When our children struggle with focus, that means that they can have trouble with listening, getting stuff done, and even getting along with others. Most children and teens with ADHD are smart. Really smart. And that is how they get by in school. That structure that school provides helps children and teens with ADHD do well until they have to produce a lot of work. It is often written work that buries them. These smart kiddos often over rely on their intelligence and written work is their kryptonite. Getting their ever so fast brains to slow down enough to get their thoughts on the page is painful. Most kids can only get by with the bare minimum for only so long. And that is when the calls from the teacher start.
Sometimes the calls start long before. You might have an impulsive kid like David whose kindergarten teacher told his mom, Martina, “David can’t keep his hands to himself and that is a problem.”
Wherever you are in the journey of helping your child, teen, or young adult with ADHD, there is ALWAYS a way to help your child be successful in school, home and life. In my Raising Successful Kids Community, we share solutions to common struggles and connect with like-minded parents… because the journey can be hard and sharing it makes it easier. Here are some of the answers to the most common questions I get from parents of kids with ADHD.
Parents worry a lot. Parents of kids with ADHD or other clinical issues worry a REAL LOT! I get it. I am a special needs mom times two, so I really understand what it is like to be driving the worry train. I show parents every day how to get off it.
What should I say to help my kid with ADHD (or not say) is a conversation I have every day with a guilt ridden parent who thinks they did something wrong to create their kid’s ADHD. Listen, no one ever thinks they will have anything but a “typical” kid but 54.2 percent of kids in the US have a physical or mental health problem. Yep. Scary, right?
Can how you parent a kid with ADHD make a difference. Yes. Oh, I mean heck yeah! That is probably the single greatest reason parents join my Raising Successful Kids Community because they want the tools and methods to help their child do better in school and at home.
Most kids with ADHD struggle with listening and following directions at home and school. This gets in the way of doing their school work correctly, doing tasks in a timely manner, and just being able to remember when you ask them to do something. When you have ADHD, you simply don’t alert in the same way. When your kid is engrossed in something they are hypervigilant. That means they are super focused on something. Part of ADHD is being able to have unbelievable focus on stuff you love and little to no ability to focus on low interest tasty ks. AKA… cleaning their room, algebra, and putting their book bag away. I hope you just had an aha moment!
Okay, so what do you say to your kid with ADHD so they will listen? Well it is actually how you say stuff to them that matters. Here is the basic framework to set up your communication.
First, get their attention. That doesn’t mean yell. It means calmly getting them to disengage from what they are doing so they are ready to hear you.
Second, tell them, “ I will be telling you something. Are you ready?”
Third, wait for them to reply with, “Yes.”
Fourth, then give them directions or information.
Fifth, reinforce attempts and successful execution of the task
I know you are thinking, “What?! My kid should just be able to do this because he has a 119 IQ. But clearly you now realize that ain’t happening.
So, you can go on yelling and being annoyed or you can shift your efforts and cut down on those battles. If your kid can’t “hear” you then you will yell more and more and you will both be annoyed.
Some kids with ADHD also struggle with their mood and can be snarky and cranky, as well as super moody teens and young adults. If you have a young or school aged child, then grab my free download, Parenting Tips for Dealing With Snarky and Cranky Kids. If you have a moody teen, then download this free resource, 10 Things Not to Say to a Moody Teenager.
Despite what you may have heard or been offered by your pediatrician or even the school hinted you should do, there are many science-backed ways to reduce and even reverse ADHD symptoms in kids. In my book, “It’s Gonna Be OK!™” I lay out the step-by-step way on just how parents can do that.
My favorite brain-based solutions for ADHD that help children and teens get focused, follow directions better, and complete tasks are:
I want parents to know there are safe and effective alternatives to medicating your child with ADHD. Through research we know that ADHD medication is toxic and 100 percent of the time has side effects and some can be serious. Here are 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Medicate Your Child With ADHD.
I have been using neurofeedback with children, teens, and young adults for a long time. For some reason parents trust a toxic and potentially dangerous psychiatric medication over this highly researched (tens of thousands of studies), safe and effective therapy. Just because you may not have heard of neurofeedback, it has been around over 50 years and is an effective therapy that every parent of a child or teen with ADHD (and mom or dad too) should consider! We work with clients all over the world and can even do neurofeedback remotely with them too.
If we learned anything while helping our kids with virtual learning during the pandemic, we learned just how important structure and routine was to help our kids learn. Kids need the predictability of a routine but they also need their training wheels taken off. The hard part of raising a child with ADHD is balancing the extra learning time they need without overparenting. Oh, and it is so easy to do because our kiddos with ADHD have no sense of time and are often so forgetful and unorganized so we just swoop in and rescue them.
And what does that do? It causes them to learn slower and even unlearn what they were just getting the hang of it.
At home, parents should put their energies on reinforcing desired behaviors and attempts to try. You should work on teaching your child and not constantly correcting. If you are always correcting your child, then how will they know what to do?
Aha moment! Parenting is always about teaching but with a child with ADHD (or any clinical issue for that matter), they need extra reinforcement and practice to get it right. Don’t be dazzled by that 119 IQ because if they can’t remember to flush the toilet, turn in their homework or stop touching the other kids on the bus, what does it matter?
We can learn a lot from a good teacher. They know how to tame an unruly mob and get them learning. They do that with a lot of patience and structure and routine of course.
Kids with executive functioning problems really can struggle in school despite high intelligence and that can show up in a variety of ways.
The first thing a parent should do if their child is struggling at school is to meet with the teacher. In my blog, How to Prepare for a School Meeting, I show you exactly how to do that.
Like most of the parents of kids with ADHD or EF issues, you are looking for safe and effective ways to help your child be alert and do better in school. If your child's brain isn't regulating, paying attention is so hard for them, which means being successful in school is a challenge. With our trademarked BrainBehaviorReset™ Method, we calm the nervous system first and then teach kids new ways to alert and complete tasks.
Central to our BrainBehaviorReset™ Method is neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is a safe, natural and effective tool that calms down “on fire” brains so a child or teen can not be so reactive, emotional, and stressed. Until that happens, it isn't possible for the brain to learn new ways of responding. The great news is that neurofeedback can be done at home though our center. The first step is a QEEG brain map or a brain check so we can see why your child can't pay attention and make a successful treatment plan.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime.
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Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, The Washington Post,, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Marth Stewart, and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.”
She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach. She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
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