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6 Strategies to Support Children with ADHD

6 Strategies To Support Children With ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder which is categorised into two parts:

  • Inattention (concentration and focus)
  • Hyperactivity and impulsivity

Whilst most people with ADHD have difficulties in both areas, some only fall into one category. Where challenges do not demonstrate in hyperactivity, a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is given.

It is frequently seen that ADHD affects boys more than girls. However, girls are most likely to only show symptoms of inattentiveness and have been shown to mask more frequently, which often delays or prohibits diagnosis. Symptoms of ADHD are usually noticeable before the age of 6 years. However, research shows that in females, diagnosis can often be delayed until 14-17 years old.

Whilst many children become frustrated at their ADHD traits, they also hold many positive qualities and abilities due to their brain’s unique patterns and reactions. Children and adolescents with ADHD have higher levels of energy and awareness than other students. When reframed this can be an excellent trait. Reif (2003) identifies positive traits including:

  • Highly energetic
  • Verbal
  • Spontaneous
  • Creative and inventive
  • Artistic
  • Persistent / tenacious
  • Innovative
  • Imaginative
  • Warm hearted
  • Compassionate and caring
  • Accepting and forgiving
  • Inquisitive
  • Resilient
  • Makes and creates fun
  • Knows how to enjoy the present moment
  • Empathetic
  • Sensitive to needs of others
  • Resourceful
  • Gregarious
  • Not boring
  • Enthusiastic
  • Intelligent / bright
  • Humorous
  • Outgoing
  • Ready for action
  • Willing to take a risk and try new things
  • Good at improvising
  • Enterprising
  • Sees different aspects of a situation
  • Able to find novel solutions
  • Charismatic
  • Observant
  • Negotiator
  • Full of ideas and spunk
  • Can think on their feet
  • Intuitive
  • Good in crisis situations
  • Passionate

6 ways to support children with ADHD

Structure – Structure is incredibly important to those with ADHD. Routines and days need to have consistency and a sense of ‘what is next’. Changes to routines creates distraction and uncertainty which can exasperate traits.

Exercise – Regular exercise can improve memory and thinking ability in children with DHD. It has also been found to support decision making, learning and attention. Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise such as dancing, football, tennis, racket sports, running, walking, skipping, volleyball or martial arts at moderate intensity have been found to reduce the symptoms in children with ADHD. Exercise releases dopamine, and as children with ADHD have lower natural dopamine levels regular exercise is a natural way to increase this.

Transitions – Having too many afterschool activities or commitments can be incredibly exhausting and stressful to a child with ADHD. Too much idle time, or too many transitions can be triggering to ADHD traits. Monitoring responses and allowing time to regulate and run off any pent-up energy is vital. Afterschool activities may need to be reduced for some children.

Clutter – Children with ADHD are quickly distracted. Keeping homes as clear and clutter free is therefore supportive of allowing relaxation. Particularly in children’s bedrooms and spaces where they need to relax.

Electronics – Electronics use can exasperate the negative traits children struggle with in ADHD, such as inattention and impulsivity. Therefore, electronics should be decreased towards bedtime. Expectations need to be clearly set and children will require support in managing these. Removal from electronics reduces dopamine in the brain, and as such, where children naturally have lower dopamine this can decrease the levels even further, which is why managing electronics time is important to managing symptoms.

Meditation – It is considered that supporting children and adolescents with ADHD to meditate, thickens their prefrontal cortex, which is the part of  the brain associated with impulse control, planning and focus. It also increases dopamine levels, which are often too low in children with ADHD. Building meditation into daily routines, can therefore reduce some symptoms of ADHD. Studies have indicated that teaching children with ADHD mindfulness and meditation at home and school increases their focus over a period of only 8 weeks, as well as reduces their anxiety and depressive symptoms. Meditations can be sitting, standing or moving. Meditation can:

  • Boost self-esteem
  • Reduce self-critical voices
  • Lower stress
  • Reduce anxiety

Want to learn more? 

Are you looking for a deeper understanding of child mental health? Our Level 4 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Coaching Diploma takes you into an in depth dive of child mental health and how you can support.  You can join our Level 4 training (here).

 

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Further help 

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To learn more about child and adolescent mental health visit – COURSES 

For resources to support child and adolescent mental health visit –RESOURCES 

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