For the parents of a child with ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, everyday tasks turn into battles—from getting the child out the door in the morning to getting him to bed at night. My son was diagnosed with ADHD at age 6, so I remember what it was like to have a daily tug of war with an attention disordered child all too well. Parents look for help everywhere. They may read one book after another and hear a parade of behavioral experts speak who give them parenting tips that don’t seem to work. The more books they read and experts they seek out, the worse their child’s behavior seems to get.
“ADHD is a ‘brain difference.’ Your child’s brain works differently than 95% of his peers. So ‘one size fits all’ parenting techniques won’t necessarily fit your child.”
In my practice and in my work with my own son, I discovered a number of techniques and strategies that can help parents of children with ADHD improve behavior. Here are 8 Secrets I have learned that can help parents improve their child’s behavior and school achievement:
A recent exploratory study conducted at a private school reported in Current Issues in Education stated that the use of meditation can be beneficial to 11 to 14 year old students diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. According to the researchers, “the technique has potential to improve attention, behavior regulation, and executive function by naturally reducing stress and anxiety and improving brain functioning.”
It is encouraging to see the growing interest in and availability of funding for research dedicated to the investigation of non-medication interventions for ADHD. Actually, relaxation training has been known for some time to provide benefits, and I have been using this technique along with others since the ’80s to help kids with ADHD. When combined with parent training, behavior modification and several other evidence-based techniques, I have found that children with mild to moderate symptoms can achieve significant improvement at home and at school without medication.
Published professional guidelines recommend that children with mild to moderate symptoms receive behavioral interventions, ie, some kind of behavioral help, training or modification, prior to moving on to medication. In the MTA study conducted by the NIMH, 30% of the children in the behavioral-only group normalized after 14 months, which means they were able to function on a normal level without medication. After 3 years, all of the children in the behavioral-only group demonstrated the same improvement in symptoms as those receiving medication and those receiving a combination of medication and behavioral intervention.
Unfortunately, even with this information, the rate of inclusion of behavioral intervention has been limited due to financial and time constraints. After years of working with kids with ADD and ADHD, I developed The Total Focus Program to help parents and families learn how to manage the behaviors that come along with the disorder. It can be used with or without medication as part of a total treatment program. Whether you try Total Focus or another program, I encourage you to seek out some kind of behavioral training program for your child with ADHD.
Imagine that you are living inside of a video game, where everything is coming at you at once and every sight, sound and sensation is a distraction. For a child with ADHD, getting through a typical day is something like that—and it explains a great deal about how they experience the world. Children with ADHD typically have impairment of functions such as concentration, memory, impulse control, processing speed and an inability to follow directions. If you’re a parent of a child with ADD or ADHD, this most likely sounds all too familiar. Over the years, you’ve probably struggled through homework sessions with your child, tried (and failed) to get them to complete certain tasks like cleaning their room or finishing yard work, and on more than one occasion, you’ve probably felt completely drained by their high energy and seeming inability to focus.
The good news is, there is something you can do to help your ADHD child improve their concentration skills. For years it was thought that each of us was born with a generous supply of brain cells, but that we were unable to produce additional cells or make changes in how they function. Fairly recently, neuroscientists discovered the presence of something called “neuroplasticity” which enables the brain to actually grow additional cells or modify the function of existing cells. Amazingly, cognitive exercises have been found to produce desired changes in not only how the brain works, but how itlooks. What this means for parents is that you now have the ability to work with your child to help improve their ADHD symptoms. Continue reading →