Although there are no studies evaluating the efficacy of psycho-education as a treatment modality for ADHD, providing information to parents, children, and teachers about ADHD and treatment options is considered critical in the development of a comprehensive treatment plan. Educational accommodations for children with ADHD are federally mandated, and mental health providers are required to ensure that patients and families have access to adequate and appropriate educational resources.
An ADHD child is different from other children in very specific ways. The ADHD toddler is physically aggressive and the parent must teach the child to channel this into verbal expression. The young ADHD child then often becomes verbally abusive, and the parent must encourage the child to redirect this form of aggression into more acceptable physical or intellectual activities, such as sports, music or art. It is futile to try to force an ADHD child to be just like most children. But it is possible to limit destructive behavior and to instill a sense of self-worth that will help the child overcome negativity.
Parents should prepare a list giving priority to those behaviors they think are most negative, such as fighting with other children or refusing to get up in the morning. The least negative behaviors on the bottom of the list should be ignored temporarily or even permanently. Certain odd behaviors that are not hurtful to the child or to others may be an indication of creative or humorous attempts to adapt. These should be accepted as part of the child's unique and positive development, even if they seem peculiar to the parent. It is very important to understand that ADHD children have much more difficulty adapting to change than do children without the condition.
Parents must be as consistent as possible in their discipline, which should reward good behavior and discourage destructive behavior. Rules should be well-defined but flexible enough to incorporate harmless idiosyncrasies. It is valuable to reward even simple positive behaviors that are taken for granted in most people. Rewards of food or gifts should be used infrequently, if at all. Rewards that don't cost money can include playing a favorite game with the child, extending bedtime by an hour, or allowing an extra half-hour of TV. These children respond better with small rewards promised in the short term than large rewards offered in the future.
Parents should try to give little attention to mildly disruptive behaviors that allow this energetic child to let off some harmless steam. The parent will also be wasting energy that will be needed when the negative behavior becomes destructive, abusive, or intentional. The use of "time-out," isolating the child immediately for a short period of time, is the most effective measure for allowing both the caregiver and the child to cool down. In these cases, the child should be disciplined immediately, or he or she will quickly learn to manipulate the caregiver.
- Parents should be on the lookout for activities that hold the child's concentration.
- Word puzzles
- Computer games (which offer and require problem-solving techniques)
- Sports that focus attention and limit peripheral stimuli (tennis, golf, swimming)
- Some forms of martial arts (they can teach self-discipline, self-restraint, and offer controlled emotional outlets)
The ADHD child is often demanding, highly visible, and often forgets homework or misses assignments. Lack of fine motor control makes taking notes very difficult. Repetitive memorization and math computation, which require following a set of ordered steps, are often difficult. (ADHD children may do better with math concepts.) Many ADHD children respond well to school tasks that are rapid, intense, novel, or of short duration (such as spelling bees or competitive educational games), but they almost always have problems with long-term projects where there is no direct supervision.
One useful skill that has helped some ADHD children is learning to type at around the third or fourth grade. Many times, lack of small motor coordination can be a stumbling block in the writing and educational process; using a typewriter or computer can compensate for this. Having the child sit in the front of the classroom and finding a tutor to help after school may be helpful.
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