Some call attention deficit disorder a disorder of motivation. The new take on ADHD, say some scientists, is that attention is less affected by ADHD or ADD than motivation. As parents who have children with ADHD already know, the difficulty children have preparing for and completing tasks is neurologically based. Organizing thoughts and "getting started" is more difficult for these young people because of the lack of executive function capabilities. Dopamine, which regulates emotional responses, is lower in children with ADHD. Feeling good by achieving specific goals is something a young person with ADHD does not naturally experience.
Steps Parents' May Use to Motivate Children
Young ones who do not have ADHD or ADD can often make it difficult for parents where homework completion is concerned. Students with ADHD, however, have more difficulty with sustaining attention to a task, following through on assignments, and distractions. Children and parents alike can begin to dread the battles, bribing, high emotions, and raised voices that come with getting the job done. Our goal is to share some suggestions that can help parents motivate their children without having the situation evolve into meltdowns on both sides.
A child's response to ADHD treatment can change over time, as can the treatment's benefits. A student's success at school and behavioral improvements at school can fluctuate. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have been clear that "sustained, systematic treatment monitoring" is essential.
In the ADHD community, a goal-setting strategy that has assisted many students is a plan with the acronym S.M.A.R.T. To reach a specific target, children follow these steps:
S = Specific - What is it that you want to accomplish?
M = Measurable - In what way will the student measure success?
A = Attainable - Is your goal within your reach?
R = Resonant - Do you feel compelled to accomplish this task?
T = Thrilling - Do you want the accomplishment of this task to feel thrilling?
Finding ways to make the task at hand relevant, emotionally satisfying, and rewarding is something for parents to consider. Play games, draw and make up crazy acronyms with your children.
Keep Words to a Minimum
A child with ADHD may lose interest if a parent drones on and on when disciplining a child. If a mother or father uses fewer words when communicating with a young person with ADHD, the likelihood is that the child will hear what the parent is trying to get across. Speak to a child about the issue one time only. Make your expectation clear. Stop talking.
Take a Break
As a parent, you are not the only one who sometimes loses your temper with your young one. Every parent has reached his or her limit at one time or another. Anger, when directed toward a student with ADHD, is never productive. The best choice for a mom or dad is to walk away, spend a few minutes alone, and do not speak to your child until you can discuss the incident with your young one at a reasonable volume and in a pleasant tone.
According to The ADD Resource Center, 2,500 parents who had children with ADHD or ADD took part in a survey about treatments they used with their children. Forty-nine percent of parents reported that exercise was "extremely or very useful" when it came to young people with ADHD. Physicians at the Mayo Clinic stated that, along with medications and counseling, regular fitness activities could have a positive impact on a student's ADHD symptoms.
Use a Daily Report Card
A daily report from teachers is a motivational strategy used in many classrooms. The idea is not to "grade" the child, but to point out behavioral goals, provide feedback, and give tangible rewards. The Centers for Children and Families and the University of Buffalo suggest sending three to eight behavioral goals to parents in the beginning, on a daily basis or weekly. Any rewards help children with ADHD feel motivated to complete behavioral goals.
Set up a space for your child away from doors and windows. Remove pets from the room. Assist your students in alternating between seated activities and getting out of his or her chair to move. Incorporating movement into assignments is also helpful. Write information that the child needs where he or she can read and reference it. Remind the students of the location of the assignment instructions. Ensure that children with ADHD take frequent breaks.
So much time and effort are spent helping young people with ADHD in the areas of motivation, attending to tasks, and keeping things organized, that many parents forget how critical it is to set aside a time during the day when he or she is alone with the child. The few moments together are a time for positive interaction that nurtures your child's self-esteem.
Find ways to let your child know that you love him or her with no strings attached. The difficulties a young one with ADHD faces on a daily basis can wear away his or her self-worth. Find ways to let your young one know you love him or her for who he or she is.
As members of the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), Kentwood Prep School strives to assist parents in training, support, new ideas, and education of children with ADHD and ADD. We will continue to offer the latest information to parents and the continuation of school for students with ADHD that maximizes their potential. We agree with CHADD's parental priorities:
- Avoid wasting time on self-blame
- Educate yourself about ADHD
- Seek a comprehensive assessment of your child's medical, educational, and psychological evaluations
- Be your child's project manager
- Be the captain of your child's ADHD-savvy team
- Become an expert on your child's rights
- Seek to be your child's most dedicated advocate
- Communicate with your team often
- Join a support group
- Ask for assistance when you need it
- Work together with your child, your family, your relatives, your babysitter, and anyone else who is part of your child's life on how to handle your child's treatment
- Use CHADD's online resources and community