Helping a child with ADD or ADHD down and focus

Learn about: Helping a child with ADD or ADHD down and focus from Susan Stiffelman, MFT,...
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Helping a child with ADD or ADHD down and focus

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How can you help an ADHD child calm down and stay on task? Have a lot of patience and leave your judgments outside the door. Recognize that whatever you call it. I am not terribly fond of the label ADD per se. I call it ADishness in my book and in my work. But there are kids who really are wired in such a way that makes it difficult to be still. They are restless. Their mind is very active and doing mundane activities can just be torture for them. So rather than judging them or criticizing them or telling them to sit down and focus, which is just completely useless anyway, acknowledge that it is hard. I have had some kids that I work with walk around the room while they are working math problems out in their head or starting to generate ideas for an essay. Give them a fidget ball, something that they can squeeze. Those little stress balls. There are little chairs that you can get that let the child bounce up and down while they are doing work. Sometimes kids like that will focus better if you work in short increments of time. Have them set the timer for seven minutes. Sometimes I will teach parents to play what I call the resistance monster game where you invite the child to focus really their best on an assignment or a little piece of it while you try to distract them. And if they don´t look up when you start trying to distract them, they get a point. So making it a game can help kids buckle up and buckle down I guess and stay on task. Just make it reasonable. Set reasonable expectations and come across as their ally rather than their critical adversary.

Learn about: Helping a child with ADD or ADHD down and focus from Susan Stiffelman, MFT,...

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Susan Stiffelman, MFT

Author & Therapist

Susan Stiffelman is the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected and the weekly parenting advice columnist at the Huffington Post. You can sign up for Susan's free parenting newsletter. 

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