Clean your room! This single sentence is all but guaranteed to trigger a cascade of arguments in any family with an ADHD child. Kids with ADHD struggle with organization, and their apparent resistance to keeping their room clean causes tremendous stress and frustration for parents and kids alike. It's typical for a parent to send a child with ADHD off to clean his or her room only to check on him or her an hour later and find that nothing has been done. Or to have their child proudly announce that he or she has finished cleaning when in fact he or she has only picked up a handful of items off of the floor. Does he or she not see the mess? Does he or she not care that his or her parents are becoming frustrated and threatening to take away privileges if he or she doesn't clean up? Many parents start to wonder if the frustration and hassle is worth it. Maybe they should just pick their battles and let their child's room stay messy?
Opening presents over the holidays was fun and exciting, but now just a few short weeks later those presents have probably just been added to the mound of "stuff" that is cluttering your child's space and your home. For kids with ADHD, this extra stuff can make it much harder to stay organized, keep track of their things, and find what they need when they need it. As disorganization increases, so does frustration over lost and misplaced items, arguments over messy rooms, and difficulty focusing on important tasks like getting ready in the morning and getting homework done. For kids with ADHD, tackling clutter and staying organized is especially challenging, and most of the time it's not something they can manage on their own. They need extra help from parents to create and stick with an organization plan that works. The first step involves helping your child whittle down the amount of stuff that he or she has have until he or she is left only with the things that that he or she really needs or enjoys and uses regularly.
Every parent needs to give their child negative consequences or punishment sometimes. The trick, as I discussed last week, is to use negative consequences sparingly and use positive strategies, like coaching, modeling, praise, and rewards, as often as possible to teach and reinforce good behavior. When you do need to use negative consequences, like taking away a privilege or favorite game or toy, there are a number of things you can do to make it more likely that these consequences will be effective, and your relationship with your child will remain positive.
Kids with ADHD often struggle to follow through on the things that are expected of them, make impulsive choices, and have a hard staying calm in stressful situations. This understandably leads many parents to feel like they are constantly correcting and reprimanding their child – not because they want to, but because they don’t know what else to do. Using positive strategies like giving attention, praise, and rewards for good behavior can go a long way in reducing the need for negative consequences and that constant stream of negative feedback. In an ideal world positive strategies would be all that you would need to help your child learn new skills and behave in ways that will keep him or her safe and happy. But in reality, positive strategies aren’t always enough. Every parent needs to use negative consequences sometimes, but knowing when to use them can be tricky.
All students with ADHD have difficulty in school, so much so that many are eligible for special education services under one of two federal laws: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which covers Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act which covers 504 Plans. For students with ADHD, many of the accommodations and services that they need are covered under both plans, making it difficult to understand know which plan might be best fit for your child. Here’s a simple overview to help get you started:
My previous post discussed strategies for teaching Growth Mindset principles to your child. And while this is an important first step, the real power comes in reminding your child of these principles and promoting them on a day to day basis. Helping your child develop a Growth Mindset involves first making sure that he or she has the tools and strategies that he or she needs in order to be successful, and then remind your child that when he or she pairs these strategies with hard work and persistence he or she can grow their brains and become better at anything that he or she puts their mind to.
In my last post I discussed the powerful impact that having a Growth Mindset can have on motivation and academic achievement. With a Growth Mindset you believe that through effort and the use of solid strategies you can become smarter and better at just about anything you put your mind to. And in fact, there’s a great deal of neuroscience research supporting the notion that we can in fact “grow our brains” and become smarter!
When you think about ADHD symptoms, things like distractibility, impulsivity, or hyperactivity usually come to mind. But along with these “typical” symptoms comes another challenge: low motivation. Kids with ADHD often struggle to muster up the motivation they need in order to be successful, particularly when it comes to schoolwork. Perhaps not surprisingly, research has shown that factors like motivation, the desire to improve, and persistence all greatly impact academic performance.
Did you play this game as a kid? You run to one of your parents and ask, “Can I have a candy bar?” They say no, because you’ll spoil your dinner. So, what do you do, you ask another parent! “Can I have a lollipop?” Sure, they say! And when the parent who turned you down finds you eating a lollipop a few minutes later, your defense is bulletproof: With a finger pointed and a smirk on your face you proclaim, “But they said I could!”
Your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, and you’ve been trying hard to do everything you can to help your child. You’re working with a therapist, explored or started medication, and you’ve put behavior plans into place at home. You’ve even partnered with your child’s teacher to get extra help in the classroom. And while some things are getting better, your child’s grades are not improving and you’re worried about your child falling behind his or her peers. It might be time to enlist the help of a tutor to give your child the academic boost that he or she needs to succeed. But – how do you know how to find a tutor who will be a good fit? What should you look for in a tutor or a tutoring program when your child has ADHD?