ADHD: Tips to help kids with ADHD improve focus (especially for when they go back to school)
The upcoming school year is getting closer and closer. All kids who are headed back to school will have to manage some level of transition. For basically all kids, this requires them to become more focused, more disciplined, and more organized. Kids with ADHD may have an even more difficult time with this transition particularly if their summer has allowed them much more flexibility, freedom, and less demands than the school year (as my son’s summer has).
This infographic (from Nikki Schwartz, MA, NCC of OakTree Counseling) presents some ideas for managing a child’s ADHD symptoms to help them function more optimally. Kids, even without ADHD, can benefit from these strategies, as well. Nikki reports that the suggestions on the left of the infographic are not as helpful (or are more of a nuisance) than the interventions on the right.
She makes some great points. TV and IPODs can make great reinforcers for increasing desired behavior especially if they are used as immediate rewards when a child does something that he is supposed to do, such as completes his homework or finishes a chore in a timely manner.
Depending on the child, music can be helpful for improving focus and attention or it can be a distraction. I recommend the music to be calming and fairly quiet if music is used while the child is supposed to be staying focused on a task. Also, be conscious of how the child functions by considering what in their environment impacts their behavior negatively and what helps them to do well. For instance, my son does best when their is as little distraction as possible. He has a more difficult time completing tasks (including homework and chores) when he hears other people’s voices, music, or television.
Allowing a child to have fidgets can also be tricky. Yes, it is helpful for a child with ADHD to use “fidgets” (such as to have a squishy ball or a small toy in their hand) but again be conscious of the individual child to see what works best for them. Sometimes a child can become hyper-focused on any random object or activity (such as the chair he is sitting in) while losing focus on the task he is supposed to be accomplishing such as his homework. This is also true of a fidget toy so fidgets can be helpful but can also be a distraction.
Not all interventions work for all kids in the same way. Just be considerate of what works for the particular child you are working with or parenting.
With that said, Nikki’s infographic provides some very useful tips on what strategies can be helpful and what strategies can be more problematic for children with ADHD. I would add that these strategies can be relevant for other children and adults who could improve their focusing skills, as well.
Feel free to comment below to let me know what strategies work well to improve focusing and attention skills of a child you are parenting or working with.
Gilmore, H. (2015). ADHD: Tips to help kids with ADHD improve focus (especially for when they go back to school). Psych Central. Retrieved on February 6, 2016, from http://pro.psychcentral.com/child-therapist/2014/08/adhd-tips-to-help-kids-with-adhd-improve-focus-especially-for-when-they-go-back-to-school/