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Parenting strategies for kids with attention issues

Published on February 16, 2016

Parenting strategies for kids with attention issues

Brenda Konietzko, Occupational Therapist
St. Cloud Hospital Outpatient Rehabilitation Services

Being the parent of a child with attention difficulties can be frustrating and overwhelming. I see it on the faces of parents — the feeling of helplessness. But you can help your child become more successful in life.

Provide structure for your child to help ADHD.Tips for helping your child

  • Provide structure. A child with attention difficulties needs a structured environment to help him/her focus. For instance, make a daily schedule visible on a chalk or white board that the child can refer back to at home. Talk to your child’s teacher about implementing this at school.
  • Help your child make a schedule. A schedule will help the child avoid procrastination.
  • Repeat directions. Speak them, write them down and repeat them. Your child needs to hear things more than once.
  • Memory is often a problem. Teach your child little tricks like mnemonics, using flashcards and making lists/notes. Such as HOMES for the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.
  • Break down large tasks into small tasks. This is critical. Large tasks quickly overwhelm the child and might cause emotional outbursts — “I’ll never be able to do that!”
  • Set limits and boundaries. Do it consistently, predictably, promptly and plainly. Discipline can be maintained best by establishing a few consistent rules with immediate consequences whenever each rule is broken. Rules should be phrased positively in terms of what your child should do — “feet on the floor” instead of “get your feet off the couch.”
  • Make frequent eye contact. You can “reel in” a child with eye contact.
  • Monitor progress and provide feedback often. It will help your child stay on track and know what the expectations are.
  • Seek out and emphasize success as much as possible. Your child loves encouragement. He/she drinks it up and grows from it.
  • Use feedback that helps your child to become self-observant. “Do you know what you just did?” or “Why do you think that girl looked sad when you said that to her?”
  • Take time to listen. Try to understand your child’s perspective.
  • Use rewards and incentives. Find out what motivates/interests your child. It’s guaranteed to make chores and schoolwork easier and more productive.

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