January 29, 2010

Managing Your Child's ADHD

Executive function is the ability to plan ahead, organize, follow through, and finish tasks. Children with ADHD are often challenged by an inability to use their executive function successfully. As their parent you need to take over as the executive and guide your child while they slowly learn their own executive function skills. Here are some things you can do:

When communicating with your child make eye contact before you give him an instruction. Then check to see that he understood you. Say, "Tell me what I want you to do."

Give directions one at a time, not a long list that can overwhelm her. Use “When....Then” directions. For example, "WHEN you finish putting your clothes in the closet THEN you come downstairs and help me fix dinner."

Putting those directions into a check-off list can be helpful. As your child completes each step he checks it off and moves onto the next one. This will keep him on track and it will help him visually see that he's making progress.

When your child begins and completes a task successfully praise her for it. The next time she has a similar task and she feels overwhelmed or doesn't know how to begin, remind her of the time she was able to move through a task step by step and complete it. Tell her you know she can do it again. Then help her get started.

Parenting a child with ADHD is never easy. You have to be patient, consistent and you have to repeat things over and over. Over time, your support and encouragement will allow you to slowly move away from the role as your child's executive and into the role of his assistant.

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