HOW TO HELP MY ADHD SON
At some point, as the older and wiser adult, you must realize that if your intelligent young boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could control his erratic behavior, he certainly would have done so already. Yelling isn’t going to help. A compassionate adult approach is needed.
Over the course of a boy’s early school years, a student with ADHD will develop strategies to deal with their school life. Whether the strategies are productive or non-productive can be a matter of opinion. When too much parent emphasis is placed on time-outs and angry words, children may begin using storytelling and blaming others as their primary strategies. It takes a long time to change these habits if their focus has been on creating acceptable excuses to fit in.
Storytelling is a special kind of excuse making. For those who use it, the story seems plausible and they don’t really register that the story is an embellishment of the facts and sometimes even an outright fabrication. This strategy in the short term removes responsibility from your son and places it anywhere else. Usually the strategy of storytelling is a result of poor self-esteem. The important issue is, of course, that those stories and excuses can cause difficulties later in life.
Your son needs to learn how to use his brain more effectively. Organizing the brain involves proper integration of the entire sensory system. Learning to organize the brain through multi-sensory stimulation helps students with ADHD to function better. He will learn best when accessing as many sensory systems as possible. The sensory system we use to feel our body move, to feel our body touch and to feel our body’s exact position in space can all be employed to calm the busy ADHD brain and promote good decision-making.
Try these focus tools for ADHD:
1. If your child regularly has difficulty behaving and focusing and if he demonstrates hyperactivity in various environments, his brain is probably operating poorly in these environments. Your son may be having difficulty sorting out his environment and attending to the essential details. In this case try on a regular basis to stimulate the brain and body as follows:
Stimulate the sensory system that perceives movement. The movement system requires a diet of feeling the gravitational pull of the earth’s surface in a variety of different postures. Somersaults, rolling down a hill, using a swing set, crawling, crab walking, yoga, karate, swimming, riding horseback, and any activity that changes your relationship with gravity is ideal. Try to select noncompetitive activities.
2. If your child is hyper-excited and unable to calm himself, then, on an as needed basis, try the following:
Make sure you choose a time when you are relaxed and able to concentrate fully on your child. Wrap your child in a soft blanket, (like swaddling an infant), dim the lights and use a calm, steady, and low voice. Introduce slow and rhythmical rocking. Apply gentle and slow squeezes to the child’s body.
3. If your child is too keyed up at school, they may need assistance calming down. Then calm his brain by pushing gently and slowly on the small joints of the fingers and applying circumferential pressure or gentle hugs along the length of the arm, hand squishes as well as head hugs. Your son can do this for himself through self hand compression’s.
4. If the child is irritated by clothing, tags, socks and other fabrics that touch their skin, then facilitate a brushing program where a standard soft scrub brush (such as a nail brush) is gently moved over the surface of the skin of the arms and the legs, periodically changing the texture of the brush to prevent the brain from accommodating to the stimulation.
Compassion is the key to helping your child with ADHD. For more sensory strategies to promote calmness, read articles and blogs on this website that have outlined sensory strategies that have helped many children and adults with ADHD.
TOOLS TO HELP ADHD FOCUS
It isn’t uncommon for boys and girls with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) to struggle with poor organization and time management. It’s easy to assume that your child is absent minded. Parents hope that with the right system in place and enough reminders, they will change.
Parents and teachers tell me that this can be exhausting for the adult who spends much of their time organizing and managing the child’s time. Adults wish they would just get it together and try harder!
The trouble with this solution is that it just doesn’t work. Frequently the time management problem is a direct result of the child’s inability to sense rhythm and space. This disconnect shows up as time management issues and organizational problems
That means “try harder” is never going to work. All the student planners and routines to check off assignments with teachers, won’t help solve the problem. But focusing directly on improving the child’s sense of rhythm and space, will!
Have you ever missed a deadline because there just wasn’t enough time? What about being late to an appointment because you lost track of time or didn’t allow enough time to arrive on time?
The way we generally talk about and think about time, one could imagine that there is a drastic shortage of this slippery substance. Yet there is an agreement throughout human society regarding units of time that are understood by all.
Cultural and family distinctions in the value of timeliness exists over the course of human history and throughout the world. A friendly social engagement may allow a 60 to 90 minute relaxed adherence to arrival time. However, an employer will expect employees to walk through the door, settle in, and be ready to perform actual work at the appointed start time with no exceptions.
A strict or loose sense of time is also a cultural factor. Many countries have a very loose sense of time. A meeting that is due to start at 1:00 may not start until 2:00. Rather than the two hours that the visitor planned, the meeting stretches much longer.
THE INTERPLAY OF TIME AND SPACE
The interplay of space and time is a necessary life skill. Children become aware of the length of time that it takes for their body to move from one space to another. They frequently ask “how long until we get there” during a family car drive as well as “how far is it” when walking to a grocery store.
