put them in time-out or take away a privilege.
- Remove your child from a situation or environment that triggers inappropriate behavior.
- Ask them what they could have done instead.
- Praise Their Effort
All children, whether they have ADHD or not, thrive on praise. So don’t forget to notice their successes, big or small. The effort you put into your child will be well worth it as Proverbs 22:6 reminds us, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.“