All children are different, and it’s these differences that make them unique and fascinating. As parents, our mission is to nurture these distinctive traits and help our children achieve all the things they put their minds to.
To help them thrive, we generally highlight their positives while downplaying the negatives. The problems arise when we see these remarkable differences as deficits.
A child’s hyperactivity may seem like a negative. And while hyperactivity and other symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can stand in the way of productivity and attention, they’re part of that child and, if managed, can also allow them to grow and thrive.
So, what are the best ways to calm your child with ADHD and help them obtain success?
If your child is diagnosed with ADHD and begins treatment, as a parent, it’s your job to follow through on recommendations.
If you decide that medication for your child is best for the both of you, consistency is critical. It’s important to know that it’s difficult to tell if your child’s treatment is working when done sporadically. It’s also important to communicate with their doctor if you have concerns about medication selection and side effects.
During this time, it’s important to seek other services like parent training, social skills groups, and therapy for your child to help improve their symptoms.
Just like you need to be consistent with treatment instructions, you need to be consistent at home. Children with ADHD succeed in environments that are consistent. This means that there must be a sense of structure and routine at home.
You may notice that hyperactivity becomes worse during unstructured times — and without supervision, hyperactivity may increase to an excessive level. By building a routine with some flexibility, you create fewer possibilities for hyperactivity to intensify.
Over time, a stable structure can transform into healthy practices. This will provide your child with the ability to manage their hyperactivity. While you don’t need to micromanage, you do need to put some reasonable orderliness into place.
Asking a person with ADHD to sit still and stay quiet for a certain amount of time is insensitive. It’s better to break up activities that require calmness into chunks of time to help them succeed.
If your child can only tolerate a few minutes of homework, ask them to do as much as they can in those minutes. Following the work, they can take a three-minute break to stretch, hop around, or whatever they decide on before they sit down for another couple of minutes.
This approach ensures that their time sitting down is productive versus being filled with squirming and excessive movements.
Shaping is a psychological method used in behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapies. In shaping, you accept the behavior at its baseline and work to make small changes with the use of reinforcement.
If you wanted to incorporate shaping into the previous homework example, you would start at six minutes, break, seven minutes, break, eight minutes, until their homework is complete.
When your child accomplishes the fixed amount of time at regular activity levels, you give a reward. Rewards can be kind words, a hug, small amounts of money, or a fun activity later on. This process empowers your child to associate extended periods of desired activity levels with positives. With consistency, the times will stretch and become longer.
Allow your child to fidget while engaging in a task that requires a lot of patience. Allowing them to play with a small toy, a piece of clothing, or a fidget tool (like a fidget cube) can help improve attention and focus while simultaneously reducing activity levels.
Your child may do well if they’re allowed to burn off excess energy through playtime before they’re expected to sit still for a number of minutes.
For example, if your child has been sitting all day and bottling up their energy, completing homework as soon as they arrive home may not be the answer. Instead, find some physically-demanding, fun activities for them to do when they first get home.
Allowing your child to play for a half hour may make focusing on homework more effective and efficient.
Learning about, practicing, and teaching your child about relaxation techniques may help to increase their awareness and understanding of their bodies, feelings, behaviors, and hyperactivity.
These can include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, visualization, and yoga. There are more relaxation techniques out there as well!
Finding the best times to implement these skills will take some experimentation, but the results will be worth it.
NewLifeOutlook aims to empower people living with chronic mental and physical health conditions, encouraging them to embrace a positive outlook despite their circumstances. Their articles are full of practical advice from people who have firsthand experience of ADHD.