As parents, we put our children first, and education is a crucial proponent of helping a child to grow and thrive. However, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity/Disorder (ADHD) threatens to make school difficult, regardless of our hopes and desires for our children. Some children struggle to focus. Others may find it hard to sit still or play games with friends. For those that exhibit symptoms of ADHD, parents can proactively implement strategies to help their children address these obstacles.
So, how do we recognize ADHD? And what strategies may be implemented to help children succeed in school? Let’s address these questions.
If your child hasn’t been diagnosed with ADHD and you suspect that he or she may have a disorder, now may be the time to seek a diagnosis. It’s important to be mindful of the signs of ADHD, especially earlier in life where strategies can curb ADHD symptoms, making school less of a challenge throughout the child’s education. It’s also crucial to recognize that ADHD symptoms vary from child to child, and ADHD is a broad term that covers a myriad of symptoms. ADHD may be marked by any combination of the following symptoms:
- Short attention span (including forgetfulness, poor attention to details, difficulty completing a task, signs of boredom, etc.)
- Hyperactivity (including squirming and fidgeting, constant movement, trouble sitting, constant talking or inappropriate expressions, difficulty waiting, etc.)
- Impulsiveness (including showing little restraint, acting without considering the consequences of an action, difficulty waiting for something, etc.)
- Emotional issues (including mood swings, anxiety, anger, excitability, etc.)
- Executive functioning difficulties (including trouble with planning, organization, and memory, such as memorizing math times tables, etc.)
If you’ve noticed that your child exhibits some of these symptoms, then it will be beneficial to have a doctor diagnose whether or not your child has ADHD. An accurate diagnosis is important, because other symptoms, such as anxiety or learning disabilities, may look like AD/HD. These problems are treated very differently, however, so a correct diagnosis is key! A neuropsychological evaluation is a good way to clarify diagnosis and pinpoint your child’s strengths and weaknesses. From there, strategies can be developed to improve your child’s educational pursuits and support them at home and in social settings.
Strategies for Success in School
Every child is different. And every strategy should cater to the individual child specifically. Finding the right strategy for your child may take trial and error, and practice and persistence may be the key to your child finding success in their education. Oftentimes, strategies include a variety of solutions, from relationship building to counseling to medication to alternative treatments, or any combination of these strategies. Let’s delve into some examples of possible strategies to improve the odds for success in schooling.
Focusing on the Parent-Child Relationship
First and foremost, it is important that parents establish a trusting, loving relationship with their child. Due to the impulsivity, focusing difficulties and trouble with emotional regulation that kids with ADHD often display, parenting them is not always easy. Understanding that ADHD is not a “behavior” or “discipline” problem, but a neurological and medical disorder, is often a first step in improving the parent-child relationship. Parents can incorporate play into their interactions with their child to increase attention and responsiveness, while improving the overall parent-child relationship. Playing simple games that intrigue and engage your child is a good way to start. Rewarding good behavior is another technique that can help a child to change their behaviors while forming more trust between the child and parent. Rewards and positive feedback typically work much better than punishment for kids with ADHD. For example, you might create a reward system for chores that your child completes, creating a connection between focusing and receiving rewards. Also, providing immediate and frequent feedback for good behavior is very helpful, such as praising your child for being cooperative or sharing.
Counseling and Educational Therapy
Working with a counselor may help to assess how well a child is adapting and growing as they navigate through their education. Additionally, a counselor can help parents to learn strategies to improve their parent-child relationship, work with kids on emotion regulation, and address other symptoms of ADHD. Family therapy sessions may also be very beneficial in helping the entire family unit communicate better and implement strategies. Social skills groups for kids who have trouble making or maintaining friendships can be another important factor.
An educational therapist can work with a child on specific education techniques to improve their planning and organization, teach study strategies and memorization techniques. They may even recommend schools that would better cater to the child’s needs. Or it may help to have educational therapists coordinate with the child’s school to ensure that they have the programs and accommodations to support their growth.
Medication and Alternative Treatments
In some cases, medication may be beneficial to a child with ADHD. Your doctor may recommend a psychostimulant to improve cognitive ability. Or medication may be recommended to mitigate hyperactivity. Alternative Treatment recommendations may include regular exercise, changes in diet, supplements, neurofeedback, or mindfulness.
Neuropsychology, Counseling, and Educational Therapy From Whole Child Neuro
Here at Whole Child Neuro, we strive to help children unlock their full potential. We provide neuropsychological evaluations, counseling, parenting support, social skills groups, educational therapy, and school placement services. We have a diverse team of experts, who have experience helping children and young adults with ADHD as they navigate through their education. We work with people throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, including our neighbors in Sherman Oaks, Calabasas, and Beverly Hills. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation, and feel free to read more about our neuropsychological evaluations, counseling, educational therapy, and school placement services.