Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Because ADHD is complex and each person with ADHD is unique, it's hard to make recommendations that work for every child. But some of the following suggestions may help create an environment in which your child can succeed.
Children at home
- Show your child lots of affection. Children need to hear that they're loved and appreciated. Focusing only on the negative aspects of your child's behavior can harm your relationship and affect self-confidence and self-esteem. If your child has a hard time accepting verbal signs of affection, a smile, a pat on the shoulder or a hug can show you care. Look for behaviors for which you can compliment your child regularly.
- Take time to enjoy your child. Make an effort to accept and appreciate the parts of your child's personality that aren't so difficult. One of the best ways to do this is simply to spend time together. This should be a private time when no other children or adults interfere. Try to give your child more positive than negative attention every day.
- Find ways to improve your child's self-esteem and sense of discipline. Children with ADHD often do very well with art projects, music or dance lessons, or martial arts classes, such as karate or tae kwon do. But don't force children into activities that are beyond their abilities. All children have special talents and interests that can be fostered. Small frequent successes help to build self-esteem.
- Work on organization. Help your child organize and maintain a daily assignment notebook and be sure your child has a quiet place to study. Group objects in the child's room and store in clearly marked spaces. Try to help your child keep his or her environment organized and uncluttered.
- Use simple words and demonstrate when giving your child directions. Speak slowly and quietly and be very specific and concrete. Give one direction at a time. Stop and make eye contact with the child before and while you're giving directions.
- Try to keep a regular schedule for meals, naps and bedtime. Use a big calendar to mark special activities that will be coming up. Children with ADHD have a hard time accepting and adjusting to change. Avoid or at least warn children of sudden transitions from one activity to another.
- Make sure your child is rested. Try to keep your child from becoming overtired because fatigue often makes ADHD symptoms worse.
- Identify difficult situations. Try to avoid situations that are difficult for your child, such as sitting through long presentations or shopping in malls and supermarkets where the array of merchandise can be overwhelming.
- Use timeouts or appropriate consequences to discipline your child. Timeouts should be relatively brief, but long enough for your child to regain control. Children can also be expected to accept the results of the choices they make. The idea is to interrupt and defuse out-of-control behavior.
- Be patient. Try to remain patient and calm when dealing with your child, even when your child is out of control. If you're calm, your child is more likely to model that behavior and become calm too.
- Keep things in perspective. Be realistic in your expectations for improvement — both your own and your child's. Keep your child's developmental stage in mind.
- Take a break yourself. If you're exhausted and stressed, you're a much less effective parent.
Children in school
- Ask about school programs. Take advantage of any special programs your school may have for children with ADHD. Schools are required by law to have a program to make sure children who have a disability that interferes with learning get the support they need. Your child may be eligible for additional services offered under the federal laws Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These can include evaluation, curriculum adjustments, changes in classroom setup, modified teaching techniques, study skills instruction, and increased collaboration between parents and teachers.
- Talk to your child's teachers. Stay in close communication with your child's teachers, and support their efforts to help your child in the classroom. Be sure teachers closely monitor your child's work, provide positive feedback, and are flexible and patient. Ask that they be very clear about their instructions and expectations.
- Ask about having your child use a computer in the classroom. Children with ADHD may have trouble with handwriting and sometimes benefit from using a computer.
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