Children practice these time and space components through age appropriate games, sports, and hobbies. At an early age, a child will understand “five more minutes” when they are told that dinner will be ready in five minutes. Children also understand the types of activities that can be completed in a five-minute segment of time, such as getting dressed five minutes before breakfast or getting their coat and backpacks ready five minutes before meeting the bus to school.
STRESSED OUT BY TIME
When an individual with ADHD is older, the more likely they are to have an emotional response to the sense of time. This is usually due to a lifetime of judgement directed toward them by family members, friends, and authority figures who express impatience with their continual lack of timeliness.
This can create emotional roadblocks when the individual attempts to make changes. They might experience a negative physiologic response in their body when they begin to address a time issue. They can experience a change in breathing patterns, locked thinking and butterflies in the tummy. Perhaps you are aware how stressful it is to arrive late.
Before you can implement any strategies with the unique learner who struggles in this area, you must address this emotional aspect.
SOLVING TIME MANAGEMENT
Understanding the components of time management and organization allows strategies to be used that can improve performance in school, work, and life tasks.
The individual with ADHD must understand that the concept of physical space and the concept of time are agreed upon characteristics that we each understand within our own framework. In the case of ADHD, their understanding of these parameters does not always match that of individuals within their immediate social environment.
IT’S ABOUT TIME, STRATEGIES THAT WORK
1. The Timer Strategy – For Adults with ADHD
Try using the timer on your cell phone while driving to improve your accuracy in anticipating the length of time necessary to drive from one location to another. Arriving on time is necessary for jobs, classes and other responsibilities.
Use a timer, such as a simple kitchen timer, throughout the day to notice how much time day-to-day activities require. Meal preparation, the morning shower, dressing and household routines can all be used as training strategies for appreciating a sense of time.
2. The Timer Strategy – For Children with ADHD
Help your child with ADHD improve their sense of time and space by using a timer for age appropriate tasks. This can include brushing teeth, playing a desired game and completing an age appropriate task (such as putting napkins at each place on the table).
For the hyperactive child, the tendency will be to go as fast as possible. Use this natural tendency to first encourage your child to see how fast they can do something. Then instruct them to try to do it more slowly.
Check the timer or stopwatch and develop a high-five system of reward in a non-competitive spirit of play. Eventually require your child or student to complete the task correctly in the time provided, not finishing too early or too late. We are working on instilling a sense of time.
When you are a typical learner, it is difficult to understand why anyone would struggle with time management. It isn’t necessary that you understand, but it is necessary that you accept that they do. For many people, particularly people with ADHD, the struggle is real. It is a result of certain physiological systems not operating properly.
Even the most talented people have areas in which they don’t excel. Just because something is easy for you doesn’t make it easy for another. To condemn someone with ADHD for their time management difficulties is like an Olympic level runner criticizing you for not running fast enough. It isn’t a fair comparison.
Armed with this new understanding and these strategies, you can help your unique learner to develop a more accurate sense of time.
WHAT CAN WE DO AS A SCOUT LEADER IF A BOY WITH BEHAVIOR ISSUES IS DISRUPTING THE TROOP?
As a scout leader, role modeling for others is of primary importance. There must be equal respect of others in the room as well as the disruptive child. Your attention must be balanced. With your agenda continually interrupted, remember that you have the troop’s full attention even when you might least appreciate it!
When you know you have a child with behavior issues within a group setting, plan ahead. Even if it hasn’t happened yet, plan on the occasion when you might be disrupted in the middle of the program’s agenda. Have a plan ready for this possibility.
When others adults and children know what to do when you are distracted from the meeting agenda (be it by a telephone call, someone unanticipated arriving at the hall, or a disruptive child), you can focus more closely on the issue at hand. The other members are respectfully being taken care of.
In your conversation with the misbehaving child as troop leader, it is best to default to the assumption that the child is attempting to gain your attention by controlling the environment. With your attention being the child’s goal, do spend time with him during non‑structured time and encourage others to do so as well. Provide him with lots of attention, especially when things are going very well.
While giving this child attention during positive times, help him understand the implication of his actions when he interrupts the entire group. Without judgment, much like a weatherman might talk about a movement of clouds over the continent, you can describe the child’s interruptions and how they impact the group and the planned activities. Again, no judgment, assume that he or she just hadn’t thought of their behavior in that way before. Always give them the benefit of the doubt initially.
When the child with behavioral issues doesn’t learn from these staged learning opportunities, you may need to ask for other adult assistance to have the child step aside until they can be less disruptive. Again, no judgment, but this small and low level consequence (that the parents should be made aware of) can be helpful for the entire group to function well.
Children learn in a great variety of methods. What is taught through community organizations and parent led groups can help children through their entire life. But, sometimes behavior doesn’t always match the circumstances and well-meaning adults need to role model respectful handling of the disruptor. It’s a life skill we all need to consider developing.